As a child, the poster to Laslo Benedek’s The Night Visitor used to scare the heck out of me, but when I finally saw the film after it popped up on TV a few years later, I wasn’t frightened all that much. Granted, it took a few more viewings as I got older to really appreciate what’s here and it’s a nifty little thriller worth tracking down (it’s been out of print for years on DVD). While it’s not the best nor most coherent suspense flick out there (calling it a “horror” movie is a bit of a mistake), the casting is solid (Liv Ullman, Max von Sydow, Trevor Howard, Per Oscarsson), the script has its moments and you may even get a surprise or three as this creepy little tale plays out.
Von Sydow plays Salem, a rather crafty resident of a supposed “escape proof” mental asylum who escapes a few times in order to exact some extended revenge on his sister (Ullman) and her husband (Oscarsson). Why? Well, not just because he’s nuts plus tax, kids. Salem was set up for a brutal murder by his brother-in-law and he’s not having the time of his life in that freezing hellhole. Of course, the fact that each time he escapes he’s in his underwear (Why? You’ll see, you’ll see) and he manages to make it back before its noticed he’s missing keeps the film going for a while as a local inspector (Howard) tries to find out what’s going on when some new murders start happening…