Props for the completly uneffective cheesy soundtrack that is actually pretty good but completly misses the point!
So the general plot of Xtro is about the horrific story of a British man who gets kidnapped by aliens, while his son witnesses the whole thing, and is returned three years later carrying infectious spores that have transformed him into a kind of crab thingy that causes all kinds of perverse sexual and violent mayhem.
The movie has a series of awkward moments in here from a boy who stares at his mother having sex in bed to aliens having the ability to use toy soldiers as killing machines. Not to mention the alien in this looks like a baby sized version of the Cloverfield monster that likes to impregnate dumb blondes and becomes reborn into a human. Philip Sayer plays the young boy named Sam and he is so blatantly stereotyped that I'm expecting a scene where Ebenezer Scrooge sends this kid down to the market to pick him up a goose. Bernice Stergers plays Rachel Phillips, the mother in this movie, whose acting is as bland as their cup of tea and has a haircut in every scene where it looks like Dudley Moore's Arthur after a forty-eight hour binge. There are also scenes where the actors talk off screen and you wouldn't even know where they are half the time. One positive thing that I will say about this is that this movie does start establishing things, but just at completely at random. Overall, this movie is a prime example of how much you can fuck up a sci-fi film and not care one bit what the general audience thinks about it. Take my advice and NEVER watch this movie, otherwise your mind will be infected the same way these aliens infect the people in this film. The only real question I'll be asking myself, for years to come, is what the hell is an Xtro?
[originally posted 27Mar2000]
In the world of 1983, everyone was happily proclaiming that alien life would be warm and happy, and would like to eat Reese's Pieces and mashed potatoes. Ridley Scott? Who's he? We remember the little guy with the healing touch and some greys who like to play Simon with a really, really big board.
Harry Bromley Davenport singlehandedly brought the menace back into extraterrestrial life with XTRO, a low-budget British film from 1983. I saw it once, upon release, and it scarred me for life. Of course, I was fourteen at the time, and I have often wondered whether I was exaggerating the brilliance of this little gem in my head when placing it in a position of prominence on my 100-best list. Thanks to the wonders of ebay, a copy came my way last week, and Saturday morning I had a chance to sit down and relive the wonderful world of nasty, disgusting aliens who like to abduct people and do extremely tasteless things to those still on earth.
It hasn't lost a beat. Sam Phillips (Philip Sayer, best known-how depressing-for Shanghai Surprise; his career was cut short when he died in a car crash in 1991) is a family man abducted by aliens when only his son (Simon Nash, who only made two more motion pictures, Breakout and Brazil, before going on to a TV career in the nineties) is around to see. Of course, his wife (British TV mainstay Bernice Stegers) assumes he's gone off and left them... until he shows up again three years later. How he gets from his alien abductors back home is the first twenty minutes of the film, a marvel of proto-splatterpunk low-budget effects making that must be seen to be believed-- assuming your stomach can handle some of the nastier bits.
In a reversal of what Sam Raimi had done two years previous in his classic The Evil Dead, Davenport dispenses with the gore early on, for the most part, and spends the rest of the movie building suspense. It's a tricky way to do things, since if you set the audience up with a gorefest for half an hour and then work on atmosphere, what most of your audience will leave saying is "good beginning, then it gets real slow." Again, this movie isn't for everyone-- along with an appreciation of fuzzy horror [viz. The Ninth Gate review for a definition] (especially in the soundtrack), you have to have the stomach for some of the gorier scenes and an appetite for the surreal (Maryam d'Abo-- in her acting debut, by the way-- in the bathtub. If you've seen the movie, you know exactly what I'm talking about).
This is a movie that truly must be experienced to be believed-- and it's unforgettable, at least for seventeen years. My original ***** still stands.
We open with a loving family vacationing in their village home when the father gets abducted by aliens. Years later, out of the blue, the father shows up again to rejoin his family. Two problems: 1) his wife has moved on with a new lover and 2) he is now a bloodsucking ugly fuck of an alien! Now daddy wants to change his son into a skeletal alien and take him to his new home, but not before he kills many people in gruesome ways along the way.
I can't explain how thoroughly fucked up this film is. First of all director Harry Bromley Davenport goes out of his way to make this one of the most gory, grotesque and nauseating films I have ever seen when it comes to bloody special effects effects. Blood is the name of the game and when you think Davenport can't out due himself, he shows a women, recently impregnated by an alien, give birth to our abducted father as a full grown man in mess of blood and guts flowing from between her legs. It's a jaw-dropping and gut-wrenching sequence that the film has become widely known for.
The plot is an absolute mess with crazy ass shit happening all over the place. Our abducted father melts phones, eats pet snakes but the film hits the 'bat shit' crazy button when our young boy brings his toy soldier to life to kill his bitch of a neighbor. Where the fuck did this scene come from? Hell a demonic midget and a black panther even make an appearance to make the audience think they've gone into complete hysteria!
The cast of British actors is surprisingly good for this type of gore flick (including the sexy future Bond girl Maryam d'Abo doing a full frontal nudity scene) and the film does have a really bleak, bizarre atmosphere that I dug, but I do suspect the atmosphere was all by complete accident. Overall "Xtro" is just a schizophrenic mess with everything but the kitchen sink thrown into the plot to shock and awe the audience. This schizo feel and bizarre atmosphere is actually what makes "Xtro" worth watching, if one can get past the awful screaming synthesizer soundtrack provided by none-other than the director himself. For fans of the fucked-up and bizarre, "Xtro" is definitely a must watch. Followed by two completely unrelated sequels.
The Boy's father is kidnapped by THE ALIEN and returns as THE ALIEN (he inhales carbon monoxide and eats snake-eggs).
I have the soundtrack by Harvey Davenport and its a great electronic score (on a relative level)
From the Producer of Nightmare on Elm Street, Detroit Rock City, LORD OF THE RINGS (Robert Shaye)
Basically this kid's dad gets abducted and then returns home after 3 years. He plays like he doesn't know where he's been but all he's really after is the boy. He imbues his strange alien powers into the boy and after that the sky is the limit when it comes to the imagination of the writer. One thing I can't get over is how well done the creature effects were. Everything was unsettling to the eye, the kind of thing that makes your skin crawl. When was the last time a movie did that to you?
If you get the chance to see this movie don't wait 10 years like I did to finish it.