This is a brilliant idea for a Zombie Club, even if I do say so myself. Xtro is a low budget British effort, released in the height of the video nasties craze of the early eighties, that almost got banned because of a really rather gory alien birth sequence, but also is remembered for having the old lady from Eastenders, a lifesize Action Man, a midget clown that looks like he walked off the set of Living in Oblivion and that gorgeous Bond girl from The Living Daylights who, of course, goes full frontal naked here. Brilliant!
Xtro II, on the other hand, is a low budget piece of Aliens rip off American trash, surprisingly directed by the same guy, that stars an extremely pissed looking post-Airwolf Jan Michael-Vincent and a big rubber alien that's a bit crap. Brilliant!
Let's get on with it.
Tonight's Zombie Club is brought to you by Jim in association with his brilliant DVD collection and his brilliant ideas for Zombie Clubs. Brilliant!
Plot Guy is abducted by aliens then comes back to get his son. Along the way he learns to melt phones with his mind and that old dear from Eastenders gets attacked by a giant Action Man. There's also a midget in it.
Jim Xtro starts off at a normal early 80s farmhouse in rural Britain, before everything goes dark, a Time Bandits style door opens in the sky, and Sam gets sucked away through it. His son Tony runs to tell his mum Rachel but she doesn't believe him, eventually deciding that Sam must have left them and Tony's made up the story to deal with the rejection.
Cut to some time later and Rachel has now settled down with a new guy named Joe. But what's this? An alien has landed in the woods near another farmhouse ("There's an alien in the garden!" - Rawshark, "There's a guy with a keyboard!" - Zomblee) who goes on to impregnate the sole occupant (a young lady who happens to live on her own in the middle of the country), who then goes on to give birth to a full size man - Sam - a few minutes later. Yes, that's the scene that nearly got this flick banned.
So then Sam does a few weird alien like things, like melting a phone with the power of his mind, before he slowly starts to muscle his way back in to Sam's life, first collecting him from school and then turning up at Rachel's new family home, with new guy Joe. This is where things get a bit difficult, not least because Analise, the au pair, is absolutely stunning and likes to sneak men in to the flat to shag, and Rachel and Joe have remarkably similar hairdos ("That's a good shot to demonstrate how alike their hairdos are." - Zomblee)
Sam, of course, is a different 'man' now and gets to work on Tony straight away by infecting him with his alien-ness ("He's sucked him a bump!" - Rawshark), meaning Tony can now control snakes ("Check it out Jim, the snake's coming to get the woman off Eastenders" - Zomblee), summon midget clowns, and life size Action Men, while wearing cool karate pyjamas. I have yet to buy my little 10 week old son Sam any karate pyjamas, and I felt pretty guilty about it when I saw Tony's, I can tell you. ("You've got to get Sam karate pyjamas man!" - Rawshark)
"I'm not having a snake omelette!"
Rawshark Well, if Jim doesn’t get his young son Karate pyjamas, then I’m definitely going to have to get a pair of my own. A pair of red ones I think, with a big black belt. Anyway, that’s enough of my own bedroom secrets, let’s get back to Xtro, a great big fun alien shocker with lots going for it including great gore, cool aliens, a fully grown Action Man, snakes and Maryam d’Abo in the noddy. Ah yes, we miss the early 80s.
After the prelude showing Tony’s dad (Sam) being abducted by aliens, we cut to three years later and a new spaceship and alien (an effect achieved by a man dressed up in an alien costume walking backwards on all fours) arise from the forest floor. The alien encounters a young couple, killing the guy before laying an egg in the girl’s mouth. She then gives birth to a fully formed Sam in a truly great scene of grue and gore, with the new Sam biting off his own umbilical cord in the process.
Sam then returns home to face Tony and his old wife Rachel and they talk whilst playing board games (”Bad Connect 4 continuity” - Jim, ”Maybe they’re playing Connect 5” - Zomblee). However, it’s obvious things are not quite right with Sam as he eats a green goo snake omelette (or as Zomblee called it, ”a snomellete”) proving that he is in fact an alien himself.
He then infects his son, who learns he can make things move of their own accord, so he sends a snake after the old busybody downstairs - eventually finishing her off by sending in one of Action Men - before finally getting to chow down on Maryam d’Abo’s naked flesh. Maryam’s boyfriend is not too happy with this, but he soon buys the bullet after being pursued by toy tanks ”and a puma!” (Jim). Ok, so the ending is a little obvious, as Sam and Tony gradually turn more ‘alien’ before leaving Earth on a ship, but the last shot of the green, pulsating egg in the bath is very cool indeed. Corny, but great fun.
“Cheese! Bloody cheese!”
Zomblee Xtro is well worth a look for many reasons, not least to see a full-size Action Man blow up the front door to an old woman's house, before jerkily moving around trying to locate the old hag for disposal. Great stuff. It's certainly not familiar scenery, even for a sci-fi horror film, but what makes this one stand out from most from the sub-genre, is that it's a home grown product, and is all the more charming for it. If you can call women giving birth to full size alien men charming. Which it is.
The guys have outlined the plot above - Sam gets beamed up into space while throwing a stick (""aliens love blowing up sticks" - Rawshark), then he returns three years later with a thirst for snake eggs and a desire to suck lumps into people's necks. Loads of craziness ensues when alien Sam infects his son Tony, who, after having fun with the aforementioned Action Man, infects the seriously sexy au pair, Analise ("She's great isn't she" - Jim). Then, Sam and Tony get beamed back up into space while Analise's body cocoons in the bathroom, dropping her huge eggs into the bath. I can't imagine how anyone would start cleaning up a mess like that.
A messy bath it may be, but Xtro isn't such a mess. I found myself really enjoying this humble UK export almost as much as I did when i was a nipper. The strong gore punctuates the movie's relatively slow pace; we're treated to some pretty freaky and original special effects scenes, and it's so good to see old school latex techniques being employed. Delicious. And if you're the pervy type (like us), you've got the amazingly hot Maryam D'Abo (yes, yet another ZC Bond connection from The Living Daylights!) getting all sexed up not once, but twice - cash back. That said, the rest of the cast are quite wooden but it doesn't detract from the overall feel of this cheap but effective little sci-fi shocker. Director Harry Bromley Davenport also provided the soundtrack, which I can only guess was for reasons of time and budget, and although his score comes across as cheap and dated, lovers of this type of cinema will probably find it endearing. Synthtastic.
Director Harry Bromley Davenport
Cast Philip Sayer
Runtime 81 mins
Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!
Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1990)
Plot Jan Michael Vincent does Aliens on the cheap while drinking heavily.
Zomblee Hey, how come I have to go first on this one? Very unfair, I say, considering I was working furiously in the kitchen preparing bangers and mash for the 89th Zombie Club meal. You would think I’d had enough practice by now, right? The sausages aren't really a problem, just throw them in the oven for a while, then open and remove when they look a bit black. But the potatoes wouldn't boil for ages - I blame this new casserole dish I used. You see, it keeps the heat for hours afterwards but takes a long time to warm up, and by the time they started to boil, I should have had dinner on the table. I can't believe I messed up like this, especially with the spuds, considering I'm Irish'n all.
So, I missed the first 7 or 8 minutes of Xtro 2, and my mind was primarily focused on eating rather than paying full attention to some dodgy sequel. Not so much a sequel as a highly questionable Alien-style rip-off (minus the 'style' part), this exercise in tedium makes little effort to keep even the most hardened b-movie viewer interested. Taking place at an underground bunker apparently (though we really had no idea, right guys?), we have a creature from another dimension, team of dull scientists, and one Jan Michael Vincent, who is called into action by said dull scientists to clean up this sorry mess. Oh, and a lot of talking. A LOT.
So shameless is the extent of Alien ripping, this abomination even includes a variation on that John Hurt scene, which Jim must have had predicted (”Looks like you were right about the chest burster!” – Rawshark), but aside from that, it’s just a lot of big talk, bigger guns, and a big monster which we don’t see enough of. Design-wise, this production really didn’t have much to offer, but we did appreciate the cool uniforms the crew wore, even though Rawshark did notice that they had ”a baggy rear section”. Oh, and I learned that radiation can’t find its way through iron ore. That should come in useful.
”I ain’t ready for this Buck Rogers shit.”
Rawshark You’d never have thought that Xtro II was directed by the same man who directed the original, so far apart in quality that they are. Whereas Xtro was solid dirty fun from the off, Xtro II is a turgid tread of clichés that not even a permanently pissed (both in terms of anger and drunkenness) Jan Michael Vincent can save.
The film opens in some sort of military underground bunker (“at DTI Level 4” apparently), where some scientist types have only gone and got themselves stuck in the Nexus – an alternative dimension. The top bods want to send in the marines, but some others think they need to call on Shepherd (JMV), the only man to have returned from Nexus alive.
So, Jan turns up walking very slow and stuff, but then, wouldn’t you know it, a hot chick manages to return from Nexus to team up with him and the other soldiers. Everyone walks very slowly for a bit more, then JMV pulls out a great big gun (“Possibly better than the gun in Blastfighter” – Zomblee) that is perhaps the only good thing about this movie.
Anyway, the rest of the film plods through it’s Aliens rip-off plot course, as the marines get trapped in a warehouse with a cheap looking alien – cue lots of running around in the air shafts as the cast go on a hunt for decent sounding dialogue. ”There’s a lot of shafting in this movie” observed Jim, but trust me, the only shafting you lot will get is if you actually pay money to see this film, and then waste precious minutes of your life watching it. Best avoided.
“We’re experiencing retro-doppler effect”.
Jim Alright, alright, so maybe there are limits to how bad you can go with something before it’s just, like, so bad you can’t honestly watch it without your brain melting. Xtro II is admittedly that bad, and yes I’ve watched it twice, so in many ways I’m just thankful I’m still alive.
A bit like how Jan Michael Vincent probably feels every day. That guy looks amazingly pickled throughout the whole film; pickled as a pickled onion, pickled as a pickled egg, pickled as a, err, well you get the idea. He can hardly walk straight or speak straight, and you’ll notice that most of the shots with him in involve quick cut close ups, which makes me think his scenes were either pick up shots, or they were all filmed first thing in the morning.
And that reminds me, wasn’t Xtro all about outer space? What’s this extra dimension business all about? And what about… oh what’s the use. I can hardly shout, I picked this film, so maybe it wasn’t such a brilliant idea after all. Maybe that’s why we got distracted and started talking about all kinds of ridiculous stuff, like what you do and don’t take with you when you move house. (”No one takes their doors with them!” - Zomblee)
Still, that big gun was really big, and I secretly quite enjoyed watching JMV drink his way through the budget, so shoot me. Zomblee nailed it too when he said ”It looks like the same jacket he was wearing in Airwolf!” and Rawshark was equally correct when he described the whole movie as ”Aliens in an Elevator!”
And I don’t want you to actually shoot me guys, that was a figure of speech…
”Well Bob, can I call you Bob?”
Director Harry Bromley Davenport
Cast Jan-Michael Vincent
Runtime 92 mins
Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!
So the bottom line is, Xtro is pretty good, Xtro 2 sucks big ass balls. There's not much more to say about that, no is there? Maybe it wasn't such a brilliant idea for a Zombie Club after all, but you live and learn.
Tune in next time when go all jive with a slice of 70s Blaculasploitation, ya dig?
10th Aug 04 Some films are in a league of their own. Q – The Winged Serpent is one of those films. We have a great cast as well as a great story along with highly impressive visuals and let us not forget the...