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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Xtro (1982)

What the hell did I just watch? Xtro is one of the weirdest Sci-Fi movies I've seen in a long time. Alien abduction, vampiric-like activity, midget clowns, telekinesis, Argento-style blood spurts and a black leopard are just some of the strange happenings in this movie. Someone must have been doing some serious LSD when they wrote this screenplay! It's hard to know what to say about Xtro except that it has to be experienced firsthand. There is no way to convey the craziness in this movie in a way that makes sense. But I can say that I couldn't stop watching it because I wondered what bizarre thing I would see next.

Xtro was written and directed by Harry Bromley Davenport who ended up directing a trilogy of these unusual and somewhat disturbing films. His resume is small and that's understandable. After doing something like this, studios would be hesitant to hire him to do something more mainstream.

The bright spots of Xtro are the acting and the special effects. Bernice Stegers [Atlantis, Final Fantasy XII] is the heart and soul of this movie. She's a wife whose husband mysteriously disappeared three years ago and she was left to raise her son. Now, three years later, her husband is back, but something is not quite right about him. Most of the other British actors are not well-known to Americans but you may be familiar with Maryam d'Abo who played the Bond Girl in The Living Daylights. The rest of the cast is sold as well.

Now, let's talk about the special effects. The team on Xtro definitely paid homage to Dario Argento and other Italian horror masters. Their work is gooey, graphic and even made this hardcore horror fan squirm a time or two. Much of the work they did on Xtro is very unique and felt like a fresh and creative take on gross-out effects.

The weakest link in Xtro is the soundtrack. Good God, it was awful. I know they had a limited budget but this lone synthesizer became annoying at many points in the movie and never added anything to the mood of the film. Simplicity is not the problem because John Carpenter proved that simple can be very effective in Halloween (1978). The score is just poorly written and Harry Bromley Davenport should have given the task to someone who was more capable than he.

So, it's hard to know how to rate this film. I have to give it a Fair because my overall impression is that it's a little weak. It has some great things going for it, but the sum is definitely less than the parts. However, if you have a taste for the strange and the gross then you will probably enjoy Xtro.

RATING: Fair.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.