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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

XTRO (1982) (2018 Reissue)


Starring: Bernice Stegers, Philip Sayer, Simon Nash, Maryam d'Abo and Danny Brainin
Distributor: Second Sight
RRP: £29.99


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 02 July 2018

Sam Phillips is playing with his son outside the family cottage when night sets in abruptly and a blinding bright light appears, accompanied by high winds. Suddenly, Sam is gone. His wife Rachel assumes he walked out and left them. Three years later she has a live-in lover. Tony, the young boy is not interested in bonding with his ‘new father’ and sticks to his story that dad was taken by a bright light and that he will return. A strange and dangerous creature from another world arrives in the area and impregnates a woman living on her own with her dog. In a process which inevitably kills her, she gives birth to a full-size and fully-formed Sam. He returns to his old house where it is as if nothing has changed with his son. The boyfriend wants the newcomer gone, but Rachel grows to love him again as his memories return. What she doesn’t know is that Sam is now different, and has also passed-on surreal mental abilities to his son...

Xtro is a home-grown horror set in and around London. It just survived on the edge of the countless banned ‘Video Nasties’ of the 1980s, and deservedly so because it isn’t simply gore for gore’s sake. It’s a long time since I’ve seen this film; it gained a certain notoriety, like Inseminoid. In actuality it’s much better than I remember. Part of the reason has do with the quality of the picture, which is quite staggeringly crisp and sharp. This is one of those examples similar to the Hammer Blu-ray releases that make you believe you are watching a new film with a period setting. This set has been assembled with real care, displaying a definite love for the project. This film certainly carries its own unique identity. The genres cross between science fiction, horror, 1970s to 1980s panache (wherein everyone’s a photographer, model or artistic painter), and Twin Peaks-style surrealism.

You may have to pay more than you would for a standard Blu-ray, but this box set incorporates a veritable plethora of special features. Take a deep breath: Choice of Theatrical or Video Cover Artwork; a New Restoration with Optional Original and Alternative Endings; the UK Original Video version, and New 2018 Director’s Version; Xploring Xtro – a New 57 Minute Documentary with cast and crew; The World of Xtro – a New Featurette; Beyond Xtro – Looking Ahead to the New Reboot Xtro – The Big One with director Harry Bromley-Davenport; Xtro Xposed; Loving the Alien: Tribute to Philip Sayer featuring Exclusive Brian May Music Tribute; Original Soundtrack CD; and Soft Cover Book, with informative text and stills… And breathe.

The best of these extras for me is The World of Xtro. Director Harry (the name of the ‘female’ snake in the film) Bromley-Davenport is generally self-deprecating. He calls this their ‘little movie’ and calls it ‘an awful mess’ or words to that effect. We hear from Xtro’s number one fan. While the director tells us they didn’t have the time or money to film linking scenes, here we are told the weirdness of the film benefits from their absence. The fan proves convincingly that scenes were carefully planned. The boy, Tony, has a toy black panther in a cage; the moment he causes the clown to make an appearance the panther is seen to be free of the cage – a foreshadowing of what is to come. There are many examples like this if you pay close attention. What makes the craziness work is the entire story is grounded in the emotion of the family; all affected in different ways by events. The acting in this respect is very good by all concerned.

This film deserves more attention than it will probably get. One of the better shock-horror films of the 1980s. Give it a try. The amount of extras earns it an extra point.


Ty Power

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