Xtro - Xtro(Blu Ray/CD) [Second Sight Films - 2018]In the early 1980’s, as the British film industry was floundering-near-dead along came Xtro. A decidedly quirky at times surreal 'n' gory horror/ Sci-Fi film that featured an impressive enough budget, good acting talent, and some truly bonker ideas. Here on Second Sight, we have a new, & pretty much definitive reissue of the film- featuring a Blu Ray presentation of the film with a big bag of extras, the films CD soundtrack, and a perfectly bound booklet.
Released in 1982 Xtro was the second film from London based director & producer Harry Bromley Davenport. The film managed to be made, during the Uk film industry downturn, due to half of the budget been put up by Robert Shaye & New Line Pictures. And because of its success in the USA, it helped bolster the company in its low period before it’s success with the Elm Street series. It’s fair to say Xtro is a real oddity- not just in it’s quirky & playfully surreal elements- but also the films decidedly mixed tone which moves from dramatic & seriously acted family drama, onto slimy & gooey alien monster action, though to off-the-cuff artiness, and back again.
The film begins with father & son playing in an English garden with their dog on a bright sunshiny day. Then when the father throws a stick, the sky turns black, loads of bright flashing lights occur, and the boy screams. Next, we find the boy waking drenched in sweat, his mother comforts him and makes it clear the father left some years back, seemingly on his own accord. Next we move into nighttime woodland & the arrival of some strange four-legged & reptile alien, that walks on all fours in a crab-like fashion- fairly soon this knocks off a few folks, before impregnating a women via the mouth, then fairly soon in one of the films most infamous scenes the boy's father is birthed by a twitching & convulsing women. From here on the film moves from dramatic family drama, onto children’s dolls growing to human size & killing people, gooey alien action, random black panthers, and OTT light effects.
I can’t really recall the first time I saw Xtro, but I clearly recall seeing the stills of the four-legged alien somewhere as a child & it rather freak me out. So when I finally saw the film some twenty or so years later, it really went above what I was expecting in both the gore & goo departments, but mainly its bizarre mix of serious drama & playful surrealism impressed the most. So I was chuffed to bits when I saw the film was getting a UK region free Blu Ray release.
This new reissue comes in a classy looking rigid slipcase featuring original poster art from the film. Inside this, you get the Blu ray & CD in card digipak. You also get a perfectly bound booklet of 40 pages, this takes in a good selection of production stills, effect concept drawings, and a new 17 page write–up about the film. All in all, it’s a very nice & classy presentation.
Moving onto the Blu ray its self we get four versions of the film, I checked out the new directors cut which according to the directors intro features improved colour & effects, and yes it certainly looks good enough for a film from the 80’s- with the more crazy & bizarre elements almost popping out of screen, though it does still seem a fairly dark looking print. Extras wise we get a good selection- this moves from Xploring Xtro, a new 57 minute documentary about the film- which sees interviews with the director, producer, and a few of the actors- this doc was produced by Mark Morris Nucleus Films company, and anyone who recalls his great work with the extra Anchor Bay Entertainment release will know they are in for a real treat. Onto top of this, we get a nice selection of tasty featurette – we have The World of Xtro a twenty-seven-minute discussion about the themes in the film with the director, producer, and uber fan of the film Dennis ‘xtro’ Atherton. Beyond Xtro- a seven-minute feature mainly focusing on the directors' new film that’s in the works- Xtro- The Big One, which sees an alien invasion happening as the world faces Armageddon. Loving The Alien: A Tribute to Philip Sayer- a five or so minute tribute to the actor that played the alien/ father in the film. And Xtro Xposed- an eleven or so minute interview regarding the film with the director, and this looks like it was done ten or so years back. On top of this, you get the standard trailers & TV spots.
The second disc in the set is, of course, the soundtrack, and this was written & played by the director- who is also a trained concert pianist. The score is synth-based, and to my ears has a quite a playful Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson quilty to it- as it moves from grandly spacey, noisy & dramatic synth effect swoopings, onto playful circus-like. The score takes in twelve tracks, with a running time of forty-two minutes, and on the whole, it’s a varied enough 80’s synth soundtrack.
All in all Second Sight have done a grand job with the reissue of this horror/ sci-fi/ family drama/ surreal film. There really is nothing quite like Xtro, and here it gets a most fitting tribute. I believe this is an Ltd release, so I wouldn’t hang around too long…otherwise, you’ll be down to pay high prices on eBay.Roger Batty