• X-Tro



    Released by: Image Entertainment
    Released on: 9/20/2005
    Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
    Cast: Philip Sayer, Bernice Stegers, Danny Brainin, Maryam D’Abo, Simon Nash
    Year: 1983

    The Movie:

    Harry Bromley Davenport’s notorious Xtro, the best (or worst, depending on your point of view and moral standing within society) British alien-rebirth-clown-panther-hot-naked-French-chick movie ever made finally sees a Region One release thanks to Imge Entertainment.

    The movie begins when Sam Phillips (Philip Sayer) disappears right on front of his young son Tony (Simon Nash of Brazil). Three years later, Tony is still dealing with his father’s disappearance and he tells his mother, Rachel (Bernice Stegers of Lamberto Bava’s Macabro) and her new boyfriend – a high fashion photographer, that his father didn’t leave, that he was taken by aliens. Things start to get strange though when Sam is reborn as a full grown man in fairly graphic detail through a woman who gets impregnated by an alien being that lands on Earth. While all of this is going on, the lovely French babysitter (the lovely Maryam D’Abo of The Living Daylights in her big screen debut) is getting it on with her boyfriend from time to time, unbeknownst to her employees.

    When Sam picks up his son at school one day, his mother starts to become very concerned and for good reason. Where has he been all this time? Is it really him? She soon finds out that this isn’t the same Sam she was once married to, as he has a strange tendency to kill people at random intervals and to leak greasy, oily fluid out of his arms and wrists. This strange behavior doesn’t stop Tony from expressing his joy at Daddy’s return, however, and soon, despite the fact that Sam has very obviously morphied into something very, very alien, he’s put him up on a pedestal once more.

    Full of completely gratuitous gross out effects, some entirely unnecessary but very welcome nudity from D’Abo, and a plot that makes little to no sense most of the time, Xtro is a complete and utter mess from start to finish – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a whole lot of fun. Citizen Kane it might not be but the movie does have a whole lot of quirky and exploitative charm that makes it very easy to sit through. The special effects, which are basically the centerpiece of the film, are completely budget looking but somehow manage to be a little unnerving at the same time, particularly the still gross birth scene in which Philip Sayer crawls out of his host mother’s crotch covered in slime and goop and blood.

    The score, which sounds like something John Carpenter might have done if he had found himself with a lot less talent in the eighties, adds an otherworldly feel to the movie that actually works in spite of itself. It somehow manages to make the gore scenes gorier and the really dumb and completely nonsensical dialogue even dumber and more nonsensical than they really are. Throw in a scene with a clown, a scene with a black panther, and a really bizarre looking alien and you get a movie that accidentily resembles, at times, some of David Cronenberg’s work, even if it is obviously completely accidental that it happens that way. High art, Xtro is not – but it’s good stupid fun.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen transfer is fairly heavy on grain and contains some minor print damage throughout. Colors look okay but a little faded in some spots though the black levels come through nicely and don’t tend to bury the detail present in the image. The skin tones look lifelike and natural and there are no problems with mpeg compression artifacts, though some mild line shimmering is present throughout the duration of the movie at any given point in time.

    Xtro is presented in a pleasing Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack without any alternate language dubs or subtitles provided. Dialogue is clean and clear and there aren’t any issues to report on in terms of hiss or distortion. The lovely 80s synth score, courtesy of Davenport, comes through nicely as do the squeeshy slimey sound effects.

    The biggest and best of the supplements on this release comes in the form of Xtro Exposed, a seventeen minute interview with the director of the film, Harry Bromley Davenport. Interestingly enough the director refers to his film as reprehensible and states that a lot of the strange bits of the film that don’t make any sense turned out that way simply because someone at some point who was involved in the production thought it would be a cool idea to put it in – that’s why there’s a panther and a clown in the movie. He also talks about making Xtro 2, with the immortal Jan Michael Vincent, as well as working on Xtro 3, which he actually sounds quite found of. No false pretenses here – he knows what kind of a film he made and he doesn’t try and sugarcoat anything. He also explains the role that the video nasties craze out of the UK had on the success of the film, and all in all this is a pretty interesting segment.

    Also included here are two alternate endings, a deleted scene (there’s no sound for this scene unfortunately), and a still gallery consisting of behind the scenes photographs and promotional art.

    The Final Word:

    While the video could have been a little cleaner, Xtro gets a decent DVD release from Image with a few interesting extra features to boot.