• Xtro 3 (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: February 25th, 2020.
    Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
    Cast: J. Marvin Campbell, Douglas Cavanaugh, Robert Culp, Andrew Divoff, Virgil Frye, Nigel Gibbs, Daryl Haney
    Year: 1995
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    Xtro 3 – Movie Review:

    The third film in the Xtro series starts off with some amazing footage of a spaceship crashing to Earth before then cutting to a vintage black and white newsreel promoting an actress that is interrupted to show off some home movies shot in Arizona that captured footage of a flying saucer – the same one we just saw crash moments ago. The kid who shot the footage later confesses on camera that it was a prank. It’s a goofy and amusing intro to the picture.

    From there, we cut to the California of 1995. A reporter named Erica Stern (Jeanne Mori) shows up at a grimy hotel room and meets Lt. Martin Kirn (Sal Landi), a hard-drinking vet who wants to tell her a story. And he does. We learn about a classified operation he went on to an island two hundred miles offshore, uncharted, that was used as an internment camp and then gunnery projects during the second world war. He’s to be part of a team to head there and retrieve the live ammo they suspect is still stored there. Soon enough, he teams up with Reily (David M. Parker), Hendricks (Daryl Haney), Banta (Andrea Lauren Herz) and Friedman (Jim Hanks) under the supervision of C.I.A. Agent Captain Fetterman (Andrew Divoff) and his assistant J.G. Watkins (Karen Moncrieff) and heads to the aforementioned island to get down to business.

    Once they get there, they grab some metal detectors and some walkie talkies and split into two teams. Fetterman lets them know that if they come across any remnants of the old camp, to bring them directly to him. It isn’t long before weird stuff starts to happen – they find a mass grave, gear gets stolen and come across a man who has clearly been there for decades and lost his mind! It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this island has a strange history, stranger than Kirn and his team have been told… and of course, they’re not alone – this has to tie into that opening scene, right? And it’s got something to do with a giant concrete bunker!

    Alien fetuses! SFX that rip off Predator! One dimensional clichéd army characters! Bad dialogue! Neat alien puppets! Gooey effects work! Unconvincing black and white ‘old fashioned found footage’ from the WWII era! A guy who smokes weed! Aliens that make jungle cat noises! Scenes of moderate gore! Alien trepanning! Dated optical effects! Toy helicopters! Extremely rubbery space men! Bunny rabbits! Backstabbing C.I.A. agents with great teeth! Xtro 3 has all this and more.

    Is it good? Not really! Is it entertaining? Yeah, it’s pretty entertaining. Technical details aren’t amazing, a lot of what is here effects-wise is dated, but the movie has its own wonky charm. It’s riddled with clichés, of course, but the cast members are all game and seem to be having fun here. Any time the alien is on screen and wreaking havoc the movie is gold and the movie winds up an interesting mix of action, sci-fi and horror tropes. The acting is rarely amazing but all involved are at least enthusiastic and Andrew Divoff is pretty fun to watch (though to be fair, Andrew Divoff is always fun to watch, he just has that quality about him). This isn’t as legitimately weird as the first Xtro movie, it’s too Predator influenced to go in that direction and, well, it lacks a fucked up birthing scene, but get a few beers in you and this is a fun ‘Sunday afternoon with nothing else to do’ movie.

    Xtro 3 – Blu-ray Review:

    Xtro 3 arrives on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, newly restored from a 2k scan of the original 35mm negative. Picture quality is great. There’s no noticeable print damage at all, the elements look fantastic, while the expected amount of film grain remains. There are some shots that are noticeably grainier than others, but that looks to have been how the movie was shot, not an issue with the transfer itself. Colors are reproduced very nicely, and detail levels are pretty strong throughout. There are no problems with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction. All in all, the movie looks very nice indeed!

    Audio is handled by an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No problems to note. The track is balanced and the dialogue is always clear. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note. The score and the effects work all sound fine. The weird organ music used towards the end of the film fills the room nicely when played at a decent volume!

    Extras start off with Winning And Losing, a new interview with director Harry Bromley Davenport that runs for twenty-minutes. Here he speaks about how he’s directed a bunch of films, none of which are particularly good! He then talks about how this was the first movie he made in the United States, how and why he wound up making a third Xtro film and how he got the idea from Omni Magazine, working with Daryl Haney (‘he’s cleverer than I am’), how and why directing the film was ‘Hellish’ and how it differed from directing in Europe, how part of the film was inspired by Faces Of Death, how and why the alien vivisection scene turned out the way it did, David Barton’s effects work and more.

    In Acting Like A Writer we sit down with writer/actor Daryl Haney for eighteen-minutes to hear about the difficulties of being both a writer and an actor and how hard it can be to get taken seriously as either when you’re doing both. He talks about how an early student film led to his getting into the industry, how Roger Corman’s attempts to piggyback a film on some existing sets wound up tying into his early career when Joe Minion directed the gig for Corman and needed help. He then speaks about working on Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood, getting to know and work with Davenport, bouncing ideas around for Xtro 3, how the plot eventually took shape, how he wound up acting in the picture, shooting at the Iverson Movie Ranch, how he had fun being on set and how he was drunk a lot at the time!

    Rounding out the extra feature is a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie. Some nice reversible cover sleeve art is also included and if you purchase this release direct from Vinegar Syndrome, the first 2,000 copies come with al limited-edition slipcover featuring artwork designed by Earl Kessler Jr.

    Xtro 3 – The Final Word:

    Xtro 3 is an enjoyably goofy time killer, an entertaining low budget genre mashup with some appreciably old school effects work and some memorable characters. Vinegar Syndrome has done a fine job bringing this one to Blu-ray with a very nice presentation and some entertaining and interesting interviews making up the bulk of the supplements.

    Click on the images below for full sized Xtro 3 Blu-ray screen caps!