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Image Entertainment presents
Xtro/Xtro II (1983, 1992)

"Dad, dad, what's happening?"
- Tony (Simon Nash)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: April 27, 2006

Stars: Bernice Stegers, Simon Nash, Maryam D'Abo, Jan-Michael Vincent
Other Stars: Philip Sayer, Danny Brainin, Paul Koslo, Tara Buckman
Director: Harry Bromley Davenport

MPAA Rating: R for (graphic violence, nudity)
Run Time: 02h:53m:20s
Release Date: December 05, 2005
UPC: 014381165722
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- CC-C B-

DVD Review

When I was a child there was a weekly midnight showing of Xtro at the venerable Flicker Palace, my now-defunct, hometown single-screen movie theater. While I was never old enough to attend one of these screenings, this 1983 low budget sci-fi horror film will always have a place in my heart. I still had not seen the film until Image's Xtro/Xtro II double feature DVD arrived at my doorstep. I have finally experienced closure after all of these years, and, while my memories of the Flicker Palace will always remain, my perception of the film sure has changed.

The original Xtro is nowhere near as awful as its sequel, and very worthy of the cult status my imagination bestowed upon it as a kid. Sam Phillips (Philip Sayer) vanishes for no apparent reason while he is outside with his young son, Tony (Simon Nash). Tony has been struggling to cope with his father's disappearance, living with his mother, Rachel (Bernice Stegers) and her boyfriend, Joe (Danny Brainin). Then, three years after vanishing, Sam reappears and isn't acting like his old self at all.

After a nice opening, the story starts to unravel when Sam is "reborn" through an unlucky woman impregnated with an alien. Apparently, this means Sam is now an alien himself, killing nearly everything in sight. These murders result in some wonderfully gruesome make-up effects that attempt to distract from the incoherent plot. Sam's metamorphosis into an alien isn't so much of a plot point as an excuse for the blood to start flowing, but that's not exactly a bad thing, at least in terms of this picture. There's plenty of gratuitous sex and nudity as well (thanks to the gorgeous Maryam D'Abo), which, combined with the gore, makes this a heck of a guilty pleasure.

Xtro II is a stinker in every sense of the word; ignoring the plot of the original to tell the story of a pair of scientists who accidentally unleash a creature in their laboratory. Just about the only similarity to the original is the creature's birth scene. Paul Koslo and Tara Buckman play Doctors Alex Summerfield and Julie Casserly, who are experimenting with travel across different dimensions. The creature comes into their dimension when one of three test subjects brings back a parasite, which eventually bursts out of her, Alien-style (that film is shamelessly and repeatedly ripped-off here). Jan-Michael Vincent shows up to save the day, playing Dr. Ron Shepherd, a veteran of these sorts of incidents. Shepherd and his team proceed to kick some alien butt; pulling out the heavy artillery to populate scene after scene with ineffective jump scares.

After enjoying Xtro as a cheesy B-movie, and knowing director Harry Bromley Davenport is behind the camera for the sequel as well, I expected at least a little bit of fun. Unfortunately, there's absolutely none to be had, as the acting is wooden and amateur and the plot makes little sense. While extreme gore and gratuitous nudity give the first film some charm, the effects in the sequel are so cheap and pedestrian that even a Jan-Michael Vincent sighting can't save it.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Both films show up in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers that are far from spectacular. They are hindered by a ton of grain, some dirt, and a few more print flaws that are very distracting. Muted colors are another problem, but shadow and contrast levels are among the few things that are handled well.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Xtro's only audio option is a bland Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, while Xtro II gets both a 2.0 and 5.1 track. Both 2.0 tracks are similar in that much of the action stays up front, generating clear dialogue, but not much in the way of dynamic range or bass. The Xtro II 5.1 mix livens things up a bit, adding some punch in the form of bass presence and utilizing the surrounds frequently.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 38 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
1 Deleted Scenes
2 Alternate Endings
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Xtro Gallery
Extras Review: There is a handful of valuable extras, beginning with a pair of alternate endings for Xtro. These clips are actually better than the ending used in the theatrical version. A 40-second extra scene that is without any audio, as well as trailers for Xtro and Xtro II are here too.

The most interesting bonus is the Xtro Exposed featurette, about 17 minutes, which is an extended interview with director Harry Bromley Davenport. This recent sit-down finds the filmmaker in a very revealing mood, as he expresses his negative opinion about the film he directed. This is a breath of fresh air after being inundated for years with fluffy interviews that feature nothing but praise for the movie in question.

Finishing up the extras is a photo gallery.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

The semi-recent trend of "Double Feature" DVD releases continues with Image Entertainment's Xtro/Xtro II. While it's always nice to get a pair of movies for the price of one, Xtro II is a worthless sequel that should only be seen by the most curious sci-fi fans. The disc is boosted by a few extras, but can only boast average audio and video transfers.

 


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