Thursday, 27 October 2011

Xtro (1983)

Xtro is a weird movie, a very weird movie. It's a British sci-fi horror from 1983 and, thanks to some strange practical work emphasising great effects, it actually holds up surprisingly well to this day.

The plot revolves around a man who one day upped and walked out on his wife and son. The little boy says that his father was abducted by aliens but nobody else is buying that excuse. Three years later, the man reappears and somehow thinks that he can reforge those broken bonds with his loved ones. His son is happy to see him, and remains convinced that the alien abduction really happened, while his wife and her new partner are understandably confused by the whole situation. Things start to get very, very bizarre when the father confides in his son that the alien abduction was indeed very real and that he has a grand plan to put into effect.

Director Harry Bromley Davenport hasn't got much else of note on his CV but he certainly deserves a great deal of credit for the enduring appeal of Xtro to fans of the bizarre. As well as directing the movie, and the sequels, he helped to write the thing with the help of a few other people and he also provided the score (which I think also remains surprisingly effective).

The acting is okay but Xtro has so many moments that overshadow any acting anyway. Moments showing childish toys brought to life in order to terrorise others, moments in which an effects-covered mime artist proves somewhat disconcerting while crawling along on their back (sort of, see the pic below) and moments of slimy, nasty, painful alien birth procedures.

Philip Sayer, Bernice Stegers and Danny Brainin all do well enough with their roles, Simon Nash isn't too bad for a child actor put into some very strange surroundings and fans of Maryam d'Abo should enjoy her feature film debut, especially with the enjoyable moments of gratuitous nudity here and there.

Often incorrectly listed among the original 72 titles that made the "video nasty" list here in the UK, Xtro turns out to be quite unlike many other movies and certainly quite like anything else from Britain in the early 80s. Mixing the gruesome with the surreal and the real with the fantastical, it remains an enjoyable and rather intelligent sci-fi horror that deserves to be seen by more people.

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