10th Jun2019

‘Xtro’ Blu-ray Review (Second Sight)

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Philip Sayer, Bernice Stegers, Danny Brainin, Maryam d’Abo, Simon Nash, Peter Mandell, David Cardy, Anna Wing, Robert Fyfe, Katherine Best, Robert Pereno | Written by Iain Cassie, Robert Smith | Directed by Harry Bromley-Davenport

xtro-blu-cover

Directed by Harry Bromley-Davenport, who co-wrote the story with Michel Parry, and written for the screen by Iain Cassie and Robert Smith, is a cult film that, in my view, is long overdue a new release, and this Second Sight project is worth the wait. It tells the story of a man who is abducted by alien lifeforms and three years afterwards he returns to his home, not the man he once was. It’s a gem of b-movie gory horror, with an unnerving tone, nasty sequences and some dated yet effective special effects. The practical gore effects are especially fun to watch, even 36 years later. If you are unaware of the film, and so unaware of some of the scenes on offer, you’re in for a disturbance, or a treat. There are some truly insane and memorable moments to be found in Xtro, making it a pretty unforgettable slice of visceral horror oddness.

Without going too deep into the plot, and without spoiling the parts that stand out to me by telling you about them in too much detail, I will just urge you to give this a go if you like your low-budget horror films, the kinds that go all out to create something tremendously blood soaked and bizarre. The performances, while a little on the corny side, are still solid, but that isn’t what the film is about. Though the late Peter Sayer, who played Sam, puts in a performance to not be forgotten. I thought he was great here. A tale of loss, love, trust and alien crab-looking creatures from another world, you will either really like this, or hate it. It will divide opinion, but I’m one of those people who loves a film that can do that, and to find out which side of the fence I stand on is sometimes a real treat.

The blu-ray is a really nice release, not merely scraping by on the basic empty release, it has immediate options as to which version you’d like to watch. The original version, an alternate ending and a new 2018 Director’s version. This is a nice optional thing to see. Also on the release is a very well done 57 minute documentary called “Xploring Xtro” in which the director, Harry Bromley-Davenport, who was part of the project to have this film released on Blu-ray from Second Sight, and others including cast members such as Tim Dry and Sean Crawford, talk about the film. I liked this a lot, and felt it offered a lot of information for those who aren’t necessarily familiar with Xtro and even insights to existing fans. Two further featurettes, “The World of Xtro” and “Beyond Xtro” offer further insight and information from Bromley-Davenport and others. These are a wonderful addition to the almost hour-long documentary we get here, extending the features nicely. Finally, there is “Xtro Xposed”, an archive interview with Bromley-Davenport, and “Loving The Alien: A Tribute to Philip Sayer”. It must be said that we don’t always get this sort of treatment with releases of cult films, and to see Xtro be given this amount of respect and love in a release as well-rounded and beautifully presented as this is a joy.

There are times, on this Blu-ray, where the film looks brand new. Clean and crisp, there isn’t a sign of it’s age. There are other times where the grain remains, and that isn’t a bad thing. The thing is, with films like Xtro, much of the effects that occur look better with grain still being present, so I appreciated that. I feel like it was cleaned up beautifully, and the changes in some elements, such as colour and other tweaks of visuals, in the 2018 Director’s Version, make the film quite lovely to look at. For existing lovers of the film, and those yet to discover its whimsical, fun and peculiar nature, this release is a must-buy. I had a blast with it, unfolding each page of the features after watching the film in its various versions on offer. Exceptional.

It’s silly, yes. Trippy, for sure. It’s an bizarro film that has a reputation in cult film circles, but really, on a simple and pure level, this is a fun movie with some enjoyable horror moments. I think Second Sight have done a marvellous job with the Blu-ray, and if ever you were waiting for a copy of this movie worth spending your money on, surely this is it.

Xtro is out on Blu-ray from Second Sight, now.

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