Xtro (1982)

This one has a bit of a cult following.

It is also generally considered to be completely awful.

Mind you, the two often go together, but this is one seriously strange film.  It is actually fairly well made for a low budget effort, with moderately proficient British actors, interesting locations and some impressively nasty low fi gore effects.  It was marketed as an alien rip-off, but it is about as far from Ridley Scott as you can get and still be a movie.

A father is kidnapped by…bright lights.  Apparently some fans doubt if they are aliens because aliens are never mentioned, but one can see a certain resemblance to Close Encounters, what with all the light and the wind.  He returns three years later and wants to take his boy back with him.

He tells his boy that they — whoever they are — had to change him so they could take him wherever he’s just been.  Now if that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because that basic notion showed up in H.P. Lovecraft’s story, The Whisperer in Darkness.

The one thing that everyone remembers about this one is the gross-out scene where a woman gives birth to a full-grown man.  There are other bits of gore, and some rather strange scenes involving living toys, nasty clowns, psychic powers and who knows what nonsense.  It reminds me a bit of the Hammer House of Horror TV series, with a similar sort of low budget shot on location look to it — and a bit of another low budget shocker from the Seventies, Prey.  It has a weird atmosphere and moody quality to it all, which from what the director has said may have been more of an accident than anything else.

For those who think such things are important, future Bond girl Maryam D’Abo makes her debut here, but after a couple of nude sex scenes, she ends up in a cocoon for the rest of the film.

The one thing one can confidently say is that it is never boring.  It doesn’t make much sense, and it is hard to say what it is going on here, as we are given so little information beyond what the father says.  I’m not sure it’s a film that would survive rewatching, but, if you’re in the mood for something strange and British with a seventies Brit-Horror vibe to it, it is worth a look.

But not necessarily much more.

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