May 11, 2010


This theme of extraterrestrial life has sprung up on several occasions recently. After hearing rumors for the new J.J. Abrams teaser to be anonymously attached to all Iron Man 2 prints, speculation abound with the rumor mill churning at full speed. With a wild spinner pointing towards Cloverfield canon, Super 8 turns out to be another Abrams cock-tease trailer effort with an exaggerated train accident and an unidentified creature beating at the inside of a heavily armed door. Mentions of Area 51 led me to finally visit the strange world in which Xtro takes place. Xtro is particularly notorious for it's brief stint as a video nasty after a scene in which a woman gives graphic birth to a full grown male. While this scene does not fear reproach in extensively detailing on afterbirth and gore leaking out of her vagina, it's nowhere near as bad as many of the other acts of violence depicted on celluloid at this current place in time.

To simply chalk up my opinion on Xtro would be for me to explain that it is by far one of the greater science-fiction horror films that I've ever seen; not to mention Event Horizon, as that film contained trace elements of a different horror caliber. Xtro is a film about a father who was abducted in front of his son while vacationing up at "the cabin" some odd years back. Wistful wife, Rachel, firmly believes that Harry ran out on her leaving young Tony at the cabin to fend for himself. But Tony knows the truth for he's haunted continuously by terrifying nightmares of the ominous light effect that Harry Broven Davenport uses to great effect as it blinds both the characters and the audience. It's not long before his father returns with "black magic from deep space" as the trailer defines it and he wants Tony. If you know nothing of Xtro before viewing it, the greatest surprises of all will be a vast reward. Pockets of bloody surrealism are tucked under many corners of this film with excruciatingly painful-to-watch prosthetics and bubbling pod-skin and other miserable body-horrors.

What Xtro borrows from the genre isn't much to it's own avail. With the alien arc in tow, it builds layers upon this story creating both sublime surrealism of daunting clown entities and layers of emotional and terrifying depth which leaves for one of the most serene and silent endings in science-fiction history. At the moments of the credits rolling, I found myself silent and respectful for the characters fates and that is simply something I don't do unless we are talking about Martyrs. One thing about Xtro that startles me is how frequently this film is panned; one reviewer even stating that the film "falls flat." Now I realize the existence of personal subjective classification but Xtro takes a stale tale and re-wraps the lore of an extraterrestrial entity and encrusts itself in a manic-depressive cocoon of extreme violence, sadistic psychological warfare, and a beautiful french woman who gets eaten out like the dirty tramp she is. In all the films I've seen, I don't think I've seen anything quite like Xtro.

If I had to pick the source of Xtro's power I'd circle the soundtrack of what Davenport called "screaming synthesizers." During the scene in which the "father" silently rediscovers his earthly rights off a backwoods road, his startling appearance marks the start of an increasingly delirious soundtrack that will appease any fan of avant-garde or sharp noise. Imagine Factums at the basic, stripped of it's rock core and the only thing left is the space synth with bleep twerps and the grinding ambiance of which I can only describe as looming. Xtro is an incredible sci-fi experience that makes up for what it loses in it's inexperienced (at the time) directors hands with it's broad perspective of the black beyond and relentless finale. Davenport doesn't care about your feelings towards his characters. He created these people and as a tactful god of his own fiction, he bestows upon whomever with whatever fates he desires. Xtro is merely his puppet and he works the strings fairly damn well. Say what you will about the film but in the end...

Xtro > You


1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

If "Xtro" had been American made it would have been quite good but because its British made its a pile of shit, read Eberts reveiw for the truth about "Xtro" and the laughable travesty and pathetic fiasco that is the (so-called) British film industry.