If you don’t know, Xtro is a British science fiction horror from 1982 that tells the story of Sam (Philip Sayer), a young father who is playing outside his idyllic country cottage home with son Tony until he is seemingly abducted by aliens. Some years later, Sam returns, in a way, to reclaim his son and wife Rachel (Bernice Stegers). Rachel has moved on and is now with new partner Joe, but the return of her lost love throws this all into chaos. And chaos it is, because Sam is not entirely the same as he used to be and it leads to bloody death. It’s one of those films that any two people could feel entirely different about. For everyone who thinks it’s cheap, cheesy nonsense there’s someone else who digs the invention and ambition of the movie and this restored version is sharp and beautiful to behold, making that an easier sell.
Xtro has a reputation of some notoriety for a couple of over the top gore scenes and these days, the effects don’t carry the same weight as they would have done 35 plus years ago. But Xtro has more to it than this, including some great attempts at atmosphere and an emotional core to the story and if you get with the general sense of escalating weirdness you’ll have a good time. It’s an acquired taste but if it works for you, there’s much to enjoy. And at the centre of it all is an appropriately intense performance from Sayer as the conflicted Sam.
Of course, if you know and like the film already then you’re going to be most interested in finding out whether this Second Sight Blu-ray release’s slate of extras is worth it. And this is where this new set excels, starting off with four versions of the film that includes an original version, an alternative ending version, the UK video version and finally, director Harry Bromley Davenport’s updated version (in which colours and other bits have been adjusted). There’s a brand new, affectionate 57-minute documentary on the production of the movie that’s very entertaining and features a number of the film’s key contributors and the likes of genre expert Alan Jones. There’s a featurette on the World of Xtro (27 mins), the archival Xtro Xposed (11 mins), a musical tribute to Sayer (sadly lost to us), some test footage from the proposed reboot of the series, a trailer and TV spot and a book on the production. There’s also a disc of the soundtrack (also by Davenport) if you really want to do it all.
Overall, it’s an excellent release doing the film justice, and comes highly recommended.
XTRO (1982) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: HARRY BROMLEY DAVENPORT / SCREENPLAY: IAIN CASSIE, ROBERT SMITH / STARRING: PHILIP SAYER, BERNICE STEGERS, DANNY BRAININ, MARYAM D’ABO / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 18TH