We were introduced to this body-snatcher alien-invasion gem via Red Letter Media’s Best of the Worst episode, and it’s brightened our world forever since. It’s the brainchild of British director Harry Bromley Davenport, who’s responsible not only for story and direction but also the film’s adorably ’80s synth soundtrack.
The movie starts with a man (Philip Sayer) and his son (Simon Nash) playing fetch in the yard; they rip a hole in space and the rift sucks the man in.
A few years later his wife Rachel (Bernice Stegers), believing he left them, has a shitty Bob Dylan-look-a-like boyfriend named Joe (Danny Brainin) (N.B.: Everyone hates Joe) and a pretty but disinterested French au pair, Analise (Maryam d’Abo – pictured below).
Can we take a moment of silence and thank our higher powers that this picture was taken?
The son, Tony, is still having nightmares about his father, convinced that he is alive and coming back for them someday.
An alien crashes to earth (this is back in the good old days when aliens still drove meteors instead of these fancy doodads and gizmos they have now) and of course murders the first people he gets his hands on, stealing their car and clothes.
He then finds the requisite isolated woman, impregnates her with himself, and she dies giving birth to the fully adult human father from before. Meanwhile the kid wakes up covered in blood, telling the concerned adults that “daddy sent it.”
If you haven’t figured it out yet, you are in for some seriously awesome shit here.The father, now in human form and stolen clothes, tries to reconnect with his family. He convinces his wife that he has no recollection of where he’s been, though Joe doesn’t believe it for a second. The father squabbles with Joe and eats his son’s pet snake’s eggs (because this is that kind of movie) then, in an incredibly creepy scene, he breathes alien life into his son’s shoulder.This makeup effect, which feels like someone just peeled open your back to directly lick your spine with a very cold tongue, is the second of two moments (along with the full-grown father emerging head-first from a woman’s vagina) that gave that feeling of “this movie is doing shit we’ve never seen.”
After this–infusion–the kid develops psychic powers, kills the old woman in the apartment below (vengeance for his pet snake who met a nasty demise), basically cleans out his whole apartment with terrifying possessed toys (and a FUCKING panther! :D) brought to life with his alien-augmented imagination, and uses these toy servants to turn the au pair into a human egg factory.
Joe finds a link between the father and the people he murdered, but not before the father’s human form starts decomposing during coitus in his final goodbye with the mother.
Joe is subdued via psychic blast, and the mother looks on as father and son ascend the stars in a glowing triangle of paternal love.
At heart Xtro is a movie about a father who loves his son, and only his son, and comes back for him from beyond the whatever to take him back to (perhaps a more enlightened?) extraterrestrial life.
The director’s original ending had the wife come home to see the au pair’s eggs had hatched into multiple versions of her son (which sounds to me like the son’s farewell gift of ‘here’s some sons to replace the me you lost’) and therefore making this once again a film about love and family.
The producer cut that because of bad visual effects and just had the movie end where the story ends with the father and son leaving.
But then the director created the released ending of the mother coming home to find the eggs calling her mommy, whereupon she gets Alien-face-fucked by an egg, presumably impregnated by her son so that he can come back and make her an alien too… or kill her trying? Not sure how that all works out.
This movie goes that extra mile to show you not just things you’ve never seen before, but things you’ve been afraid to think of, whether that be evil midget clowns in a child’s bedroom or murderous toy soldiers expressionlessly murdering old women.
You start watching this movie laughing at some of its effects, acting, and “oldness” and end up saying, “touché, movie, I cannot handle what you’re dishing out.” The result is a uniquely thrilling cinematic experience.
This is prime MST3K fodder, but for me personally, Xtro might have been the tipping point (along with 1988’s Not of this Earth) to where the thought of watching this type of lower budget scifi movie with a Mystery Science Theater dub now seems as psychologically and artistically insulting as adding a laugh track. Most people can find it in themselves to laugh at poorly made movies without help, but making an extraneous heckler the lens through which you view a movie obliterates the opportunity for you to experience it, in all its bumpy uneven details, and therefore judge or appreciate it.