The opening scene of Sam and his son, Tony, playing outside at their summer cottage home plays like many other mundane alien abduction flicks. A burst of blinding light, wind whipping about, followed by the abrupt disappearance of Sam leaving young Tony behind to cope without his dad. This scene is the only relatively normal scene in this bat shit, kitchen-sink, nihilistic special effects spectacular by co-writer and director Harry Bromley Davenport.
Three years later, after Tony and his mother have moved in with her new boyfriend, the light returns near the cottage where Sam disappeared and with it a strange creature. The creature wastes no time killing those it crosses paths with and impregnates a woman in a nearby cottage. Within minutes her belly swells to unnatural size and begins birthing a full grown Sam, all while the woman’s dog eats the remnants of the alien creature that’s fulfilled its objective. Yeah. It’s revolting. This scene alone almost landed Xtro on the Video Nasty list.
Sam tracks down his family and re-enters their lives as though nothing has changed, save for some memory loss. Tony, having been dealing with the trauma of his father’s disappearance via reoccurring nightmares, is ecstatic. He, too, picks up the relationship as though no time has passed. Rachel, his mother, is less than thrilled. Not only is she angry with Sam over his abandonment of their family, but she’s since moved on with a new boyfriend. The family’s live in babysitter, Analise, is skeptical of Sam’s reappearance as well.
As if this family reunion wasn’t awkward and dysfunctional enough, Sam exhibits strange behavior only initially noticed by his son. Tony is appalled to catch his dad slurping down the eggs of his pet snake, but less so when Sam starts sucking on his neck like a human juice box, thereby transferring alien DNA to his son. Perhaps Tony isn’t so bothered because he discovers the ability to physically manifest anything his mind desires and then use it to his advantage. This lends to the kitchen sink aspect of the film. Panther? Check. Killer circus clown? Check. Killer toy tank? Check.
While Tony is finding a new host to impregnate, Sam is trying to reclaim that former bond with his estranged wife. Anyone that gets in the way of this alien father and son pair stands no chance. The creature effects are goopy, slimy, gory and gross. So much so that the fate of certain victims seem downright cruel.
The film suffers most through incoherency, both in plot and editing. From character introductions to character motivation, nothing is quite clear. Certain characters appear in multiple scenes before ever giving any indication to their place in the story. Any details about the aliens plans or purpose is nonexistent, and what little the viewer does have to work with is contradictory. Expect no answers here as all logic is flung out the window during moments of exposition. The dialogue seems to have been recorded post production and edited back in, as characters’ voices can be heard without ever seeing them appear on screen. This only contributes to the perpetual state of confusion.
In a strange way, the unintelligible plot manages to contribute to the overall sense of unpredictability that makes Xtro work. As the film moves through one gross out special effect scene to the next, without any real articulate plot points to connect them, the end result is more of an exploitive, low budget thrill ride. Xtro may not be a masterpiece, but this cult classic is just plain fun.
Rating: 7 out of 10
About the Author
Meagan Navarro is a blogger from Houston, TX. She fell in love with monsters at age four after being exposed to them via Ghostbusters, and her passion grew into an obsession for all things horror and Halloween (which is the entire month of October, as far as she’s concerned). Meagan also loves traveling and chocolate.