Xtro was first released in 1982, at the height of the ‘video nasty’ furore, when the likes of that silly cow Mary Whitehouse were campaigning to preserve the moral fibre of our country. There were three grades of ‘video nasty’ – you had your Section Ones (those films that were successfully prosecuted and banned), your Section Twos (films that were unsuccessfully prosecuted, yet still couldn’t be legally distributed), but Xtro was a Section Three: never prosecuted but regularly confiscated in raids on stores. Yes, it was a crazy time. Especially when you watch a film like this and wonder what all the fuss is about. Coming across like a deranged fusion of The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and Inseminoid, on the obligatory shoestring budget, this is lo-fi schlock of the highest order, but if you can weather the incredibly amateur light show effects of the opening five minutes, it hooks you in rather effectively just by virtue of how BLOODY MENTAL it is.
Even the director, in the Xtro Xposed documentary, which is one of the many special features, admits it’s an ‘outrageous mess’, but it’s a loveable one too, and certainly one of the wackiest, most unpredictable films you’ll ever see. One minute a full-grown adult is being birthed from a hapless lass’s grotesquely pulsating belly in a cascade of cheap gore, the next a demented clown is unleashing full-grown action men and toy tanks on our protagonists. Blink and you’ll miss a man mauled by a black panther (even I didn’t see that one coming… and I’ve seen it before!) and an old lady beating a snake to death with a salad spoon. It’s gloriously bonkers and deserving of its tagline, ‘Not all extra-terrestrials are friendly’ (1982 of course also being the year Spielberg unleashed E.T. on an unsuspecting public). Beautiful Bond girl Maryam D’Abo made her acting debut with Xtro, but it’s probably a credit she would prefer excised from her filmography. Fans of the weird and obscure will lap this up though, especially packaged up so lovingly with a brand new 2018 director’s version (he’s just enhanced the colours to make it even more trippy, the mad bastard), various documentaries, a soundtrack disc and soft cover book. In space, no one can hear you groan. Ian Glasper