Dowload the podcast of X-tro: Episode I: \’Xtro\’
Released: January 1983
Peronal pre-screening recollections: I recall my father going to take me to see this when I was but a young lad. Being the kind, loving father that he was, he knew the film had aliens (that loveable ET was at his zenith in popularity), UFOs and scares in it — all the things that preoccupied my pre-teen brain. But as most fathers, he never really checked out anything else about the film (little details like alien rape and a grown man crawling out of a woman’s holiest of holies). Details of plot and characters are all a bit sketchy to me, not because I was not paying attention (far from it, I was dodging and weaving my dad’s sheltering hands like Smokin’ Joe Frazier), but because I never had the chance to finish watching the damn thing. This was actually the first film I ever walked out on (again, not my decision, as I was getting quite an anatomy lesson).
So for me, X-Tro is like one giant elipsis in my mind. What I recall equally shocked and thrilled me, so it is with much pleasure that I return to the film more than 20 years later, prepared to finish this heretofore unwritten chapter in my mind.
So it looks like I owe my dad a debt of gratitude for saving my young brain the agony of sitting through this cinematic abortion.
It turns out alien face raping and birthing full-grown British men were actually the film’s only claim to fame, as it digresses into a more surreal dissection in familial dysfunction featuring moments of otherworldly oddities.
Yet it remains oddly watchable if only to see just what kind of narrative detour they’re willing to take.
This was briefly considered a “video nasty,” from the British Board of Film Censors, which in the early 80s halted the sale or rental of films it deemed morally inappropriate. Other films making the list of 34 banned films included: Cannibal Holocaust, The Evil Dead, and Don’t Go in the Woods. Xtro was released uncut in 1987.
It was produced by Robert Shaye, for New Line, who now runs the company, which was gobbled up by Time Warner.
In an lively interview from 2005, even the film’s director Harry Bromley Davenport (who also provided the film’s score, which we’ll get to later) called it an “extraordinary mess” and “rubbish,” citing that he was stoned during most of the filming. This explains a lot, what with homicidal midget clowns, intergalactic rape, boil sucking and slightly incestuous overtones.
It also marks the screen debut of future Bond girl Maryam D’Abo in her birthday suit.
Opening in an idyllic countryside setting, Daddy and son are playing fetch with the family’s Irish Wolfhound. A rather daunting game, actually, as it seems as though Daddy’s trying to toss the stick up on the roof of the family’s two-story cottage.
Dad, played by Philip Sayer ( no relation to Leo), gets sucked into an apparent UFO while little Tony, played by Simon Nash, watches in horror. At least I think that’s what frightens him, as it could be he’s merely wincing at the horrendous Moog synthesizer on the film’s score.
Daddy returns after three years of absence with no explanation, apparently in order to bond with his boy. His first contact with his son is to telepathically bath the boy in blood while he is sleeping. Thanks pop. When discovered by his concerned Mommy, played by Bernice Stegers, the boy delivers the equally icky line: “Daddy sent it….I just felt something sticky.”
Mom has since moved on, shacking with an American who looks like a cousin of Mark Lynn Baker from “Perfect Strangers,” who’s also a roadie for Quiet Riot.
Dad returns to earth first in the form of an alien in the film’s one effectively creepy scene. A man in a rubber alien suit crabwalks backward and bolts out in front of a moving car.
Daddy’s newfound alien abilities
He can impregnate women with a protractable phallus inserted into the mouth.
He regenerates into human form within, presumably hours in the womb of a woman. NOTE: This is where my own father exercised his own rating system and dragged me from the theater, because, as he said, “I knew you were going to have more questions than I was willing to answer.”
He can melt telephones,
He enjoys the fragrant bouquet of a natural gas line.
He develops a dietary habit of snake eggs.
He can produce large boils on his son by biting him.
He informs his son that “If you think hard enough about something, you can make it happen.”
He can also shriek to ear-bleeding decibels.
Tony’s abilities given to him as a gift from Daddy:
He uses his powers to summon:
A midget homicidal clown with a glowing deadly yo-yo
A black panther – not “the” Black Panthers, mind you, though that would have made just as much sense.
Turn people into egg-producing hosts wrapped into cocoons.
His military action figures into full-grown men with fully operational weaponry.
This film exists to pinpoint the exact time the Moog synthesizer became obsolete.
It’s as though director Davenport let his pet cat run wild on the keyboard while recording.
Really hard to say, as I’m not sure the stars even knew what they were soaking in. Seriously, how do you direct a grown man to emote during a scene in which he chews through his own umbilical cord?
Maryam D’Abo is nekkid. The one reason I wish dad would have stuck it out with me in this film.
The (New) Memories
As stated, I had only a casual relationship with X-Tro, as we were two ships passing in the parental-controlled night. My dad flipped on the porch lights before X-Tro and I could get to second base.
But had we endured, I am quite sure Dad would have had to foot quite a bill for various rehad clinics that I would surely have frequented trying to chemically alter my mind so that I could make sense of what the hell X-Tro is all about.
Part I: Rob and Jay discuss ‘Xtro’ (hide the kiddies’ eyes in the first few seconds…no, seriously! Rob’s head may frighten them!)
Part II: Three simple words: Yo-yo Clown midgets
Part III: ‘Naughty bits’
Part IV: A New Hope
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