Xtro (1982) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Xtro is kind of a cynical spin on E.T., the mega-blockbuster which was released a few months earlier. Just as "E.T." is a neologism for "Extra Terrestrial," so is "Xtro." The premise is essentially to ask what would have happened if E.T, instead of being an adorable little fellow, had been a murderous creature. This film's advertising specifically referenced the cuddly Spielberg film by featuring the catch phrase "not all extraterrestrials are friendly."

In the opening scene, a young boy sees his dad captured by aliens. I'm not sure why the xtros captured this particular guy. Judging from the aliens' dentition, you'd think that if they were to need humans on their planet, it would be dentists. On the other hand, if they wanted to capture top-notch dentists, they wouldn't be invading the U.K. At any rate, nobody believes the lad's kidnapping story. People assume that dad ran off with some floozie and the kid is making up stories to sublimate his pain. Some years later, Dad returns - sort of. We know that the grotesque aliens return, and that eventually seems to result in dad's presence, after an alien impregnates a human woman. This particular species seems to have a gestation period of about ten minutes, because the woman blows up like a balloon and immediately gives birth to an exact duplicate of the missing dad. We see him emerge, fully-formed but bloody, from the woman's womb. I'm still trying to figure out if dad was really dad or an alien impersonating dad, and why that childbirth process was necessary in either case. One thing is certain. That had to be one painful childbirth, because he came out much larger than the woman who gave birth to him.

"Dad" returns to his home, remembering nothing of the previous three years, but is not really welcomed with open arms, since he has been away for so long that his wife has moved on with her life. Mom and son now live with mom's new boyfriend and a sexy au pair, giving the alien/dad plenty of interesting possibilities for havoc, but the havoc is delayed for many minutes while mom and dad engage in soap opera dialogue, try to get in touch with their feelings, and criticize the Thatcher government, as if suddenly trapped in a Ken Loach film.

Dad decides to get reacquainted with his son, and one of the things he manages to accomplish during their bonding is to imbue the lad with some telekinetic powers that allow him to animate his toys. I'm not sure how this works, but the boy manages to bring a toy soldier and a clown to life as a full-sized commando with deadly military gear and an evil dwarf clown (right). He also animates a toy tank with the ability to fire real rockets. Somehow he also manages to summon a live panther, presumably from something else in his toy box, although that bit is never really explained.

The scenes with the panther exist as non-sequiturs to the rest of the movie, but I wouldn't get upset about that if I were you, since the entire movie is a mess which really doesn't make much logical or narrative sense in the first place.

If you start asking yourself why the script's events are happening, you will be hard-pressed to formulate explanations. This is not the kind of film where the screenwriter spent weeks imagining what the aliens were like on their home planet, and then tried to create a scenario to depict how their culture would interface with humans. It's more like the kind of film which resolves to make the grossest visuals possible, and uses the alien premise as a loose framework to facilitate the shock and gore. There are humans in cocoons and gratuitous snakes and pulsating eggs added here and there for no special reason other than that they look creepy. It's a true exploitation film.
Does it succeed on its own terms? In a way, yes, once it ends its inexplicable dalliance with Ken Loach social realism. It isn't consistent, of course. Some of the effects are very poor, like the appearance of the alien ships, which look about as realistic as the ships in Colonel Bleep, but the film has some good moments as well. Some of the slime and gore is effective enough to make your flesh crawl a bit, and that is what some genre fans find appealing about this film - well, that and the full-frontal nudity from a gorgeous future Bond Babe, Maryam d'Abo, who made her screen debut in this film.

Anyway, how can you not love a film in which two of the actors are Tik and Tok? (Credits to the right.) According to IMDb, Tik and Tok were a Synth-rock group who had a top 40 UK Single hit called "Cool Running."

  • Widescreen, anamorphically enhanced (16x9). The colors have faded to green, and the print is grainy, so the quality is barely acceptable overall.
  • Original American trailer
  • Behind-the-scenes and advertising photos, as donated from various sources
  • 17 minute interview with the director
  • One Deleted scene and two alternate endings.


Maryam d'Abo shows her breasts and her pubes in a sex scene. The portion of the scene when she stands up was a full frontal in the full screen VHS version, but the widescreen DVD transfer cuts off the bottom portion of her body so that the only look at her pubes is in a close-up.

D'abo later shows her breasts one more time, very briefly, in an interrupted sex scene.

The man having sex with d'Abo shows his bum.

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

  • The film had a fairly extensive theatrical release in the UK, but I was not able to find any statistics.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C-. Although it is a jumbled mess of a film, gore and shock lovers really like some of the grosser effects. Needless to say, it is a must-see for evil dwarf completists.

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