Anyone who has spent time in the comments section of F This Movie! -- or following our Twitter account or on our Facebook page -- knows that longtime reader Dennis Atherton will find a way to bring up the movie Xtro whenever possible. His love for the movie has become infectious, inspiring more people to check it out and creating new fans not just at F This Movie! but at other horror sites as well. This Scary Movie Month, we're celebrating Xtro by talking to our friend Dennis about what makes it such a special film for him.
Patrick: Dennis! In the last few years, you have become known around these parts as the biggest fan of Xtro, the 1982 sci-fi horror movie directed by Harry Bromley (!) Davenport. It is one of the craziest movies ever made, but you have turned many followers of our site onto the film and even the hosts of Killer POV/Shock Waves. Elric Kane even recently included it as part of his 31 Horror Films for October piece for Blumhouse.com and we have you to thank for that.
So I'll start with this: is Xtro your favourite movie? Second: Why Xtro?
Firstly, How's about a gorgeous Bond girl? Naked! (Maryam D'abo) Boom! You're in already. Do I need to continue? There's a good start. Next -- and something I feel strongly about -- is that it is a practical effects thing of beauty. I will take rubber monsters over CGI any day, all day. I find it hard to care about something that is not real, like the reaction I had to Crimson Peak. This is at the opposite end of the care spectrum. I have said before that Xtro is the most unpredictable movie ever made, and I stand by that. No other film jumps from a Naked Bond girl to a Six Feet tall Killer Action Man to a Dwarf Clown with a Yo-Yo with blades on it then to an upside down walking Alien (#TimDry is my spirit animal). And then there's the Black Panther and, next, exploding Alien Eggs and a Killer Tank.
Also, Xtro has got one of the best birth scenes ever! This is pretty much undeniable. After alien sex, inception to birth takes just six minutes. Six minutes! I timed it, and not just child birth, or alien birth, but a fully grown adult man is born and then he rips his way out of the unfortunate lady and bites his own umbilical cord. As JB would say, “I’ve never seen that before!” Stir this crazy pot of weirdness and melt this all together with a broken family drama at the heart of it and you got the totally bonkers Xtro!
It's like a British Giallo. You just don't try to understand it too much; just let it wash over you with that amazing score that even our musical friend Chaybee was blown away by. Turn it up loud and it really works. Just like with Italian cinema, it's an overload for the senses and you get drawn in by it.
It is also the perfect double bill film, because you can watch it with literally anything else and it will play perfectly. Once Warner start to open their vaults, I predict this could have an epic Blu-ray release resurgence. I have dreamed of it for many years. For now, though, the version from Optimum releasing is my favourite; it has a good transfer and it has the best ending. I don’t like the later changed "happier" ending on some releases.
I remember loving the effects and the weirdness, but is there a story or an emotional through line there that you can connect to? Or do you enjoy it more on the level of, as you mentioned, "Well, I've never seen THIS in a movie before..." Because that's certainly true of Xtro.
Dennis: I can certainly see it leaving you cold or frustrated on first viewing. It all depends on the mood you were in and also that our tastes change. We have all had different reactions to films at different times. I re-watched Avatar because of you and the second time it really worked. I thought it was amazing. The first time i could not get past a "Blue Smurfs in space" joke I heard and it really pulled me out of the movie.
Patrick: You're welcome. #Iseeyou
Dennis: I am happy you will give it another try. I am genuinely interested in yours or anyone’s thoughts on this movie! It is only 83 minutes long. Turn it up loud and watch it on your bigger projector screen. I am laughing to myself here, thinking of using Elric’s term and saying “It’s Pure Cinema!”
Dennis: We all have our movies that we connect to, and I feel I have connected with people over this movie. Tor the people who "got it," it's like a lost '80s movie they never saw, like Kindred, Pieces, The Burning, Evilspeak, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Xtro! These films were never really talked about much in my life. The reason is am a part of the F This Movie! community is to talk about this stuff. In my day to day life, going to work making false teeth (pulling back the curtain), people I talk with don’t know who Tobe Hooper is. Choptop? Bill who? “Never heard of him.” If you ever wondered what the Community at F This Movie! want, in my opinion it is to connect with other people with similar views or loves. That’s why i’m here, to share what I love, and I Love Xtro!
One of my favourite things recently was when some clever sod on Twitter during your Podcastathon came up with the term BreXtro. Sorry, I forgot who. It was the middle of the night here. From Brexit to BreXtro, Xtro is the British nightmare. That is epic! Well done to whoever you are. Side note: I recently watched Mirrors (The Tortured cut) and if you think about how a film with mirrors in it might end, you're correct. I guessed the ending ten minutes into the film. But with Xtro, you can’t guess the ending. Damn it, you can’t even guess the next scene! Just like with giallo, I am happy to not understand everything. It's why I love Donnie Darko. Xtro is kind of a time travel movie, too. In the opening scene it instantly goes from night to day with no explanation. One of my favourite sayings in life is “I went looking for Answers and I ended up with more questions!”
For example, I have probably seen Xtro more than any other film -- twice or three times a year since 1983. You do the math. I still find new stuff to look at and connect with each time. I still have questions, and until I get answers I will keep watching. Why does Sam sniff gas? Why does the phone melt? How did her foot end up in the steering wheel? And, most important, where did all the blood come from? Was it all the missing blood from the bedroom in the series Making a Murderer?When Sam was born and in reality he was only six minutes old, how did he know how to drive a car? He isn’t Michael Myers. Adam Green did not give him driving lessons. I like questions! The world would be a boring place if I knew all the answers.
Another reason for the love could be because it is British, even though it came out through New Line. I love producer Robert Shaye for sticking to his guns and wanting a black panther in a white room in it; it adds to the film. I live in the UK near Manchester and the only film I could also champion from my hometown is The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (aka Let Sleeping Corpses Lie). I like this film a lot and recognize streets in it, but it’s not Xtro. It does not hit that same sweet spot.
You can also see this film as a really dark comedy, too. It covers all genres. For instance, I like it when Annalise (D’Abo) is sneaking off to have sex with her boyfriend in her room and she says “I’m going for a lie down” to young Tony and Tony very blank-faced says “You're always lying down.” Or the polite Manager calling Rachel a “bitch” after he puts the phone down. It gets me every time, just like the guy walking of the pier for no reason in Wet Hot American Summer. It’s always funny,
Patrick: Have you seen any of the sequels? I haven't, but a half-formed memory tells me that even the director has disowned them in some way. Do I have that wrong?
Patrick: I was definitely more of a slave to narrative (I think) when I first saw the movie, so I'm curious if a rewatch will bring out new stuff for me. I certainly don't always need a movie to make sense, but when a film gets as crazy as Xtro gets I feel like I no longer have any tether to the ground at all. But, again, these days I see that as a positive -- I'd rather see a movie that goes completely nuts than one which is more "real" but uninspired.
Honestly, even if I never love the movie (and I might!), I'm always going to love the movie because of how passionate you are about it. I love it when people take ownership of movies that need more attention, and your love of Xtro comes through even in your writing. That will always mean a lot to me. It's what we're always trying to get across on this site -- to share our love of the things we love. You do that every time you talk about Xtro.
Dennis: This film is certainly untethered. It's like Braindead, when Peter Jackson just went for it and had no limits to his ideas. I like to watch a film where I don't feel safe and I love any film that goes to places I did not expect. Xtro does this time and time again. The more films we see, the harder it is to catch us off guard, so to not be able to guess where a film is going next is a joy. I suspect your new love for giallo is subconsciously because you really enjoy the feeling of being untethered and to not know where a film will go. It's a luxury we don't often get. It is these films I love. Other films I like, but I will always love a film that catches me by surprise.
Just as a final thought, something I just recently noticed is that Xtro was made in 1982, which, as a lot of people already know, goes down as a fantastic and unique year for horror. So many good movies. And in this wonderful year of horror 1982, Xtro comes out, as you all know by now, as my favourite film of '82 and is a perfect 82 minutes long. This shit means something. I'm not sure what, but it makes me very very happy.
I thank you for asking me to talk about this crazy movie! This was fun. I will end on saying a BIG hello to all the contributors and F-Heads on this site that make this place the special place that it is, and thank you to Patrick for giving us all a place to share our thoughts about film.
Time to go now and watch some more films for Scary Movie Month! I hope Xtro is on all your to watch lists this month because you know it is Xtrodinary!
Xtro... wow. I haven't seen Xtro since I was a little kid. I probably saw it in 1985 or thereabouts. I can still remember the clamshell box at the video store. Everytime it's been watched and discussed in past Junesploitations, I've been wanting to revisit it. If I don't see it again finally this month, I'll feel sorry for myself.ReplyDelete
Excellent, I hope you enjoy itDelete
How was it Michael joining our cult? At least the kool aid tastes sweetDelete
Not that it's important for me to take credit for, but just to relive memories of the podcastathon, I said BreXtro in the youtube chat during that last hour which will be forever lost. Patrick and Doug had mentioned Brexit for reasons I don't remember and which were probably due mostly to sleep deprivation. Due to Dennis mentioning Xtro in the chat every few minutes the connection sorta made itself.ReplyDelete
But yeah, I get the appeal of championing the lesser known movies. I'd much rather talk about the merits of Knightriders as opposed to Dawn of the Dead because I don't feel like I'm repeating what millions of other people have said.
Harry Bromley Davenport seems like an interesting guy, and the clip that's mentioned of him discussing making the Xtro movies is up on youtube. I actually watched his most recent movie, American Grand (about the restoration of a Grand Piano) and it was a decent documentary, but the rest of his filmography doesn't look too promising. I actually tried to track down Life Among the Cannibals since it had Juliet Landau in it, but have come up empty so far aside from youtube, which honestly is how I had to watch Xtro also.
Well done Ross, it stuck with me, I'm glad I got to find out who came up with the slogan, I could of dreamed it at that time of nightDelete
Love this! It optimizes "movie love for movie lovers".ReplyDelete
And you got a mention as I remembered you loved the score, you are right, the score is amazing too, last watch last week I turned it up loud and it was brilliant, the music in the scene with the Dwarf Clown were chillingDelete
Absolutely, thanks for the shout out, man. That score is super legit!Delete
This movie has a permanent place on all of my future Junesploitation and SMM lists. Thanks Dennis!ReplyDelete
Who's the first to get a tattoo? It's gotta be meDelete
This makes me so happy.ReplyDelete
It almost works as a pun
I was definitely going to watch Xtro at some point but this bumps it to the top of my list - maybe tonight! :) Great stuff, Dennis!ReplyDelete
Hell yes, Friday night a few beers and Xtro is a recipe for a good start to the weekendDelete
You're a madman, Atherton! No, you know, I really enjoyed it - it's bonkers but it definitely does some interesting and unexpected things - I don't quite LOVE it but I'm glad I watched it and I would really like to see a hi-def copy on blu-ray. I actually found the introduction to the creature fairly unsettling and some of the early scenes genuinely scary but I think the score ends up hurting the horror element - it's so quirky though that it's worth it for the entertainment value. And, yeah, you can tell the people involved were trying to make a really good movie and, in a sense, they did, so I always appreciate that.Delete
Thanks Dennis, I think it's safe to say I never would have watched this movie if it weren't for you, and I'd be a lesser man for it!
That's excellent, the love comes next, first time you see it it goes to so many places you are always pulled out by its Bonkersness, is that a word? It is now, next viewing I find you can enjoy it for what it actually isDelete
The Optimum release Dvd looks pretty good, I can't even imagine that birth scene in Bluray or that Clown, One day hopefully my dreams will come true
Interesting reaction to the score because Chaybee went the other way and loved the scoreDelete
No no don't get me wrong - I think the score undercuts the HORROR; i.e. with a different score it might be a scarier movie; but the score is one of the big reasons it's as FUN as it is. I wouldn't have it any other way!Delete
Yeah I get it now, with a different score on certain scenes it could of been really scary, but it is kinda upbeat and funny, its a strange mix of tones, I'm with yaDelete
I kept waiting for Xtro to show up on Blu-Ray, but after reading this article, I finally just decided to watch it on YouTube. I have to give the film credit: even with all of the talk about how nuts it is, it was still nothing like what I expected. Though I can't say I loved it, but everything about it is totally unique, which I give it a ton of credit for.ReplyDelete
That's what I love, it is like nothing else, and its hard to predict where it is going nextDelete
We will keep dreaming of that bluray
Thanks for watching
"One of us"
Is this the point where I say my real name is Harry Bromley Davenport?
Awesome! This is why this community is so great. Had my first Xtro experience during Junesploitation and will have my second during Scary Movie Month. All thanks the to F This Movie! crew and one F Head in particular. Xtro is just one example of the many movies I've watched over the past year, which I never would've heard without all of you. Thank you all for making movies this much fun. It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and I'm being emotional :).ReplyDelete
Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!!Delete
Your making me emotional FrankDelete
Happy Thanksgiving, come back and tell me if my theory is correct, "Xtro is much better the second time". It's to much to take first viewing, second time you can really enjoy it more for what it is is and connect with the family struggle at the heart of the movie more, the monster stuff has more resonance once you feel sympathy for the family breakdown
Totally agree the with family aspect. At its core it's about a family in transition but struggling to move forward, dealing with stress, abandonment, anger, grief etc. The first 45 minutes is borderline a straightforward family drama, plus an alien abduction and the birth of man... I'm not going to pretend to understand everything that goes in the second half, but it works. Dreamlike is a great way to put it. But it pays a lot of what was presented earlier on - toy soldier, panther, clown etc. along with the family issues.Delete
The effects are really good too. It helped I had a better version this time around (although still on YouTube). Love the alien design and I know that's not the story being told, but more of it, or a different alien invasion movie would be badass with that creature.
This is what I said to Patrick, there really is a great through line that connects all of this crazyness, the family drama in the first half builds the story so that by the time the craxy stuff kicks in you already are invested in the people, the effects still look great on a good looking dvdDelete
Awesome! One of the best things is always seeing these what to watch lists on twitter and different sites and knowing that Dennis is going to pop up with the Xtro bump! Your love for the film is infectious good sir!ReplyDelete
Dream coming true, Thanks to Patrick for the heads up, a fucking four disc Bluray, holy fucking fuck, 4 disc edition
God damn we need stuff like this in this Brexit Trump world
This is truely amazing
And here is the first footage ever of Xtro in HD
Holy crap I'm excited
and to keep this thread up to date,here is the latestReplyDelete
The original producer along with the director of Xtro have been collaborating to make an Xtro reboot about an Alien invasion of Xtro's all over the earth, Xtro, The Big one! im not yet sold on the title but it is all the same amazing thinking I might get another film from the original team, here is the statement they released
"We – Harry Bromley Davenport and I – are at the start of a plan to make a new version of XTRO. It’s going to be called XTRO -The Big One, and I’ll explain why later. Harry and I made the original XTRO in 1981-2 and it was released in 1983. It was very successful for New Line Cinema, who were in dire need of cash-flow at that time and XTRO kept the company afloat until they found massive success with A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Harry went on to do two sequels to XTRO, neither of which I produced. Two years ago he asked me if I was interested in working with him again on a new version and I thought that was a good idea. Harry introduced me to a writer he wanted to work with- Ken Segall. With Harry and Ken in LA and me in London, we had to use email and skype to send scripts, notes, ideas and comments back and forth. A slightly cumbersome process, but one which seems to have worked. The new script, which has gone through about 6 drafts, is now in good shape. It’s full of that special blend of XTRO weirdness.
The story of the new film imagines what it would be like if an alien invasion took place during a massive earthquake – hence the title XTRO – The Big One. The new film is certainly not lacking in scope or ambition. We are really pushing the boat out.
So now comes the big problem of all indie producers – raising the money. How do you raise enough to make an exciting film featuring good actors and with imaginative and striking FX that will stand comparison with other Sci-Fi films?"
Most likely may not happen, its too early to tell, the bluray is out in Feb after the 4K official screening at the Berlin film festival, the 35th anniversary release, Damn this makes me feel old, I cant wait for my bluray, test footage looks stunning
Eight Years Ago. Not far from where the desert begins at the eastern edge of sprawling Los Angeles... a willful, stormy 9-year-old named Jodie bursts out the front door of her house after an argument with her parents. She’s running away, the way kids do, but Jodie only gets as far as a nearby patch of barren scrub where strange flickerings stop her in her tracks. Jodie is abducted... and worse... by aliens aboard a darkly menacing spaceship that’s been hidden for eons beneath the shifting sands. Present Day. Jodie’s seventeen and lovely, but just as feisty and self-absorbed and manipulative as when she was little. At school, Jodie’s holding court with her handsome admirer Jack and her good-hearted best friend Marisa when a huge earthquake rocks Greater L.A. As the city goes into emergency lockdown and chaos rules the streets... Jodie, Jack, Marisa and their buddy Mike set out for a shopping mall where the four have arranged to meet their parents in case of emergency. Most of the city’s population has fled and many of those who remain are lowlifes – vandals, bikers, rapists & muggers looking to loot, shoot and raise hell amidst the regular folks who weren’t able to make it out of town. So, for the teenagers, it’s a journey through quake-stricken, bedlam-ridden Los Angeles to find their families. What nobody suspects is that this earthquake was not caused by tectonic forces, but by the alien craft that Jodie encountered when she was a child. It’s been reactivated and ordered to complete its mission. Part of that mission is to finish programming Jodie’s life-force while drawing her to the ship so it can return to its home world with its hand-picked captive human cargo. Rushing through the rubble to meet and care for their kids, the concerned parents include a nature-activist mom who liberates a wild animal from a zoo, thinking she’s doing the right thing, until it reverts to its feral nature in the teeming streets. A single dad who’s so concerned with uploading his every exploit to his YouTube channel that he ignores crucial warning signs and pays the price. And a blind couple who come to believe, as things go from grisly to worse, that perhaps they’re the lucky ones. Clearing the path for Jodie to get where they want her to go, the alien intruders deploy an advance force of cybertronic Probes. They seem to just appear, floating at eye level, organic and mechanical, surveilling the situation and the players at hand before deciding whether or not to churn the living tissue of a potential hindrance into the sort of grotesquery that could only spring from a twisted otherworldly mentality. The characters never know who these Probes will consider an enemy or what they’ll do about it. And things gets worse. As the teenagers move along, Jodie is changing... or rather being changed... by forces beyond her control. She’s increasingly entranced and empowered by her alien controllers under the direction of The Programmer – a dim entity we glimpse at the helm of the alien craft, guiding Probes and people on the ground. But when Jodie
finally becomes unmanageably strange... and her friends realize she’s leading them away from the designated meeting place... the kids revolt, violently. It’s life-and-death for Jodie until... The Programmer arrives in person, to protect Jodie, its ‘investment’. In spite of its unearthly powers and singleminded ferocity, The Programmer is ambushed and slaughtered by Mike, who thinks he’s saving Jodie and the others. But out of The Programmer’s corpse emerges a new threat: an army of ravenous alien Parasites – scuttling crustaceans the size of bulldogs. What they do to people who get in their way is, unlike the Probes, never a surprise. They burrow into the victim’s body, gnawing the skull to splinters from within before they emerge, ready for more. As this new terror runs riot in the city, an ancient Indian sacred site in the near desert begins to shudder with what feels like a major aftershock. The tremors open a fracture, revealing ancient & elaborate rock art depicting what could be a spaceship hitting the ground and exploding. As the earth buckles wildly, rays of light stab-out from fissures rent in the arid terrain. Then, a terrifying sound as the spacecraft emerges from its underground hiding place. An entry hatch opens and, right on time, Jodie... now fully-entranced... enters the craft. In the spaceship, The Programmer, now reconstituted, examines Jodie, the prize he’s waited a billion years to claim. Her eyes are nasty pinpoints of light – she’s not human anymore. The Programmer walks around her, inspecting the specimen. When he completes his circuit, leans in and looks into Jodie’s eyes... she brazenly bites his face off. Then Jodie stalks-away to deal with the Probes and Parasites who remain onboard. With The Programmer out of commission and the mesmerized, fully-empowered Jodie on a murderous mission... the spacecraft quavers in mid-air. It looks about to change course for a moment. Then the ship detonates so completely, not a neutron remains, leaving the city at the mercy of homicidal Drones and Parasites which have no leader and no direction, only their gruesome instincts to guide them. ***ReplyDelete
Synopsis from Harry above, release date on 2017 aprilReplyDelete
fingers crossed it happens!!!
I pre ordered the Bluray in November 2016
Im still waiting. Damn this sucks !
Officially the longest pre order date I have ever waited for
I don't know if anyone goes back to old columns but a quick updateReplyDelete
Since writing this article and shouting about Xtro for a good few years I have now become friends with the Producer, and because of my friendship I got to be involved in the new Bluray from Second Sight coming out in April 2018, I have now met with all the actors and chatted with them in the Bluray documentary
But here is the crazy bit. The brand new Bluray has a full 1 hour Feature about the love of Xtro from me alone. I got believe I get my own special feature on the new disc
What a crazy world it is?
Thanks awesome, Dennis! Congrats!Delete
"THAT'S" stupid phone auto correctingDelete
Mine too I just sawDelete
It says "I got believe"
Or my phone is...
Ps and of course I make sure Fthismovie gets lots of shout outs tooReplyDelete
Good to know I'm not the only one with this level of love for "the dreaded Xtro!"
I've loved it since seeing it on video in 83, and it seems to be part of my life's work to bring the film - and a deeper appreciation of it - to as many movie fans as I can, for example regularly playing selections from the soundtrack on my radio show.
I've never understood why people say there is a lack of logic in this film, as everything is meticulously set up and paid off, and the story follows a logical trajectory. Panthers, Action Man, clowns, et al, are all seen as Tony's toys before he brings them to life to enact vengeance and retribution. Sam has returned to take his son back to space, transforming him as he was himself changed by the aliens. This is not an illogical Dardano Sacchetti script by any means!
Add in the wonderful atmospheric score by Harry Bromley Davenport himself, great performances from the main cast, lashings of atmosphere and outrageous gore setpieces, and a perfect snapshot of England circa 1982 and you have a much maligned and misunderstood gem of a film. Its low-budget grittiness only adds to the experience.
Director Harry is self-deprecating to a fault, but is obviously too smart to believe his own anti-hype as to the genesis, production and final product he and his team produced.
If a future Xtro project were to be filmed in and around sunny Manchester, I'd most willingly transform my first-born into a murderous alien entity for a chance to participate!
Shame the sequels have never delivered as unique an experience, but Harry if you're listening out there, call me. Together we can give Xtro the sequel it deserves! Just saying... :)
Your my brother from another mother. What more can I say! Absolutely Xtrodinarilly brilliant. You've made me smile big time. Playing the music on the show is also amazing. That music alone can warp your brain. Very nice to hear I'm not alone.
Ps I had to check your second name to be sure it's not Tim Dry
Aka Xtro himself. For an Xtro lover you have the perfect name
Best wishes Dennis
I can confirm that I am neither Tik nor Tok, haha! More like "Timmy Towers", at least according to my show on North Manchester FM. I cover all types of electronic music on there, especially film scores which I've collected since I was a kid. The Halloween shows are my faves; a chance once a year to play wall to wall horror movie music from Carpenter to Goblin, obscure British movies, Italian gut-munchers and tv shows. I mean, how often do you get the chance to hear the themes from Sapphire And Steel, The Tomorrow People and Cannibal Holocaust on the radio?!
Anyhoo, I was revisiting the Second Sight Xtro box set and loved your interview and enthusiasm for the flick and had to drop you a line - a brother from another mother, indeed! I find it funny that its us northeners that seem to connect so strongly with this movie. Well, us and Mike Stoklasa of Red Letter Media in the US.
I always think of Xtro in the original Spectrum Video release from 83 that I rented from a video shop in Hollinwood when it first came out. And yes, I do still own a copy of that VHS edition alongside my old That's Entertainment vinyl LP. I guess they go with the multiple DVD and blu-ray editions from around the world...I just wish I could pinpoint WHY its always had such an appeal. Best not to question it too much, I guess! 😉
It must have been great to meet all the Xtro crew for the bluey, a real dream come true! Congrats on that...and I'm not the least bit jealous! Haha!
Stay safe and keep watching the skies!
(p.s. here's a link if you're ever stuck for a -ahem!- decent radio show!