Xtro (1982)

UK, USA,
81m, 84m
35mm film, colour
mono, English

A British science fiction/horror film directed by Harry Bromley Davenport. It was the first in a trilogy of films which are related only by title and by the loosest of plot elements. In the UK, the video release was seized by police in Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle during the “video nasties” panic though no prosecutions were brought as the BBFC pointed out that the film had already been passed uncut. Consequently, Xtro was never officially added to the “nasties” list.

Plot Summary

A man abducted by is returned to Earth after three years and he tries to work his way back into the life of his wife and son, who have since moved on and are living with another man. But the returning father is clearly not the man who was taken years before. His wife, Rachel, struggles to keep her son safe from the alien/human hybrid.

Credits

Crew
Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
© 1982 Ashley Productions Ltd.
Amalgamated Film Enterprises Ltd and New Line Cinema Corporation present
Executive Producer: Robert Shaye
Producer: Mark Forstater
Screenplay by: Iain Cassie and Robert Smith
Based on an Original Screenplay by: Michel Parry and Harry Bromley Davenport
Additional Dialogue: Jo Ann Kaplan
Director of Photography: John Metcalfe
Film Editor: Nicolas Gaster
Music Composed and Performed by: Harry Bromley Davenport
Sound Mixer: John Midgley
Wardrobe Supervisor: Philippe Pickford
Make Up Supervisor: Robin Grantham
Hairdresser: Barry Richardson
Additional Special Effects Make Up: John Webber
Special Effects Supervisor: Tom Harris
Creature Effects: Francis Coates
Mechanical Effects: Tom Harris
Art Director: Andrew Mollo

Cast
Philip Sayer (Sam [Phillips])
Bernice Stegers (Rachel [Phillips])
Danny Brainin (Joe [Daniels])
Maryam d'Abo (Analise [Mercier])
Simon Nash (Tony [Phillips])
Peter Mandell (clown)
David Cardy (Michael)
Anna Wing (Mrs Goodman)
Robert Fyfe (doctor)
Katherine Best (Jane)
Robert Pereno (Ben)
Tok (commando)
Tik (monster)
Susie Silvey (woman in cottage)
Arthur Whybrow (Mr Knight)
Anna Mottram (teacher)
Robert Austin (van driver)
Vanya Seager (Paula [Phillips])

Uncredited cast
The following cast members are listed in the press kit but don't appear in the finished film:
James Walker [lavatory attendant]
David Henry [consultant gynaecologist]
Robert Longdon [petrol pump attendant]

Alternative Titles

The Judas Goat – working title
Monstromo – working title
Monstro – working title
Xtro – Nicht alle Ausserirdische sind freundlich – Germany
X-Tro – Angriff der Körperfresser – german (alternative)
Xtro – attacco alla Terra – Italy

Extracts included in
Xtro Xposed (2005)

See also
Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1990)
Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995)

Press

1983
Starburst no.57 (1983) pp.22-23
Xtro is really nothing xtro-ordinary […] I can't say Xtro really scared or even disgusted me to any extent, even though Francis Coates and Tom Harris' special effects are minor miracles of ingenuity for their low budget. […] [P]articularly gasp-worthy is Sam's re-birth in human form after the impregnation of a young girl with one of the creature's more mysterious hidden tentacles. […] Christopher Hobbs design for the initial alien life-form will hardly fool anybody into believing it is anything other than what it is – a rained mime artist bent over backwards on all fours wearing a prosthetic suit. It is just as well it is glimpsed at only briefly. Much more successful is the climactic deformed figure which was manipulated by Hobbs himself using basic hand puppet techniques. […] Still, the film is beautifully shot by John Metclafe and I applaud Forstater and Davenport […] for trying so earnestly to resuscitate low budget exploitation sf/horror films in this country. […] But quite honestly, on a comparative level, I much preferred Inseminoid. Xtro's potential was enormous but as it stands it is brilliant in one area only and that's its consistent mediocrity – and that's a shame. – from an illustrated review (by Alan Jones)

The Glasgow Herald 17 March 1983 p.4
[A] good mix of the kind of ingredients that go down best on the palates of horror buffs. […] It all ends horribly, with the obligatory decomposing body, and all in all there is enough in this movie to keep up the horror level in the bloodstream of creepy crawly movie adicts [sic]. – from a review (Good mix of ingredients for horror buffs) by Lindsay Mackie

What's On 17 March 1983
[A]n ingenious hark back to those '50s SF movies, the precursors of Hammer horrors filmed in and around small English studios, invariably importing a minor or faded American star to boost boxoffice potential and including an alien monster of more or less risible design. […] With art direction by Andrew Mollo (late of Winstanley) there are some quite watchable effects and tricks that suggest a greater budget than Mark Fostater's production can have had. Director Harry Bromley Davenport has done a brisk and efficient job and provides some atmospheric music. It is also quite convincingly cast, and the dialogue avoids the stilted tosh common to schock-shockers. Bernice Stegers (seen in Fellini's City of Women) acts a good mum, with a look of Janet Suzman, and manages to make the final, apocalyptic, tableaux seem less silly than they are. – from an uncredited review (E.T. stay home)

New Musical Express 21 May 1983 p.44
Xtro, a little charmer publicised on the highly original premise that “Not all Extra-Terrestrials are friendly”, flaunts its low-budget origins like some kind of seal of splatter quality […] The effects – which are the only things that matter here – kick off with the birth of a full-grown adult “human”, and go on to include an interesting range of lumpy skin diseases. Cult status is probably assured… – from a review by Andy Gill

Production Notes

Post-production
The film originally ended with Rachel (Bernice Stegers) returning home to find multiples clones of Tony (Simon Nash) in her front room, seemingly hatched from the eggs left in the refrigerator. Robert Shaye was unconvinced by the special effects and removed the scene for its New York debut, the film now ending with Rachel collapsing in the field after the alien Sam (Philip Sayer) and Tony have departed aboard the UFO. Davenport was unhappy with the abrupt ending and shot a new sequence featuring Rachel returning home and being attacked by a creature that emerges from one of the eggs that has been seen in all subsequent releases.

Censorship
The film was viewed by the BRMPT (the film censorship body of the Philippines) who rejected it on 2 March 1983. In a letter to UK trade magazine Screen International 1Screen International no.392 (30 April 1983) p.4, letter from Mark Forstater (A note of disapproval)] producer Mark Forstater noted some of the grounds on which the board had reached their decision. These included “Demonic! Could only be the product of a crazed mind”; “Very unhealthy film”; “No social value at all”; “Dramatises evil in lurid detail”; “Grotesque, perverse, horrible. Story obviously written by someone with an over fertile imagination”; “Too horrible, nauseating and gory scenes and thereby removing any entertainment or informative value of the film”; and “Not fit for people with heart condition.”

References

Periodicals

  • Fangoria no.19 p.59 – note (Monster Invasion)
  • Fangoria no.24 (1982) pp.20-23, 61 – illustrated article (Xtro by Bob Martin)
  • Flesh and Blood no.7 p.26 – credits, review
  • Halls of Horror no.27 p.29 – note
  • Mad Movies no.29 – illustrated interview with Harry Bromley Davenport
  • New Musical Express 21 May 1983 p.44 – review (by Andy Gill)
  • Screen International no.341 (1-8 May 1982) p.13 – illustrated article (Xtro', ‘Xtro', read all about it)
  • Screen International no.392 (30 April 1983) p.4 – letter (A note of disapproval by Mark Forstater)
  • Starburst no.57 (1983) pp.22-23 – illustrated review (by Alan Jones)
  • What's On 17 March 1983 – review (E.T. stay home by uncredited)

Newspapers

  • The Glasgow Herald 17 March 1983 p.4 – review (Good mix of ingredients for horror buffs by Lindsay Mackie)

Books

  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.384
  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.379
  • Elliot's Guide to Films on Video p.890 – credits, review
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.269
  • Fervid Filmmaking: 66 Cult Pictures of Vision, Verve and No Self-restraint by Mike Watt pp.232-236 – illustrated review
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.645
  • Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.402 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films III pp.310-311 – credits
  • Horror Films of the 1980s by John Kenneth Muir pp.369-370 – credits, synopsis, review
  • The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies: An A-Z Guide to Over Sixty Years of Blood and Guts by Peter Normanton pp.459-460
  • The Phantom's Ultimate Video Guide p.353 – credits, review

Other Sources
Sex, Shocks and Sadism p.79 – credits, review