Alien 2 - On Earth (1980)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2011-03-20 20:22

Alien 2 - On Earth
Written and directed by: Ciro Ippolito
Starring: Belinda Mayne, Mark Bodin & Michele Soavi

Reviewed by: Brett H.

In the grand tradition of Zombi 2 comes another in the long line of Italian supposed sequels; knock-offs of popular American films with a number added to the title to cash in on the popularity of the mega money earners of the time. I once rejoiced in the resurgence of such films, mainly due to the fact that at least 10-15 Italian horror films I enjoy have been labelled Zombi X at some point in time in their native land’s theatres and also in North America courtesy of VHS heroes Wizard Video and DVD stalwarts, Shriek Show, capitalizing on the Italian tradition on our shores. Unfortunately, as S.E. Hinton once wrote, “that was then, this is now”. The heartbeat of vintage horror on home video is ever fading due to poor elements of many unseen films and the overall subpar quality the leftovers from library purchases from the big boom of the early 2000s. Reaching into the vaults and pulling out a high definition transfer, Midnight Legacy fires on all cylinders to release Alien 2 - On Earth to a small, but ferocious fanbase. The question begs to be asked, however, is this species best kept hidden?

Astronauts descend to earth in their space capsule to vast media coverage, safely re-entering the earth’s atmosphere and landing in the ocean. Or did they? Upon further discovery, it turns out the capsule that scientists were in contact with only minutes before is now unmanned. Thelma (Belinda Mayne) is a cave explorer with an acute sense of telekinesis and gets a vision she can’t quite comprehend whilst on a news program, ruining her segment but proving to be very intriguing as her mind was abuzz at the same time as the capsule’s return to earth. After receiving a strange rock as a gift from a friend, the feeling gets stronger and stronger until it is discovered that on the shores of the beach, on the streets of the city and deep in the underground caves below the earth’s surface, mankind is no longer the dominating force On Earth.

Alien 2 proves itself to not be a secret best kept hidden, even if the chances of it working its way into the home video libraries of any but the most devoted genre fans seems very unlikely. Having run the gamut of poor horrors since I was old enough to switch on the television, Alien 2 will never be listed amongst the worst horror has to offer, yet is devoid of the flair necessary to take the leap from a time waster to an enjoyable experience. Typical to Italian cinema, the ultra low budget is masked by a well-managed production in such that the higher ups had the good sense to film in settings like underground caves and bowling alleys that add some sauce to the production. The camera is at times well placed (generally behind objects like the extraterrestrial… things themselves and behind the bowling lane) and overall the visual experience is decent, especially on the high definition version.

A tedious story hampers the film with long stretches of emptiness, plodding boredom and long shots that culminate in nothingness. The aliens themselves are never truly seen or explained, consisting predominantly of tentacles and the ability to morph into anything they come into direct contact with. Since no explanation is ever given, the nature of the beast is questionable; an unfortunate drawback since the discovery of the inner workings of the aliens would have far exceeded the silly telekinesis subplot and could have lead to a more intriguing experience for the viewer. The sole bright spot of the film is a monster’s emergence from the face of a victim (in the only drawn out shot that actually works) and subsequent beheading of a man whose melon slowly stretches from his neck in tremendously gore drenched glory and falls hundreds of feet to the floor of a cave. On a sidenote; has terror extraordinaire Michele Soavi ever survived a film yet?

Midnight Legacy’s inaugural release onto Blu-ray disc is a great visual treat. Sans a bit of stock footage, the colors and clarity are strong for a film of its obscurity and age. The red blood is deep and rich, while tiny little stones are easily distinguishable in size, shape and color along roadsides. The orange hues of the cave and thousands of stalagmites are very detailed and skin tones are excellent as well. The mono soundtrack is generally clear and loud with some bass adding a bit of tension to the film’s stronger scenes. Extras include an outtake reel and a Dutch video trailer, which may disappoint some, but suffices for me just fine. A film of this nature has no business looking as great as it does or being released at all. Alien 2 - On Earth is a curiosity piece at best and a fine first kick at the can from Midnight Legacy. I hope they are able to someday acquire more deserving films for their excellent presentations. Rent it!

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