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Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1991)

by on 2013/01/12

Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1991)


“One trip to the other side is enough.”

* *

Xtro II is all about pretending to be something it’s not – several somethings, in fact – and then tripping all over itself in the process.

Titled like a sequel, but otherwise unrelated to the first Xtro, it refers to a “fiasco in Texas” which never really happened, and drags a disgraced scientist, Shepherd, out of exile. His work on the Nexus project has been continued without him, and now it’s all going wrong.

Horribly wrong.

A parallel universe transportation gig, Nexus is so complex that nobody wants to trust it to anyone like that Texas maniac, Shepherd. So they relinquish all control to a central computer — because that’s always worked so well in other movies — and now they need that bastard Shepherd back to clean up the mess, damn it all to hell.

I thought variously of Forbidden Planet, Resident Evil, Stargate, and Predator. But there is no touchstone as apt as the Alien series: a female lead who spends much of her time in a soiled undershirt; someone who’s seen it all, and whom no one believes; a chest-bursting scene; the military called in to a scientific facility; soldiers chewing on cigars, hoisting massive guns, some with flashlights attached; a panicky idiot; a secret infectee and crazy traitor; a female voice counting down to “containment” and “decontamination” deadlines; wire-frame displays and schematics of air vents; yawning shadowy voids; lights shot flashing, spinning, and broken by slow-moving fan blades; exposed wires and water dripping from the ceilings; a skeletal black alien, baring transparent teeth and growling; all underscored by military drum beats.

Why not just watch the first or second Alien film? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t have a compelling answer to that question. Perhaps you thought they were just too good? They didn’t have enough Jan-Michael Vincent (Airwolf) or Nicholas Lea (The X-Files)? You were missing a scene where the heroine brushes her hair? There are no good reasons to choose this should-be abortion.

Take the best parts from any Alien movie, and whatever is left behind is still a better experience than this dud. It’s a perfect example of copying every detail, and still not getting the whole the least bit right. It could have been so bad it’s good, but it didn’t even manage that.

Add Xtro II to my list of phobias. It’s horrifying, but for all the wrong reasons.

* *

Rated R

92 minutes

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