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Movie Reviews: Sci-Fi Films

Updated on July 7, 2020

XTRO (1982)

Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
Cast: Bernice Stegers, Philip Sayer, Simon Nash, Maryam d’Abo, Danny Brainin
Plot: A man is abducted by aliens and returns three years later and tries to re-connect with his family, but he is not what he used to be
Mood: He’s back but he’s like, weird
Tags: Alien abduction, Father-son relationship, 80s hairdo

Daddy is back from outer space after 3 long years to the surprise of his family. Not only has daddy changed but his family have moved on without him. A young sexy au-pair is living in the house and mommy has a new boyfriend that looks like a singer from a rock band. This British-made sci-fi starts as an alien abduction movie then proceeds to become a monster movie, then a mutant movie, then a boy with strange powers movie. It has a midget clown, alien eggs in bathtubs, toy soldiers that come to life and alien births. It tries to be so many things at the same time that it gets terribly confusing. It seems the movie production had already set a budget for monster costumes, make-up and special effects that needed to be fulfilled that nobody cared if the story made any sense. The result was a mess.

The Verdict: 2/10. Surprisingly, this produced a sequel that nobody asked for. XTRO was a good idea but just wasn’t executed well. The father who returns home to his family after being abducted by aliens has potential for good drama but the gratitious make-up and sfx got in the way. Worse, the make-up effects were just standard and the UFO effects were terrible. If for anything, it’s the movie debut of soon to be Bond girl Maryam d’Abo who has a nude scene that wasn’t really necessary to the story.


Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Cast: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris
Plot: A couple visits a house in a supposedly ideal suburban community and becomes mysteriously trapped there
Mood: A very torturously long episode of The Twilight Zone
Tags: Caught in a loop, Alien menagerie, Survival story

If you look up the word vivarium in the dictionary it gives you synonyms for zoo, aquarium, menagerie, enclosed spaces used for observation. Here it’s extra-terrestrial of course, a literal alien ant farm. Unfortunate couple Gemma and Tom, played by Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, are looking for the ideal place to live in, and stumble upon a place called Yonder, a housing project of identical-looking houses that seems too perfect and fabricated. When their weird real estate agent played by Jonathan Aris suddenly leaves during their house tour, the couple hurries out of there only to realize they couldn’t find the exit and just keeps running in circles. Thus, starts a long and ardous cycle of trying to survive their ordeal, and it doesn’t help with the food sucking, no internet service and that they are forced to raise a baby that’s not thiers. There is no fate worse than death than monotony.

The Verdict: 6/10. This is one movie that’s hard to unsee, or see again for a second time. If it’s say, an episode of Black Mirror, it would’ve been awesome, but as a full length movie, it just tries your patiece. But it such a discussion piece that you just have to.


"What? Hey, did you see that?"
"What? Hey, did you see that?"


Director: Gene Fowler Jr.
Cast: Gloria Talbott, Tom Tryon, Peter Baldwin, Robert Ivers

Plot: A newly-wed wife slowly suspects that her husband is not the same man she once knew.
Mood: Atmospheric but not really scary.
Tags: They come to breed, Doppleganger, Alien Weakness

The title kind of pokes fun on the whole marriage is hell thing. Among the “I married a…” list of movies (axe murderer, witch, vampire, serial killer), a “monster from outer space” might be the least flattering. The story shares the same plot as that of other classic sci-fi doppleganger movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1965) and The Thing From Another World (1951) but doesn’t have that intense paranoia that made the other two certified classics. In other words, it isn’t crazy enough. Though, it scores some points for cinematography and that cool zapping alien gun.

The Verdict: 5/10. If you haven’t seen the other two aforementioned sci-fi classics, best start with them.



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