Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alien 2: On Earth (1980)

”Are you drunk again?”. The SMS flew back at me directly from Jocke at Rubbermonsterfetishism when I wrote to him about the weirdest news that day: a company called Midnight Legacy is releasing Alien 2: On Earth on blu-ray. I quickly sent them an email asking if this was a joke or not, and a slightly worried Bill Knight replied with “Yes it is true. How did you find out? We are not launching our website until this Friday (15 October) so please keep this to yourself until then”.

I’ll have to confess that I was sceptical until the last seconds, before my PS3 swallowed the disc and showed me the glory of perfect high definition…

The story of Alien 2 isn’t especially complicated. After nearly 27 minutes of very grainy stock footage, talking and not less than two cryptic scenes at a nice beach, our heroes climbs down in a cave system and gets brutally killed one by one by a hungry alien entity! Yeah, that’s about it – but what a magnificent trashy “it”. Directed by Cirio Ippolito and starring Belinda Mayne and Michele Soavi (who are the best actors in the whole movie, the rest is just meat) this is one stripped down movie. An awesome excuse to show gore and an über-cool cave-system (it’s shot in Grotte di Castellana, outside Bari in Italy and the exteriors in and around San Diego). It’s such a simple story that the time flies like a ripped off head, and when you least expect it the movie is over and you just want to watch it again directly.

But first the stuff that some people whine about: the stock footage. This is very grainy, third-fourth generation stock footage of some military ships and something that looks like a space landing out to sea. They also dubbed some poor guy so he know is an actor in this movie, just like Bruno Mattei did with some footage in Hell of the Living Dead. This looks like shit even on blu-ray, because that’s how it looks – nothing to do about it. But it belongs there, it’s one important part of the Alien 2-legacy. Like Hugo Stiglitz in Nightmare City and the papier maché heads getting chopped off in Atlantis Interceptors. It’s there, so love it or be a coward. After that we’re treated to some talky scenes with the main characters – in one scene she stands on the beach, a man with a beard arrives in a little boat, talk to her and then walks away. And I love it.

But when they finally enter the cave it becomes the immortal classic it deserves to be. It’s actually not a bad movie from here on becomes it’s a very competent and atmospheric horror movie which delivers some cool gore-scenes (with a lot of blood!) and a location that makes the production value raise a lot more higher. The effect work is competent, but of course not up to the standard of a boring Hollywood-movie, but its creative work and it’s first and most important very spectacular.

I’m not a believer of diagrams, fancy-talk about bitrates and shoddy screenshots. If I can see something with my own eyes that looks good, it’s good. The thing here is that it looks stunning. I expected something good, but this was so over-the-top in quality that I couldn’t believe my eyes. Even my partner, G, raised his head from his new HTC Desire and asked me “How can they make such an old crappy movie look so fucking great?” (Crappy is his opinion, not mine). This is crystal clear, it looks like it was shot yesterday to use an old cliché. The only thing that says it’s an old movie is the fashion and stuff like that. I noticed one small print damage and when the last frame comes it’s a bit grainy – which is because the negative is processed with a text flying in on top of the footage. The rest is perfection, true perfection.

The 11 minutes of outtakes is good, for me as a Alien 2-fan it’s very good even. I watched this on my Sony Bravia 40 inch LED TV, for those who want to know. I have no opportunity to take screenshots, but I recommend this review for that – even if it’s such a difference compared with the real thing.

Alien 2: On Earth could be my favourite release this year (and it’s been a fantastic year for DVD and blu-ray) and I can’t wait for the next masterpiece to come out from Midnight Legacy (and let me just say the following words: Atlantis Interceptors, Blazing Magnum, Spider Labyrinth and Night of the Devils, please?).


Sutekh said...

I'm hearing and fully endorsing your suggestion of Blazing Magnum! Great movie.

Alex B. said...

Wow. It's awesome news that this movie has come out on Blu-Ray. The world is a better place now.
I love the grainy footage, as long as it's film footage and not digital video noise. Nice natural grain of multy-gnereation film dupes is quite pleasing for me.
I love your line : "It’s there, so love it or be a coward." - So true.