My Two Cents (Daily) - Criterion's May slate, 4 new BD reviews & back on March 4th Criterion reveals Limelight,... http://t.co/YzxsoWg0aX
Alien 2: On Earth
Release Date(s)1980 (March 22, 2011)
Studio(s)GPS (Midnight Legacy)
It’s been awhile since we’ve welcomed a new distributor to the DVD/Blu table. It isn’t hard to understand why. Not only is the game changing rapidly, the poor economy hasn’t done any favors to obscure catalog titles. These are hard times to be a fan of oddball cult flicks. Fortunately, Midnight Legacy is poised to step in and join the likes of Severin, Blue Underground, Synapse, Dark Sky, and Mondo Macabro in releasing foreign, independent, and just plain gonzo-weird genre pictures in high quality editions.
To inaugurate the line, Midnight Legacy chose a movie I’d never heard of, Alien 2: On Earth, proving that Alien Anthology Blu-ray wasn’t quite as comprehensive as you might have thought.
Directed by Ciro Ippolito under the pseudonym Sam Cromwell, the movie is part of Italy’s long history of completely unauthorized “sequels” (or, if you prefer, rip-offs) to popular American films. Horror fans are well-acquainted with the confusing story of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, originally titled Zombi 2 in an attempt to pass it off as a sequel to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was titled Zombi in Italy. Alien 2 has even less to do with Ridley Scott’s film than Zombie has to do with Romero’s, if you can believe that.
Here’s the story, as near as I can piece it together. A spacecraft returns to Earth, without any of the astronauts who were supposed to be on board. Somehow the spacecraft’s arrival scatters around a bunch of things that look like blue rocks but are actually alien eggs. One of them ends up in the backpack of a cave explorer (Belinda Mayne) who has psychic flashes that are of absolutely no use to anyone. She and her team are deep underground when the egg hatches, revealing an alien face-hugger if the face-huggers looked like they were made of raw, bloody meat. You can pretty much guess what happens from there, although in the movie’s cleverest touch, it ups the ante from a mere chest-burster to make the aliens into face-bursters. Yikes!
The biggest problem with the movie (apart from it being... you know, utterly ridiculous) is that it takes an awfully long time to get going. Not a whole lot happens for the first forty-five minutes or so but once that egg hatches underground, the movie offers cheesy, very bloody fun. Unfortunately, it can’t quite sustain it. The final scenes are meant to imply that the aliens have killed everyone but early morning shots of a supposedly abandoned San Diego aren’t very convincing since the crew didn’t quite manage to clear the streets of traffic. The exciting finale, which takes place in a bowling alley of all places, is just kind of puzzling, since the movie’s low budget prevents us from ever getting a good look at the fully-grown alien. Even so, the movie is goofy fun with an infectious score by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (credited as Oliver Onions). I’d certainly rather watch this than Alien: Resurrection.
Midnight Legacy is off to a good start with this Blu-ray. Alien 2 starts off with several minutes of grainy stock footage but once we get to the actual movie, the image looks remarkably good. It’s crisp, clear, and highly detailed. The audio is a bit more problematic, although it’s always hard to accurately gauge sound quality on movies that were completely dubbed in post-production. Midnight Legacy has decided to offer only original soundtracks (in other words, don’t expect any 7.1 remixes) and I have no quarrel with that. The DTS MA 2.0 mix here is fine, although there are still some clicks and hisses that I found occasionally distracting. Extras include a trailer taken from a Dutch VHS release and several minutes of special effects outtakes, nicely presented in HD. I would have liked some extras that give background or context for the movie but considering the film’s obscurity, I’m not tremendously surprised there aren’t any.
I think it’s smart that Midnight Legacy is focusing on the cult collector’s market. According to their website, every release will be spine numbered like The Criterion Collection and given a limited press run, meaning when they’re gone, they’re gone. It’ll be very interesting to see what movies are announced as future releases. If they can get their hands on a couple of “holy grail” titles and treat them with as much care as evidenced here, they’ll definitely be a company to watch. I’m not entirely sure that Alien 2: On Earth qualifies as a “holy grail” title. It’s more of a curiosity, although if you collect Alien rip-offs, you’ll definitely want to add this to your library. Regardless, I’m always happy to see a company willing to dig for the most obscure, unusual titles they can find. Midnight Legacy looks ready to step up to the plate and I wish them nothing but the best of luck.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke