aka Alien Terror, Strangers
Directed by Ciro Ippolito
Starring Belinda Mayne
Alien 2: On Earth is an unofficial Italian sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 film ‘Alien’. Making an unofficial sequel to a big American hit was a popular practice with jobbing Italian directors of the late 70’s and 80’s. Lucio Fulci produced a follow up to Dawn of the Dead with his Zombi 2 (its name indicative of the original Dawn’s Italian title), and Bruno Mattei gave us his version of Terminator 2, beating James Cameron to the punch by 2 years. Alien 2 was directed by Ciro Ippolito, an obscure director not known for his Horror, Alien 2 represents his sole sanguine tinged opus.
As the world awaits the return of a crew of astronauts (I assume this is supposed to be the Nostromo even though this film takes place in the 1970s and Alien took place in the place in the far future but whatever), a young woman named Thelma (Belinda Mane) appears on TV talk show to discuss caves. The film attempts to make a connection between these two disparate plot points by establishing that Thelma is a psychic and experiences a painful hallucination , which I think is supposed to have been caused by the return of the spacecraft to Earth (?). We learn that the spacecraft returned without its occupants, and there after get great a scene in which a little girl discovers an Alien object on a beach and is then discovered by her mother with her face ripped off (in general Italian Horror is far less shy about showing children being killed than Hollywood). Thelma and her husband Roy (played by future director Michele Sovai) meet up with their friends for a exhibition to explore a cave, and the film from this point follows the group being pursued by the alien force through said cave.
If you were expecting Xenomorphs you’re going to be disappointed, but Alien 2 nevertheless manages to conjure up an interesting villain. We never really get to fully see the Aliens, but they seem to resemble a red bloody mass perturbing with tentacles. Sometimes it is portrayed with shots of its own point of view, in with most of the screen is taken up by a mass of pulsating tentacles (as seen in the poster above). The film makes full use of the fear of the unknown by never giving us a full view of the creature, and is a good example of the filmmakers making use of their limitations, as it is unlikely that on a low budget production like this they would have been able to construct a full creature, yet alone one to compete with H.R. Giger’s monstrosity. In spite of its low budget, Alien 2 also manages to shine in its gore department. After a slow start, the second half of the film takes a gleefully grisly turn. Forget a chestburster, this film features a face burster scene! This seeming attempt to up the ante of their Hollywood inspirations and make them seem tame by comparison is part of what makes these low budget Italian shockers so appealing.
Where Alien 2 falls down in comparison to its Hollywood original however, it in the departments of plot, performance and pacing. Starting the film out with a TV report on a spacecraft returning to earth and then following that up with a story about a group of people exploring a cave was an odd decision, and its never really explained how the Aliens managed to populate the cave. The characters are all exceptionally dull, even more so than you would expect in a film like this, and I really can’t say anything about anything about any of them. However, whereas these first two points are sort of per the course for a film like this, Alien 2 really suffers from its poor pacing. This is one of those films that is dragged out with needlessly long scenes of people doing regular stuff like backing out of their front drives, a personal pet hate of mine (if you’re going to include scenes like these just make the bloody film shorter!). Overall though, I’d still recommend Alien 2. Just don’t go into it expecting Xenomorphs or non stop action.