Alien 2: On Earth/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Review of Alien 2: On Earth
Many exploitation film fans know that in the 60s, 70s and 80s the Italian studios often cashed-in the success of US genre movies (or even Italian ones, Ex: Cannibal Holocaust) by making films with similar stories or titles. But what they might not know is the fact that we have two Italian cash-ins of the Alien franchise! The first one is Alien 2: Sulla Terra (a.k.a. "Alien 2: On Earth" or "Alien Terror", the latter is the title on the VHS release) directed by Ciro Ippolito under the moniker "Sam Cromwell" to make it look like a US flick. Another is Bruno Mattei's Terminator 2, which is basically a shot-for-shot remake of James Cameron's Aliens, but that's another story.
Alien 2: On Earth was made mainly to cash-in on the sucess of Ridley Scott's 1979 hit Alien, although the tone and plot is totally different. The story begins with a spacecraft returning to earth. Thelma Joyce, a woman who has psychic visions, starts to sense something bad is about to happen. Then, she, her wife, and her friends go explore a cave underground. Unfortunately, they don't know that a mysterious blue rock (that looks more like blue sponge) is beginning to spread across the country and is killing innocent people....including the crew.
Many film fans have complained that the pacing in this film is ultra slow. In fact, one of the reviewers on the internet said that the appropriate tagline should be: "On Earth, no one can see you yawn". You have to wait 22-25 minutes until something happens. Although there are many things to be ridiculed for (one of the crew brings a typewriter to write something in the cave and the main survival rule is: "The more you talk, the more you stay alive"), it has surprisingly amazing special effects. This film shows us that practical effects are always better than bad CGI schlock. For instance, just take a look at the memorable "eyes of the alien" scene, which you can see at the beginning of the trailer. It creates suspense by using a pan shot across a corpse and then....BAM! the alien explodes from the face of the corpse. Also, there's the climactic scene where the alien tries to attack Thelma in a bowling alley. It uses a really cool and effective POV shot along with mysterious objects to make it look like the point-of-view of the alien.
Another two things I like about Alien 2 are the great soundtrack and the cinematography. The soundtrack is by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (under the moniker "Oliver Onions"). It creates lots of suspense in many scenes and is totally memorable. The cinematography looks pretty good since there's plenty of interesting camera angles and lighting, especially the scenes that take place in the cave.
The last thing I'd like to tell you about is the recent DVD/Blu-Ray release. The picture quality is superb, it's clear and really gorgeous. Sadly, the audio is obviously ripped from the old VHS release. How do I know? The hissing noise is kinda loud and annoying in a few scenes. Also, the ending is totally different from the original version. In the US Theatrical cut, **SPOILER ALERT** we see Thelma, the only survivor, running alone in the abandoned city before text appears proclaiming: "You may be next!". All of these things are shot with a red filter. In the recent release, the red filter is gone and the English text is replaced with the original Italian text. It all depends on your opinion which kind of ending is better.
To sum it up, this film isn't nearly as bad as critics have said. Sure it's boring and looks cheaper than the 1979 classic, but it has cool special effects and a memorable soundtrack. If you love Italian cash-in flicks, this maybe another one you might want to check out.