Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1990)

Xtro is back for revenge! Ok not really. After all, Xtro pretty much won at the end of Xtro what with him killing everyone, turning his son into a junior Xtro and leaving a passel of eggs inside his wife’s fridge. So I guess he’s back just to rub it in our inferior human faces! You think he was leaving his alien dookie all over the Nexus project facility just because he couldn’t hold it until he got to the restroom? That was totally a “I just pooped in your precious lab and what you are going to do about it” moment!

Well the joke’s on you, Xtro because this time we aren’t putting you up against your wife’s new douchebag photographer boyfriend with his cruddy early 1980s hair! It’s time for the adults to handle things. And who would that be, you ask? Maybe while you’re sitting around in your crappy home dimension, you caught a stray episode or two of the greatest TV series about a helicopter ever named Airwolf. That’s right, Jan-Michael Vincent just rolled into Nexus, growling his lines in mostly incomprehensible fashion (purportedly he didn’t bother to learn his lines so the director had to feed them to him as they filmed) and rocking his breathtaking 1970s feathered hair!

In his heyday, Vincent worked with the likes of Charles Bronson (The Mechanic), George Peppard (Damnation Alley) and Robert Mitchum (The Winds of War). Then he made tons of money hanging out with Ernest Borgnine in Airwolf. Xtro II: The Second Encounter‘s only other recognizable name is Tara Buckman. You know, the Tara Buckman who was in such Italian box office sensations as Blue Angel Cafe, Night Killer, and High Finance Woman. So Vincent can be forgiven for hating everything about having to appear in something like this.

Vincent’s apparent antipathy for the project is understandable given how terribly routine it all is. While the original Xtro was a strange combination of gory alien invasion moments and the muted domestic problems of a blended family punctuated by killer life-size dolls and midget clowns, Xtro II embraces none of that and instead trots out the mind-numbingly routine stalk-n-shaft monster flick story.

Stalk-n-slash is of course the genre where a group of people are trapped in a lab with a monster on the loose and all the happens is that the monster and people chase each other through elevator shafts, airshafts and bland industrial hallways. Just offhand after thinking about it for five seconds, similar movies that come to mind are Forbidden World, Dead Space, The Terror Within, The Terror Within II, Creepozoids, Unknown Origin and Alien Terminator.

Xtro doesn’t do anything new with the story and in fact manages to abandon the only moderately intriguing idea (humans traveling to another dimension where the Xtros live) and instead just has Xtro infect a returning crew member before busting out of her and running roughshod over everyone before Airwolf finally grabs the biggest assed gun in the lab and says “I’m not running this time, you son of bitch” and shoots it about a billion times.

Airwolf plays Shepherd and he ran an earlier Nexus project down in Texas. He’s the only man to ever go into the other dimension and come back alive! But something went terribly wrong and Shepherd blew the whole project up! But refuses to tell anyone why! Now he’s out of the business, disgraced and living in a cabin by himself! Until his country needs him again! Or at least until his ex-girlfriend, Dr. Casserly convinces the Secretary of Defense to bring him back after a crew go missing again in the other dimension!

Dr. Summerfield is in charge of Nexus though and he hates Shepherd! And then after a single scientist manages to return to our dimension, Summerfield gets himself clawed on the neck by her and begins to act strangely! And wouldn’t you know it, but now the lab has gone a sealed itself off from the outside world due to a biohazard being detected! And just to keep Airwolf from lollygagging on his monster hunting activities, the entire lab is going to be bathed in a radioactive wash in six hours!

Things play out as you expect for the rest of the film with characters bickering, acting stupid (a nurse and member of the strike force decide that it’s a perfect time while the monster is on the loose to attempt a romantic fling), split up, run here and there, climb up shafts, fall down shafts, try to open doors and get picked off one by one.

You can’t help but sympathize with Airwolf because he’s the only one who has any sense about the situation and even this late in his career, there was still a bit of star quality left in Jan-Michael Vincent that was totally lacking with anyone else. (Despite her lengthy resume in film and TV, Buckman in particular is terrible at saying anything in convincing fashion.)

Harry Bromley Davenport, who made the original, is back again as director and supposedly made this movie because he had the rights to the name Xtro, but not anything else about the first movie. Shot in a much more conventional action/sci-fi style and minus the weird and often times obnoxious musical score, Xtro II looks exactly like you would expect a low budget Alien clone to look like, but its anonymous ordinariness only makes you appreciate the chances that were taken with the original, despite it not always being successful. Forgettable except for how depressing it is to see a once rising star like Vincent struggle through such a Xtro-sized space turd.

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