There's a space capsule due to splash down now its mission has been completed, and the television cameras are set to cover it, but back in the studio they have a little time to wait until that actually occurs, so to fill in they ask one of their presenters to interview a young woman about spelunking. She is Thelma Joyce (Belinda Mayne), already even at her young age very experienced in her field of cave exploring, and should provide a good talk to keep the viewers engaged, but as the presenter begins his questions, she takes a funny turn and the interview has to be halted - the director cuts back to the capsule's landing. Is Thelma all right? Her boyfriend explains she's just psychic...
Which you would think would be no explanation at all, and you would be correct in that assumption, especially as psychic powers had little bearing on what unfolded, but a low budget Italian rip-off of Ridley Scott's blockbusting sci-fi horror Alien was not prepared to bother with such niceties as logic, they were in the business of making money, and slapping the apparent sequel title onto their opus was good enough for them. When 20th Century Fox complained and threatened to sue, director Ciro Ippolito countered that oh no, this wasn't a sequel to their Alien, it was a sequel to a different Alien, an old science fiction novel from the nineteen-thirties, and incredibly this did the trick and got the big studio off their back.
You have to admire their sheer cheek, but it also gave this a reputation of pure cash-in ineptitude, as when the hardy few who actually shelled out to watch it discovered this was unsurprisingly not exactly on a par with the classic production it was inspired by. For instance, as the Scott movie had featured some elaborate production design to suggest an otherworldly domain, Ippolito instead decided to place his cast in a cave that looked suitably striking, and most of the movie was set beneath the ground as a result. Which would have been fine if the location hadn't worn out its welcome early on, with the actors plainly photographed in the same part of the underground caverns over and over.
Before that, the director had exploited another cheap location, the beach, where as presumably the consequence of the capsule's re-entry mysterious blue rocks have started to be found. Or blue rock, since they could only afford to make one of them, but it proves its inherently dubious worth by mangling a little girl's face, which was about the callous level of violence you had come to expect from Italy's shockers around this time. Thelma and her buddies tear themselves away from a game of bowling at the alley to set off for their expedition, but one of them finds that blue rock (while taking a piss - yes, we see what denominator you're aiming for) and takes it with him, predictably unleashing the horror once they are in the cave. And that was? A set of monsters that were so barely glimpsed as to be hardly worth bothering to depict.
Well, you had the hand puppets which burst, not from chests, but from faces this time, and the occasional penile tentacle that would attach itself to more faces, and even for no apparent reason the rocks coming to life and squishing some unfortunate lady whose eye comes out, but you would search for a good look at the actual alien in vain: the closest we got was a pulsing alien's eye view (or was it an alien's mouth view?) as it stalked Thelma. Mayne would be best known to Doctor Who fans as the title character from the eighties adventure Delta and the Bannermen, but to trash fans her much-harrassed role here would be the one to treasure; it certainly was not of any great quality, but if you'd seen enough of these you'd be well aware that you had to plough on through the boring bits (that bloody cave) to get to the interesting stuff. In this case, should you make it to the final quarter hour there were some pretty decent abandoned city images, patently shot when nobody was out of bed yet, but effective all the same. Which almost made up for the fact that it didn't have a proper ending, it just went, may as well end it there, that'll do. Music by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis.
Ah yes, that old staple of Italian horror: the neurotic woman. She's Mimsy Farmer in Autopsy, she's Janet Agren in City of the Living Dead, she's Edwige Fenech in uh, every giallo she ever made. And here she is Belinda Mayne. I haven't revisited Delta and the Bannermen since the late Eighties, so it was interesting to learn that was her. For me the male character's casual dismissal of Thelma's psychological problems was scarier than the aliens. Then again it's a silly movie, impossible to take seriously. Judging from the extras Eli Roth seems to rate this highly, but then again he's Eli Roth.
19 Sep 2016
It's OK, she's just psychic! I suppose we should be glad she didn't get slapped to snap her out of it.