Alien 2: On Earth [Blu-Ray] Ciro Ippolito

Alien 2: On Earth [Blu-Ray] Ciro Ippolito
When the explorers of Alien 2: On Earth first begin their descent into an underground cave, they turn on their helmet lights, one by one, so that all the viewer can see is moving circles of bright white light, surrounded by stark blackness. Set to a strange synth/electric guitar musical score (triumphant here, often low and eerily ambient elsewhere), this is a startlingly beautiful image. Here's another: the camera glides very slow beside the body bag of a spelunker who has been attacked by one of the monsters. The bag and the man are given only a sliver of illumination, once again surrounded by stark darkness. A cavern is a vulnerable location for horror film protagonists to find themselves in, and in the unfortunately named Alien 2: On Earth, director Ciro Ippolito emphasizes the unrelenting dark, shooting the lemon-yellow sulphuric formations with only the characters' lights in a way that enhances the space's beauty and heavy atmosphere. Generally speaking, one doesn't expect greatness from a low-budget, 1980 Italian horror film with a title like Alien 2: On Earth (so named presumably to capitalize on the Ridley Scott film, though it is ambiguous as to whether these monsters are actually aliens), but this forgotten little thriller works both as a low-budget splatter-fest (the special effects have a Sam Raimi quality, including a POV shot from a monster's bloody, pulsating orifice) and a moody visual experience. Aside from the romantic leads, almost none of the characters are given even the most cursory development, which, strangely, works to the film's advantage ― spared from having to keep track of everybody's one or two little character quirks, we can approach the film as a lean exercise in style. Dare I say that this diamond in the rough is something close to Pure Cinema? The inaugural release of "Midnight Legacy," a new label specializing in restored releases of vintage grindhouse oddities, Alien 2: On Earth looks shockingly pristine on Blu-Ray and makes a strong case for how even the unlikeliest of films can be revelations when viewed with optimal sound and image quality. Extras include special effects outtakes and a Dutch VHS trailer, which, alas, gives away the classic head-exploding scene. (Midnight Legacy)