From the world of Italian rip-off merchants, comes Alien 2: On Earth, Ciro Ippolito’s non-canonical sequel to Ridley Scott’s phenomenal Alien. Although there are other films out there that ripped off Alien and its style in the 1980’s, Alien 2 had the daring to call itself the sequel, despite the fact Alien 2 has absolutely nothing to do with the original Alien (Alien 2 is set on earth in 1980’s America) and simply shares the title so that Ippolito’s film might leech off the popularity of Alien.
The first thing that stood out to me is that the film isn’t well-written. Boiled down to its basic constructs, Alien 2 is a slasher film, a very simple one. It follows every single convention of a slasher film, but the writers decided to include very out-of-place plot choices taken from other popular horror media at the time, such as Dawn Of The Dead and The Shining, to create a film that feels very confused about what it’s trying to achieve. As well as having an odd story, Alien 2 also sports poorly written dialogue, a very dull first act, and, strangely, each character having an odd trait that means nothing, does nothing and adds nothing to the story overall. Alien 2 feels like a very confused film that doesn’t really know what it’s doing half the time as most of the scenes feel like they only exist to validate the 80 minute running time.
Another big problem is the acting/actors. The acting in Alien 2 is terrible, but it’s not enjoyably terrible. Every actor either looks bored or uninterested. There are scenes where characters underplay tense moments or overplay equally tense moments, making the characters become unbelievably annoying to watch. Michele Soavi in my opinion is only the actor who is trying their best, but even then, that’s not saying a lot, as Michele Soavi is not a very talented actor.
Although it’s not all doom and gloom, there are some aspects of the film that do stand out among the others. The editing is very impressive: after halfway through Alien 2, I began to feel a sense of dread because tense cinematic sequences were expertly cut with effective music cues. The film gets very suspenseful and atmospheric in the later scenes, and I feel that editor did really well despite what he had to work with in terms of actors and script. The lighting crew need to be applauded as well, as the film’s lighting exaggerate the suspense of every scene after the first act. Alien 2 may be visually dark and some scenes are plunged in shadow, but the shadows are utilized efficiently and the lighting never distracts from what’s happening in the film, instead, the lighting enhances every onscreen moments. These are the best aspects of the film, but it’s disappointing that they occur after the film’s 40 minute mark.
The special effects, however, are very inconsistent. In some scenes they’ll be fantastic: utilizing puppetry and clever camera angles to create sickening scenes of gore. In other scenes, such as when the alien shows itself on-screen, are laughably bad. It seems to be a dice roll as to whether the film shows a very good death scene, or a ridiculously poor death scene, and that inconsistency isn’t very welcome. For example: throughout the whole film I was waiting for an eye-opening reveal of the alien itself, but I never got one, and that disappoints me, but the movie also has an impressively shocking decapitation scene, so I’m continuously in two minds about what I thought of the special effects as a whole.
I don’t really know whether to recommend Alien 2, it definitely isn’t a must-see of classic Italian ripoff cinema, but I didn’t hate my experience of watching the film. If you can get through the dull moments, the exciting moments really do shine, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t feel that the exciting moments are enough to really make the film stand-out among the dull moments. Unfortunately, I really can’t pinpoint my opinion on this film making it really difficult to come to a conclusion. In the end, all I’ll say is take it for what it is – a cheap Italian slasher film with decent effects and a shoddy monster – and not the ridiculous sequel to Alien that it’s trying to be.