As I’ve frequently highlighted here, somewhere in the transition from the 1970s to the 1980s Italian genre cinema lost its way; whereas previously it had produced an interesting mix of highbrow and schlock material, somewhere along the way a race to the bottom began, yielding a glut sloppy B-movies turfed out in a hurry, often for the sake of ripping off some more prominent, more successful movie. When Alien was a hit in 1979, it was inevitable that Italian producers would try to rip it off. Let’s take a look at two attempts, neither of which manage to capture the charm of the original movie.
Alien 2: On Earth
We open as journalists assemble to cover the the return of a mission to space, the capsule expected to splash down in the ocean. Meanwhile, caving expert Thelma Joyce (Belinda Mayne) hustles to a TV studio (which seems to be located inside an old cinema, based on the exterior shots), where the local station is going to interview her about her group’s explorations as a way of filling time until the astronauts show up. Thelma, during the interview, shows signs of illness; her husband Roy (Mark Rodin) explains that Thelma is telepathic and she sometimes has funny turns when significant things happen (in the same tone of voice you’d use to explain that someone has a mild allergy to cats).
After the interview Thelma drags Roy and, later, the rest of the caving team around town doing various weird errands – meeting some guy from a yacht who tells her to ignore her concerns, and then randomly yelling at a little girl at the beach for no reason. Well, perhaps she did have a precognitive reason – for after Thelma leaves, the child encounters something squamous and eldritch on the beach and disappears, and when her mother finds her she’s had her face ripped off (though apparently this leaves no bloodstains or trail of blood and she is still able to sit there sobbing like someone broke her favourite toy despite lacking any of the parts of the body which would allow you to cry).