The naming of Alien 2: On Earth (or Sulla Terra in Italian) is obvious from a marketing point of view. A brazen attempt to pull in viewers to see this excessively cheap, subterranean rubbish.
The Italians would happily throw a “2” onto anything to get audience members to buy a ticket due to their copyrighting laws. Elsewhere there were laws and rules foreboding this. The practice happened in Italy frequently leading to the likes of Ghosthouse – Evil Dead 3, Terminator II – Shocking Dark, Jaws 5 – Cruel Jaws and where Dawn of the Dead was released as Zombi, the subsequent knock off series Zombi 2, 3 and 4 emerged.
Much like this film, there is nothing to connect them and it is entirely a re-titling exercise to help pull in a little extra coin. Historically, it is fascinating and having a release boldly titled Alien 2 on the shelf alongside the original Alien and Aliens makes for some interesting questions from confused browsers.
Alien 2: On Earth looks good on the shelf, leave it at that. Putting the movie into a player and playing it back can lead to an upsetting experience as everything contained between the bookended credit sequences can only be described as poor.
Returning to earth, stock footage shows a space capsule landing (nothing to do with the Nostromo.) A collection of rocks somehow appear dotted around with a strange alien force attached. A group of young adults finish bowling and head out on a planned spelunking expedition. Along the way the youngsters find one of the unusual looking rocks and take it along on their cave diving adventure. As the group descend into the cave the alien force begins to take them out one by one in a variety of bloody ways.
The majority of this movie sees the troupe clamber between stalagmites whilst being pursued by an unseen foe. Most of the budget has gone on a couple of interesting but obvious gore effects. Director Ciro Ippolito (under the name Sam Cromwell) is unable to keep an even pace at any point and the action becomes confusing.
A point to note is the music. On some tracks there is a strange collection of sounds that feels like the composer has cobbled things together hastily. Somehow, it works. If anything in the film were to achieve an eerie tone, the music is it. Collaborative team Maurizio and Guido De Angelis (credited as Oliver Onions) seem to paste together a number of musical riffs and sound effects to create something wholly unique. A grand synthesised piece with a sense of wonder that deserves a better film under it.
Belinda Mayne has the daunting task of having to try to hold this together and becomes the only thing worth watching here. A talented actor who was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the equally unenthralling Lassiter. Elsewhere in the cast of unknowns is Michele Soavi, director of The Church, The Sect and Cemetery Man who appears as one of the cave explorers.
There is nothing to this film save for its notable title. I cannot recommend it even if you are hoping for some gory kills as promised on the marketing material. Tension can, from time to time, increase but then is squandered by the handling of the exciting moments. Special effects initially seem promising in the poorly filmed and peculiar opening act involving a child, however, as the film trudges along, Ippolito lingers on them too long allowing the audience to see just how the effects work using balloons and pumps.
At what feels like the three quarter mark of the film the action leaves the caves as the lost survivors happen upon the entrance from earlier in the film. The writers attempt to install a significant “doomed” ending which fails due to Ippolito’s inability to capture a lifeless city… complete with traffic. Mayne has a couple of fun moments here running around the deserted streets. It is all over too quickly to draw any conclusions. Perhaps things were to be wrapped up in Bruno Mattei’s unmade Alien 3, we will never know.
Alien 2: On Earth is an atrocity that is a forgery of a sequel. For those markets that did not carry the Alien 2 branding, there is even less to recommend. Forgo the movie and buy the soundtrack.