Friday, February 10, 2012

“The bones are bent outward... he exploded from inside.”

Dallas (Alien. 1979. Directed by Ridley Scott/ Screenplay by Dan O'Bannon)

I remember when the film 'Alien' first came out. It was 1979, and my mother wouldn't let me go to the theater to see it. After the first week it played, I endured all of the group jokes about the little Alien popping out of the chest of poor Kane, and I kept quiet during the movie discussions so my fellow high-schoolers wouldn't know how 'uncool' I was. Mind you, with my thrift store attire and mouth full of braces, it wasn't like I had any type of reputation to keep. I just didn't want it to get worse. (I was naive to think it could have gotten worse.) 

When the film was released, it was like every Monday at school after the latest Saturday Night Live only tripled, maybe quadrupled, in effect because I loved horror and I could have cared less about SNL. (I know, I know...sacrilege. Spare me. I watched the re-runs years later and finally got the Gumby jokes...) The first of the series of films I actually saw on screen was Aliens. It wasn't until the early 90's that I saw Alien. 

Viewing this movie again was timely, since the release of Prometheus is scheduled in June 2012.  I watched the trailer for the new movie, and I have admit I'm really exited. There is not one movie in the Alien series that has ever disappointed me and I'm expecting a lot from the newest endeavor.

From the moment I saw the Alien monsters, I adored them. Each gargantuan spine-tingling beast was the epitome of what I feared most. Larger than ordinary earthlings, spider-like limbs, a face fitted with several layers of bone-crushing teeth, bloody acid running through the circulatory system AND they were wet and slimy...what wasn't to love and fear about these creatures?

If you want a story breakdown, you can read the play by play on Wikipedia. I do recommend reading it, because there's some fun info-tidbits there like the fact that Alien was Sigourney Weaver's first leading role, and that the Alien was actually played by a 7'2" Nigerian design student named Bolaji Badejo. I had no idea.

One of the things I noticed while growing up in the 70's and 80's, was that there were very few strong female roles in modern film. Ripley was one of the first big-screen female heros that resonated with me. She wasn't wearing high-heals, she didn't try to be sexy...she was pure stone ovaries, determined to win against the odds.

What this film doesn't really bring out, but which is highlighted in later films, is the fact that the human 'monster'  exists among our species. It is, in many ways, much more horrifying. At least when you see the Alien, what you see is what you get. When you look at a human, you never know. The monster Alien used camouflage to 'hide' it's presence. Among humans, our flesh IS our camouflage, and we never know where the enemy hides until it's too late.



  1. I also didn't see it until I was older. I also endured the jokes about the chest bursting alien long before I actually got to see it for myself. Many times, when something is built up like that, it's a huge letdown when you actually see it. I didn't feel that at all with Alien. I can't share your like of all of the sequels/prequels. I liked the idea of the Predator vs. Alien movies, but I don't think they held up to their potential.

  2. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in the movie overall. However, science fiction particularly that which occurs in space is not one of my interests.

    I really enjoyed reading your blog and watching the trailer for Prometheus. I also appreciated that you mentioned the Wikipedia entry. I had difficulty following the plot of the movie, and that article was essential while writing my post. I loved the detail about who played the alien and that O'Bannon originally pitched the idea as "Jaws in Space."

  3. I am very excited about Prometheus, as well, and have been planning on re-watching the whole series before heading to the theatre this summer, so this assignment was very timely. I have to say I wasn't entirely impressed with all the sequels/prequels either. I don't remember the third film much, but I remember Resurrection and was not impressed. I've read that Joss Whedon wrote an almost entirely different movie, and if you read his script, the monsters are described nothing like they appear on film. In the movie, I remember them looking like inbred, back hills defects rather than terrifying genetic monstrosities of the super-killing creatures they once were. But, it has been years since I've seen that one, too, so I guess I'll see what I think when I re-watch it.

  4. Ripley kicks ass. She's the greatest heroine of all. But you didn't see it until the 90's? What? Even I saw it before then. I hope you've watched it many, many times to make up for that.

  5. I love movie trivia, too. I just read online that the way they got Jonsey to hiss was to put a piece of steel in front of him, and then move a German Shepherd into place behind it. When they raised the metal and he got his first look at the dog...ta da! I own three cats. What amazes me is that he didn't rip their faces off getting away.

  6. i also really like the theme in the movies about the human monsters, namely the corruption in "The Company." We get a little slice of it with Ash in this movie, but just barely. Each movie in the series brings more and more to the forefront, though my favorite of the series is still Aliens. I just love the blend of action, horror, suspence, and a heavier dose of Company screwups.

  7. I saw this movie as a kid and it scared the shit out of me then. Now, I just love the story. I'm a huge fan of Alien and Aliens. The rest of the series is "meh-okay" for me. I'm also very excited to see Prometheus, and, as you said, it is great timing. I'm glad you mentioned Ripley and her strength as a female lead. I think she did a great job in this movie, and does another great job in Aliens. She's motherly, protective, strong, and doesn't take shit from anyone or anything. Really a great character that people can latch on to.

  8. You all have made such great comments! Those of you that loved Alien, I'm right there with you and I bought the film and want the entire series one day. And those of you that didn't love it, if you have DVD's of any of the series...send 'em my way! :)