Disclaimer: Halloween is totally a Thea thing when she hijacks the blog and makes me watch and read all sorts of stuff that are way outside my comfort zone (I am SO NOT a horror/Halloween fan). Last year, it was The Evil Dead movies, which, wouldn’t you know, I ended up loving. This year, I was given another list of movies that I had to watch, one for ach day of the week. Ana’s Halloween Marathon is now an official part of our annual Halloween celebration. Let the
torture fun begins! Also: there will be spoilers!
Ana’s Halloween TV/Movie Marathon: Day 3 – Alien/Aliens
Why These movies: Today is Sci-fi Horror day in our Halloween Week special and when Thea found out that I had never watched any of the Alien movies franchise, she added it to my Halloween Marathon list.
Trivia: I consider myself a movie buff. At the age of 12 when my parents first bought a VCR, I discovered this world of movies available to me at the video store. I went completely mental and started to rent all sorts of movies but gravitated towards old black and white Hollywood movies, the Epics, the French, comedies and dramas and completely avoided Horror and Scifi (unless there is “Star” in its title). To this date, I have yet to watch Blade Runner, something that I need to remedy and soon.
The Viewing Party:
I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to watch these movies. I know how important they are (Alien is in the AFI top 100 best science fiction movies) and how much they figure in the cultural background of our times: there are toys, games, video games, novels and several movies. Every time there is a television especial about “best movie moments”, “best 80s movies” and “best movie hero/heroine”, it is a sure thing that at least one of the Alien movies will figure in that. Heck, even though I never watched the movies before now, I knew quite a lot about them from hearsay and from those specials. I knew who Ripley is, what the Alien looks like and what is a “John Hurt Moment”. I also knew how much Thea loves them.
So, under the weight of those heavy expectations I bought the first two movies and started to watch them. And I can honestly say that I totally get it how this has such a lasting effect. I will not do my usual viewing marathon thing in which I write as I go along, mostly because I tried to do that and the notes I have consist of:
“no, John Hurt, don’t do that”
“listen to Ripley”
“listen to Ripley”
“OMG Ash NEEDS TO DIE”
“what a moron”
“no, you idiot”
“Listen to Ripley you idiots!”
“I love Ripley!”
“I can’t believe it!”
Not very helpful. So instead, I will just list the reasons why I loved the movies.
1) The special effects.
Colour me completely surprised. Since the first movie is from 1979 and the second one from1986, I was expecting them to be dated and well, lame. No such thing. I actually turned to Dear Partner and said: sometimes, I hate GCI. Why can’t more movies be like these ones? The spaceships look real enough, I love all light effects (like inside the computer room).and above all the creature, Alien itself is a thing of beauty: the epitome of what “alien” truly means ie “different”.
2) The story and how it unfolds.
From the opening sequence of Alien when the commercial spaceship’s lights turn on, the crew awakening to find out that they are not on their way home as they expected and instead are responding to a (presumed) SOS signal. It is a slow set-up in which things fall into place little by little. There is the requisite look at the daily life of the crew, the introduction to the characters (and a chance to see who is the one with the Level-head, the one that is careless, the one that is a moron, the one that is a hero and so on and so forth) and to the spaceship layout (one word: BIG. In other words: a lot of room for an Alien to HIDE); I just loved this slow progress into the story and its sense of impending doom. Like, when John Hurt slips when he is investigating the eggs inside the derelict alien ship they found and then decides it is a clever thing to poke the eggs. OF COURSE, something bad happens there. But never mind, because Ripley, the main character played by the awesome Sigourney Weaver KNOWS that they should put John Hurt in quarantine but do they listen to her? NOOOO.
Of course, things escalate to a point of no return as the tension and the horror build up and build up as the ONE Alien wipes out every single character. I guess it should come as no surprise that only one person survives. It did astonish me though and it was a HUGE A-ha! Moment when I realised that everything was on purpose: the trip, the capturing of the Alien and that Ash, aka the character I hated the most was actually an android. This is brilliant storytelling right there.
And then Aliens, beings and it is even more dramatic. I did not expect to find out that Ripley had been sleeping for 57 years and woke up to the fact that her daughter died a mere two years before. The drama, even though this is a sci-fi horror , it is very , very human. As human as it can, as Ripley suffers from horrible nightmares and decides to confront her fears by going back to that godforsaken planet. There, she finds a lost girl, the only survivors of a colony that is being used as incubators for the horrible Aliens and in the girl, Newt, the possibility of being there for her when she could not be there for her own daughter. The maternal instinct is I think, what drives both Ripley and the Queen Alien and the showdown between the two of them in the end, both female , both kick ass, is the stuff that great movies are made of.
3) The fact that we, as a race, are utter morons
I keep saying this to Thea but it bears repeating. Most Horror movies would not be possible if it wasn’t for the idiot character that pissed off the alien/ghost/demon or awaken the Evil Force or went traipsing in the abandoned/derelict/isolated building/house/cemetery/wood.
In both Alien and Aliens s a lot of things could have been avoided if people would only listen to Ripley, aka the Voice of Reason. If protocol had been followed, if precautions have been taken. In Aliens it is even worse as these people set out to a possibly alien-infested world with only a handful of marines and a limited amount of ammunition. Come on now.
The fact that these two movies manage to engage despite these obvious contrivances (especially in movie two. Movie one has a perfectly reasonable excuse in the A-HA moment)
4) The horror!
Oh yes. How positively horrific these movies are. Of the pulsating, increasingly gross variety, the kind that grabs one by the throat as one watches one by one, the characters being taken, chased like rabbits by a violent, horrible, threatening, motherfreaking ugly, nearly indestructible, unstoppable predator.
But the scenes that are the most horrific to me, were these ones: when we still didn’t know what the frak was happening, what the creatures were: this one at the beginning of Alien when John Hurt’s helmet was removed to reveal this the Facehugger:
And then the infamous John Hurt Moment , when the Chestburster er, burst out of his chest:
I think though that above all, the most terrifying thing that happened in the movie did not happen because of the Alien. It came with the utterly frustrating and outrageous realisation that this is all because some ambitious plan from a faceless The Company. It came when Ripley read that computer message that says that all crew was expendable, as long as one of the creatures was taken alive. Oh, the humanity.
Dudes, words can not describe how much I love this character. How much I love that she, SHE alone saves herself and in Aliens saves three other people (ok two people and a robot) AND kills the Queen Alien. How ,in the face of adversity, she keeps her cool, how she is capable of making all the hard decisions when the other moronic male characters are frozen by their fear. She’s got pretty cool lines and pretty cool weapons. Plus the awesome kick-assness that makes her being the one carrying people to their safety, going back to save the child when there is almost no chance of survival because it is the right thing to do. This is a character that deserves respect and admiration and she gets both from me.
Get away from her, you bitch!
These are my reasons for loving Alien and Aliens – what about you? Like? Dislike?