Monday, June 23, 2014
Alien: Second thoughts
My accident was a terrible experience. My legs are both wrecked; one to the thigh, the other just the lower leg with a patellar fracture. Both feet have been worked on. My right talus has been chipped and the chip dislodged severely enough that they're going to have to go in, take it out and then shine up the cracked area so my tendons don't catch and tear on it. My right shoulder has a severe fracture. I've got a fun scar on my face. My ribs on the right side are bruised. I consider myself lucky; I could be dead right now. Oh yes, there's one more noteworthy injury I got from it. My right middle finger will never fully extend again.
So I can't flip it up at all of you.
There are three things in this world that I don't understand: women, physics, and why the hell you would make me watch this movie. At least the accident was quick.
Lacy got an earful from me today. She knew it was coming. Eventually the giggling turned into what might have been almost sincere apologies. I say almost because I know she was still wearing a shit-eating grin that I could feel through the phone. Pint-sized sadist.
Roomie's home. He told me why the movie wasn't on the shelf. Someone let him watch it when he was ten. That person is guilty of child abuse. No part of this movie is appropriate for a ten-year old. No part of this movie is appropriate for a Jeremy. I don't blame him for never wanting to see it again. I don't want to remember that it exists. I feel like part of my joy has been stolen from me.
Just to point out: I have very strong medications that encourage sleep quite easily. I point this out because last night I DID NOT SLEEP. I know someone in the comments thought one particular phrase of jumbled characters was an appropriate reaction. I wasn't trying to type at that point, though. What you see there is what happens when hands are shaking so badly that they just smash into the keyboard over and over again. There were tears. There was hyperventilating. I felt cold, I felt numb, I went hoarse. I think this is the first horror movie I have ever watched. If the rest are anything close to the level of this, it will be the very last.
Now then. I've got that off my chest. Let's talk about the movie.
I admire its purity.
I remember that line, spoken by a decapitated head leaking out milk because WHY NOT RUIN JEREMY'S FAVORITE BEVERAGE. It fits the movie. I know this must have absolutely wrecked people for decades now, going by the computer displays. I know it provoked strong reactions because everyone has had something to say about it. I know it wasn't just me. A DM once used the phrase "masterpiece of evil" and we gave him the gears over it for months. This movie lives up to that statement. It is a masterpiece of evil, a monolith of discomfort, suspense, fear and sheer relentless terror. I hate this movie. It ruined me. It broke me inside and I was there, basically paralyzed, alone in the dark. Did you know even its DVD menu is creepy? Of course it is.
So I hate this movie, but I admire its purity.
The cast feel disposable (and look where that got them); it took me a while to get names or personalities and I'm still not 100% on what everyone's jobs were. I suppose that's part of the ultimate point, isn't it? I don't know what they were mining, what company they work for, what everyone's job is, anything at all about their likes, interests, life, friends, family. I feel like so far in this journey I've felt threatened and stressed with the prospect of character death because of how much I come to appreciate the characters and who they are as people. The fear is that I'm going to lose something to the danger that I've come to like. This movie knows perfectly well that's not necessary. It knows that what it's got makes the terror real because you are afraid of that thing.
The music is sparse and never sits right. I commend the composer on being wrong properly. The design of things like the ship, the cave, Dark Saturn, it's all done to create this atmosphere of a world that's too big. The extraterrestrial they found in the wrecked ship was a giant. Their own vessel, this huge oil derrick inspired sort of dead city floating in the void, lifeless and alone, sets up the atmosphere of nihilism, oblivion. Doom. The characters are frequently split up but always in physical proximity simply because their world in any sense is too vast for them to spread out to an appreciable amount. There's a recurring motif, whether it's how they all crawl out of these pods like some weird sci-fi birth at the beginning or regrouping to pull Cain back in, that only death brings these people together. Death, the threat of death, the beginning of the end, is the only thing that unifies. What a horrible sticking point.
I've definitely heard one thing about this movie. The understated title fooled me, because I didn't realize it was this film. In psychology, when talking about Freud, this movie came up. I understand why. Whether it's the technology or the other things, everything just has these sort of sexual connotations - the orificelike door that Dallas crawls through, the sheath that retracts to release the shuttle, the big sticky-uppy piston things that control the self-destruct. The ship's computer is Mother. The pods are wombs. I could go on but I don't need to because you all know this. Of course you do. If I heard it in first year psych, you folks must all have been aware of it by now.
All praise to third-in-command Ripley, who gives Dana much more to do than when she was, you know, Dana. She's right about things and people give her shit for it, but she's not right because she's the only smart member of the crew; she's suspicious, cautious and not a great people person. She gets into the most horrifying situation I can imagine, and even when she's point-blank faced with it she manages to take action. She doesn't stay cool because nobody would, but she never devolves into screaming or histrionics. I appreciate the character, I really do, I just wish she'd been in any other movie at all. Big kudos for the excellent female lead character.
Which brings me to the part I've been avoiding. The nightmare that walks. The end of Jeremy's happiness. Cain's Son. I don't know if I should qualify Rapeface McNoyoudont as part of it, since we all know how I feel about Rapeface McNoyoudont but it was clearly involved in the whole... thing. The best and most threatening monsters in D&D were always the ones you hadn't seen yet or couldn't identify, because once you had them down they were just another known quantity. As soon as the DM showed the monster, the jig was up. Star Wars had some of this issue - anything creepy that I recoiled at was fast, typically slithery or surprising, and not shown a great deal. The tentacle thingy in the smasher. The eel thingy in the swamp. The Sarlack for a couple of seconds there. No matter how good the graphics are, the fact is that a known quantity is disarmed of its threat.
Unless it's Cain's Son.
Motherfuck that thing is in my nightmares. IT HAS NO EYES. IT HAS TWO MOUTHS. It's slow. It apparently doesn't eat cats. I don't know how they did it but they made a space raptor and then FILLED IT WITH THE TERRORS OF ALL HELL AND THE ABYSS. Everything about it is visceral and fearsome. There's all that Freudian psychology turned into Freudian physiology - the head is this big phallic thing and there's the extendable inner mouth, which has some scary sort of yonic/phallic dual connotations. Born of a man getting "impregnated," basically, in an act of facerape, Cain's Son is a demon possessed of all the worst possible qualities. I don't remember all of it, just taloned hands, that terrifying head, there was a tail and I DON'T EVER WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN. I'm terrified of the very idea that space didn't kill it and that it's going to land on some planet and everything will happen all over again.
This movie is a tour de force of concentrated and relentless terror without escape. I'm quite sure of two things: that it's a cinematic accomplishment with few peers, and that I never want to see it ever again. Holy fuck this movie should go to hell.