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. 

69 comments:

  1. Aw, man. There's no way we're getting you to watch Aliens now, is there?

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    1. I might never even use the word again.

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    2. Aliens is entirely a very different beast to Alien. Please consider watching it.

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    3. Please watch Aliens, but don't watch it alone. Aliens is Terminator 2 to Alien's Terminator. There's still the horror element, but Ripley's seen the thing before, so she knows what to expect. It's more of a typical 80s action film than Alien. The ending has one of my favorite "fuck yeah!" moments ever. I know Alien was a rough ride for you, but I think you would appreciate Aliens. Please watch it, but certainly not right away.

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  2. I will say, as someone with the disposition to enjoy this kind of movie, that Alien is one of the scariest movies ever made and a terrible first horror movie for someone who's not sure about the whole thing. As a bunch of people mentioned in the first impressions post, the sequel Aliens is more of an action movie, but after this experience I think it's a bad idea to go on to it. It has the same creatures and much of the same atmosphere, despite the odds being more even.

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  3. Don't worry, Jeremy, we'll desensitize you yet.

    This has satisfied a bit of my mad-scientist curiosity about how a person that's never seen a horror movie for would react to Alien. As with Mark, despite loving the holy hell out of this movie, I suspected the results would be pretty catastrophic.

    Either way, as much as I've recommended the Thing, you're not ready for it yet. Maybe in a few months when you've got a little more leather on ya...

    I agree with the suggestions in the other post that you take a few doses of comedy to help you wind down. I saw The Muppet Movie and Monty Python recommended, those seems like excellent choices.

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    1. Yep, that was me. Muppets never fail to make me feel wonderful. And for comedy, you may even want to try a movie starring many of the Monty Python crew (and an absolutely AMAZING caricature of an American by Kevin Klein) called A Fish Called Wanda. It's my favorite comedy movie of all time.

      Given your enthusiasm for Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park, I think Aliens is *eventually* doable for you, Jeremy. It's actually very similar in tone to those two. Maybe ramping up to it after you've seen something like Predator. (Should he watch Predator, guys?)

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    2. "we'll desensitize you yet."

      Honest question: what on earth makes you want to do this? I'm serious. The whole thing that makes this blog so incredibly wonderful, different, engaging and refreshing to read is Jeremy's joy, wonder and enthusiasm whilst steeping in pop culture. Coupled with brilliant narrative and writing skills, this is the exact element that makes him so much better than your average jaded, cynical, been-there-watched-that movie critic.

      Okay I'll quit grumping and make a recommendation for some time after Jeremy has had more experience with various genres and has recovered from being traumatized (why anyone does this to a guy who's already injured and on pain meds idek...). So, I loathe most horror flicks as either too scary, gross or just dumb, and I especially dislike zombie movies, but with that said, "Shaun of the Dead" is a modern day classic. You don't even have to have any background in zombie tropes to enjoy it, mostly because it's a buddy flick / comic light romance flick that just happens to have a zombie pandemic as plot device.

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    3. Why is desensitizing him a good thing? judging by the fact your idea of a good time was leaving J alone in the dark, unable to move with something that traumatized him, then giggling about it on the phone

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    4. It's a joke, dudes. But I do want him to be able to enjoy horror eventually.

      And that wasn't my idea of a good time, I'm not his roommate, just an interested fan.

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    5. (For the record, count me in the "leaving you alone in the dark to watch this was a supreme dick move" column.)

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    6. Thing is horror can be one of the most er... rewarding areas of cinema. Especially to someone with an interest in psychology; it bypasses the rational mind and reaches right down into that primordial fear that we do our best to ignore. On that level you have the j-horror of the late 90s/early 2000s (Ringu, Dark Water, The Grudge etc), Korean ghost story stuff (a tale of two sisters) and stuff like the Haunting and the Innocents. For the record it would be profoundly cruel to show Jeremy any of those now (cast out anyone who suggests them Jeremy, cast them out and nail crosses to your windows and doors) but they are great stories and fascinating insights into fear.

      Horror also seems to provide a medium on which great directors can unleash their imagination to its fullest extent. Kubrick's the Shining is the stand out one of course, ridiculous amount of symbolism, great film, terrifying, but also (from the opposite end of the spectrum) Carpenter's Thing. And the less shocking but more gradually disturbing Rosemary's baby by Polanski (utter bastard though he may be).

      Then there are countless that are just brilliant works; Don't look now (Venice, the red raincoat, psychics, Donald Sutherland - amazing film), Suspiria (witch, phenomenal soundtrack), the Omen, the 7th Seal (should be watched before Bill and Ted's Bogus Joruney) the vast and extremely variable Hammer back catalogue (Vincent Price and Christopher Lee - so much to discover!), the great silent films; Nosferatu, the Cabinet of Dr Caligari, the early talkies; Frankenstein (Boris Karloff!), Dracula (Bela Lugosi!). So many amazing things.

      Basically horror is a dark basement in the house of cinema. In that dark basement is a door that leads through miles of passageways, full of undead and those others that have crept into its dark recesses. It is a genre best approached gradually (probably start by ridding the basement of rats), but someone has pushed Jeremy into a well that leads to an area where he is definitely out of his depth. Still, in the deepest forbidden recesses are hidden grade treasures (and vague, cthonic forms, shadowy and monstrous).

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    7. "Either way, as much as I've recommended the Thing, you're not ready for it yet. Maybe in a few months when you've got a little more leather on ya..."

      Yeah, NO. If you like people, or animals, or sleeping... DO NOT EVER WATCH THE THING. This is the movie that gave me nightmares and made me cry when I saw dogs and snow for years. Stay away.

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  4. Seriously, time for happy movies. Say Anything. Iron Man, maybe. This'd be a great time for Big Trouble in Little China. Or just put The Princess Bride on a loop for three or four days.

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  5. For your reference, the soundtrack is by Jerry Goldsmith. Probably second only to John Williams when it comes to memorable soundtracks.

    The Alien was designed by H. R. Giger, who also designed the alien ship and the Facehugger. Just Google his work and it's unmistakable. (He just recently passed away, actually.)

    Yeah, Big Trouble in Little China would be a good next choice. Humor, action, (a little bit) of horror.

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  6. "Alien" is pretty much the "top shelf" of horror. There are few films in its league ("Poltergeist" and "The Thing" come to mind). Your analysis is fantastic; I saw it in the theaters and was too young to appreciate many of the things you saw at the time, and successive viewings have, for lack of a better word, "numbed" me to them (like the music being slightly 'off', or things being designed to be uncomfortable).

    You should not let your experience here prevent you from watching the sequel, "Aliens". They are two radically different films in tone and measure. "Aliens" is an action film - and also a masterpiece. I'd really like to hear your thoughts about it.

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    1. See, here's the problem I have. The title has an S in it. That means that it's a plural. That means more than one of That Thing. I need to very much not deal with even fractions of That Thing. They're going to have to wait until I'm extremely happy on opioids before proposing that to me.

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    2. if it makes any difference at all, I'm sorry they did this to you and avoiding these movies does not make you a bad geek or damaged in any way. The person who set you up to watch Alien alone at night when you're immobilized is a horrible person and I hope they're very sorry. Please don't stop writing about your experiences! This blog is the best thing that's happened to pop culture in quite some time.

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    3. I'm a little sorry, but "horrible" is pushing it.

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  8. Alien is the only movie I've ever watched on video that scared the bejeezus out of me. It also made me kind of hate other horror movies forever, because, as you say, Alien has a certain purity about it, and most other horror movies seem cheap in comparison.

    Now go watch Big Trouble in Little China. Or maybe Clue. (If Clue isn't on your list, it really should be.) Both are light-hearted and awesome.

    But I'll second, or third, or whatever, what everyone has said about Aliens. Don't cross it off of your list! It is an entirely different genre of movie, and it rocks. (Also, it might be kind of cathartic.)

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  9. A) I don't second the suggestion to google H.R. Giger. He does very very good work in a fairly specific idiom. Having just watched Alien, you are now familiar with the general outlines of his idiom. I don't think googling him would make you happier.
    B) As I said in the first Alien post, it's all uphill from here. Well, mostly. Horror movies tend to hit different people different ways. Alien is #1 and it's not close, for me. But other people's milage varies. Some people got HOLYFUCKIMNOTOKWITHTHIS from The Exorcist, but it didn't really hit me.
    C) Given your strong reactions to Alien, I don't suggest that you move right on to Aliens. But you should eventually watch it. It is very good and very different from Alien and directed by the guy that directed Terminator 1 and 2.
    D) Ridley Scott, who directed Alien, also directed another movie that everybody is going to demand that you watch yesterday; Blade Runner. Do not fear Blade Runner. It is very good and not at all like Alien.
    E) Similarly with Aliens, don't skip Jaws. But not right now. Eventually. Like, 2015, maybe. Spielberg directed it. It's fantastic.
    F) I remain baffled that they threw The Usual Suspects at you cold. It doesn't stand alone well, but instead inherits from decades of caper, heist, and noir movies.

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    1. "But congratulations for surviving Alien, it's mostly all downhill from here."
      "It's all uphill from here. There is nothing scarier than Alien."

      I suspect both of you mean the same thing, but one of you is misusing the metaphor. To me, "it's all uphill from here" means that things will get more difficult (as going uphill is bothersome and requires more work; compare with "it's an uphill battle"), while going downhill is easy and fun. On the other hand, if something is "going downhill", then it's worsening or declining.

      Phrases.org.uk seems to confirm my view:
      The specific phrase "it's all downhill from here" is at its simplest used to mean "The hard work's over, and it's all going to be much easier from now on", with (obviously enough) the idiom stemming from finally cresting the top of a hill and starting to go down the other side.

      The radio program A Way with Words says:
      Here’s the rule: if something’s going downhill, it’s getting worse, but if things are all downhill from here, they’re getting better.


      So clearly, if "it's all uphill from here", then you've done the easy part things are getting worse.

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  10. The thing I like most about Alien, I think, is that unlike most other horror movies, no one in the movie is killed because they are stupid. You understand exactly why they are doing this stuff every time, and it gets them killed -- but it's all "fair." Kane is caught by surprise because he's a space truck driver, not a xenobiologist, and the company sent these guys there to look into this. Then everyone else brings him back in, depsite Ripley's protests, because they genuinely have feelings of not wanting to leave Kane behind, and Ash encourages them, because he's under secret orders to do so, when as the science officer, he should be the one backing Ripley up. Brett and Dallas die because they don't realize what they are dealing with, and they are trying to do something that makes perfect sense with a cat-sized larvae. None of it is "oh, hey, let's go explore this creepy basement all alone in my nighty!" levels of stupidity.

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  11. If you need more convincing that AlienS (2nd movie) is a different genre (dark, gritty action) then just two words: Space marines.

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  12. I love Alien. But if it's not your thing it's not your thing.

    Few horror movies are as effective as it is. You did kind of jump in the deep end there :-)

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  13. Oh man. I'm so sorry you watched this alone at night for the first time. This is not a movie that should be taken lightly. There is a lot of really heavy imagery and tension in this movie. I completely understand why you're upset. I'd be upset too.

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  14. Yeah... I have no fucking clue why your friend thought it would be a good idea to have you watch it alone. NEVER WATCH A HORROR MOVIE ALONE. TERRIBLE IDEA. AND NEVER WATCH THEM AT NIGHT, IN THE DARK. Your Friend is a terrible person, and I recommend that you ask your non-evil friend to watch a light hearted film.

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    1. Because she's a terrible person, yes.

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    2. That's the impression, yes.

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  15. Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor are icons of strong female characters done right, decades ahead of their time and head and shoulders above the sea of mediocrity that is most of the rest of their era's geek film from a feminist perspective. Ellen Ripley continues to be awesome in the sequel, Aliens. Aliens is by James Cameron, the guy who did the Terminator movies, so you can see a pattern there.

    I think you should see Aliens. Yes, it features Cain's Son again - actually, Cain's Sons, plural (as the plural title might suggest). But this time around the protagonists are heavily armed space marines and it is as much action movie as it is horror movie. There are still many moments of STRESS and the monsters are still yonic/phallic phantasms from your most awful Freudian nightmares, but there is also much shooting and at least a little bit of action hero redemption. Put it on the list next to Star Wars Episode I-III; something for the future, after you've done a little more sampling of what's out there.

    Now it's time for something lighthearted. How do you feel about musicals?

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    1. 'Grease' is the word.
      'Blues Brothers' is all kinds of goodness.
      'Young Frankenstein' has at least one musical number, but after Alien I'm afraid to suggest anything even remotely lowercase-stress :^)
      GP

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  16. Oh! And I forgot to share some trivia: the script to Alien was written with last names for each character only, with no assigned gender for anyone. Ripley only became a woman after Sigourney Weaver (who you will see again) was cast.

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  17. Lacy was just plain evil to abandon you to this one alone. While I confess to having been very curious to see a completely unspoiled reaction to this movie, I feel a little guilty now for having looked forward to your seeing it.

    As people have said, Aliens is a different kind of movie. James Cameron doesn't try to make the second chapter in a horror franchise, he takes the world created in Alien and goes a different direction with it. One might even say a cathartic direction, because Ripley is just as scarred by the experience (well, more, of course, since she "lived" it) as you, and...

    Well, let's just say there's a catharsis.

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  18. Hmm, we might need to put "Escape from New York" on the menu after you watch Big Trouble in Little China.

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  19. This blog is amazing and you've really reminded me of how straight up terrifying Alien is.

    While this obviously left a huge impact, do watch Aliens. It's fantastic and while it's also very scary, it has a strange sense of relief too. You'll feel very fulfilled afterwards. But do take a break first :)


    Has anyone suggested Ladyhawke yet? It's a nice fantasy flick. It won't change your life but its a nice, fun adventure.

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  20. You know, it's kind of interesting that I wouldn't really call the xenomorphs "scary" anymore. I don't know if it's just time, more prolific exposure in the rest of the franchise, or the fact that I had the toys as a kid, but I would mostly just consider them cool badass monsters. Maybe it is just the fact that the unknown is scarier than anything else. The original even when the monster finally shows up in full doesn't just leave it there for you to casually examine.

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    1. All it wanted was a Pepsi!

      (Seriously, go find the Pepsi commercial about this)

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    2. I remember seeing a TV ad for an alien action figure when I was a kid. I hadn't seen the movie then so I didn't know what it was. Looking back...that's just...strange. :)

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  21. Fun facts (Although they might be apocryphal):
    They wanted to show the alien more, but special effects limitations meant they used it sparsely, and mostly hidden from view. If anything, this makes the film more terrifying (like your comment on D&D monsters).
    And if it's any consolation the cast had it worse than you. The script for the birth of Kane's Son simply said "This thing emerges". They were not ready. Their reaction are REAL. Lambert passed out when she got splattered, and Parker shut himself in his room and refused to talk to anyone!

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    1. No wonder everyone was tense. I'd have up and quit.

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  22. This is why I've never seen Alien, and probably never will. I liked Aliens, but everyone said "You should see Alien, it's much scarier!" and my response was "HELL NO!"

    Give Jeremy a break, it's time for Animal House or Real Genius!

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  23. Aliens was kind of therapeutic, because without spoilers the alien/s get some karmic payback that feels good to watch. And it's a good movie. Lots of excitement and action. But it was such a colossal letdown from Alien. I saw the sequel a week after Alien and I was disappointed. After I saw Alien (with friends, with the lights on), my whole body was trembling for hours afterwards. Aliens, good as it was, just doesn't compare for me.
    Go watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's hilarious and will be good for your traumatized soul.

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  24. Fun fact: in one of the early drafts of the script, the alien kills Ripley in the space shuttle. So it could have been worse.

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  25. Please please watch Aliens. Ripley is basically left in your state and she gets a chance to get past it.

    Aliens, after Alien, is the most fantastic, cathartic experience.

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  26. "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."
    I believe you'll understand the allure if you watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0YvBCVYerU

    "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."
    Yeah, they're not people. They're food. The star is the Alien, humans are just props. You don't care much about the life and times of the cow before the hamburger.
    ...
    I wonder if you're now traumatized permenantly and will treat everything named the Something with suspicion.

    They're right and you must watch Monty Python sometime, and now is a good time. Though you should watch Monty Python's series before any of the movies. Original series is slightly better than the movies and they come first.

    -Anonyman

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  27. Okay, I'll say it. You need to watch it again. Alone, in the dark again. You'll thank me later. :D

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    1. ...after that reaction of his, WHY would he thank you for watching it again...?

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    2. There is nothing on earth that could get me to do that. I am never going to watch That Movie ever again if I have any say in the matter.

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  28. I certainly didn't recommend Alien to traumatize Jeremy. I watched it in my early teens and fell in love with the atmosphere, the music, the designs, the realistic, near-documentary dialog, and the plot twists. I guess I scare less easily (probably partly through more media exposure, and partly due to personality factors), so personally I have to play horror computer games to get really freaked out. I remember playing the 1999 version of Alien vs Predator in the marine vs aliens scenario, and, after dying a gruesome death in one of the later levels, just shaking and thinking that there's nothing that could make me enter those corridors again. But for me, that shock and adrenaline rush is exactly why I love that game.

    Thirding Monty Python, especially watching the series before the movies. It's still the funniest show ever made, in my opinion.

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  29. I'm sorry you had that level of fright from the movie. I never found the movie THAT scary, but I have to admit I watched it with friends rather than alone, as well as years after I had heard about the 'chest bursting scene' so it is possible that made all the difference.

    Is this your first horror film? Would you say that you just flat out do not like horror movies, strike 'em from the record?

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  30. One day you'll show it to someone else and love every second. ;-)

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  31. Jeremy, you watched a movie, and you felt powerful emotions. There's really not much else to ask from a movie.

    When it comes to terror, there are VERY few movies that deliver. Most horror doesn't try. In the words of Stephen King, (paraphrasing): If I can, I terrorize. If I can't manage that, I'll horrify. If I can't manage that, I'll go for the gross out. I'm not proud.

    That is the way of nearly all horror movies. The best ones manage to horrify. The vast majority are simply gross with graphic violence and torture-porn. Beyond the chest-bursting scene, there is hardly any blood in Alien - that one scene sets you up to see everything in a gory context, so it doesn't even have to show the gore. Mind you, the cocoon scene was not in the theatrical release.

    Alien is a perfect movie. There's not a damn thing they didn't get absolutely perfect.

    Now, I'll give you the list of the other horror/terror movies that are on the same level as Alien:

    The Exorcist
    The Thing
    The Ring/Ringu

    That is it my friend. There are other movies that are just as good, but not in the same genre. Jaws is close, but it's not quite the same tone. Groundhog Day is every bit as good a movie as Alien, but it's a comedy/philosophy movie. There are only 4 of these terror movies in existence, and you've seen one of them. Someday you will watch a good horror like Nightmare on Elm Street or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and you will think, STRESS, I DO NOT LIKE THIS, but you'll also note cracks in the movie where some unintentioned silliness comes through, and you will think, "nah dudes, I've seen the real thing, and this isn't quite it".

    You've been reborn (hehe) and now you are stronger, even if you don't feel it yet.

    It was made in 1979, in case you didn't know that yet.

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    1. I'd put one more on that list: The Descent, which is a singular thing of beauty. More so with the UK ending though.

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  32. Monty Python would be an interesting follow-up, because it, too, is nihilist. I mean, it's hilarious as anything, but the ending did kinda sorta traumatize me in an 'oh, you have got to be kidding me' sense.

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  33. First of all, I've been loving this blog. Thanks for sharing your illuminating thoughts on these films. For those of us who grew up on them, it's terrific to hear a fresh perspective on something that's been part of our lives for so long.
    I'll second Big Trouble, and just say that if and (hopefully) when you do move on to Aliens, be sure to check out the Director's Cut. There's some extra, to me character-essential scenes in this cut that make the movie much more resonant. I actually saw the Director's Cut first, then realized those scenes weren't part of the original theatrical release and was shocked. Seriously, check it out.

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  34. I had no idea they plotted to leave you all alone in the dark to watch Alien. Seriously? What an incredibly dick move. I am in my 40s, love Sigourney Weaver, am a huge geek, interned with a large animal vet with all the blood, terror and trauma that that entails, my ex had an Alien figurine on his desk for the entire 8 years we lived together and I *STILL* to this day have not seen it, nor do I have any desire to.

    Agree with the others, you definitely need to see the Muppet Movie next as a palate cleanser.

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  35. Aliens was not a wise recommendation. I mean, it's a brilliant movie, but they should have known better. Chalk one up in the "dick move" column for me (and keep telling us about what you watch!).

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  36. oh dear lord, Rapeface McNoyoudont, is the greatest name for this thing I've ever heard

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  37. I feel your pain Jeremy! I saw Alien way back in the 80's when I was about 8 or 9 years old (the movie came out in 1979 by the way- amazing how it still looks great except for the computers!). I can tell you, IT RUINED ME. It mortified me and I wouldn't eat noodles for a week after. But what it did do was start my love of horror movies- not immediately, but after that I wanted that strong reaction again from movies. I still love adventure and comedy and scifi and all that, but once in a while you just want a gut reaction, and that's what horror movies provide. There was nothing like Alien before it came out; and it became the template for so much horror since- having "everyday" characters with normal dialogue, not being able to see the monster fully, letting paranoia and the unknown be the true horror, and realize how important set design and setting are to atmosphere. I'll repeat what everyone else says: AlienS is a great movie, and more about action than horror, and made by the Terminator 1+2 guy.

    If I were to make my own recommendations:
    For comedy: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (for dry wit, wordplay and a D&D quest)
    For comedy: Airplane! (for nonstop deadpan absurd humor)
    For adventure: since you liked the original, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (the darkest of the series) or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (the most comedic of the series)
    For scary: Poltergeist (a Spielberg movie! I think it was this one that warmed me to the scary movie path as a kid)
    For horror: The Thing (John Carpenter version) (just in case you wanted to try horror again)
    For scifi: The Matrix (probably the only "classic" movie I'd recommend that came out after the 1980's, but it deserves it, and it spawned a LOT of imitation after it was released. The sequels are garbage, but this movie is well made and stands alone perfectly.)

    Enjoying the reading!

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  38. Aliens is certainly a different beast, much more in the vein of the Terminator movies, since they are all directed by James Cameron. So it's more of a conventional action movie than the journey into dread and terror that is Alien. Not quite as classy, but it's a terrific white-knuckle ride, with much more exhilaration and catharsis involved. Adrenaline mixed in with the cortisol this time.

    But if you're not up for Aliens yet, I highly recommend Blade Runner and The Matrix. I promise you, neither one approaches anywhere near the ruthless, primal nastiness of Alien. Indeed, I can't think of any other movies that do.

    Blade Runner is also directed by Alien's Ridley Scott, and it's equally as atmospheric, but rather than being a claustrophobic nightmare, it's a film noir in a dystopian future. Instead of heart-thumping fear, it's more about existential angst and the human condition. A classic, slow, philosophical mood piece, and incredibly beautiful in its gloomy vision of the future.

    The Matrix, on the other hand, is terrific, mind-bending entertainment. A tight, highly-quotable script with iconic characters, marvellously choreographed action, and belly laugh-inducing humour, all built on a mind-blowing premise that can't be discussed without giving too much away. Suffice to say that it draws on elements of some of your favourite movies you've reviewed here, and takes them in wonderfully imaginative directions. But yeah, forget about the sequels - perhaps the most disappointing movies after the Star Wars prequels. The original is an almost perfect standalone popcorn movie with a brain.

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    1. Agree. Aliens is one of my all time favorite movies. Alien was a horror/suspense movie. Aliens is a action/war movie. Aliens has a much better script - the dialogue is fantastic and very quotable. I recommend watching the extended version which explains some gaps that are in the theatrical release.

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  39. One interesting thing about the series is how they explore the question: are the Corporate Overlords who order the ship to stop as bad (morally and in every other way) as the alien creatures? We need more than one sample to form an opinion.

    One word of advice: you need to wait a while before you're going to be able to enjoy/appreciate Seven. Do Not Watch 'Til September (at least). For very different reasons,... It's an incredible film, but still....

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  40. Is The Abyss on your list? It's a James Cameron movie, and is pretty amazing.

    Also, I know a lot of people have recommended Aliens. I do too, but not right away. It's superb, definitely the best of the series, and only a fraction of the scary time that Alien was. Also, Alien 3 was definitely not as scary, but a good "Finale" until Alien Resurrection's comic book silliness comes around. Joss Whedon (Firefly, please tell me you've got that on your list) wrote it, but then the director obliterated it. It stinks, and is 100% worth watching.

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  41. A great blog post of a 220 image collection of Alien art work: https://imgur.com/a/VWsI3

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  42. Dude, I have to say... you could do this for a living. Perhaps because of your DnD background and only being exposed to early media, you understand movies. Your breakdown of this film, despite hating it, is incredible.
    You have the ability to both feel and analyse at the same time, which makes you vastly better than most reviewers. I'm actually interested now in looking for your impressions of stuff I haven't seen myself, haha.

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