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Alien--Still Screaming

Posted on 2009.05.31 at 02:26
Thirty years ago, on May 25th, Ridley Scott's ALIEN redefined horror and SF, by creating an astonishing hybrid of the two.  It's tagline was, "In Space, no one can hear you scream," but the screams still echo through the spaces between the stars.  My favorite horror film of all time, it was my first experience with sublime horror.  The beauty, the grotesqueness, and the terror transfixed me.  The alien ship with it's biomechanical bridge was so bizarre, and yet so real it punched a hole in my psyche.  I remember praying the beautiful, tough, Ripley would survive, while waiting, white-knuckled, for every transcendent encounter with the xenomorph.  It was also my first encounter with the nightmarish, erotic imagination of H.R. Giger, and my love affair with his art continues to this day.

I was only twelve the first time I saw Alien, all alone, late at night, while it played on HBO, and for weeks I peered at the stars and shivered.  I had heard of many miracles of light in Sunday school--now I  knew there were dark miracles too.  It was only later that I appreciated the film's claustrophobia, its sexual overtones, the phallic horror and subversive pregnancy motif.  I imagine it makes women particularly queasy, even as one of their own conquers the phallus with teeth.  But did it ever make them think twice about pregnancy--about that little life-form kicking inside them, feeding off their blood through a slimy umbilicus?  Did it make men squirm at the thought of being raped?  Worse, the rapist had acid blood; exhaust pipes fed it's lungs--the monster was dark technology incarnate.  With its dripping, projectile mouth, the penetration and invasion--what could possibly be more horrific?  Oh, yes, there's always incubation.

On it's 25th anniversary, I experienced Alien as it was meant to be seen--a pristine, restored print in a darkened theater.  The shock and awe left me trembling and grinning like a madman.  So here's to Ridley Scott for giving us Alien, and to Giger's Oscar-winning vision as its art director. 

Happy 30th Birthday, Alien.

Alien images copyright 20th Century Fox, 1979, 2003.


emperorofdreams at 2009-06-08 19:08 (UTC) (Link)
Bar none, one of the top 10 horror/sci-fi movies of all time!
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