Monday, 8 September 2014

Creepy old spaceship



We have watched Alien and Aliens in the last few days. I had not seen either movie for a long time - apart from the occasional clip or coming across them as I flicked through the channels looking for something to watch.

Together with some friends, I bunked off college one afternoon to watch Alien when it first came out. There was so much hype surrounding it. We were terrified. I can't say that I was terrified this time round, but it still looks pretty good, all things considered.

Technology - imagined technology - dates very quickly. The tiny computer screens with their luminous letters on black screens and banks of flashing lights look a bit silly now of course, but the ship itself has become a template for so many spaceship interiors. It was the first film I remember seeing where the interiors in a spacecraft were dirty and industrial - and badly lit.

That bad lighting is essential of course. Because Alien is essentially a 'creepy old house' movie. It is like an old Universal monster movie, or a slasher movie like Halloween, with the residents of the isolated old Nostromo being picked off one by one. It relies on the same kind of 'Don't go in there!', 'He's behind you!' triggers.

One of the problems with monster movies is the monster itself. It is usually only partly glimpsed through the movie until the reveal at the end where it often disappoints. But not the alien designed by the late H R Giger. That still looks great. It's one of the few movie monsters that you can look at for a long time and still be awed by it.

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