I have a few core influences and interests in my life, and I’ve talked about most of them over the past week, but I haven’t really touched upon films, probably the most influential of all the things I take in. Cinema to me is the grand sum of everything i love in the creative industry. A good film has evocative music, fantastic design, believable characters and most important of all, a great story to tell. Rather than list out all the films I love or the genres I prefer (if its not obvious from the past few posts, its horror & Sci-fi), I thought I would take a quick look at the ultimate film for me, and within it the ultimate nemesis. Aliens and the infamous Xenomorph.
Alien 1979 – image from propstore.com
Its many people’s favourite film (and film franchise), and many people will have dissected its narrative and hidden meanings with far better precision than I ever could, but it held a certain allure over me as a child, and that allure has never left me. I knew what ‘Alien’ was when I was about 12, my dad had told me about it, and explained how it was the scariest film he had ever seen, and how my mum and him jumped out of their seats at the infamous chest-bursting scene (NSFW) when they first saw it. It was built up to be the most momentously amazing film I would ever witness. So when I was allowed to watch my dads recorded VHS of the original Alien film as a young teenager, it had a lot to live up to.
When the credits started to roll, I sat there in awe, it was everything i wanted it would be. The alien itself was amazing, unlike anything I had ever seen, and the tension was gripping throughout. In the back of my head though I knew more was to come immediately after, sitting on the shelf was the extended Special edition of the sequel ‘Aliens‘, that my dad had so proudly acquired. He had told me what was to come, and I knew that Alien was a mere appetiser. It sounded like the most insane film ever, the same as the last one but with more guns and more Aliens!?
Aliens 1986 – image from aintitcool.com
It’s a sequel and re-imagining all in one, where the first film used tension and suspense with a single enemy stalking the small crew, the sequel upped the ante hugely and took a completely different tact to the original. Narratively it tells a war story unlike any other at the time, a group of marines stuck on a desolate planet fighting an unknown army of terrors. The heroine Ripley returns from the first film to act as our anchor through the film, and her carefully crafted mother/daughter relationship with the terrified child Newt brings moments of great sadness and warmth. Theres a lot of great characters and moments in the film, but the greatest character is the enemy hidden within the walls.
H.R.Giger – image from bloodydisgusting.com
More than anything its the incredible Alien designs of H.R.Giger, beautifully brought to life in the film that influence me to this day. The Aliens were incredible to look at, their bodies and limbs covered in sinewy creases like melted plastic wrapped around bone, their mouths a vicious jaw within a jaw with rows of teeth. And creepiest of all, the face with NO EYES. They leap around the screen, mainly being viewed through quick flashes of terror and glimpses of their glistening bodies. Occasionally they stay on screen just long enough for you to take in all their grim beauty.
Aliens 1986 – image from jeffreyklyles.wordpress.com
Of course we also have the queen alien, the most incredible ‘puppet’ ever created, to call it a that is a disservice, it’s a creation from hell. A truly magnificent creature that was pure Giger in motion. When you look at any monster I have ever drawn, all I want is for it to look like the Xenomorph from Aliens, they are the monster.
Aliens 1986 – image from pichenettes.toile-libre.org
I hope to see the Alien franchise return to glory soon, its been floundering around since the fourth film, Alien Resurrection, followed by the pretty awful Alien Vs Predator movies (such promise) and the somewhat confused yet beautiful Prometheus (even more promise). All throughout the shining beacon in these movies have been the Alien itself. Hopefully we get to see this true horror icon on screen once more soon. Its been nearly 30 years since Aliens, its surely time for this creation to be used properly once again.
image from empireonline.com