The Mad Mind of Author Thomas S. Flowers

Fright Fest: Alien (1979)

 

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Imagine yourself, sitting in an empty theater, the lights dim to the point where your neighbors face is nothing but a shadow, the curtains draw back.  You are now staring into space, white lines, slowly start to appear and a few minutes they reveal a title: ALIEN, the one word that can describe what you are about to see in perfect detail, a film, so foreign, you begin to feel uncomfortable, maybe even leave the theater. Is the mood set? Good.

This is what audiences may have felt experiencing the film in theaters on May, 25th 1979. Now let us fast-forward to a chilly day on September 11th, 2016. Where a thirty-one year old is experiencing the terror, not for the first time, and not for the last.  On this night he will share with you his experiences, his thoughts. Be prepared, in space, no one can hear you scream.

Not too much can be said about the movie—the prime example of sci-fi and horror? What made this movie so great?  Well—let’s take a quick look at the movie.

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The movie takes place aboard USCCS Nostromo, which, had just completed a pickup of ore and traveling back to Earth.  The crew awakens by Mother (The onboard AI), due to the ship receiving a distress signal, the crew is then sent to investigate. Upon arriving on the moon LV-426, they discover an Alien ship, once inside the ship they discover eggs, a creature attacks one of the crew members and they are taken back to the ship. During a short period Kane, the crewmember who was attacked and awakens to full health, the crew sits to enjoy a nice dinner, suddenly—a creature bursts from Kane’s chest and runs away. Now, the crew has a real problem, the creature grows and starts killing the crew one by one, until it. Ripley steps in. She sets the ship to self-destruct.  Once making her way to the escape shuttle, she battles the creature for the last time. Spearing it through the chest and opening an airlock and sucking the creature into space.

As far as plots go, the movie remains kind of basic in a way—the movie, however, is more than what the plot sets.

One thing that sets this movie apart from the previous genre of Sci-Fi/Horror is the atmosphere. It plays on two things that humans fear most: The Beyond, and Isolation. Most of the movie plays out on the Nostromo, and it traps the characters in a place where there is no escape—if they do escape—it results in a slow suffocation. When you have characters trapped in a box in brings out one thing: survival instinct, in one scene when Capt. Dallas (Skerrit) brings Kane back to the Nostromo, there is a verbal altercation between himself and Ripley (Weaver), she is concerned about the survival of the crew and Dallas is concerned about the safety of one, while, it is a tense scene—it helps show the characters, and the beginning of their paranoia.  Soon after Kane is brought back onboard (Guess, Dallas won this one).  The try and take off the creature—it’s acidic blood melts through several decks of the Nostromo. Prompting the crew to chase the blood trail, and once the creature explodes from Kane’s chest.  Their first thought is to kill the creature. Their survival is on the line.

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While survival is one of the key elements to the movie—one element is detrimental the story—Isolation.   Being alone is one thing, being alone, and out of your element is another. A majority of the deaths and fighting happens in space. Which, means—you have no escape—which puts the characters at a better chance to fight the creature.

We’ve talked about space, survival—we need to address the most important character: The Alien (Xenomorph, for the die-hard fans).  What makes the creature scary? Is it bursting out of a chest? The second mouth? While, those answers do make it terrifying, it’s much, much, more.

H.R.Giger designed the creature. When you think of the creature, who better to design it? Giger’s work focuses on two things: 1. Sexual Organs 2. Machinery. The alien itself contains both these elements and gives it an edge of fear—reproduction through rape. And the way it acts, like a killing machine, whose sole purpose is to breed and kill more. Now, I know I mentioned rape.  It’s a horrible, horrible thing and an action that should never be committed on another human being. Again, this one thing that makes this creature truly horrifying. The Alien may, in fact, be an allegory rape itself, by the way, it forces itself upon the characters to eat and breed.

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We’ve discussed the creature, who, I feel is the star of the movie.  In its own right, Alien to all other movie creatures.

One thing, I find, to be the most important aspect of the movie other than the characters, the alien, is the music. Music has a weird little trick up its sleeve—it will be able to place you—into the story itself.  The music was composed by the genius Jerry Goldsmith.  He did what very few composers are able to do (Williams, Silvestri, and Zimmer, are a few that can), Goldsmith created atmosphere, one that causes the viewer to be uncomfortable with the noise they hear, and the scenes their eyes are forced to witness. Not all the sounds make a coherent track, they noises of different pitches unknown to the human ear, similar to the ambient noise in space. The music is one of the defining aspects of film music, that mimics the tone of the movie, unknown and trapped.

Overall the movie is one not to be missed.  It has stood the test of time as one of the creepiest and thought provoking movies of the seventies—would this be how our first interaction would go? Food for another—Alien takes serious tones and makes them into a coherent story. While, the movie has several sequels, none, will ever place next to the original.  The pure horror of facing the deadliest creature in the universe, and having nowhere to run—remember, In Space No One Can Hear You Scream.

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Born and raised in Northern Illinois, Kurt Thing vold spends a majority of his time writing, video games, and finding fun ways to pester the ever-loving sanity out his wife. His first short Roulette was released on October 2nd you can purchase here.  He is currently working on a short story collection, along with his first full-length novel “To: Mark” Which will be released by fall of 2017 and his short story collection will be released mid-2016.  He currently helms a blog  http://kurtthingvold.blogspot.com where he updates, when he has something to say.

And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our author mailing list by clicking on the FREE BOOK image below to not only receive updates on sales and new releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.

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7 responses

  1. Joan MacLeod

    I really liked Alien but have to admit I loved Aliens more and I’m really looking forward to the new movie coming out this year that totally will top any of the Alien movies that followed Aliens. It picks up where Aliens ended and Hicks, Newt etc. survived.

    October 10, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    • Aliens is certainly blockbuster. But Alien is forever classic.

      October 11, 2016 at 4:25 am

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