In the glamour of watching a Steven Spielberg film, it is easy to understand how caught up we can get in the chaotic wonder of blinking strobes and superb John Williams magnum opus score. But, while we found ourselves in that childlike stupor, did we see what was really going on? The visuals dazzled us, no doubt there, but was the subversive message really received? Did we hear? Did we jump? Did we cower? Since watching, have we kept a precarious eye on the nights sky, glaring into the dark depths of the cosmos and wondering who or what is out there? And not only who or what, but what capabilities do they have? What technology or power can they subvert us with? Mind control? Abduction? Electromagnetism? Black outs? Radiation burns? Sickness? Madness? All these are terrifying symptoms, no? If you’ve paid attention you’ll find the terrifying powers listed here are all in that Spielberg film we’ve loved and adored since 1977. And this is why I think Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the most terrifying surreptitious movie ever made. While we were dazzled and awed, strange elongated aliens were abducting children in a blaze of orange fog. While we giggled and cooed over the keyboard synthesizers and light show, a husband and father of three aggressively and tragically lost his mind, eventually being taken away by these so-called visitors. If we can sit back down and watch this movie again, carefully, point for point…well, I’m sure you’ll agree: Close Encounters of the Third Kind IS a cosmic horror movie. Why? Well, this goes back to that ole Lovecraftian fear, not really knowing “what’s out there” or “where they come from,” and having zero control over “what they do.”
Since its release in the 1977, Close Encounters of the Third Kind has grossed over $337 million worldwide. Ray Bradbury declared it the greatest science fiction film ever made. The film was nominated for several Oscars; having only taken home one in cinematography. Had Star Wars not released the same year, I’m certain Close Encounters would have won all the eggs. No surprise there, if you’ve seen the movie the you know there is no denying the films powerful dream-like quality . There’s nothing uber complicated with the plot or story structure. Its actually rather cut and dry, in which some may say is a tad slow for our rapid fire attention spans. I too recall watching this when I was a kid on VHS and thinking it had its fair share of boring scenes; however, as an adult now, I think the movie has a fantastic pace in which every moment is important in some way. I think a part of why we never watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind thinking how horrifying the movie really was is because of the simplicity of the story, we glaze over and…again, coo over the musical numbers and flashy bulbs. Look at the film, watch the movie, even those on screen, especially at the end, the characters are all moon pied, as if surrendered to some kind of trace or hypnosis. AGAIN…isn’t that in itself a terrifying factor?
And we have to ask, what exactly do these aliens really want? If they’ve been abducting people for generations, what do they want with the one man crazy enough to have made it to Devils Tower? If they’ve been taking people all willy-nilly since before WWII, or even longer, well…it goes to say they probably already have a clear understanding of human anatomy. And if they can insert images and thoughts into our minds, well… this begs the question, how much more of us do they really need to know? To me, it all seems like a subjective test. A greater intelligence than our own giving humanity the equivalent of an SAT exam. Consider this bit from an article published by Keith Phipps:
When Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), a humble lineman for an Indiana electric company, investigates a power outage, he witnesses an unidentified flying object, a run-in that leaves him with what appears to be a severe sunburn. Nearby, 3-year-old Barry Guiler (Cary Guffey), follows some lights outside as his mother Jillian (Melinda Dillon) chases after him. Both Roy and Jillian, who soon meet, are fascinated by their experiences, but this feeling soon takes a turn. Having strayed from his duties as a result of his sighting, Roy first loses his job then seems to lose his mind as he becomes fixated on alien encounters while his family looks on in horror. Jillian’s life turns even more dramatic than Roy’s when the UFOs return and draw Barry to them as Jillian fights their efforts to avail, in a scene Spielberg stages like an otherworldly home invasion, with Barry’s unwitting delight only amplifying the horror. Something from beyond Earth has arrived, but its intentions remain vague, as does its respect for human life.
And at the end, we get the impression of open communication with the whole sign-language gag. But I wonder…how open that communication really is. Neary was still taken. He was obviously still insane, giving no thought or hesitation of leaving behind his wife, two sons, and daughter. My impression is that these intelligent aliens are still rather indifferent about humanity. And indifference can be dangerous. I question the “friendliness” of the final encounter, the film to me reeks of its post-Watergate-pessimistic era of misguided trust. Sure, they are taking Neary to some place that might be benevolent and beautiful, but how do we know and we’re never guaranteed his return. Will they bring him back as they did the countless others? (Did you see the billboard with all those names and pictures of people they believe had been abducted? Freaking insane number, right?) The final act is the answer to the entire mundane meets the spectacular and secretive undertone of the movie, we don’t know, we don’t know if Neary will return, we don’t know what they’ll do with him, and we have absolutely no power to stop them from taking him. And we have to ask ourselves, would we take a ride with these cosmic visitors?
Would we even have a choice if they came for us?
Update: According to several sources, including Blumhouse News, “in honor of the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s classic feature CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, Sony Pictures has recently done a 4K restoration and is planning on re-releasing the film in theaters on September 1st.”
Thomas S. Flowers writes character-driven stories of dark fiction ranging from Shakespearean gore feasts to paranormal thrillers. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, his debut novel, Reinheit, was published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Apocalypse Meow, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, and FEAST. His veteran focused paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, including Dwelling, Emerging, Conceiving, and Converging, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served three tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he reviews horror and sci fi movies and books and hosts a gambit of guest contributors who discuss a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can follow Thomas at a safe distance by joining his author newsletter at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.
During the summer months in 1993, in the small village of Roanoke, Virginia, my father, mother, sister, and I had trekked 10 miles to Valley View Movie Theater to watch the latest Spielberg film, Jurassic Park. AND IT WAS AMAZING. Ever since, I’ve been in love with this movie and have dutifully watched its progression over the years (decades…ugh..). Jurassic Park is a true classic. How so? Sure, the film strays away from Michael Crichton’s novelization, but lets be honest here, who actually read the book before the movie? Not many, I’d wager. Despite its wandering from its predecessor, the movie has lasted the test of time in that its effects are not completely ridiculous….at least not yet. The movie was also well casted with amazing actors and actresses, such as: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Samuel mother-f***ing Jackson, Wayne Knight, BD Wong, and the Goldblum. Jurassic Park is also a true classic because it was the first movie to give audiences and dino-fanatics alike an actually well put together production without using traditional claymation (50’s-60’s era); instead, Jurassic Park used a combination of to-scale puppetry and CGI. And considering this is a 90’s movie and just about all 90’s movies with CGI look damn ridiculous by now, and Jurassic Park has yet to cross that threshold, also says a lot about the production value and how good sci-fi can be done with a golden ration between traditional effects and CGI. If you’ve read a post or two here, you’ve no doubt heard me rant a time or two regarding the issue with CGI, so…i’ll take a step back from my soap box for now. Another thing that makes Jurassic Park even more amazing (if that’s possible!!) is that its a movie my wife and I both love!! This alone sales me on the classiness of Jurassic Park.
Jurassic Park has enjoyed three films with its title over the years…..some not as good as the others, some not bad. Now a forth installment called Jurassic World has begun filming and the rumors have been spinning over what this new dino movie will be about. Here is what Geek Tyrant has discovered regarding the new Jurassic Park:
Some new SPOILER filled details from Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World have emerged thanks to our friends at JoBlo.com. I’m really looking forward to being reintroduced to this world that Steven Spielberg created in 1993. Not a lot has been officially revealed about this newest film, but there’s some really interesting and cool info for you that you should check out if you’re excited for the movie. Of course, the info may contain spoilers, but it’s not confirmed, so is it really a spoiler? I’m treating all of this as rumor for now, but I hope some of it turns out to be true. Here we go!
Jurassic World will be a real running theme park that comes complete with a monorail that was teased in some previously released concept art. And no theme park would be complete without shops, rides, and shows. The report goes on to say that it’s the most popular family destination. People have to take a high speed shuttle boat from Florida to get there, and some of the activities include a dinosaur petting zoo (because that’s a good idea!), as well as a hologram info center where you can learn about the methods they are using to create dinosaurs. I’m sure it’s a much better version than the one made in ’93. The park also has a ride called the “Gyrosphere” that allows riders to travel through the park and get up close to some of the dinosaurs.
How Things Go Wrong:
All good things must come to an end at the successful park, and the executives start to come up with new ways to keep customers coming back. One of the ways they do that is by splicing Dino DNA with other dino species. This doesn’t turn out too well for them, especially when they splice together the DNA of a T-Rex, raptor, snake, and cuttlefish. This creates an insane new dino that ends up breaking free and terrorizing the park. One of the dinosaur consultants on the film, Jack Horner, teased the beast in a previous interview, saying that we’ll want to “keep the lights on” after seeing it.
It should come as no surprise that we will see dinosaurs fighting each other in the film, but the site’s source explains that there will be “lots of dino on dino fighting, as some of the dinos are ‘good guys’ that are trained by Chris Pratt’s character.” The source goes on to say that the raptors and T-Rexes are among the “trained” good dinosaurs. As for the evil dino they created, it’s described as having “instant camouflage abilities, like the cuttlefish, so he blends into the background, is smart like the velociraptor, uses his jaw like a snake, and can terrorize like the T-Rex.” That sounds like a pretty hardcore beast.There’s some really great stuff here that the filmmakers have to play with if it’s true. I just can’t wait to see what this new breed of dinosaur will look like! It sounds like it will be pretty terrifying, though. As a long time fan of this franchise, I’ve been feeling really good about what I’m hearing about the movie so far. What do you think of the details that have been revealed here?
The movie is currently shooting with stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Omar Sy, Ty Simpkins, Irrfan Khan, Ty Simpkins, Judy Greer, and Nick Robinson. It’s set to be released in theaters on June 12th, 2015.
So…what do you think? Personally, I’m having a few concerns. However, having a fully functional theme park sounds pretty amazing, as we only got a test drive back in 1993 with the first installment. And having things go wrong…well…it wouldn’t be a “Jurassic Park” without something going wrong. Here is where it gets weird…the spliced Dino (at first) sounds iffy. But first, lets consider the theme of Jurassic Park, especially in the first film, which is basically taking the then current pop science of mapping DNA and cloning and throwing in the inevitable human calamity to create the classic “science gone wrong” motif. Considering the classic science gone awry motif, splicing doesn’t sound that far off base in terms of what these movies and the books have always been about. In 2014, DNA mapping and cloning isn’t as mysterious as it once way, mutation and genetic splicing on the other hand, does (while also maintaining a classic story trope in itself, see Island of Doctor Moreau). Plus, do we really need another “rescue from the island” story? Heavens no! The last two films, Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 have beaten that horse into mash; its time for something new.
So…while some of the rumor regarding Jurassic World seems iffy and makes us Jurassic Park nerds a little nervous, lets reserve judgement until we actually get to watch this thing, or at least until a decent trailer comes out. Until then, my friends, I leave you with this little gem to take you back to 1993 and a very fond childhood memory: