The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

'If that can happen, anything can'

Wow. I hate to just jack a blockquote entirely, but Alex Pang picks exactly the right paragraphs to reproduce from this Guardian piece on Alien’s 30th anniversary. Xan Brooke is writing about the famous bleahhh-there’s-an-alien-in-his-chest scene:

Watching the scene now, at a 30-year lag, you find yourself drawn as much to the reactions of the other actors as to the creature itself. Scott famously shot the film in one take with four cameras, and purposely kept the actors in the dark as to what, exactly, they were about to witness. It is safe to assume that none of them were as startled as Veronica Cartwright (playing the Nostromo’s navigator), who is shown recoiling in genuine horror from a spray of blood. “What you saw on camera was the real response,” recalls co-star Tom Skerritt. “She had no idea what the hell happened. All of a sudden this thing just came up.”

Cartwright’s shock would be mirrored in cinemas around the world. “Everybody remembers the moment when the creature comes out, because it was such a staggering event; totally beyond prediction,” says Thomson. “I remember seeing the film at the time with my wife and she was so horrified that she stood up and walked right out of the theatre. Afterwards she admitted that it was a very well-made film and all of that. But she could not take it; could not live with that possibility. It was as though she thought: if that can happen, anything can.”

That is seriously intense, in many overlapping ways. I’m overdue on another Alien viewing; now it’s in my queue.


That’s one of those scenes I wish I had been around for to see originally, on opening weekend of the film. Unfortunately, the movie aired three years before I was born, and of course, it would be years before my parents would allow me to watch such a movie. By the time I got around to seeing it, the cat was pretty much out of the proverbial bag, and knew exactly what was coming out of her chest!

That said, I think there is a lot to be said about what is revealed today in movie trailers and previews, and also what is leaked out through general online activity and social networking. Movies are starting to lose their “surprise” appeal. Maybe not intentionally all the time, but I still feel that the value of the unknown is being replaced by the “value” of mass networking and advertising. Had Alien come out today, how secretive would that scene have been? And more importantly, how scary?

Tim Carmody says…

There’s still something about the archetypal creepiness of that scene, as opposed to the situational creepiness, that gives it real bite. I saw an interview with Dan O’Bannon once where he talked about how deliberate he was with the sexual iconicity of the alien (both the eggs, the facehugger, and the little penis-shaped terror). He said something like: “I’m going to go after the MEN. And – I’m going to do it at DINNER!”

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