JAIMIE VERNON – IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (SLIGHT RETURN)

vernon_1997
This week I went to see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ as one of the few films I’ve had time to check out this year (‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, ‘The Lego Movie’ and ‘Transformers: Age of Bayisms’ the others). As the trailers and teasers have been unfolding for months online I came to realize that I’ve been waiting, unknowingly, over 30 years for this movie.


Guardians 1
I was a major Marvel Comics reader as a teenager – having accumulated over 2,000 of them before the market bubble burst in the late 1980s and comics became part of one’s investment portfolio rather than fodder for children’s imaginations. [PS – I sold the entire collection in 1985 for $1500 during my first honeymoon – it gave us first and last month’s rent in a new apartment so I don’t regret it…well, maybe the marriage…]

Though Marvel dabbled in other-worldly story lines – where aliens were always the bad guy being pitted against our earth-bound heroes  – they really didn’t take us out into space much. ‘The Fantastic Four’ found themselves superpowered after a failed trip into the cosmos, but the Cree, The Skrull, Thanos and other alien races were almost exclusively humanoid at the end of the day. I blame that stereotype on Roddenberry’s ‘Star Trek’ only because it was just easier to paint a woman’s tits green and stick her in a skintight leotard than it was to pay for millions of dollars in prosthetics every week. That alien imagery was a holdover from both the ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Outer Limits’ TV shows in the late 1950s/early 1960s only because no one knew exactly what we’d find out in space. Comics had leeway to expand on our image of alien lifeforms, but usually stayed with the two legged, two armed, one head variety.

Guardians 2
The Guardians of the Galaxy on the movie screen is an adaptation of the 2008 Marvel Comics ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. The original comic book series from 1969 by Marvel which I had come to love in all its permutations was related in name only – not a single original character was carried over into this current universe. But it was that original comic that had the closest thing to alienoid life forms. The leader was Earth’s Major Vance Astro who traveled to Alpha Centauri while in suspended animation for 1,000 years. He’s the hero of the series – and in no way resembles the movie version’s Peter Quill, Star-Lord.

Other original members of the Guardians were Martinex T’Naga (a crystalline being from Pluto); Captain Charlie-27 (a soldier from Jupiter); and Yondu Udonta (a blue-skinned “noble savage” from Centauri-IV who looked suspiciously like James Cameron’s Na’vi). As the last of their species each is forced to unite against their common foe – the Badoon – who were determined to conquer Earth’s solar system. This all takes place in the 31st Century and for the Guardians to prevent the Badoon from destroying the solar system, they must travel back in time to the 20th Century and get help from other Marvel characters such as Thor, The Thing and eventually The Avengers. What a clever prequel that would have made had the Badoon been the alien race that battles the Avengers in New York City during the ‘Avengers’ movie. To its credit, the Joss Whedon directed ‘Avengers’ had some pretty bad-ass alien monsters in it.

Earth vs Flying Saucers
To that end, I’ve been contemplating what my favourite all time alien monster vs. man genre movies of all time are.  It’s almost become a cliché of late with the world getting destroyed over-and-over again by Hollywood directors who have kick started this generation’s interpretation of the ‘Flying Saucer’ film. The 1950’s Cold War allegorically allowed movie makers to cast Communists as invaders from Mars and theatres were rife with Saturday matinee filler like “It Came From Outer Space”, “Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers”, “Flying Disc Man From Mars”, “The Thing From Another World”, “Radar Men From The Moon”, “Invaders From Mars”, “Stranger From Venus”, “Plan 9 From Outer Space”, “Them!”, “The Blob” and, of course, “The Thing” featuring ‘Gunsmoke’s James Arniss as a giant, killer carrot from another world.

Blob But amongst the B-movie fodder was a new movement toward a thinking man’s science fiction that attempted to treat the subject matter intelligently – less for hysteria’s sake and more as social commentary concerning the real foibles mankind was facing during the atomic age. Of those, the most notable, and enduring, were “Lost Horizon”, “When Worlds Collide”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. “Destination Moon”, “War of the Worlds”, “This Island Earth”, “Forbidden Planet” (whose footage was re-used unapologetically by CBS Studios in episodes of Rod Serling’s ‘Twilight Zone’ TV show on several occasions), “From The Earth to The Moon”, and possibly the most effective of all: “The Day the Earth Stood Still’ where man’s first encounter with an alien isn’t immediately one of pure destruction.  It’s interesting to note that the bulk of these timeless classics were based on the works of book authors particularly Jules Verne and H.G. Wells who are credited as the first Steam-Punks.
HG Wells and Jules Verne

But the archetypes still endure in the 65 years of Hollywood science fiction that has come since. It will always be Us vs. Them. Man vs. Invader. America vs. The Aliens. Now we have terrorists, rather than Communists, as the metaphorical space invaders. And despite seeing that formula over and over again, there is still a fascination and love for twists on these old clichés.

So, here dear reader, is my personal list of the Top 20 monsters-from-space flicks:

Galaxy Quest Redshirt20) Galaxy Quest (1999) – Why does ‘Galaxy Quest’ make this list and NONE of the ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Star Wars’ films appear here? Well, aside from the fact that those franchise films turned all its bad-asses into humanoid psychopaths from otherwise benevolent far-off worlds, they were never really designed to be the alien-as-threat genre. ‘Galaxy Quest’, on the other hand, takes a giant harpoon and pierces the pretense of not only the entire Space Opera genre and most of the formulaic imitators as well (including ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Babylon 5’). Tim Allen plays Shatner playing Kirk, Sigourney Weaver crushes her own ‘Alien’ Lt. Ripley heroine character for tits and laughs while Alan Rickman gets to chew up more scenery than he does as Snape in all the ‘Harry Potter’ films combined. It’s a satire within a parody and there’s several butt-ugly aliens that need killing in the process. It’s also the birthplace for future screen acting successes like Justin Long, Tony Shaloub (TV’s “Monk”), Sam Rockwell (whose film ‘Moon’ might be one of the Top25 greatest science fiction films of all time) and Enrico Colantoni (TV’s “Flashpoint”).

19) The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

On a scale of 1 to bat-shit crazy, this one’s got it all. Completely ignored and branded a failure at the box office, ‘Buckaroo Bonzai’ – played by the pre-‘Robocop’ Peter Weller – is a guitar playing, neurosurgeon, nuclear scientist, crime fighting, race car driver. Bonzai surrounds himself with a brainy gang of crime fighting sidekicks – including a young Jeff Goldblum who attempt to save Bonzai’s girlfriend (Ellen Barkin) from a race of world dominating aliens disguised as nuclear scientists played by John Lithgow and Christopher Lloyd in scene stealing performances of their careers. It’s all too surreal…especially when you realize the alien race is actually a bunch of space traveling Rastafarians whose undercover ‘humanoid’ forms have all chosen ‘John’ as their first names. There was a promise of a sequel at the end of the film but one never materialized. The extended Director’s Cut DVD is filled with outtakes and comic book stills.

Stargate18) Stargate
(1994) – Prior to Roland Emmerich becoming the King of Hollywood visual mass destruction he made this under-rated film about a ring-like space travel device that can transport mankind to another world as easily as walking through a door. It turns out to be the world of a raging egomaniac-cum-deity whose sole purpose appears to be creating civilizations and enslaving them…including Earth’s original cradle of power, Egypt,  some 5,000 years before. James Spader plays erstwhile archaeologist Daniel Jackson (the role taken over by Michael Shanks in the spin-off TV show) while Kurt Russell plays the military leader (played by Richard Dean Anderson in the TV spin-off) trying to kill the bad alien/God and save the Earth from a return invasion. Jaye Davidson (‘Crying Game’) brings his brooding, asexual visage to the portrayal of the twisted sun God Ra. Oh, and Emmerich doesn’t disappoint when he makes pyramids go BOOM! The movie would spawn the TV show that spawned two spin-off series and two additional theatrical films.

17) Men In Black (1997)

High art this is not. What it is is two hours of mindless fun. Take the mythology of Area 51’s supposed secret agent protectors – the Men In Black – and expand the idea to its logical, ridiculous, conclusion and you’ve got two government agents – rookie Will Smith and jaded curmudgeon Tommy Lee Jones – protecting the earth from the slimeball aliens of the universe. It has now spawned two less satisfying sequels, but this one stands up as a film that doesn’t take the genre, and its pretenses, too seriously. Worth it just to watch Tony Shaloub get his head shot off over-and-over again.

16) Independence Day (1996)
– Before ‘Men In Black’ Will Smith was a fighter pilot kicking alien ass alongside Man-nerd Jeff Goldblum in this ‘Earth vs. The Flying Saucers’ CGI porn fest. Roland Emmerich had grown his arsenal of onscreen special effects and the budget to bring us not only planet-sized space ships, but complete and utter annihilation of every iconic capitalist sacred site: the Empire State Building, the US Bank Tower, and the White House (he’d wait until ‘Day After Tomorrow’ destroy the Statue of Liberty and democracy). The acting is B-movie cardboard – Bill Pullman’s Patton-like jingoistic rallying cry to the human race is most cringe worthy – but a lot of shit gets blown up…including really ugly, smelly aliens. Extra points for casting ‘Star Trek: Next Generation’ Mr. Data, Brent Spiner, as a hippie-zonked Area 51 mad scientist who gets mind-fucked by one of the humanity hating aliens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

[the photo above, which I took, is the commemorative marker that 20th Century Fox gave to the town of Rachel, Nevada for playing host to the aliens]

Prawn15) District 9 (2009) – What happens when aliens come to earth with no battle plan except to colonize a distant planet, the ship breaks down in orbit and we do the humanitarian thing by housing and sheltering their bottom-level worker bees? We end up with a massive refugee camp in the middle of Johannesburg, South Africa that, after 30 years, becomes a financial burden on the state. The government is forced, by public opinion, to move the camp to somewhere away from the city, the food and the few jobs available to humans. The story picks up with an intrepid, career minded desk-jockey who is assigned the task of evicting these grotesque alien ‘prawns’. Needless to say, things do not go well. The work-a-day government agent soon comes to terms with the aliens’ plight after he becomes infected with alien DNA and slowly turns into ‘one of them’…effectively becoming South Africa’s public enemy number one – and holding the secret to the alien race’s military technology. Engrossing, gross and a story of one man’s redemption.

Predator14) Predator (1987) – before the ‘Alien’ franchise became a comic parody of itself by, ironically, merging with the Predator franchise, the original retelling of Richard Connell’s book ‘The Most Deadliest Game’ pitted Arnold Schwarzenneger against an unstoppable alien hunter who got his kicks out of tracking and killing human prey – just for fun. A team of military commandos is sent to stop this killing machine in the South American jungle. Death and hijinx ensue – especially when they find out the alien has cloaking technology making battling the unknown all the more difficult.


13) War of the Worlds (2005; remake)
– Nothing can compare to the mass public hysteria that followed Orson Welles’ Halloween 1938 radio broadcast of this H.G. Wells textbook classic. A pre-WW II America was given a little foreshadowing of das Hitler when they feared they were being over-run by Martians and turning a small New England town of Martha’s Vineyard into a place to be feared. Steven Spielberg didn’t think that it, or the 1953 stop-motion film, or the endless number of remakes did justice OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAto the original story. Going back to the source material, Spielberg projected it onto a Nazi vs. the Jews allegory about the herding and extermination of humans. Amongst the wreckage is a relatable story about Tom Cruise’s character and his delinquent parenting skills attempting to cope with the slaughter while keeping his children safe. If you can suspend disbelief for the endurance of the film this is a frightening tale about mankind’s appetite for destruction. [the photo is a picture I took on the Universal Pictures back-lot in 2006 of the horrific plane crash sequence in the film].

The Thing12) The Thing (1982; remake) – For a short period of time in the late 70s/early ’80s the horror genre witnessed a renaissance at the hands of Wes Craven and John Carpenter. Carpenter’s films tread the line between horror and Sci-Fi with both ‘Dark Star’ (the Dan O’Bannon rough draft for ‘Alien’) and his remake of the 1950’s ‘The Thing’. His re-imagining of the original movie began and ended with the idea of a group of explorers being killed by an alien in the arctic – and the title. What he did with his film was take the claustrophobic horror of ‘Alien’, the Cold War paranoia of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and a whole lot of state-of-the-art in-camera special effects and make -upinto one of the most suspenseful, and gore riddled, films of its time. This and Carpenter’s ‘Escape From New York’ took Kurt Russell’s squeaky clean Disney Kid image and made him into a viable box-office star. Movie fan Chris Carter even remade the movie in an episode of his ‘X-Files’ TV show.

11) Cloverfield (2008)

Cloverfield

 

 

What ‘found footage’ story telling did for the horror genre, J.J. Abrams’ ‘Cloverfield’ did for giant, alien, monster movies. Abrams sends a love letter back to the Japanese with an apology for Roland Emmerich’s turgid ‘Godzilla’ shit-stain by giving us a new menace worth cheering for. It’s a typical night in New York with folks going about their Manhattan lives when something shows up to tear the city apart piece by piece (bowling the Statue of Liberty’s head through the streets of Soho was inspired) and we get to watch the entire episode unfold through the home video recorder of a member of a group of upwardly mobile New Yorkers that you just pray will get stomped like bugs. Like the shark in “Jaws”, the beast is only caught in quick cuts from the ‘panic cam’. And a love story sub-plot caught in snippets via un-erased footage on the videotape slowly reveals where the monster originated from. Shaky, hand-held, vertigo inducing camera work may have kept folks from the theatre, but if you can endure the roller coaster ride, this is worthy of any invasion of the giant-something-or-other films of the 1950’s.

Super 8 Creature10) Super 8 (2011) – What happens when you take untamed Hollywood hot-shot director J.J. Abrams and have Steven Spielberg reel him in and focus the manic storytelling into a cohesive story? You get a 1970’s styled cousin to ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. The return to Spielbergian craftsmanship shines through and the heroes of the film are a ‘Goonies’-like crew of kids trying to work their way through puberty, middle school and an alien-like government conspiracy. The story is the star here and there’s enough humour and pathos and special effects to make you believe that Abrams has what it takes to carry the torch forward on Spielberg’s alien obsession.


9) The Abyss (1989)
– Having made the greatest post-apocalyptic film ever in ‘Terminator’ and then managing to rival the greatest alien film of all time with ‘Aliens’, James Cameron decided to challenge Spielberg’s mantle as ‘King of the E.T. Treacle’ by directing an underwater love story starring the grizzled Ed Harris (‘Apollo 13’) and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (‘Robin Hood’) who are deep sea explorers that discover more than oil in an underwater drilling rig at the bottom of the ocean. The film was cut for theatres by studio non-believers but the remastered Blu-Ray Director’s Cut gives viewers a bigger bang for their buck and a bigger alien payoff at the end. Here’s one movie that Cameron should consider Abyssa sequel for as we never find out why the squishy bug-eyed Grays have come to be living on the sea floor for thousands of years. This film is notable for the appearance of one of the very first acknowledged uses of the type of CGI that has now become the standard. Watch for the scene where the alien turns a funnel of water into a replica of Mastrantonio’s face. Cameron would perfect its use in ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ on actor Robert Patrick when he morphs continuously between solid mass and liquid mercury.

8) Avatar (2009)

Avatar Monster

Those who do not like James Cameron, or this film, need not read on. For those that
like either/or (‘Titanic’ notwithstanding) witnessed nothing less than a monumental shift in both cinematic story-telling and special effects history with ‘Avatar’. Yeah, the story’s been done to death – white man invades foreign territory, slaughters the natives and is saved by one heroic dissenter who goes rogue and helps the natives kick the ass of the invaders. It was the basis for ‘Pocahontas’, ‘A Man Called Horse’ and ‘Dances With Wolves’ among others. But this one’s set in space….a really big f*cking space. And the natives are blue. Of course, the white man is still portrayed by John Wayne military and Donald Trump billionaire cliché stereotypes but Cameron makes you forget all that in a Real 3-D (which he invented) and Real CGI (which he also invented) world like we’ve never seen before. This is an alien world that you can touch. And what we learn through all of this is that MAN is the alien invader who needs to be stopped at all costs. The planned sequels have yet to materialize but I’m sure Cameron’s trying to figure out how to add a fourth dimension to the viewing experience. Maybe booster packs in the theatre seats!

7) Transformers (2007)

Transformers

The hatred toward this film runs nearly as deep as the hatred for anything that Michael Bay has ever done. Even Roland Emmerich’s plotless Irwin Allen-like apocalypses have received less chastising. But, having sat in the theatre on opening day of this CGI-porn fueled factory of eye candy let me tell you: EVERYONE LOVED IT. The audience of kids and 20-somethings were cheering and laughing in all the right places. At some point this love turned to a hate on because it became popular and ubiquitous. But, like the millions that suddenly turned against ‘Titanic’ because it became so popular the initial box-office gate receipts don’t lie. People weren’t going to see ‘Transformers’ just once – they were going two or three times. And why not? A generation of kids that came after me grew up watching a badly drawn two-dimensional Saturday morning cartoon based on Hasbro toys (and a comic book franchise) in the 1980s. The movie finally offered them a multi-dimensional, action-packed roller coaster ride dream come true. The special effects technology had finally caught up to the mind’s eye and this re-telling of the ‘Clash of the Titans’ – where the humans are trampled underfoot but conveniently help defeat the robot aliens – is standard classical Greek mythology for a new generation who didn’t read the Coles Notes in school. Hint: Optimus Prime is Zeus, Megatron is Hades, and Shia LeBoeuf plays Hercules.

6) The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Day the Earth Stood Still

Unbeknownst to director Robert Wise, his timeless science fiction classic starring the stoic Michael Rennie (as the alien Klaatu) and Patricia Neal (as earthling Helen Benson) changed a genre. Long the brunt of jokes by Hollywood itself [see my opening diatribe], the Sci-Fi movie milieu was considered a lower form of entertainment than even Hop-a-Long Cassidy’s Saturday matinee serials. But Wise looked at the Edmund North script (based loosely on a 1940 short story called ‘Farewell to the Master’ by Harry Bates) and approached it as a serious dramatic social commentary – not as a greasy actor-in-a-rubber mask goofball Martian Scarefest. And with that he hit a homerun. Like the Rod Serling monologues that defined a later era, Klaatu’s warning to Earth about its bad behaviour in the atomic age is one of the most gripping finger-wagging cautionary speeches on film. It’s as if Gregory Peck was Mr. Deeds and went to Washington to threaten Congress with annihilation. The power of the film is that Klaatu brings a robot named Gort as insurance to show mankind he means business. But is it an idle threat? That’s for Klaatu to know and Earth to find out. The film’s affect on the genre is immense: Klaatu was a character in ‘Star Wars’ and the saying ‘Klaatu Barada Nikto’ was used in ‘Evil Dead’. And there’s a certain Canadian rock band named Klaatu whose song “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” is a quick 7 minute synopsis of the movie. Avoid the sad excuse for a remake with Keanu Reeves. Go back to the source.

5) E.T. (1982)

E.T.

Spielberg’s second movie about alien life went straight to the heart by taking the audience to an encounter of the fourth kind: contact and interaction. A dysfunctional suburban family led by a divorcee (played by Dee Wallace) left to raise her children – Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton  and the cute-as-a-button debut of Drew Barrymore – focuses on how the three kids cope with Dad’s absence. A lost and frightened magical alien who only wants to return home intercedes and manages to not only pull the family together but take on a bigger battle – government interference. The kids accept E.T. for who he is and aid in his attempt to return home even if it means saying goodbye to a friend. You’d have to be a heartless serial killer not to have been choked up the first time you saw this. If you can see the original cut of the film track it down. Recently, Spielberg had a Lucasian lapse of judgment and digitized several scenes (like turning Men In Black agent guns into walkie-talkies) as well as adding deleted material back into the narrative. It’s distracting and unnecessary.

4) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters

Steven Spielberg, over time, has made some of the most iconic films of our generation. A handful of those have forever affected pop culture not the least of which is the aforementioned ‘E.T.’, the horror defining ‘Jaws’, the adventure film defining ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, and three of the most heart-breaking dramas ever committed to film: ‘The Color Purple’, ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’. But back when Spielberg had everything to prove – especially after breaking the box office with ‘Jaws’ in 1975 – what was he going to do for an encore? Well, he decided to leave the ocean and turned his lens to the sky. On the heels of his friend George Lucas’s massive ‘Star Wars’ success, he was ready to get his long simmering story about alien visitation green lit by the studios. Everyone wanted space movies (which ultimately benefitted Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ as well) and Spielberg was up for the challenge. Richard Dreyfuss, hot off Quinte’s boat in ‘Jaws’, and Melinda Dillon (the iconic Mom in ‘A Christmas Story’) play two disparate American everymen who, after experiencing very close encounters with UFOs, are haunted by visions. They feel like crazed lunatics trying to exorcise these thoughts. Dreyfuss’s wife, played by the scene stealing Teri Garr, disowns him as his obsession causes him to destroy their home in an effort to build an effigy of the Devil’s Tower; Dillon is on a quest to find her son who is kidnapped from their farm by bright lights from the sky. The duo team up to find the answer at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Will the secretive government stop them or will they find the answer where they least expect it? Again…Spielberg tinkered with the ending of the film by getting Dreyfuss to film new footage years later…and he’s digitized the CGI to make it more generationally friendly. Do yourself a favour…track down the original theatrical version. It’s quaint and more suspenseful.

3) Planet of the Apes (1968)

Planet of The Apes 68

Originally a french story from 1963 entitled La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle, movie producer Arthur P. Jacobs had master story teller Rod Serling pound out a rough draft for a film in which mankind lands on a distant planet run by intelligent, talking apes – and where the native humans are mute and treated like slaves. Charleton Heston leads a band of space shipwrecked American astronauts through this backwater world and tries to lead a freedom rebellion for himself and the slaves while attempting to convince ape archeologists – Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter – that evolution is circular and just maybe they were descended from man. The movie has been parodied and satired mercilessly for Heston’s quotable over-acting: “Take your stinkin’ paws off me you damn, dirty ape”, and “It’s a mad house. A mad house!” have entered the pop culture lexicon as has his final exclamation in the film where he realizes the truth about the planet and its forefathers – “You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!” Still, the movie was innovative for the John Chambers and Rick Baker award winning prosthetics that advanced movie make-up for future film-makers. The film spawned four sequels, a short-lived TV show and three remakes to date.

2) Aliens (1986)

Aliens

Read the #1 entry first and then come back to this one. Okay, then. James Cameron, hot on the heels of ‘Rambo II: First Blood’, continued his 1980’s sci-fi renaissance efforts with a sequel to Ridley Scott’s space horror classic ‘Alien’ [Ridley Scott was not asked to do the sequel and would forever hold it against Cameron and 20th Century Fox until he got a shot for a prequel with ‘Prometheus’ in 2012].  Where the first film played out as a haunted house version of ’10 Little Indians’, Cameron approached the sequel like the storming of Normandy – all John Wayne machismo, jingoistic flag waving and ‘Kill the Nazis’ brawn and bravado. Tempered with that is the return of Sigourney Weaver’s Lieutenant Ripley who is reluctantly dragged back to planet  LV-246 (where she’d already defeated the original alien) in an effort to help the military extract some terra-forming colonists who have sent an S.O.S. But we soon find out there are no colonists left save for a clever little girl named Newt who managed to hide from what Ripley suspects is a second alien. We also quickly discover that the mission was never about saving the colonists. A corporate stooge played by comedian Paul Riser (go figure), lets it be known that his employers and the colony’s backers, known as the Weyland Corporation, plan to bring the xenomorph home and the military is there to kick ass and take samples. Ripley and Newt only care about surviving and escaping the planet. The military soon finds they’ve bitten off more than the alien can chew. How the film reconciles these objectives leads to another two sequels.

Alien1) Alien (1979) – “In space no one can hear you scream” is one of the greatest movie marketing taglines ever. Beginning life in the early ‘70s as a low budget film called ‘Dark Star’ written by Dan O’Bannon and directed by John Carpenter, the story of ‘Alien’ getting from screen-to-paper-to-screen was an extraordinary journey by O’Bannon,  Ridley Scott and the executives at 20th Century Fox at the time. Check out the ‘Alien Quadrology’ boxed set special features to get the whole story. Where ‘Star Wars’ had taken us to a galaxy far, far away, Scott takes us to a galaxy of horrors courtesy of necromancy graphic artist H.R. Geiger. The reclusive European was brought on board to turn the otherwise straight-up man-vs-creature story into a pseudo-sexual visual nightmare from vagina-like ports of entry on an alien ship to the face rape of John Hurt’s character by a life-sucking crab-like creature to the phallic representation of the alien as dominator. All of this celluloid S & M plays out in the claustrophobic dungeon of the earth vessel Nostromo where we watch the crew – featuring early performances by John Hurt, ChstbursterTom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Veronica Cartwright (sister of ‘Lost In Space’s’ Angela Cartwright) , Ian Holm, and the debut of Sigourney Weaver. The success of the movie in the hands of these newcomers is a testament to their chops, the script and their belief in Scott. It also helps when you have great cinematography, in-camera visual effects and a haunting soundtrack. It is no wonder that Scott was anxious to return to the same universe with ‘Prometheus’.
Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA

=JV=

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com orhttp://www.bullseyecanada.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: