This week your hosts lock themselves in a doomsday shelter with John Goodman and J.J Abrams and fight for survival against “10 Cloverfield Lane!” After our review, we talk about our personal top 5 American Monsters and fight each other for the top Monster slot! There’s drama, there’s action, there’s intrigue…there’s Behind the Pop!
Intro Music Courtesy of https://mathgrant.bandcamp.com/track/space-blocks as provided under the Creative Commons License: Attribution, NonCommercial, Sharealike – If this Podcast were to reach commercial status, this theme would be replaced.
Another Thursday, another throwback Thursday, and that can only mean one thing…it’s time for a retro review! The 1970’s were a strange, coherent rebellion in film making. Instead of the happy endings of the 50’s and mid 60’s, the late 60’s and 70’s in American film sang the songs of gritty realism. The majority of films ended on a miserable note, which was simply chorusing the cynicism the country was going through. Look at films like The Panic in Needle Park, Last House on the Left, or The Taking of Pelham 123; while there may have been positive outcomes for some characters, the majority of characters were either scarred or killed.
1979’s Alien is no different. It’s filled with cynicism and the reality of our own mortality, and a pessimistic view on our hubris and place in the universe. If you haven’t seen Alien, then I suggest it as recommended viewing, at least so that you can understand the vast difference between filmmaking now and filmmaking in the 70’s, which I personally believe needs to return to popular form. Sure, it was a different era, but it was a shift in filmmaking unlike any other in American history. It was significant, and Alien is one of the many films that represents those ideas and concepts.
Alien is a high concept idea. It’s a haunted house in space with a clever tag line, and plenty of blood and gore to please the most desensitized. But as much as it may be about a crew of rag tag company employees surviving against an unstoppable beast, it could also be a film about the corporate theocracy succeeding and a needed growth of distrust in the establishment.
No person on the Nostromo trusts Weyland-Yutani. Whether it’s regarding pay, company contracts, medical procedures, or whom they employee; nobody fully buys in to the company pride idea. There’s an undercurrent of distrust that drives that employees to do what is necessary to get by, mostly because they have to get paid, and they want to get home. Ultimately, even after the warning signs, the decision to placate the company becomes fatal for the crew as they let on board the most terrifying killing machine in film history.
The design of the actual alien, otherwise known as a Xenomorph, is almost perfect. It can survive the vacuum of space, it has acid for blood, a toothed maw that hides a retractable inner mouth, and it’s born from its host in a process I wouldn’t wish upon my nemesis. It is fear encapsulated. And it is born from us. It’s no surprise that the Xenomorph looks like a twisted nightmare come to life; after all it was developed by the late H.R. Giger (See Below.)
The crew of the Nostromo doesn’t stand a chance, even with a flame thrower and enough gumption to charge head on in to battle. While they all hold a variety of specialties, the alien is just, well better. It may not be as smart or cunning, but it’s an animal that acts on pure instinct, which we often ignore in exchange for profit or well-being.
The most amazing part about Alien is that after 37 years, it still has the capacity to terrify and shock (lack one sequence which I’ve captured below). And that comes from a mix of Giger design, cramped atmosphere, taut storytelling, and a believable crew dealing with an impossible situation. If you haven’t seen it please do, Alien is one of the greatest horror movies ever made.
Alien – 1979
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Bolaji Badejo as the Alien, and Helen Horton as the voice of Mother.