Interview - Growing Pains: Horror Edition, Part III

In the vein of last week and the week before that, I'm interviewing someone who considers themself a bit of a horror "fanatic" and asking which work or works in the genre has stuck with them and how their feelings toward it have changed depending on time or events in their life. In this final case, I'm cheating quite a bit and speaking with someone I know rather intimately: myself.

Daniel Link

I was introduced to what would become my all time favourite movie during the Christmas of 2001 or '01, can't quite remember which. I had seen its first sequel, Aliens, beforehand and had spoken frequently of my interest in the series to everybody within earshot. So it was my--in hindsight, somewhat irresponsible--babysitter, an unsentimental, chainsmoking woman in her 60s, who bought it for me on VHS that Yuletide season. I knew it was Alien even before I opened it on Christmas Day as, sneaky brat that I was, I had peeled away the wrapping paper on one corner of the tape until enough of the film's stark, iconic poster could be seen. I watched it later that day when my cousins came over, much to embarrassment of my prepubescent self as the climax featured Sigourney Weaver dressing down to just her underwear. As for the film as a whole, I enjoyed it a lot, though not as much as Aliens as it lacked the pulse rifles and presence of Michael Biehn that made the second film so cool for me back then.

So I watched it off and on over the next few years, but it wasn't until I developed a semi-pretentious eye for film analysis in high school that I realized how thematically twisted Alien was, and not by accident. Ignoring Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett's fairly B-movieish first draft, then titled Star Beast, Alien is, from the ground up, a movie about the darker, violent side of human sexuality. To this end, director Ridley Scott hired surrealist artist H.R. Giger, who was known for his eerie, biomechanical aesthetic. And dicks. Dude loves drawing stylized dicks (clearly Not Safe For Work, people). This resulted in the titular creature having an utterly phallic head and inner set of jaws, as well as the, um, distinctive undercarriage of the Facehugger (NOT REMOTELY SAFE FOR WORK). Not to mention a sequence in which the Alien appears to sexually assault one of the female crew members. I could go on and on but Cracked's David Dietle covered the subject in a much more thorough fashion a couple years ago.

While Alien has never scared me, unlike many the works I have and will discuss on this site, it is an unquestionably unsettling film and the horror movie that has stuck with me the longest. Because of its offputting motifs, ones that preteen Daniel thankfully was too thematically colourblind to pick up on, Alien has far more staying power both as a cultural icon and as an otherwise simple monster movie--and one that I will probably deconstruct at length at a later date.

Daniel Link runs this site. You probably know who he is by now so there's really not much worth explaining.

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