How could I forget the spellbinding tension back in 1979 when I sat in the Empire cinema in Middlesborough watching H.R Giger’s monstrous creature come to life before my eyes. Or to be more correct, not actually appear before my eyes, as tension was magnified, by the sheer swiftness and stealth of the terrifying predator that I don’t think you actually saw it in it’s entirety once.
Do you remember the egg scene in that huge empty space ship – terrifying! Then the bit fairly early on where the guy gets grabbed from above amidst pipes and water, Alien scoops him up to a horrible end. Most scary for me as an innocent 17 year old was the sheer craftiness of the beast, wedded to it’s ingenuity, intelligence and appetite for staying alive. Alien the great survivor.
I was so scared, that I went home with a nervous cough. Filled with fortitude the next day I returned to watch it again – this time nice and objective. Nope, it dragged me back in with that compounding tension until at 11 pm Alien vomited me out, a quivering wreck to walk home down those dark alleys and wet streets. Middlesborough had turned into Nostromo, the bus conductor had a Sigourney Weaver glint in her eye, and I was never the same again.
This weekend see’s the prequel of Alien, or apparently the prequel to the prequel. My daughter who is almost seventeen is at the midnight launch, tonight as I write. A whole Alien generation has been messmerised by the genre. It seems, we are fascinated by the idea of malignant evil, personified in a person / creature – Alien. Maybe it’s just harmless fun, like a rollercoaster, only with our emotions. Or maybe more sinister the genre evokes a God given fear of unrepentant evil.
I’m so glad that God is at work on planet Earth, that’s why evil atrocities such as those we are seeing in Syria stand out, because rampant evil is exceptional, purely, I suggest because of the presence of God on earth. Civil war is horrifying because it’s exceptional not the norm, and that is because of the presence of goodness on earth, in neighbours, friends and loved ones, just people being generous with one another suggests a sense of God, certainly the antithesis of a sense of malignant evil.
Whatever, it’s still out there, no one can here you scream and I’m going to watch it Saturday with John Miller.