Sunday, 1 November 2009

Alien



Between bonus gripes, a crew of grumpy space truckers stumble across what appears to be a distress signal. After a traumatic landing a small team wander out to find the source, inadvertently bringing back an aggressive, mutating infection. The title character of Alien is a curious creation, worlds away from the huffing, invincible clods that typically clog up sci-fi anxiety yarns. 

Designed by surrealist painter HR Giger and played by seven foot plus Bolaji Badejo, the alien is a bio-mechanical agitator blessed with snaking limbs and a camouflage naturally attuned to industrial spaces. The science officer of the besieged ship categorises the beast as the son of the astronaut it births from. This throwaway dialogue frames the monster in the most interesting way - the creature is not wholly alien, it is instead a hybrid that has been calibrated to human dimensions.

The creature even seems to operate with basic hunter-gatherer procreation instincts. It instantly brutalises all the male crew members it encounters. Conversely, it finds the females fascinating. It pores over the women, savouring a proximity to them. Lambert's death in particular seems to be about a grim kind of enchantment. The androgynous alien looms over the shrinking Navigator, excitedly hooking its stinger tail between her legs. Desperate, but apparently unable to rape her, the alien instead skewers its intended. 

This savage survive mind attracts a sense of fraternity in programmed snitch Ash, another bio-mechanoid, this time designed by humans and acting in secret on behalf of evil corporate paymasters. When interim leader Ripley gets wind of the crew's company mandated expendability, Ash attacks her with a rolled-up porno magazine, attempting to force it down her throat. Like the Xenomorph, Ash is another neutered half-man scrambling for a penis substitute. This is the horror of Alien. Death and consumption seem like secondary concerns when you're being considered by a violent extraterrestrial sexuality.

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