Greetings, and welcome back to Horror Business. We have one awesome episode in store for you guys. In this episode we’re talking about two of the greatest back to back franchise entries of all time: 1979’s Alien and 1986’s Aliens
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We start by talking about what we’ve seen or done lately in the field of horror. Liam talks about an upcoming screening of Knife + Heart at the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem and our recent screening of Al White’s Starfish in Philadelphia, and Justin talks about seeing A Hole In The Ground, the trailers for Midsommar and The Dead Don’t Die, and attending the recent New Jersey Horror Convention. We also talk about Jordan Peele’s recent film Us.
We begin by talking about Alien. We begin by giving a background on the creators of the film, including Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger. We discuss Giger’s influence on the film, and how his surreal and sexual style of art shaped the perception and themes of the film.
The myriad sexual themes of the film are discussed, including an interpretation of a fear of sex, a fear of penetration, a male fear of rape, a male fear of birth, and a fear of the feminine. We briefly touch upon how O’Bannon solved Lovecraft’s “monster problem” by presenting us with a very unique and very well defined monster. The films idea of the ignorance and myopic nature of humanity’s universal view is discussed. The film’s place in the broader genre of “body horror” is touched upon.
The various socialist themes of the film are discussed, in that the movie is an examination of the working class of this universe. The critiques of capitalism that the movie presents, in that the villains of the movie are not only the xenomorph but also the faceless and nameless corporation that forces the workers into dangers for the sake of profit. The exploitation of workers is also discussed. The “used future” aesthetic of the film is discussed. The film as a critique of imperialism and colonialism is discussed.
The films success in creating empathy for all its characters is discussed. The deaths of several of the characters, and how effective and upsetting they still are, are touched upon. Finally, we briefly discuss our personal experiences with the film.
Next up is 1986’s Aliens. We open up by briefly talking about our favorite James Cameron films, and move on to give a brief background of the film. The film’s continuation of some of the themes present in the first film is touched upon, including corporate greed and the military industrial complex.
Liam argues that the film actually softens the criticism present in the first film, as this film actually gives a human face to the corporation, which may or may not absolve the actual corporation of any responsibility. The film as a criticism of American involvement in Vietnam is discussed at length. We discuss the differences between the theatrical cut and the TV/directors cut, and how the director’s cut and the additions it has over the theatrical cut make the film both more tragic and more horrifying.
The criticism of the film as anti-feminist because of the addition of Ripley being a mother is discussed, as is the confusing nature of the scene where Ripley attacks the Queen’s nest after rescuing Newt. Ripley’s role as the reasonable and rational character in a male dominated film is touched upon. Some of the technical aspects of the film are briefly touched upon, as are some of the anecdotes of life on the set of the movie.
A few more feminist critiques are briefly discussed. The franchise’s groundbreaking position as a film about extraterrestrials where the extraterrestrials are not an advanced species but are merely animals acting on their instincts. The concept of the film as being about the destruction of family is discussed.
Some of the effects of the movie are discussed, as is James Cameron’s choices in creating a sense of camaraderie for the marines. The destruction of traditional masculinity in the film is touched upon as well.
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