As a director, Neil Marshall has been responsible for some pretty wild rides, from the post-apocalyptic cannibal medieval mashup of Doomsday to the werewolf epic Dog Soldiers. Not to mention Game of Thrones. But in his essay about Ridley Scott's Alien, he says it probably wouldn't get made today.
Top image: H.R. Giger.
Writing in the L.A. Times, Marshall talks about the impact that seeing Alien had on him as a kid, and why it's so revolutionary as both a space movie and as a horror movie — the female hero, the lack of teenagers in trouble, the intense sexual atmosphere. The face-hugger "essentially kills you by raping your face and making you pregnant," and the Xenomorph is "a gangly, seven-foot-tall, drooling, slithering phallus of death, complete with erectile tongue for thrusting out and penetrating its victims' bodies."
But then Marshall gets to why he doubts Alien would be able to get a greenlight today. And why what was so revolutionary and brilliant about it has gotten lost in the endless franchising of it:
ALIEN (both the movie and the creature) is a perfect collaboration of brilliant minds and creative forces, all working together to push the envelope of '70s cinema. I somehow doubt this movie would get made in today's movie climate. It's too adult, or perhaps too alien, for an audience weaned on superheroes and CGI. And yet, it spawned a successful franchise that's still going strong today, via sequels, spin-offs, video games, and recently a prequel.
And therein lies the rub….
When I first saw "Alien," the thing that burrowed deepest into my mind was not the ALIEN or the FACE-HUGGER or the EGG, but the other alien creature seen in the movie, the SPACE JOCKEY. This, to me, was far more incomprehensible than the ALIEN itself. Despite all I've said above, the ALIEN is basically a predator, and that's something I can get my head around.
The SPACE JOCKEY, on the other hand, is entirely unfathomable. Has it grown out of the chair? Has its "nose" apparently connected to its body in such a way it cannot move? It is, to my mind, something utterly and completely alien. Imagine my crushing disappointment to find out, all these years later, that it was not some inscrutable alien being after all, but was, within the context of the story, just a man in a suit!
The whole essay is well worth checking out, for more about how influential and ground-breaking this movie really is. [L.A. Times]