Sibling Revivalry: Watching ‘Alien’ For the First Time
Lindsay, as always, was apprehensive (say the word sci-fi around her and she wrinkles her nose), but – thanks to one furry orange feline – she was pulled into the story (she even narrated some tense scenes to hilarious effect). I, admittedly, cannot watch ‘Alien’ without hiding my face or jumping, so there were moments when I inadvertently gave her cues to the impending action on screen. I chalk it up as a testament to Scott’s work – to this day, ‘Alien’ remains one of the most tense, exciting and imaginative movies I’ve ever seen.
So, after hashing out the fact that Sigourney Weaver was still gorgeous despite her mullet, Lindsay delved into how she’d re-name the film’s monsters, acidic blood as a plot point, Lambert’s inability to give decent directions, and what she’d bring along with her in an escape shuttle. Here’s our discussion about ‘Alien,’ 33 years after its release.
I told you before you saw this that you'd love Sigourney Weaver in this movie, even though you weren't that into the subject. Was I right?
Yeah. She's pretty badass!
How about that facehugger?
Is that the official name of it?
That's so funny!
Why, what would you call it?
Like - an orthoscopiouscopometheus! [laughs]
You're killing me!
I'm not kidding! Scientists in lab coats don't call something a facehugger! I mean, think about it. There should be Latin involved.
Well, you were pretty engrossed when the thing was on Kane. You were asking me, "Is he awake? Can he feel the pain?" You were clearly identifying with him, and freaked out.
Yeah, I really wanted to know the details. Eeewww. That's crazy.
I loved your reaction to the acidic blood.
Yeah, that was nuts! But then again, that really set the stage for me to get annoyed in the next few scenes because it's like, uh, DON'T MESS WITH THIS THING. Like, I'm serious! Are you really going to go back in there? It just burned your knife off! Really, you're going to try and shoot it or something? Good luck.
Well, they do need to advance he plot. Chalk it up to dramatic effect. Also, they want to save their friend!
When they went into the room to look for the facehugger after it was off his face, I was like, “This is so dumb!” I understand that it had to be an inciting incident, but I'm allowed to be annoyed. I would've sealed him off and blasted him into space. I mean, they already didn't listen to Ripley's advice to quarantine him. I think the fact that its blood burnt through like 17 layers of flooring kind of gave you a hint. Shut the door, get your s--- back to Earth.
So the chestburster scene. It’s iconic. Pretty upsetting, no?
Really, what was happening in my head the whole time was that I was trying to remember the parody scene in ‘Spaceballs’ and I was distracted trying to match them up.
That explains why we devolved into singing "Hello! Ma Baby" while blood was spraying everywhere. So here's a fun fact about the chestburster scene…the actors knew they'd be seeing the alien burst out of Kane, but they were kept in the dark about the fact that a bunch of blood would be spraying out. So when you see Veronica Cartwright scream hysterically when she's splattered, that's a reaction of genuine surprise. Also, it was shot in one take.
Haha, that's funny! Nice! That's interesting, because now that you tell me this they almost seemed more shocked than they seemed concerned for their friend. Cool, that's really cool!
So the two first big scenes of tension are when Brett follows Jones into the main room and gets killed, and when Dallas is in the air duct.
Oh yeah, and Lambert was all hysterical going, "Run! Run! Run!" Lady, there are two directions to run in. Can you please just specify for him which direction he should be running in? Should he run TO it, or should he run FROM it? Nope, she's just gonna keep going, "Run! Run! Run!" It's just funny to me.
Yeah, Lambert has always annoyed me like that. But I think her extreme emotion aids in offsetting Ripley's cool collected-ness, so it works for me.
I mean, you find her more annoying than I do. I'm sorry - she's on a freaking ship in the middle of nowhere with an alien on it. The fact that she's a little upset about that? I don't really take issue with it. I still give her props for being out there in a jumpsuit in the first place.
And how about Ash - you totally called the double-cross, though you thought he was an alien. Close enough! It gave me great pleasure to see you thinking about this movie and asking questions.
Yeah, I liked - I really liked! I don't like to be behind the curve on plot twists. You give me grief for making fun of stuff, but most of the time it's because that's my way of breaking it down and not being surprised.
Fair enough! You yelled "Eeww" and clutched your hair when he pulled out a chunk of Ripley's hair while he was attacking her.
Yeah, that was craziness - it just showed his sheer force and strength. I just kept saying, "There's something up with this guy, I know he's off." And then that white sweat droplet fell down his face and I did a little happy dance like, "I was right!" But when Parker hit off his head, oh man that was gross. I didn't expect that. He was puking up white stuff! Why did I eat before I watched this movie?
Sorry, I should've warned you to fast. You cracked me up when Parker and Lambert were together in that room and you saw the shadow of the alien in the spotlight. You yelled, "I see it!" You were very proud of yourself.
I was! That was really cool-looking.
That's all Ridley Scott. He directed the hell out of this movie.
Well, it was sometimes hard to see stuff in certain scenes because it was so dark, but I think he did that on purpose to create more tension, and that moment made it really obvious. He did a good job!
Also, in that scene, you get the first official full-body reveal of the alien. Scott wanted to keep that reveal until the end. Sounds a bit like a tactic used in the last film we watched, right? Steven Spielberg's ‘Jaws.’
Yeah, I guess by the end all those snippets had made me curious to see what it looked like, because you never really know how big it is, to the scale of a human - just like with ‘Jaws.’ In both movies, you know the predator is there, you know it's horribly dangerous but you don't really know how big it is or what it looks like until it's revealed, and then you get your, "Oh s---" moment. Which is fun.
You were pretty adamant about the fact that Ripley should bring Jones with her in the escape shuttle. You totally understood why she went out of her way to get him and cart him around.
What I was trying to say was if my only option was to bring a cat with me or nothing, I would bring the cat. I'd want companionship. If I had a choice of bringing anything, I would bring Jason Statham.
He was 11 when ‘Alien’ was released. Just saying.
Okay, well in keeping with the movie - I was already engaged in it at that point, but I was feeling for Ripley, to say that, “Okay, everybody is dead, she's going to sit in this ship for who knows how long.” It's almost as important as not getting eaten by the alien that she makes sure she gets that cat with her. It's just me feeling affinity and empathy for the character - it's so unhealthy for her to be alone, but she'll be okay if she has the cat with her!
But you don't even like cats!
Actually, that cat is a big reason for me getting into the movie. When Brett died after trying to catch Jones, that's when I really felt like I cared and was into it. The cat's important to me. And I hate cats, you're right! It's a snuggly cat, and in this instance it carried some meaning with companionship. Maybe I was feeling the effects of the isolated world in the film.
When Ripley finally settled into the escape shuttle, you rattled off a list of things she should do next. Please, enlighten our readers.
I did! It was, in priority order: She should take a shower first - I don't even know if that's feasible in the facility, but she should if she can. And then she needs to eat something. And then she needs to take the cat out of the carrier and snuggle it. But then we found out that the thing she ACTUALLY really needed to do first was kill the alien. [laughs] Ripley, maybe table that shower because you're going to have to take another one because you're probably going to poop yourself - there's an alien behind you.
Yes, which is another portion of the film you narrated. You were all, "Oh no, what is she going to do now? Why is she getting into the suit? What do you think is going through her head right now?"
Well, seriously! It's so crazy! I didn't know what her options were and she clearly did because she executed on the nose. But I didn't. Because I thought she was going to put herself in the space suit and blow herself out to space. [laughs]
So are you at all curious about what happens in the next movie, ‘Aliens’?
Nope. Unless you tell me Jason Statham is in it...