The trailer for Alien gives us a simple physics lesson: “In space no one can hear you scream.” The sick-green egg throbbed--and yes, screamed--like the quick-cut victims fleeing in strobe-lit panic.
What, though, is Alien? Ask H.R. Giger, he of the twisted bio-mechanics, all grey and black, shining with excretions and posing like a fashion model, cold as Milton’s Hell and cool as an Emerson, Lake & Palmer album cover. His Thing grows in the narrowing corridors of this haunted house in space--while the sex-metaphors work their way down our throats, like that rolled-up magazine wielded by Ian Holm, straight out of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming--the “comedy of menace” tossed into outer space, dead and alone and spinning in his head like thanatos.
The last little Indian, Ripley, is cute in her panties but not just candy: She moves toward the alien to get a better look, ready to do what it takes--like John Wayne staring down some tinhorn--except here it’s glop-dripping mouths inside of mouths--a sexualized version of those ‘50s Things, Black Scorpions and Crab Monsters, an evil Cesarean birth with noise and steam and wet clanking chains symphonic as it approaches.
I’ll stop making much of Alien--but my sister, a grown woman, went with me to see it, and afterwards she insisted I search the car before she got in. I grinned and teased her--still, there I was, poking around in the trunk and a little worried.