Screened a sometime scratchy print of Alien at Circle Cinema for the midnight series and I really enjoyed it after having not seeing it in well over a decade. On Friday night, a young woman who works there came out after 20 minutes saying it looked “too ‘80s” for her taste.
The next night I watched it and loved the colorful, yet low-tech view of the future as conceived by Ridley Scott in 1979. The movie is a claustrophobic, tense journey into the unknown that combines horror and psychological thriller in ways often duplicated since.
I’ve heard this kind of complaint a lot from younger people and classic older horror/thriller films. They will claim the recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre was awesome but the deranged 1974 version was boring or unprofessional. During the re-release of The Exorcist a few years ago teenagers were laughing during certain scenes, yet, I hear their peers say how scared the middling knock off The Exorcism of Emily Rose made them as we exit the theatre. When I hear these kinds of statements, I just want to shake some common sense and taste into the lot of them!
What makes Alien better than Alien Resurrection or Halloween better than Halloween 9 (the list goes on and on) is that the early films have an originality in story, attitude and execution that the following sequels can’t even sniff, despite the new ones having all the advantages of komputers to aid their graphics.
It’s not all about graphics and high-powered komputers young movie watchers.
The early films have a subtlety and nuance to them that the remakes/sequels do not. The later films tend to go the blunt, in your face route as they feel they have to be so “full on” they have to top the originals. This doesn’t make them better movies; it just makes them noisier.
The early “classic” films often realize it’s the quiet moments that are the most terrifying. It’s in these quiet moments during Alien when “Ripley” is battling these alien beings alone in some empty part of a deep, black, silent space, when we let our imagination take over. The imagination is more terrifying than any amount of noisy, komputer generated effect can ever dream of producing.
So, as I sat in the tiny, darkened Circle Cinema and watched the low-budget effects/set design I found comfort, tension and fear in its well-aged flicker from the projector.