MY FAVOURITE FILM
Why I love… Aliens
My childhood best friend Oli Jennings is to blame. He introduced me to the Aliens universe, and I’ve been obsessed to an unhealthy degree ever since.
I didn’t even manage to watch it all the way through the first time. If I remember rightly I excused myself and pedalled to the safety of home on my orange and white BMX shortly after the first chest-burst on LV-426. But in my defence I must have been only 11 years old. No, I’m not sure what his parents were thinking, either.
Of course, within a few days I was back at Oli’s watching the rest of the film, and it completely blew my mind. It’s the richness and depth of the fiction – close scrutiny might confound science, but I’m no scientist (and any who try to point out discrepancies will be met with my standard fingers-in-ears response), and far more importantly the film simply feels possible and real.
Those are ingredients to a recipe my friends and I became totally addicted to, and while other teenaged boys were chasing girls and buying fake IDs we were arguing over the best ways to dispatch aliens without getting a faceful of acid splashback, travelling to the short-lived Alien Wars experience at the Trocadero only to chicken out of actually going in, and playing PC game Aliens versus Predator in five-minute fear-filled bursts.
The thing is that Aliens looks superb even now, nearly 30 years after it was first released, and I think the lack of CGI is largely to thank for that. The spaceships are miniatures and the aliens just men in suits, but there’s a physicality and realism of movement there that CGI can’t recreate – just watch the first Tobey Maguire Spiderman or the Lord of the Rings trilogy to see how fast computer-generated effects can age. I’m not aware of any sci-fi that’s aged as well as Aliens – if it wasn’t for Ripley’s ridiculous hair you’d believe it was made this decade, especially if you watch the 1080p Blu-ray, complete with pulse rifle fire and scanner blips in DTS HD Master Audio awesomeness.
The impact of Aliens is still felt today, both in cinema and in my troubled nightmares. Exo-skeletal xenomorphs are still a recurring fixture in my dreams (although to slightly less scary effect now than in 1993), and fans like me continue to overlook the flaws in the sequels and clamour for more films that expand the Aliens mythology. Heck, I even enjoyed Prometheus and would happily share an escape pod with a facehugger if it meant getting a follow-up.
It’s a film that’s endlessly referenced in pop culture, too. In fact, my better half only very recently realised that the words “they mostly come out at night… mostly” were uttered by Newt a full 13 years before Cartman repeated them to hilarious effect in the infamous Cat Orgy episode of South Park.
She clearly doesn’t know the film as well as she should. Time for a refresher.
Tom Parsons is reviews editor on Stuff magazine
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