Welcome to 30 Days of Alien, a feature that will be running on I Wonder If You Wonder throughout the month of April.
I’ll be posting a new article about a different aspect of the film each and every day, with subjects including:
- The film’s visual style.
- A look at how the broader Alien franchise has influenced how we view the original.
- The relationship between Alien and the upcoming film Prometheus.
- Class divisions within the film.
- Traditional scholarly interpretations of the alien creature itself.
- Artist H.R. Giger’s influence on the film.
- An entire article about Jones, the cat in the film (I’m not kidding).
- The film’s famous opening title sequence.
- The career of director Ridley Scott and the historical context in which the film was made.
- And much, much more!
If you’re not a fan of Alien, don’t worry: I’ll still be posting my usual slate of articles, including Weekly Roundup every weekend, periodic Listmania features, and articles on other topics as the mood strikes me. But for now, a few words on how I became a fan of Alien and why I chose it as a subject worthy of 30 days of articles.
Most horror movies don’t scare me. I don’t know if that’s just the way my personality works or if it’s because I watch a ton of movies and I’ve been trained to view them in a scholarly way, but films rarely get me to jump out of my seat. I can sit through Saw without cringing, watch Antichrist without losing my lunch, and focus on the religious themes of The Exorcist in spite of the kid with the spinning head. But there’s one whopping exception to this rule: Alien. The first time I saw Alien, it scared the bejeezus out of me. And it wasn’t like I was a little kid when I first saw it, either. I was probably around 14 or 15 when I caught it on TV late one night, and even though every glimpse of the alien creature made me want to pee my pants, I simply couldn’t turn it off – the film grabs you by the neck and drags you kicking and screaming into the next scene, never letting you go until the final credits roll. This unremitting tension has made Alien one of my favorite films of the 1970s, and when I was looking for a film that I could discuss for 30 straight days, it ticked all of the boxes: a film with both genre elements and deeper social and political themes, a great director (Ridley Scott) and a great star (Sigourney Weaver), a film about which there is already a base of scholarly material without being so picked clean that there’s nothing new to say about it (like, say, Citizen Kane or The Godfather), and a movie that appeals to hardcore film watchers and casual audiences alike.
With that said, I’ll hope you’ll join me as I explore Alien throughout the month. And if you have a second, throw on the DVD or check it out on video-on-demand, because if there’s one thing that should become clear once I’ve written my 30 articles, it’s that there are myriad reasons why Alien should be considered a true film classic.
And before I go, a tip of the hat to writer Matt Singer of IndieWire for inspiring this idea. As he notes, writing about the same film every day for such a long period of time is quite possibly “quixotic and pointless. But then what piece of great criticism isn’t quixotic and pointless, and also glorious to boot?”
Quixotic, pointless, and glorious. Here’s hoping I can live up to that standard.