Trent: So! Of course you’ve seen Ridley Scott’s 1979 “Alien.” Probably many times. Why? Because it hugs faces, bursts chests, morphs xenos, and kicks ass! That’s why. And if you haven’t, then go watch it now. It’s always good.
Hank: Fantastic. Iconic. Seminal. Just plain good. Clones like “Life” wish they could generate this much suspense. Why suspense? Because things are BUILT UP. We don’t make contact with the alien for half an hour. The infamous chest-bursting scene happens at the half-point mark. And yet nothing was wasted in all that time. We were navigating the astonishingly well-designed insides of the Nostromo spaceship. We were learning the brutally commercial rules of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. We were meeting with the characters: Dallas (Tom Skerrit), Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Kane (John Hurt), Parker (Yaphet Kotto), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton). We were sharing in their camaraderie. Only Ash (Ian Holm) seems a little “cold”. We will soon find out why. Too many “And Then There Were None”-style movies gather together teams of expendable people who are nasty to each other and “who are not there to make friends.” Those movies fail to realize that if the characters don’t like each other, then maybe we won’t like them either, and then we won’t care as much about what happens to them. “Alien” is a surprisingly adult movie. It understands that this is not how adults function. For a spaceship to make progress, people have to co-operate with each other. These are intelligent people: they know it’s very unpleasant to spend light years trapped in a ship with people you hate. So instead they learn to like each other despite their differences. Part of what makes the chest-bursting scene so terrifying is how HAPPY and relieved everyone feels about the fact that Kane appears to be back to normal. We care when these characters die, and their deaths aren’t played for yucks. This is why this movie is a masterpiece of horror.
Cousin Franz: Quite right, Hank. I agree. Intellectually, visually, and viscerally satisfying. The contributions of H. R. Giger and Jean Giraud, aka “Moebius,” to our collective consciousness cannot be underestimated.
Beatricia: So much better than those Predators. It’s a very beautiful movie in its own way, and Sigourney Weaver weaves it all together. Ripley is the ultimate survivor.
Tracey: This is a movie about a diverse group of Americans, black, white, men, women, who fight together against an unspeakable evil- an evil that can even come from inside ourselves if we let it contaminate us. And there’s hope. The movie ends on a note of hope.
Trent: Until the sequel.
Grandpa Felicius: Then as now, this is no more than Peter Benchley’s “Jaws” in space. And THAT was no more than Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” without literary merits. And THAT was no more than an abridgment of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” without the chapter on the soul-expanding joy of squeezing whale semen.
Trent: Whoa, what?!? Whale semen?!? Dad, what is Grandpa talking about? I thought “Moby Dick” was one of those boring books! How can a boring book have a chapter on whale semen? That sounds awesome! Is this true?
Hank: Son. Of course I have read all those books Grandpa Felicius mentions. “Moby Dick”! “The Old Man and the Sea”! “War and Peace”! They are all true American masterpieces. Especially Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws.” Ask me any questions you want about “Jaws,” and I am prepared to answer. Go ahead. Did you know that there were three constantly malfunctioning mechanical sharks, and that the crew called them all “Bruce,” in honor of Spielberg’s lawyer?
Trent: Didn’t know that, don’t care. My question is about “Moby Dick” and squeezing whale semen. Is that true?
Hank: Right, right. Yes, well, although I love “Moby Dick” and have read it quite a few times, like any proud American, I suddenly have to go tend the radishes in the garden. They’re giving off an odd glow. Maybe Grandpa Felicius can continue this conversation.
Grandpa Felicius: I shall abridge slightly, but yes, young man, our hero Ishmael spends some fun times elbow deep in whale semen.
“(The whale sperm) had cooled and crystallized to such a degree, that when we sat down before a (large tub) of it, I found it strangely concreted into lumps rolling about in the liquid part. It was our business to squeeze these lumps back into fluid. A sweet duty! No wonder that in old times sperm was such a favorite cosmetic! Such a clearer! Such a sweetener! Such a softener! Such a delicious mollifier! After having my hands in it for only a few minutes, my fingers felt like eels, and began to serpentine and spiralize.
As I sat there at my ease under a blue tranquil sky, as I bathed my hands among those soft, gentle globules of infiltrated tissues, as they richly broke to my fingers, and discharged all their opulence, like fully ripe grapes discharge their wine; as. I snuffed up that uncontaminated aroma, truly, like the smell of spring violets; I declare to you, that for the time I lived as in a happy meadow; I forgot all about horror; in that inexpressible sperm, I washed my hands and my heart of horror; I almost began to credit the old superstition that sperm is of rare virtue in allaying the heat of anger; while bathing in that bath, I felt divinely free from all ill-will, or petulance, or malice, of any sort whatsoever.
Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers’ hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling! At at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,- “Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.
Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever! In thoughts of the visions of the night, I saw long rows of angels in paradise, each with his hands in a jar of spermaceti.
Trent: Wait. So. In Heaven. When we die. We become angels and… we dip our hands into mason jars full of cum. And this is… fun?
Grandpa Felicius: It’s a filthy, filthy masterpiece, “Moby Dick.”
Blurbarella: “Alien”– “Jaws”– “Old Man and the Sea”–“Moby Dick”– They forgot “Noah and the Whale.”–It’s All Been Done.”
5 out of 6 Cherries