Memory: Origins of Alien

DATELINE: Tummy Ache?

Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alienis given a high-end historical study in a well-intended and intellectual documentary. Director Alexandre O Philippe already impressed us with his film on Hitchcock’s shower scene! He likes to put all the attention on a key moment in film history: and he does it again here.

Instead of focus on its ground-breaking style and anti-thesis to the cute aliens of Spielberg, the Alien movie (and its sequels) put an emphasis on ancient cultures, long extinct with parasitic wasp creatures at the top of the food chain.

Originally meant to be called Memory by its author, and then Space Beast, it was based on a 1951 comic book that had a sailor digest some seed from space and have an octopus emerge from his gut. The film could have been a low-budget Roger Corman horror, but he insisted it deserved better.

Today the cast (Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, et al, look like all-stars, but they were actually well known second bananas. John Hurt catapulted to fame as the guy with the stomach distress. Indeed, the documentary was despised by studios. Writer Dan O’Bannon stayed the course until he found Ridley Scott who shared his vision.

You have considerable high-falutin’ talk of Greek roots and its blue-collar, well-lived in spaceship that went against the neat and sparkling Star Trekstyle.

You had aliens that did not do mind control, but planted seeds in your body for eruption. The film slowly moved like Kubrick’s Space Odyssey until the monster emerged in a slime and blood dinner table scene. It was the nexus of all the newly emerged Ancient Aliens gone wrong theories.

We are partial to these analyses of classic films with interviews from the archives and seeing our actors now aged in the wood. If you take your sci-fi seriously, this new documentary will re-invigorate the franchise and the ideas behind Alien.