Not literally, of course.
I cut my teeth on genre fare at a young age. To put it into perspective, the first movies I remember seeing in the theater were Clash of the Titans (1981) and Swamp Thing (1982). I was born in ’78, so . . . yeah.
But one series in particular holds a place of priority in my mental shelf o’ geek.
I’m not sure when I first saw Alien, but I couldn’t have been more than 8. My stepdad borrowed it from the library, loaded it in our enormous, top-loading VCR, and fired it up. I’m pretty sure he fell asleep, but I was riveted.
I’ll be first to admit that I was a weird kid. I had an adult library card in 3rd grade, and the first book I checked out from upstairs (all the kid stuff was in the basement) was Cujo. If you’re thinking that I didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of adult supervision, you’d be right. But that’s a blog post for another day.
So began my fascination with the world of Alien. I crawled through my local used bookstore in search of the Alan Dean Foster novelization. Best seventy-five cents I ever spent. It was obviously written from an older draft of the script, as it featured even creepier happenings than the final version of the movie.
There were no used copies of the Aliens novelization at the used bookstore, so I had to special order a new copy from the other bookstore. Getting a copy of the movie was entirely out of the questions – the 80s were great in a lot of ways, but paying $100+ dollars to buy a VHS tape was not one of them. Eventually I was able to rent it, and it was as awesome as I’d imagined. It’s still one of my top-3 favorite movies of all time.
There was a long dry spell between movies at that point, but the franchise expanded – comic books, tie-in novels, and crossovers filled the void. Dark Horse Comics’ initial Alien Versus Predator was a particular highlight, as was the black and white sequel series. The series originally focused on Hicks and Newt, but the characters’ names were changed to Wilkes and Billie after Alien 3 killed the characters off. Despite that gaffe, the movie is still pretty solid – far better than Resurrection or the frankly awful AVP movies.
For a long time, everything fell short and seemed to be the product of going through the motions. So I was intrigued when Ridley Scott returned to the franchise with Prometheus. Only he fell flat, too. You could write a book about Prometheus’ shortcomings, but I don’t know that anyone would buy it.
It’s odd, really. The formula is a simple one, and it’s been nailed, over and over again in the tie-in media, and in some extent the video games. I don’t really understand the difficulty Hollywood has had in carrying on the banner Scott and Cameron planted with the first two movies. It seems pretty straightforward to me – bring the xenomorph to Earth. This was done a multitude of ways in the comics and tie-in fiction. How cool would some World War Z-esque action sequences look with xenos? Aliens to the 10th power.
So anyway, sometime this weekend, Alien: Covenant is on my agenda. Here’s hoping Ridley doesn’t screw it up.