37 years ago today, 20th Century Fox unleashed a new kind of horror on unsuspecting movie goers, now known as the classic masterpiece, ALIEN. However, it just may be that the story of the ill fated landing on LV-426 goes back further in time than originally thought.
Director Ridley Scott described it as A Texas Chainsaw Massacre in space, while others liken it to 1960's B-movies like It: The Terror From Beyond Space and Planet Of The Vampires, which were both stories of astronauts who set down on alien planets, only to unwittingly bring something deadly back aboard their ship.
While Scott denies ever even seeing these films, writers Dan O'Bannon & Ron Shusett's claims of not being influenced by them have been met with heavy skepticism. It's not hard to see why, when you put perspective moments from the films, side by side with the franchise.
For instance, we have the discovery of a dead alien race.
There's the alien creature that stows away on the ship, only to grow bigger, and start killing the crew.
And later films like Prometheus would either by uncanny coincidence or homage, have very similar space suits for their crew members.
Not to mention other very similar moments.
As conclusive as some of these comparisons may seem, O'Bannon gave a more obvious explanation as to where the idea origins for the screenplay he co-wrote, came from.
“Alien went to where the Old Ones lived, to their very world of origin,”
If you're not familiar with the term "Old Ones" then look no further than the novelette, At The Mountains Of Madness, by the notorious pulp writer H.P. Lovecraft, who had a flair for both science fiction and the occult. The story is told in a first person narrative that goes something like this: A expedition to the antarctic uncovers a city built and then abandoned by an alien race, simply referred to as The Old Ones, who lived on earth millions of years before humanity ever existed. It is even suggested that they created the human race for a lark. However, through examination of the ruins, scientists soon discover that these alien beings had a servant race of mutants know as the Shoggoth, which turned on them. Things get even worse, when these mutants awake from a near eternal slumber in the ice, leaving only two broken survivors to tell the tale. You can listen to a reading of it, here...
Sound familiar? Of course, it does. Just replace the city for the derelict space craft, the Shoggoth for the Alien, and the scientists for the crew of the Nostromo.
Add to this the beautifully disturbing designs of Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, an amazing cast led by Sigourney Weaver, and a bold director with only one other film under his belt, and you suddenly have a masterpiece that would influence filmmakers, writers, and artists alike for all of the 37 years since its release, yet be matched by non of them.
Thank you for raising the bar, Alien.