The other day I was on the Twitters, watching the amusing banter between our own managing editor Scott Weinberg and fellow Horror Squad contributor Micah Matthews. It seems that Micah has gone his whole horror lovin' life without seeing The Exorcist. Scott, being the good-natured older brother for the rest of, was on top of this, giving him a good ol' fashioned ribbing. Taking the chance to jump in on the conversation, I casually mentioned to Micah that it's ok, I've never seen Alien.

Scott then fired me. Hell hath no fury like a Weinberg scorned.

Ok, so that's a lie. He didn't actually fire me, though for a fleeting moment I thought, "Is he serious?" After all, Alien is his favorite film (maybe one day he'll tell you about his cat Jones), and honestly, how much faith can you have in a self-proclaimed horror fan that hasn't seen what is considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made? Finding all of this amusing, I dropped an instant message to Associate Editor Peter Hall and told him the story.

I was double fired.
This simply will not do. As a way to atone for my sins, I agreed to watch Alien that very night. Upon returning home that evening I took my roommate's dusty 20th Anniversary VHS of Ridley Scott's 1979 classic off the shelf, spent three minutes trying to work the VCR, and settled in for a night of fluctuating volume levels and commercials for games to play on your Windows 95 PC.

Seriously, VHS is no fun sometimes. I had to rewind the damn thing.

For the next two hours I sat glued to the screen, absorbing the ass kicking Ripley, Dallas, Ash and the rest of the crew of the Nostromo received at the hands of the xenomorphs. When the credits rolled, I breathed a sigh of relief, content with the fact that I have finally seen Alien and kind of shocked that Ian Holm is in that movie.

So now a few thoughts about this.

After hearing most fellow horror fans talk about this movie like it's the second coming of Jesus, I had the burden of expectation sitting on my shoulders throughout. While the film is two hours of unbridled tension, and indeed one of the best horror films ever made, I didn't really feel anything while watching it. To me, it was nothing more than fulfilling a long-standing obligation I've let slip through the cracks for far too long. This, of course, is what happens when you wait over three decades to watch a film. This is not an isolated incident.

The first time I watched The Thing was about two months ago. It was in a semi-crowded theater, part of a midnight madness program at our local Landmark Esquire theater here in Denver, and expectations were high. Sadly, much like Alien, I didn't really feel that rush of excitement I get when I watch a truly incredible movie. Don't get me wrong, it is an incredible movie, but something about it just didn't do it for me. This is indicative of a greater problem.

Everyone misses a movie here and then. I have friends who have never seen Back to the Future, and I can imagine that a first viewing almost three decades after its release and a good two decades after the age most people see it for the first time will not be met with that same rush of exhilaration we all felt when Marty McFly went to 1955 and almost banged his mom. Sadly, much like the hype that inevitably leads to utter disappointment (I'm looking at you, Drag Me to Hell), this will always remain a problem.

It's too late for me. While I would love to sit here and extol the virtues of Alien to you, I've reached a point where I am no longer impressed by what was once lauded. It is a phenomenal movie, and one I would recommend to anyone, but the passage of time has once again proven to be the biggest hindrance in my full enjoyment of it, not just as a solid thriller, but what it represents for the horror industry as a whole. Given my focus on contemporary horror, almost everything I see, both past and present, is invariably compared to the modern films I hold in such high regard. In short, there's a generation gap, and frankly, it's a real bitch.

I'm aware not many will agree with me, though this could be because I didn't explain it well. I loved Alien. I loved The Thing. They just didn't resonate with me in the same way some other films do. C'est la vie, I suppose. In the end, however, I think it's more important to appreciate a film for what it has done for the genre, and no film deserves this more than Alien.

Note: To avoid any confusion, I was in no danger of being fired. Scott's way too nice of a human being to do anything like that.
categories Features, Horror