Archive for the ‘Nightmares’ Category

Ridley Scott knows what he’s doing. He knows damn-well.

The 2012 Alien prequel known as Prometheus, while being a film of grand visuals and ideas, was much maligned by many xeno fans due to the lack of the iconic monster first introduced in 1979. Was it an Alien movie or wasn’t it? Though I knew it was well before seeing it, that question still entered my mind on more than one occasion while viewing it. Not enough creatures, not enough deep space claustrophobia, not enough psychological horror, not enough…well, ALIEN.

Sir Scott has learned from those mistakes and brought back the terrifying face rapist in all its slimy glory. There’s no question – COVENANT is a full on Alien movie, and, at a few frightening points, is a bright highlight of the whole franchise. I read a quote from Scott where he says “okay, you wanted aliens? All right. I’ll give them to you.” Give them to us he does, in a way that would make Giger proud, in a bloody, disgusting (my wife had to look away many times to keep from vomiting), and, yes, scary way.

It didn’t actually scare me (I’ve seen these films since I was four years old), but the pacing and structure of the first two acts truly did fill me with dreadful anticipation. You’re going to be gripping your arm rests, waiting with a racing heart to find out what happens next.

One thing I liked about it was the music. The new score was foreboding and excellent, don’t get me wrong, but the real treat (and there are MANY treats in this movie) was hearing Jerry Goldsmiths score from the 1979 original. Those haunting symphonies haven’t been in a motion picture since 1986, and they will put a smile on any Alien lover’s face that will remain for hours after watching the movie. And that’s just one example of why this film is so excellent. Just like Star Wars, Trek, Godzilla, and Marvel movies, retro is IN. everyone’s bringing back the movies of the 80s and revamping them. Usually it ends up being a rehash of sorts, and seems to indicate that Hollywood has run out of ideas, but with Covenant, the nostalgia is extremely effective. It honors the other films in the franchise, and plays out like an Alien greatest hits collection. The claustrophobia and slow pacing of the original, the intense action of the second one, the existential nihilism of the third, and the beautiful body horror of the fourth – all these elements are combined and hybridized in Covenant like one of David’s unholy mutations. Speaking of David, he and his doppelganger, Walter, are the best parts of the film where characterization is concerned. The dialogue and nuances between them is fascinating to watch, and the parts are played very well by Fassbender. All the acting in the film is great, even if the characters aren’t very memorable. But I didnt see it for the people. And neither will you. It’s all about that xeno, baby. These Aliens are wicked. They move faster, look sleeker, and do more damage than they’ve ever done before. The NEOMORPHS, an early breed in the xeno evolution, are both beautiful and sickening. They enter the body through spores, then burst out from either a back or a neck. These violent eruptions alone make Covenant one of the bloodiest movies I have ever seen. The creatures start out almost “cute”, but quickly mature into living nightmares. With white skin, spiked backs, and human like limbs, they look like a ghastly combination of Giger’s scariest paintings and the Newborn from Alien: Resurrection. There’s one shot in particular where a Neomorph stares into the face of David as he tries to communicate with it. These short few seconds are the epitome of cinematic horror. You actually FEEL like the monster is looking at YOU, and it really is quite a thrilling feeling…

But the movie’s crowning achievement is the traditional chest bursting scene. Though it doesn’t shock us nearly as much as the original did (we are probably all secretly a little sick of it) it still packs quite a punch. There’s no way to ever recapture that particular moment of terror from the first film, but the Alien birthing scene in Covenant is still better than all the chest burster sequences of the other 6 entries. And, despite being visceral and completely over the top, the moment somehow elicits a feeling of beauty and even tenderness, which is something I’ve never felt while watching a horror movie. You’ll just have to watch the scene for yourself to know what I’m talking about. 

Oram: what do you believe in, David?

David (smiling): Creation.

With a subplot focusing on androids retelling the tale of Satan’s rebellion (David is Lucifer, Walter is Adam, the Xenomorphs are the demons, Earth and the xeno home world are both symbols of paradise, and humans and Space Jockeys are “God”), a well paced and well structured screenplay, good acting, fantastic special effects (too many CGI aliens though, as it is with monsters in EVERYTHING nowadays), and horror that makes the blood run cold, Alien: Covenant fixes all of the problems of Prometheus, explains the origin of the Xenomorph, and stands as the third best entry in the franchise, behind Alien and Aliens by only a little bit. This is a better “throwback” movie than the new Star Wars episodes, the American Godzilla, Jurassic World, and all of the superhero movies combined. Long live nostalgia, and long live the facehugger. 


What’s truly strange is the boy’s demeanor. He is quiet, tranquil, and courteous to the nurses. The scientists always figured it was an act, as they were sure the subject harbored intense resentment over his very existence, but the readings from the helmet showed otherwise. Though they couldn’t exactly read his thoughts, they could determine with high accuracy the patient’s emotions through his brain activity, and those emotions seemed unwaveringly positive. 

“I sure as hell wouldn’t be happy,” Dr. Grayson said one day in the control room. “Living like a rat in a cage from birth…”

“Are you feeling empathy for the subject, Leonard?” Asked Dr. Mora, chief engineer of the project. “Don’t forget: we must always remain completely detached. It’s the only way to achieve real scientific progress.”

The scientist paused for a moment before continuing.

“And don’t forget…that THING isn’t even human.”

The two scientists watched the camera feed of the room and measured the boy’s brain activity for the next several hours, hardly saying a word after Mora’s brief diatribe. It was now 8 p.m., and it was time for the weekly interview. 

Dr. Mora typed in the code to unlock the heavy titanium door and stepped within. Two armed guards accompanied him, but their guns didn’t contain bullets. Instead, they each contained a highly charged round of electro-magnetic energy set to a specific frequency. This energy was specially formulated to knock out the patient and render even his unconscious mind virtually stagnant. If used on anyone other than Patient Y, however, it would literally boil their brain matter. It was a wonder of modern technology, a true scientific breakthrough rivaling that of the boy himself…but it had a severe limitation. Only one charge could be kept in each gun, meaning that each officer had one shot and one shot only if something went wrong. It couldn’t be recharged either – the force of the energy completely annihilated the gun during each of the tests. Thankfully though, the members of this dark project had never had to use the weapons. Patient Y was always exceedingly cooperative.

The door slammed shut with a robotic thud behind the three men as Dr. Mora walked towards his creation.

“Hello, Patient Y.”

The boy looked up at the scientist, straining his neck as always due to the immense weight of the helmet.

“Hello, Dr. Mora,” he said in a timid, soothing voice. “How are you today?”

Mora chuckled.

“Oh, I’m fine, I’m fine, dear boy. The real issue at hand is how you are doing.”

“I’m wonderful,” the boy began mechanically, “just wonderful. The nurses are taking excellent care of me.”

“How are your studies progressing?”

“Excellently. I learned about mitotic cell rounding today. Quite fascinating.”

Dr. Mora, as well as all the other scientists on the project, were taken aback every single day by the modified teen. He never asked for friends, never asked for company of any kind, never asked about his parents, never questioned authority, and never asked to leave. Not many people in the facility believed in the human soul – but they couldn’t help but reference that intangible word when describing their creation. They had engineered a human being without a soul…nothing more than pure organics and advanced thought processes. 

“That’s great, Y,” said Mora after a brief moment of pondering. “So…no problems at all? Of any kind?”

The boy looked down and put his tongue in his cheek. As he did so, Dr. Mora was overcome by the strangest feeling, as if time was standing still and as if the very fabric of creation hinged on the patient’s next words. 

The boy looked up after what felt like an eternity. 

“I just wish I didn’t have to wear this helmet,” he said.

The guards clenched their weapons tightly as the doctor hesitated before replying:

“My dear boy…why? You’ve never complained about it before. You – ”

“Sir…” one of the guards said weakly.

“Not now,” shot Dr. Mora. “Now, Patient Y…”

“Sir…I can’t move.”

The color left Dr. Mora’s face as he turned to look at the guards. They stood there, still as marble statues, their faces contorted in fear. As Mora approached them though, it seemed as if the paralysis was temporary, as they both began to slowly lift up their weapons. Dr. Mora began to sigh in relief, but before he could even make a sound, the men pointed the guns at each other and fired. They fell to the ground screaming as all their brain processes began to shut down. Blood leaked from their eyes, and…

Oh, Dr. Mora?” said a sing song voice behind him. The doctor turned around, his heart threatening to explode from his chest in fear, and saw his abomination standing there…without his helmet. Blood oozed down the boy’s face, and Mora soon noticed why – the helmet lay on the ground, with the Patient’s scalp still attached to it. 

“W-w-w…”

“So,” said the boy, cutting off Mora’s frightful stutters, “I feel like going outside today.”

James Mauldin didn’t want to go to sleep.

For 5 days now, he had been on a strict regimen of coffee and diet pills. Hallucinations had begun to bombard him, but he didn’t mind. A shadow here, a whisper there – he knew they weren’t real, so it didn’t matter to him at all.

But the dreams…or whatever they truly were…were very real to James. That’s why he hadn’t slept in 5 days, why his wife had left him, and why he had lost his job.

It had always been the same way. A palpable force of some kind seemed to permeate every molecule in the air right as he began to fall asleep. He would fight it – trying to move, trying to scream – but it never worked. The darkness enveloped him every single time.

He would be transported to a farm house with a white picket fence surrounding it. It was always a starless night, with nothing but a faint and foreboding glow of scarlet emanating from some unknown source and illuminating everything to where it looked like blood.

Invariably, James would grab onto the fence with both hands. Whenever he did this, he would feel pain from every nerve in his hands and pull them to his face. Once his palms turned upward, sunlight would flood the area and replace the red glow. His hands would be bleeding in a thousand places and the white fence would now be rusted barbed wire.

Slowly, a dark cloud would move towards him along the ground. He knew from the start of these recurring dreams that the cloud was there to consume things. Love, his family, his confidence, his sanity. And he knew that someday, during one of these dreams, the inevitable would come – his life would be consumed as well.

Unbeknownst to James, his five sleepless nights had actually been years. His mind could no longer accurately perceive time, or anything else for that matter.

“Don’t let me sleep! Don’t let me sleep!”
The guards sedated him, tightened his straitjacket, and turned off the lights.

 

this was inspired by a childhood dream of mine