Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Aliens: Scared spitless

The movie poster for the 1986 movie "Aliens",
the sequel to "Alien, directed by James Cameron.

Admittedly, I am what you would call a “fraidy cat”. I am easily startled, and often jump out of my chair when someone catches me by surprise.

But there are few times in my life where I was startled so much, my heart beat a thousand times a minute and wouldn’t slow down for a long time.

It was a long time ago, in a country house far away north of Coaldale – but surprisingly not my own.

The friendly invite
It was the spring of 1987, and high school was quickly drawing to a close. Me and my best friend Chris Vining got invited to the house party of a girl named Natalie. She was part of this widening circle of friends we had become part of.

As odd as it sounds, I had known her since Grade 10, but had no idea her farm just a few miles from ours, seriously five minutes away.

It was another video party, and the movie of choice was, “Aliens”.

We had heard how good it was, but I wasn’t really that interested. It was the sequel to “Alien”, which I thought an odd name.

“What will the next sequel be called?” I joked. “ Alienss?”

My sister had seen it in the theatre and I remember her describing it to me when she came home. The scene that stood was when they came upon a planet of alien eggs and one shot something into John Hurt. It turned out an alien had impregnated him, and was growing inside him until it eventually breaks out, killing him.

That sounded just terrifying to me. However, when CTV finally aired “Alien” on peasant vision, the censors had done a thorough job on it, virtually cutting out the entire scene. All the gore was gone to say the least.

Needless to say, I was going for the company, not the movie.

A pleasant surprise?
The funny thing was, I had to go get Vining from town, so it ended up being a much longer trip, which was okay, because it gave us a chance to BS en route. He had the directions and, that’s when it got odd. He had not put together how close her place was from mine.

As usual, we were the last to arrive, and everyone was there. Natalie had some snacks out and was a good host. Her parents were out, and her little brother had a buddy of his own over, and they made themselves scarce.

About four years later, I talk a film studies course at university. The course was broken into film directors more than films. Two filmmakers were Ridley Scott and James Cameron. Scott did “Alien” and Cameron did “Aliens”, and they are completely different movies. “Alien” is very dark and haunting. “Aliens” is more of an action movie reminiscent of “The Terminator” which Cameron also directed.

That’s why I enjoyed “Aliens” so much, and really got into it. Plus, Michael Biehn who had played Kyle Reese in “The Terminator” was in “Aliens”, and he is a favourite of mine.

Anyway, I was so into the movie, and it was getting tense. Suddenly…

There was a bang at the window. It scared the crap out of me. I jumped so high, I was picking plaster out of my scalp.

I looked behind the TV and there was a window to the outside. Beyond it was Natalie’s little brother laughing his head off. The little turd.

It really was a good surprise though, so much so I remember it more than the actual movie.

The aftermath
It turned out to be another memorable house party. After the movie, we sat around and talked into well past one in the morning. Natalie had her ghetto blaster, tuned to a radio station that played all the popular music of the time. I kept saying, “Oh, I like this song” over and over. But it wasn’t a station I recognized. In fact, I don’t even recall a lot of deejay talk. Mind you, back in those days, there was little talk after midnight.

Then I recall being tired and being a few minutes from home. However, I had to drive Vining home, all the way back to Coaldale. It was a long way for a tired teenager. Still, it afforded us the opportunity to talk about the events of the party, which girls we liked, and which ones we thought might like us. There were very few of the latter kind.

Sigourney Weaver was recently in Calgary talking about “Aliens” and it reminded me of this. Not as much the movie as the time with friends and the fact, at long last, me and Vining belonged.

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