Why have recent mainstream films portrayed “aliens” as thin, muscular, wrinkly-faced villains, naked (yet sexless) monsters who break into the homes of innocent families and terrorize them for terror’s sake? Are they suggesting that Lance Armstrong is an extraterrestrial?
The roided-out waifs skitter (complete with skittering noises) upside down on the ceilings of psychic six year old boys like spiders drunk on CGI. They flit behind the backs of shrill and foul-mouthed housewives flossing their potty mouths in the bathroom mirror (the mirror gimmick is the oldest and cheapest horror movie trick, of course.) They square off against lumpy yet testosterone-laden dads like a bunch of interstellar Leatherfaces armed with space age chainsaws. And sometimes their trans-galactic motherships go against our F-16s (and usually lose.)
These films have all the character of the average Walmart. They are loaded with special effects as subtle as the sugar and salt poured on the food at a TGI Friday’s, and they are shoved down the gullets of a public grown inane and insipid through the failure of public education. At best they are made by someone outside of the field (M. Night Shymalan) who condescends to the subject matter.
To square away my negativity, I will list some of the worst offenders and be done with it: Independence Day, Signs, The Fourth Kind, Alien Abduction.
So what would make a good film on the phenomena? My provisional answer: a hybrid (perhaps featuring hybrids as characters) between a horror thriller and a profound religious experience, perhaps an idiosyncratic “visual prayer” with enough eerie sequences to raise the hair on one’s back, and even enough horror (though not of the dumb and gory kind) to inspire the brainier teens to cuddle close on their date nights.
Films even obliquely related to what I call “the phenomena” should be spiritual experiences or nothing at all; an electric church, a chapel perilous, a hedonistic temple, a dusty library full of old tomes, or an impromptu initiation in even as banal a place as the Walmart parking lot. Why not combine the creepy as well as the commonplace with all the verve and vivacity of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”?
A UFO abduction film should be crucifixion after crucifixion followed by, in Henry Miller’s words, “resurrection after resurrection.” The most intractable Zen koans should be sandwiched between the daily marches to Golgotha. Is that too much to ask? If the gauntlet I have just thrown down is too severe, can someone at least make a half-way intelligent film on the topic?
Who would be the best man to direct a worthwhile film on the visitors? My answer: Alejandro Jodorowsky.
In his film “The Holy Mountain”, a Holy Fool and 8 industrialist pilgrims embark on a quest for immortality. Each of the nine pilgrims represents a different planet in our solar system and an archetype.Their pursuits and professions are satires of the various absurdities and excesses in our society. This exaggerated mirror image is such an exercise in strident surrealism and symbolism that the viewer is almost made to feel as if the character Lut (a successful art dealer) really does live in some kind of dimensional space-time pocket on the planet Jupiter. Berg (a financial adviser) must really be a mama’s boy who lives on Uranus and advises the President of the United States to improve the economy through wholesale slaughter. And so on and so forth with the other archetypal characters. “The Holy Mountain” and Jodorowsky’s other films are more unintentionally “alien” than any of the intentionally alien blockbusters mentioned above.
So imagine Jodorowsky doing a film on the phenomenon of alien abductions. Unfortunately, he is 86 years old and working on other projects.
But I have a camcorder from 1995. I’m sure I could do something better than Alien Abduction.