Dan OBannon had the works of H.P. Lovecraft very much
in mind when, in extremis, he wrote the classic
space-horror epic Alien.
HPLs motto of atmosphere, not action pervades
the film much like the primordial gases covering the unknown
planet (one critic described it as Yuggoth) where the creature
is discovered as a leathery egg inside an organic (and very
dead) space ship, a scene that would have given Lovecraft
In fact, Alien is almost all atmosphere, a Val Lewton movie
with a big budget. The film, set almost entirely inside a
claustrophobic intergalactic mining ship owned by the
company, is downright eerie.
The alien itself is rarely seen as it stalks and dispatches
the puny human prey, only adding to the tension and feelings
of cosmic dread. But when we do see the bastard, the scenes
are absolutely mind-numbingnot to mention face-hugging,
chest-bursting, and quadruple-acid-dripping-H.R. Giger-designed-teeth-biting.
The film does an excellent job at giving the alien a total
indifference to the fate of the seven humans on board, nicely
conforming to HPLs fundamental premise that common
human laws and interests . . . have no validity or significance
in the vast cosmos-at-large.
The creatures primitive form also reminds one of Lovecrafts
equally primeval Old Ones or Mi-Go who filtered down
from the stars when the earth was young.
One unforgettable scene was even, um, resurrected by Re-Animator.
Evil science officer Ash is discovered to be a robot. Hes
smashed to pieces and Ripley hooks up his severed head to
extract information about the alien; remind anyone of good
old Miskatonic U.s disembodied Dr. Hill on a paper spike?
Alien is the essence of HPLs cosmic horror stuffed
inside a space ship, the crafts twisting corridors yet
another branch of Lovecrafts ever-growing Mythos. Alien
stands as one of the best examples of Cosmic Horror.