creative corner

(working title) 5

Saturday 0700

A surge of acid seared the back of Honey’s throat. Although she sneaked off to a self-defence class on a Thursday, that wasn’t nearly as painful as this unexpected circuit around Beckhill Estate. She had been going between a jog and a sprint for – she checked her phone: 7.35 am. Forty-five minutes? Is that all? She thought, and she took a right down the street before her own. The sun was beginning to rise, and Honey didn’t know what she would find outside her house. She felt weak and (to her great surprise) hungry.

She took another right into an alley between two rows of houses. Locking herself in, she pulled an iron gate behind her and knotted a loose chain around the frame. There were five houses on each side of the narrow alley-path, each with a back yard, bordered by brick walls, and wooden gates to enter. At the bottom of the path, a thorny bush-covered wall completed the box which penned her in.

Honey was panting, but with the chance to catch her breath, she was hesitating. Even in a normal situation, a whiff of meat could make her tummy lurch, but in this enclosed alley space, the stench was overpowering. She was wearing a denim jacket and a pencil skirt that had ridden up to her thigh. Curls of thick black hair were stuck across her face with sweat and – she used her forearm to wipe her head – blood. She bent over, resting her hands on her knees and grimacing as she looked down. Her boyfriend’s throat had spurted a fat stream of shiny red when it was torn open in front of her. In his struggle to throw off his attacker, the sash of blood had painted her from the left side of her face to her right side of her hip, and she could feel it turning crispy.

Her head jerked up as the first body thumped against the iron gate and the chain jangled, then three or four more followed. She cried out. The chain she’d wrapped around the gate rattled loudly with every thrust and the chimes echoed off the alley walls. The arms of stained black and bloody bodies thrashed through the gaps in the gate and their low, gritty groans grew louder as they failed to get any closer. As the chain was being worked loose, she made her way down the alley, frantically pulling down gate handles with one hand, while reaching out for the next, but they were all bolted from the inside. Finally, she pushed on the last gate and it gave way slightly, but it was blocked by something on the other side. 

“Are you kidding me?!” She screamed. Before she could charge into it, the chain fell to the floor, and the iron gate slammed against the brick wall. She looked up to see the grey, mottle-skinned bodies charging though. They weren’t as slow as the movies made out, but they were selfishly voracious, and it made them claw at each other as they rushed forward, slowing their advance.   

“Not today,” she growled, and she smashed her shoulder into the stiff gate. It gave just enough to squeeze through and she squealed as she slid into the gap.  

Honey locked the deadbolt on the inside of gate when she made it through. Thumps and groans came from the other side as her rabid followers caught up to her, but the gate held fast.   

Looking down at the dead man beside her, she saw why it had been so hard to open the gate. He had been seated before Honey barged in, but now he was slumped over to the side. His left arm was missing, and its fleshy stump poked upwards. She paused and stared at him for the moment, wondering what wasn’t right about him. Her eyes focused on the stump where his arm had been; it was black and oily like the wounds on the others. Quickly scanning the garden, she saw a shovel leaning against the shed a few paces away. Without hesitating, she darted forwards to grab it and turned back. She raised it over her head with the blade edge-forwards like an axe just as the dead man sat up. His eyes opened, revealing watery milk-white pools. He turned his opening mouth toward Honey, but she was already bringing the shovel down as hard as she could. It wedged into his skull with a satisfying crack and the shock reverberated through her arms.

“Ughhh,” she shook.   

She tugged on the shovel; satisfied it was wedged in his brain, she let go of the handle, and the dead man slumped back into the position Honey had found him in. She shuddered again before spinning on her heel and marching toward the house.   

creative corner

(working title) 4

Saturday 0730

When Millie found the first open door in the corridor, she threw herself through it. All the others she had tried were locked, and she felt like she had been running for hours. The relief of finding sanctuary made her legs to wobble like jelly being dropped onto a plate as she went through the door, and she fell against the wall inside. The last images of her friends, Alison and Lilah, gnawed at the back of her mind. She let her head fall into her hands while she slid down the wall into a crouched position with her knees trembling. She sobbed for some time, her teeth chattering as she squeezed her eyes open and closed, hoping she would be able to force the images out. 

Millie couldn’t be sure if she had heard something, or if there had been a movement in her peripheral vision. Her head snapped up as her body tensed and her hair stood on end. She shook her head a little and wiped tears from her face before shifting into a squat, facing the slightly open door ahead of her. She was trying to focus her hearing on any sound while restraining herself from taking deep, loud breaths. 

Millie’s neck tensed a little more as she heard the single swish of a wet mop sliding across the floor. Confused by the noise, she frowned and strained a little harder to hear it again. The room she was in was big but empty, except for a table in the middle and two chairs either side. There were two doors: the one she was staring at, slightly ajar; and another behind her, on the same wall as a huge mirrored window. A small video camera poked out above the open door with a silent red light blinking beneath it. She had briefly wondered if anyone was watching her, as she crouched in a feral hunch beneath the mirror. 

The wet swish sound came again, and the door twitched slightly. Millie took a sharp breath in as a bloodied hand slapped down on the hard tile floor. Another hand came down, and Lilah’s contorted face and milky-white eyes were dragged into view.

creative corner

(working title) 3

Saturday 0330

For the third night in a row, Morgan woke up in his flat with his heart pounding and his skin slick with sweat. A ripple of goosebumps ran through him as he threw off the covers and took his first waking breath. He groaned as he rubbed his chest and read the bedside clock: 03:32. It was the weekend, but it was the first morning of his new job at Meldotech. Deciding he didn’t want to fight his restless thoughts and the dull hum of machinery in the laundrette below, he let out another exasperated groan, kicked his legs and rolled out of bed. He staggered, and before he found the switch for a table lamp on the floor, he banged his knee on the armchair next to his bed and cried out in pain.

The year before, Morgan had moved two hundred miles away from London (and his parents) to Manchester. He remembered crying as he drove off in the second-hand MINI he’d been saving for. The shrinking rear-view image of his little sister sobbing into the shoulder of his mother still made his guts twist with guilt. He felt bad for leaving Amy alone with his mum and dad but they treated her so different to him. On a rare occasion that Morgan was in the same room as his parents, he announced his plan to them: 

“Mum. Dad. I’m going to live in Manchester. I got my acceptance letter last week, and I start university there in September doing computer science.” His father looked over the newspaper he was reading and made eye contact long enough to nod in approval, before looking back to the page. “I even have a flat.” 

“Is that right?” His mother asked, and she stood up and turned to the counter to put on the kettle. “So, when do you leave?” She pressed, and he felt his throat tighten.

“In a few weeks,” Morgan held back tears with a gulp, “I just need you to sign a form for the tuition fees. I’ve taken care of living costs.” 

“That won’t be a problem Mo-Mo. Just leave the papers on your Father’s desk and he will make the arrangements,” his mother said with her back to him. Morgan’s dad nodded again, this time without looking up. His mother turned toward the kitchen sink and pretended to clean the already immaculate worktops. As long as he didnt cost them their time, they took no interest him, in the job he made for himself creating and running social media accounts for small business owners, or that his weekly allowance from them remained untouched in his Santander Premier account. Even after buying his car, he was able to cover rent for the first few months he lived in Manchester. It was now the end of January the following year, and although he was doing alright financially, he wanted to get started on a career. The job he was starting at Meldotech came after a grateful bakery-owner had a successful Christmas because of his work. The baker had passed his contact details onto his son who already worked there, and he was offered the job with only a phone-interview.  

Morgan went to the toilet, washed his hands and his face, and then finally he brushed his teeth. It was a routine he only missed when he was sick or hungover. He limped over to the kitchen counter directly opposite the bathroom door, flicked his kettle on and looked around at his shoebox flat. His bedroom at his parent’s house had been bigger. The apartment had come furnished with a small fridge, a gas hob, a new single bed, an armchair, a bookshelf with a missing shelf, a fold-down kitchen table, a single kitchen chair, a mug that said “get ’em before they get you”, a well soiled frying-pan, two forks and a bowl. There were only two rooms: the bathroom and bedroom-kitchen. In his MINI he had clothes, toiletries, two towels, a duvet and sheets, a small flat-pack desk, a lamp, a clothes-horse, a DAB radio, a laptop and stationery. He unpacked it all on his first night. With only one small window above the kitchen sink, the flat was dark and dingy but aside from the frying-pan, the whole place was immaculately clean, and it was his. As he limped over to the armchair with a coffee, he felt the same swell of pride as when he unpacked five months ago. He smirked at the idea of his parents, seeing where he lived. They would lose it, he thought. He was still smiling when he turned on BBC Radio 2 and started reading his Meldotech welcome pack.

The night was giving way to dawn when Morgan heard the first siren. It startled him from a sleepy-doze he’d fallen into. His bedside clock read 07:23. His knee had stiffened from the bang on the armchair, and he faltered as he got up, kicking over his empty coffee cup with his cold, bare toes. After making it over to the kitchen window in a kind of limping-hop, he hovered over the sink and looked down into the street. The street lamps were already switching off, and the sun was causing a golden haze to border the silhouette of small, squished together shops and flats across from his own. It wasn’t the worst view, he thought as he breathed in another smile. 

He heard the sirens of more police and looked down into the street below. Two police cars and a riot van that screeched to a stop in a blockade formation facing a part of the street he couldn’t quite see. He dropped into a crouch as an approaching helicopter seemed to stop above his flat and the voice from a megaphone could be heard. “Stay in your homes. Do not open your windows or doors. This is a-”, the booming voice cut off, and a hot glow, followed by a rumble and a roar, came from the direction police were facing. 

creative corner

(working title) 2

Saturday 0230

Joe opened his eyes and closed them immediately when he woke up under a bright orange light. He blinked and squinted until the leaves from the branches above him came into focus, and he realised it was nighttime. The light was coming from a lamppost between two Japanese cherry trees. There was a time he would have been terrified to wake up on a damp bench, outside, in the darkest hour of the night, but instead, he just felt relief that he was awake at all.

This happens to be a familiar place though; he was in Queens Gardens in the city centre of Hull. The bench he was laying on faced one of two ponds clotted with reeds. The area of land that made up the rest of the gardens included large neatly cut patches of grass at the other side of the ponds. Trees dotted the sides of a path that ran down the middle and his old college overlooked the furthest end of the gardens. From the back of his mind, an effervescence of giggles and laughter echoed. He had dropped out of his maths and physics A-Levels six or seven years ago, but he was happy to think about those times when he would play football on the grass under the warm sun with his friends. 

The last of the echoes scattered when Joe sat up shaking with cold tremors. He squeezed his eyes closed as nausea rushed through him. He clutched his knees to his chest and rocked back and forth until the shudders slowed to steady tremble. Joe looked from left to right with stinging eyes and then back to the floor. He was trying to remember what happened before he woke up on the bench. In his mind’s eye, he thumbed through a catalogue of images, each one fading as fast as he saw it; he couldn’t tell what was a dream and what was a memory. As the procession continued, sickness surged to the back of his throat. He swallowed, stuffing the vomit back down. His head felt too heavy for his neck, and after some time, he realised he was laid back down on the bench.

He was staring out between the reeds that lined the pond, wondering where the ducks were; he could hear their quacks but he couldn’t see them. The memory of when he accidentally hit one of the ducks with his football formed behind his eyes. He remembered his friends laughing and shouting “Saaaave!!” when it happened, but Joe was wincing and fighting back tears as he watched the bird try to extend its wing like it was fighting to find the sleeve in a shirt. He brushed off the banter with his friends and made a subtle effort to move them away from the ponds. He missed a class that afternoon to call the local council and report the injured animal.

Like the rest of the images in his memory-catalogue, the thought faded fast, and he found himself thinking of the day his friend, Sam, fell into the same pond he was staring at. The sky had been a fiery orange blaze as the sun was setting during summer the year before. In his minds-eye, he was in the elevated part of another Spice high, walking in animated steps through the gardens with Sam, Donna and Terry. An imaginary puppet-master worked the strings above them, yanking on their arms and legs as they made their way along the uneven path. Joe saw the moment Sam tripped over a crooked paving stone and whimsically flailed through the air in slow-motion. Nobody had seen Sam smack his head on the ground as he fell into the pond. Joe had rolled around in hysterics with Donna and Terry, and it was a few minutes before he even noticed that Sam was face down in the water, not moving. It was as he realised that Sam wasn’t laughing among them, that has jumped into the pond without hesitation. The cold memory of the pond water seeping through his tracksuit gave him another wave of shakes as he lay on the bench. Instead of the warm echoes of his teenage life, he could hear Donna’s shrill screams at the sight of Sam’s blood oozing into the murky pond water, and Terry’s gummy voice saying they should run for it. They had left Joe with Sam next to the pond, blood pooling around the knees of his tracksuit. 

He snapped out of it as he felt the drool, which had gathered at the corner of his mouth, leak out. Joe sat up again but this time he went all the way to his feet, his head feeling dizzy with the sudden action. He didn’t move at first, he couldn’t. The sky was turning from a deep black to a dark blue. Too late to get a bed anywhere, he thought. He swayed a little as he tried to plan what he needed to do, remember where he had been, and where he had to go. There was something urgent tingling at the back of his mind. He balanced himself by taking a wider stance and a deep breath. He stood in that same spot for another few minutes; legs apart, mind spinning, heart whipping the inside of his chest. 

He rocked back and forth a final time before he managed to put one foot forward, and the other followed. With each step, he remembered more and more of what he had been doing before he passed out, and where he had intended to go.

creative corner

(working title) 1

Friday 1700

Ted stepped up to the desk of his new job advisor and frowned when she extended her hand, palm up, in a gesture for him to take a seat. His jaw tensed when she didn’t look up, check his name or say hello. As he placed his binder on her desk and himself into a plastic chair, someone brushed close by leaving the smell of beer and sweat around him. He scrunched his nose and clenched his fist. He had showered and shaved before he came out, but the fetid air made him feel like he needed to get another. He felt severely overdressed the minute he walked in; Hugo Boss jeans and an Armani shirt did not feel right in the jobcentre.

A square table separated Ted from the woman in front of him. Two and a half grey partitions surrounded her; a full one either side of the desk, and a half at the back, leaving a gap for a doorway. Behind her swivel chair, on a three-drawer filing cabinet, cornered into the half partition, were three stacked letter trays. On those, was a bigger stack of papers crisscrossed this way and that. She kept lifting the top few sheets on the stack, turning around with a huff and shuffling through the sheets on her desk; she would pick them up, look under them and put them down and then turn back toward the stack on the cabinet. Every time she turned back toward her desk, her hip would hit the back of her swivel chair and knock the filing cabinet, causing the paper pile behind her to sway. Ted snapped his mouth shut when, by the third time she did it, he noticed realised he was staring intently at the paper Jenga with his mouth open and his breath bated.

The woman’s glasses were perched on frizzy, pale ginger hair, and she wore a dark green wool suit that hung from her body in the same way her skin seemed to hang over her bones. She had one hand over on her brow as she searched the desk with the other. He noticed there were big sallow circles around her eyes, and at first glance, he thought she was healing from two black eyes before realising it was the natural tone of her skin. The sharp angles of her cheekbones cast shadows down her cheek, and every time her head lifted enough to catch the light, he half expected to see the outline of her teeth through her skin.

After casting back and forth with her head down, huffing and puffing for whatever it was she was looking for, her glasses eventually slid forward and dropped to her nose. She had made some noise which resembled a ‘hurrah’ when, as she readjusted her focus, she saw Ted’s CV was in front of her, on the desk. Ted was already slumped in his chair, but he sank into it a bit further, bringing his hand to his head as he shook it in disbelief. Finally, she sat down without looking up. Her un-plucked eyebrows poked over the brown rims of thick, scratched glasses like a pointy finger in Ted’s face. He was distracted and turned in his seat when he heard a scuffle over near the entrance.

“But maaate, I (hic) need my dole. (hic) You caan’t do this, maaate.” Slurred a little guy in an oversized puffer coat. Releasing him into the exit area was a mountain of a man in an all-black security guard uniform. 

“You cannot drink that in here. Leave.” The security guard’s voice carried around the room, and the whole place fell silent. Everyone except his job advisor, turned toward the scene if they weren’t already looking. The drunk man backed out of the first set of automatic doors onto a disabled ramp.

“A’right, a’right, I don’t want no trouble,” he said, still holding his can of Stella Artois, “I’m going.” 

The outer automatic door swished shut and the security guard, who must’ve been a sentry in a past life, returned to his post beside the door with his bulging arms crossed over his puffed-out chest. The sentry’s hair was cut short to his head, and his eyes were dark but far apart. His furrowed eyebrows seemed to cast shadows over the room. 

Ted took a moment to look around. The jobcentre was an open-plan design, and the cubicle he was at was the last in a row which lined the frosted windows of one side of the floor. It was early January, and he could tell, even though the frosting, that the sun was setting. Two cubicles down, a woman was having a meeting too. She was about thirty years old, wearing fishnets and pink trainers, a denim skirt and a mucky pink coat. She was gnawing her fingernails while her leg bounced frantically under the table. Ted could hear a man’s voice, but from where he was sitting, he couldn’t see who was talking to her. In the centre of the room was a seating area with three rows of chairs; only one man, who could have been anywhere between forty and sixty, sat in the middle of the row closest to him. His puffy red face was creased with a frown as he studied a piece of paper in his hand – Ted guessed it was his CV. He wore a grey suit with a white shirt and no tie. Ted noticed that one leg of the man’s case was severely crinkled, but the other was pressed neatly and, it made him sorry for him. Scanning the rest of the room, he could see to the left of the sentry that there were job boards and a few electronic touch screens for people to look at job adverts, beside a door with an electronic lock. There was a man at one of the touch screens with his back to the room. Opposite the front door was an information counter and another electronically locked door behind that. Ted had noticed there was a woman sat there when he walked in, but couldn’t see her now.

Ted turned back to the woman in the cubicle. Her bony finger, tipped with chipped-off brown nail varnish, tapped against her pursed brown lips and her chin sat somewhere in her neck as she studied the page. Slowly he began to work himself up. The more he watched her eyebrow twitch and point at him, the more he became angry with her. It’s not like he would be here if he felt like he had a choice. The words were lining upon his tongue – he was going to call her out for being rude, for judging him without knowing him, for pointing her pointy eyebrow at him – when she lifted her head and beamed a smile at him.

“Hi Ted! Can I call you Ted? My boy is called Theodore too – we call him Teddy – not that I would do that to you though, not quite the place.” She did a little chuckle to herself. “Oh where are my manners, I’m Jennifer, I’m your advisor.” She stretched out over the desk, extending her skeletal hand for a shake. Ted, blinked and stuttered as he sat upright to return the handshake.

“Er, y-yeah sure, call me Ted, everyone does.” He blinked as he released the frail lady’s hand and felt a pang of guilt in his gut.

“Ok Ted, let’s get started. I can see you’ve had a few different jobs here” Jennifer paused, to look back at the CV. Oh here we go, Ted thought, here comes the judgem- “which is a great experience for you. Having tried a bunch of things means maybe we can figure out which bits of those roles you liked the most, and find you something you actually like doing. You’re young, the world is your oyster, right?” She did another big smile.

Ted gawped a little. This was not the usual treatment he had when he signed on; this was the first time anyone looked at his CV for more than a glance, the first time anyone called him Ted, the first time he saw had seen anyone in these cubicles even smile.

“Well I’m with a few agencies, but I haven’t picked anything up for a week or two. I want something secure and regular. I want a career, but I don’t really have any qualifications, only work experience. So I’m here in case you could help me with that?” Ted was half telling the truth, he hadn’t worked for an agency for a few weeks (hardly at all in the last year in fact). Instead, he had been working for Benny Tate; a childhood friend turned drug dealer. The money had been good, but he needed a way out and a normal life. Ted sat forward in his chair to take out a list of courses from his binder to go with the jobs he thought he would enjoy, and slid it across to Jennifer. “I want to learn, I have a driving license so I can get around in Hull, or I can even go across the water for work.”

“Oh you came prepared.” She picked up the list and scanned it, then she picked up a highlighter. “This is great. Not to worry Ted, I am sure we’ll find something.” Ted sat with Jennifer for over forty minutes, looking at jobs and courses around Hull. She asked him questions about the things he liked about himself and what he was good at. It was only as their meeting was coming to a close that Ted noticed how empty it the room had become. The middle-aged man who had been sat at the centre of the floor was now sat at in the cubicle the fidgety woman had been sat at. The sentry was closing windows and checking their locks, while an old man in dark green overalls had appeared in the job board section and was mopping the floor.

“It’s been a pleasure to meet you, Ted. I’ll see you in two weeks to see how you’re getting on.” Jennifer leaned over to shake Ted’s hand again.

“You too, Jennifer, thank you.” Ted, picked up his binder of advice leaflets, potential courses and job adverts and headed for the door. It didn’t open automatically when he walked up to it, but by the time Ted was looking for him, the sentry was already marching over, keys in hand, to let him out. Ted checked his watch: 17:26. 

“Thanks, mate-“ Ted started. The sentry smiled weakly and turned the key in the door opening the first one. “-bet you get some right states in here, don’t yer?” The sentry made eye contact for a moment, then kept walking. They went into the vestibule, but just as the sentry placed the key in the lock of the second door, he stopped and squinted through the glass. Ted looked too, but between the lighting on the inside and the darkness on the outside, he may as well be have been looking in a mirror. After his meeting with Jennifer, he felt pretty good. The jobcentre was in the middle of town, and it was Friday night. Despite the time of year, on the way to his meeting, he had heard the music and laughter of people inside the pubs he passed. He was dressed up, thinking about having a few drinks and calling – he considered if she was his friend or girlfriend? – Terri, for a few drinks.

“You alright there, mate?” Ted said, startling the sentry. It made Ted jump too, seeing a man so intimidating, jerk. What was he looking at? Ted thought, squinting back out into the darkness. His eyes widened when he saw a black heap in the middle of the road.

“Shit, has someone been hit? We need to get out there, what are you waiting for?” Ted looked around frantically for a button or handle.

“I don’t think he’s been hit. Keep your voice down for a moment.” The sentry continued to stare through the glass.

“Shit man, what can you see that I-” Ted moved closer to the glass, his breath steaming it up as he saw the black mass on the floor was moving up and down. He used the back of his wrist to wipe the foggy patch on the window and that’s when he saw the fishnet legs and pink trainers twitching from beneath the black heap. 

films

trivia. the Alien franchise.

this post contains spoilers.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. The films even came up in film theory a tonne of times as landmark movies that challenged cinematic theories.

Although there are six Alien movies (not including the Alien vs Predator films), only four of them follow Ripley’s tormented adventures with the terrifying creature’s known as Xenomorph’s. Considered one of the most significant female protagonists in all of cinema, Sigourney Weaver played the memorable heroine, Ellen Ripley who turned gender roles in horror and sci-fi movies on their head.

So with whispers of a fifth Ripley-Alien movie floating about, I thought now was a good time as any to natter about some of my favourite facts from the Ripley quadrilogy.

The original Alien cast was ALL men!

The original Alien story had all male characters, but writers Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett had a note in their screenplay to say the characters could be unisex. Alan Ladd, one of the producers, proposed Ripley should be a woman because it would make the film stand out; Ridley Scott loved the idea because nobody would suspect she would survive. O’Bannan and Shusett never actually intended the lead would be played by a female.

A German Shepherd was used to make Jones the Cat, hiss.

Being a crazy cat-mama myself, this has to be one of my favourite facts of the lot. In Alien, the cat handlers couldn’t make Jones hiss at the Xenomorph model alone, so they placed a darkened screen between the Cat and a German Shepherd dog, hiding them from each others sight. When the Alien appears, the crew removed the screen revealing the Dog to the Cat, causing Jones to back up and hiss perfectly for the cameras.

The Xenomorph in the final sequence of Alien was already dying!

Even though it’s not made clear in the first movie, Ridley Scott decided that Xenomorph’s had short lifespans. Like insects, the Xenomorphs rapidly mature through different life-cycles and by the end of the film, when the Alien is moving sluggishly because it’s already dying of natural death.

James Cameron was not welcome on the second instalment of the franchise!

Many of the British crew that had worked on the original Alien film were so loyal to Ridley Scott that James Cameron had a hard time trying to win their respect. In an effort to win their confidence and show off his talents, Cameron arranged a screening of The Terminator but most of them ignored the invite and just didn’t turn up.

the Scott – Cameron Bromance!

Ridley Scott was excited by the thought of a sequel to Alien but when James Cameron was asked to write and direct Aliens instead, Scott said “it hurt my feelings really, because I thought we did quite a good job on the first one”. Scott was working in a nearby studio when Aliens was being made and ended up having a chat with Cameron. Even though the film went a different way than Scott had envisioned, he was impressed with the result, saying “It’s always a tough job to follow a successful film with a sequel to it, so what I think James Cameron did was an excellent action picture. It really was amazing what he accomplished. […] I would never, ever critique or criticise [Aliens] because I think it was very successful and what he did was really good.”

Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 were filmed in Britain!

For Alien, the live-action scenes were filmed at Shepperton Studios, off the B376 in Surrey. The model and miniature filming was done at Bray Studios, near Maidenhead in Berkshire.

The alien egg chamber where Kane (John Hurt) encounters the facehugger, was built in the disused Acton Lane Power Station in west London; the same place that James Cameron’s sequel, Aliens, was filmed.

Alien 3 was mainly filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and Blast Beach in Seaham was used as the surface of the alien planet, alongside Dawdon Colliery on the Durham coast.

David Fincher had only directed music videos before Alien 3!

Alien 3 passed through the hands of a few directors before it landed on David Fincher‘s lap. Despite going onto make some absolute corkers (Zodiac and Se7en), Fincher didn’t get the same praise for Alien 3 that Alien or Aliens received and he had lots of conflicts with the studio. Fincher had never directed a feature film before and although he went on to be perfectionist in other movies he made, he really grated on producers for shooting and re-shooting scenes multiple times and being obsessed with the little details. The tense relationship with the studio was strained even more by rushed schedules, money, unfinished scripts and editing disagreements. By the time the film was released, Fincher wanted nothing more to do with it and refused to participate in the directors cut which ended up being released based on notes he left behind; it was a director’s cut without the director.

Sigourney Weaver said NO to Alien: Resurrection

Alien: Resurrection didn’t include Ellen Ripley in the original concept. Instead, it was meant to be about the enhanced clone of Newt (the little girl from Aliens) who would have super strength and fighting skills. Joss Whedon was brought onboard to write a story base for the idea because of his experience writing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not too long after he wrote the initial story, the studio changed their minds about Newt. They were worried fans of the first Alien movies wouldn’t accept a fourth instalment without the Ripley character. After Sigourney Weaver declined the initial offers, the studio finally offered her $11 million dollars to reprise her role (which was the same as the whole budget for the original Alien movie). She obviously accepted and we ended up with a Ripley clone instead.

I could go on and on and on about all the trivia in the Alien films but I don’t think I would ever finish this post. I haven’t even included any facts about Prometheus (one of my favourite films of all time) or Alien: Covenant but I think I’d rather tackle them on their own.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here but I’m off now; I’m gonna go pop a film on… *ahem* Prometheus *ahem*…

Leave your own favourite facts in the comments below to keep this post interesting.

films

film. brightburn

MOVIE: Brightburn

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: David Yarovesky

WRITER: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn

MAIN CAST: Jackson A. Dunn, David Denman, Elizabeth Banks

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 30min

There are spoilers below…

I try and avoid movie trailers out of fear that they will spoil a film or take something away from it. Most of the time I feel like they show way too much information and somehow force me to develop an opinion about a film before I have even seen it.

Brandon Breyer

Brightburn was one of those times I ended up seeing the trailer and although I wouldn’t necessarily say I developed an opinion about the film I did start thinking up questions about it and like most, I was coming back to Superman every-time.

ooooo, interesting was my initial reaction to the first few seconds of the trailer. Then as it went on I began to cringe a little, ah I don’t know. I mean, a bad Superman? Is that where they’re going with this? We’ve seen Superman turn bad. Then again, we’ve never seen him start out bad. Ok – they’re either gona do this good OR it’s gona be real bad.

I kept seeing odd buzz words around the film: Horror, Gory, Bad seed, Evil Superhero. I was wondering, how dark is this gona be?

When I thought about a bad Superman, I couldn’t help going back to the 1983 Superman III starring Christopher Reeve. It’s the one where Superman splits into an evil version of himself after being exposed to synthetic kryptonite. He becomes a bit of a horny, juvenile alcoholic. Sure some of the stuff he does is a bit bad, but considering the power he wields he doesn’t go that mental. This got me hoping Brightburn wasn’t just about a moody Mama’s boy going through puberty.

Superman and Clark Kent

To be fair, the trailer made it quite clear the little dude in this film was one step ahead of getting wasted, blowing out the Olympic Torch and straightening out the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Superman III). He is definitely a bit of a psycho, but how far was he really going to go? Was he just going to maim people? Or was this angelic looking kid going to go on full-on Killing sprees? I think there’s a few occasions in the DC comics where Superman goes a bit nuts and even starts killing members of the Justice League, so it was possible that he will go that far?

The Gunn brothers, Mark and Brian, that wrote the screenplay are adamant the film is not based on a ‘bad Superman’, but an already evil alien raised on earth but because I don’t read about films until I’ve seen them, most of this I didn’t really pick up until afterward.

I think I should have observed that statement a little harder while I watched it because I got caught up on this whole Evil Superman parallel, that it was easy to only see the Superman element.

Yes! There’s bunch of references paying homage to Superman from the red cape to the laser beam eyes. Yes! Like the Superman back-story, a baby crash lands on a farm and Mr & Mrs Farmer decide to raise the baby as their own, but you can read more about all those on another site.

Forget for a minute that Brightburn had anything to do with Superman at all.

What got my skin crawling is what’s implied about Brandon’s backstory and what he’s going through. After much consideration, I think Brandon is less like Superman – and more like some killer Wasp-Bee alien, and here’s why.

To give that a little more context, I’m going to start from the scene in the school where Brandon talks about bees and wasps.

By the complex answer he gives his teacher when they’re learning about the Bees and the Wasps Brandon appears to be smarter than the average kid. The other children tease Brandon; he is clearly different to them and maybe they all sense that. I don’t think this scene just makes a point about how smart Brandon is, or how the other kids in the class are bullying him. I think this scene is a big clue about why he landed on Earth and what makes this film stand away from Superman.

I’ll expand on what Brandon talks about to show where I’m coming from; Brandon says about the aggressive nature of wasps and how they don’t have the ability to create hives so they take over existing ones by brute force. True Brood wasps are insects that infiltrate host nests as larvae (like Brandon as a baby) and are raised by the adult hosts (like Tori and Kyle). Cuckoo Bumblebees do the same, but also release pheromones in order to slip past bee security and kill or subdue the queen of entire colonies and take them over, forcing the host worker-hive to feed their offspring.

I think showing him being bullied is by the other kids at school could also be seen as they are poking the wasp nest – so to speak but I won’t get carried away.

When Brandon wakes up in the middle of the night after a seizure, the hidden space-vessel he came in seems to send out psychic messages awakening his powers of strength, flight and speed (not to mention the laser eyes). Later in the film Brandon cracks the psychic code and realises its telling him to TAKE THE WORLD – which he seems to do, like a Cuckcoo Bee takes a colony.

Yeah, from here on in, Brandon starts displaying a whole load of manipulative and twisted behaviour that involves bloodshed and threats – but there’s a fair few indicators that what he’s been going through doesn’t just start after the seizure in bed.

Knowing that despite his innocent appearance, Brandon is not a real human child, Kyle points out the things he’s noticed as they have raised him.

Kyle and Tori discover some magazine clippings which aren’t just teenage-boy-spank-bank material. Beneath a few pictures of bikini models, there’s pictures and drawings of human guts. The notebook that he is always writing in is quite tatted and used up and when we see it later in the film, there’s a lot of disturbing content (even the logo he stamps everywhere is like a rudimentary bee or wasp stamp). It all suggests these are things that have been playing on his mind for a while. It’s not quite as simple as a space-ship talking to him awakening some sudden urge to kill, it seems Brandon has been wondering what people look like from the inside-out, for a lot longer.

Does he want to know our anatomy so he can kill us easily? Does he want to lay eggs in our abdomen? Is he going to eat us when he is done? I mean, when he stuck his finger in the blood on his dying uncles face, I half expected him to lick it off!!

Ok I aren’t clutching at straws here – I can give this Bee-Wasp Alien theory a bit more traction.

Another part of the film that seems to back up the idea of Brandon infiltrating Earth to potentially colonise it, like the Cuckoo Bee, is his interest in Caitlyn. Despite the fact that he crushes her hand, in some sort of controlling and manipulative effort he still wants to pursue her sexually. The reason I specifically say sexually, is because the first thing he does after Kyle ‘gives him the talk (about the birds and the bees‘) is stalk her in her bedroom. It’s more carnal than it is romantic, especially because he actually stalks her. Even after he breaks her hand he is still imposing. Has he intended her as his mate?

Ok so enough about that – one of thee main and most definitive reasons I think Brandon is a Wasp Monster is… The insect-like hooded-mask he wears. I mean, come on, could you get more symbolic than that? He hovers like a wasp, he moves at speed like a wasp, he’s aggressive and parasitic and imposing – he even wears a wasp mask!!

So if I forget for a minute that the word Superman is even remotely related to this little monster, I become extremely creeped out. I reckon Brandon is more likely from a liege of super Wasp Aliens that can morph into their hosts, permeate an entire planet and destroy it with no conscience.

If you think I’m totally off the mark then message me or comment. I’d love to hear it.

…anything but Superman related comparisons!

films

film. child’s play

MOVIE: Child’s Play

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: Lars Klevberg

WRITER: Tyler Burton Smith

MAIN CAST: Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill, Aubry Plaza

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 30min

There are spoilers below…

The year before I was born, Charles Lee Ray possessed a doll and began a murder rampage that lasted over 30 years –

Chucky and Andy

– Chucky was his nickname and was recognised by any kid born in the 90’s; especially since the franchise kept pumping out horror films. Chucky even got married and had a kid (a doll kid)!

Ok, so by the time he had that kid, anyone who saw the original few movies was beginning to get a little bored (to put it nicely) and by the time Cult of Chucky came out, it was nose-diving into box-office-bomb-oblivion.

Then, after all that, comes Child’s Play 2019. Unlike all the other films, which were sequels, this is a reboot. Reboots are different because they’re not direct continuations of a previous story, but a blank slate.

I went to see the contemporary take on my favourite killer toy, and I don’t know what I expected (I’d purposely not even read a synopsis on the new film), but I did not expect what I got.

I was sold. Impressed. I loved it. I thought for a reboot, Child’s Play 2019 is bang on the money.

Instead of a possessed doll, the killer doll in this movie is something like a toy version of Amazon Alexa. Buddi (the new Chucky) is an artificially intelligent Doll. Designed for the modern family, he syncs with all their Kaslan Products. He keeps an eye on the kids, remembers their favourite shows and he is the best friend every kid deserves to have (that’s the sale angle anyways).

Reboots are risky business because there are die-hard fans of the originals who want scrutinise every frame for fault and are pre-dispostioned to hate whatever comes onscreen. I have no time for that and I love a new spin on an old idea.

Chucky Rebooted

Manufactured in a Vietnamese factory, a disgruntled worker decides he’s going to switch off the safety protocols of a Buddi doll, before he throws himself out of a window.

After seeing the Buddi doll may be faulty, a shopper returns it to the store – where a single mum, to a kid called Andy, works. She takes Buddi home and the rest reboot begins… as I said before, there are spoilers here.

The best thing about a reboot is it’s a new start to an already existing fictional universe. It gives other creative minds the opportunity to put their new stamp, on an old idea.

One of my favourite things about this reboot is that it’s taken something implausible (voodoo and possession) and made it plausible (computers, internet, the cloud, artificial intelligence). The “fear of technology” isn’t a new concept when it comes to horror films, but it does help to draw you in when you can conceive the idea as a true possibility.

Lars brings the Chucky Franchise out of the Voodoo age and into the Digital Age. The characters all have phones, the old lady across the hall can finally work Uber and drones are on sale at Zed Mart; If there’s a time to be scared of AI, the time is now.

Chucky and Andy

My second favourite thing about this movie is Andy and his mates. This kinda ties in with the 80’s theme of adventure nostalgia seen in the new IT film and the Stranger Things Netflix series. People are mad for a bit of kids against the world.

I thought the acting was brilliant and the dialogue and interaction with the kids, the adults and even Chucky was believable, engaging and funny. Quite a few times through the film I couldn’t help but think Chucky was the cutest! I even felt sad for Andy and Chucky when Falyn pulled the power source out of Chucky’s chest.

Pugg Falyn Andy Omar

I thought Lars did a smashing job of sharing out the credit while also making the new Child’s Play, new. There were even nods to the original Child’s Play and other popular films from around the same time.

There’s a few little eggs for Child’s Play, the most obvious being the Doll, Andy, his (almost single) Mum and of course the whole thing gets started with a violent death on a stormy night. 

There’s other film references from the very start. The original Orion logo from the start of Robocop and of course Lars even slotted a reference to that in too.

Mark Hamill is the voice of Chucky and played Luke Skywaker in the Star Wars films alongside the character Han Solo. When Andy begins the Buddi set-up he tries to call the doll, Han-Solo. Chucky just names himself completely ignoring the Han Solo suggestion.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a slasher movie from 1986. About this time, a whole host of slasher-gore films were beginning to pop up where comedy was a staple element. Seeing how everyone finds it hilarious to see Leatherface wearing a victims skin during a scene where Andy and his new mates are having a movie night, Chucky becomes kind of inspired by the violent scenes on-screen and decides to give it a go himself.

Leatherface

From 1988 – the year the original Child’s Play was released, Andy’s Bedroom has posters of Poltergeist III and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Andy’s posters

Killer Klowns is another Horror-Comedy. Like in E.T the Extra Terrestrial, another 80’s movie, Chucky’s finger lights up when he is controlling various Kaslan products.

In the 90’s another movie franchise began called Leprechaun, about…. you guessed it, a Leprechaun. Only this Leprechaun is pure psycho killer. Like Child’s Play and Texas Horror, this too is riddled with funny scenes of death and violence. You can see the reference in the Zed-Mart toward the end of the film where there’s the Leprechaun version of the Buddi2 doll and the Pot of Gold accessories.

There’s a couple other eggs hidden in there but you should just have a crack at trying to see them yourself by watching it again.

I know I will be.

It’s the best reboot I’ve ever seen and I am already hoping there’s a sequel.

films

film. rim of the world

MOVIE: Rim of the World

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: McG

WRITER: Zack Stentz

MAIN CHARACTERS: Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., Alessio Scalzotto

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 38min

What a treat of a film this turned out to be.

Rim of the World: Dariush, Zhenzhen, Alex, Gabriel

Rim of the World is about four totally different kids that meet at a summer camp. Abandoned by the adults, it’s up to Alex, Dariush, Zhenzhen and Gabriel to save the world when Aliens invade.

If you watch it close enough you will see that is only one part of what this movie has to offer; there are layers, upon layers, upon layers to this film.

It is stuffed to the ‘rim’ of movie references from the last thirty-odd years making it a relatable, fun flick for adults and kids alike. It’s a mix of Sci-Fi, Horror, Adventure and Comedy genres, and it has absolutely no qualms with throwing every stereotype in the book into the mix.

Recently people have been going mad for the likes of Stranger Things and IT for their nostalgic throwback to the western world’s most favoured adventure blockbusters of the last few decades. Movies like ET, Goonies and Breakfast Club were the backbone of Generation X. Unlike Stranger Things and IT, Rim of the World is set in the present, but with the same sort of adventure format. Generation Z benefits from references of films like Gladiator and Rush Hour and then more recently (for the millennials) Wolverine and John Wick.

Using the same countless politically incorrect inferences we all grew up on; filmmakers have brought contentious issues into the spotlight, instead of hiding them beneath the surface as a cheap gag trick. The main clue that this film is openly commenting on politically charged stereotypes or agendas is when Carl & Logan, the Camp Leaders (who are also “the black men on Campus”) are sitting about the campfire talking about Toy Story 3. It’s not to say that Carl & Logan’s interpretation of Toy Story 3 is true (“the ruling class justification for the inferior conditions of the working class”), but it is how the filmmakers say to the audience, “yes, films are meant to talked about; yes, they have hidden meanings and agendas – including this film; and yes, we know what we are doing – that’s the point”.

I won’t list all of the film references in the movie, I am sure there are a tonne of websites that’ve already made it their mission to; besides, spotting them yourself is part of the fun because for many of them it’s just one line of dialogue or a prop or special effect that’s the reference instead of the actual name of the film.

What I think is so important to take away from the film is its coming of age theme and messages.

The guy that wrote the film, Zack, has mentioned in a few interviews about the emotional importance of the films he grew up on in the 80’s and the lessons they taught him and millions of others. They relied a lot on how kids in the audience identified with what the characters are going through. Childhood traumas like bullying, poverty, grief, peer-pressure or some sort of in-house/domestic abuse are usually used as part of the background info in most of the main character arcs. In Rim of the World, it’s all about abandonment. Alex’s Father died traumatically in front of him, Dariush’s Father is going to Jail, Gabriel’s Father leaves when he’s Ten and Zhenzhen is an orphan – Not to mention they’re all left alone by the ‘adult camp leaders’ when the whole movie kicks off.

Generally the plot of the all these Generation X movies features a Headmaster or Evil Grown-up, a Monster, or in this case Alien, which acts as the metaphor for the main characters’ trauma and how they overcome it is always based on how they pull together and ‘Stand By’ each other; it’s the lessons they learn through their friendship that gives them strength, not just in the immediate battle, but also the one they are fighting at home or school.

Rim of the World packs a LOT into an hour and half. I could mention that I thought the special effects were kind of wooden and I could say the introduction of the characters and even some of the interaction and dialogue sometimes felt awkward and unnatural and I don’t think it’d be hard to disagree with me but, the fact that it’s full of hints and clichés from the last forty years makes me think it’s all of this part of its purposeful charm.

Overall it does well to be its own unique take on western pop-culture. It brings together the last three generations of audiences in a hilarious, albeit crude and obvious, complement of one-liners, shoddy CGI explosions and an evil looking monster, while also facing the crushing trauma of family torment with your best mates at your side.

Nice one Zack.

a day in the life

ten best things Tuesday

Tuesday was my best day, I had thee best time from start to finish.
  1. My morning started with a nightmare… and yes, you may be thinking ‘how on Earth can a great day start with a nightmare?’
It’s because I actually love nightmares. With the same logic of why people go on roller-coasters, go bungee jumping or watch horror films; they do it for a rush. To me a nightmare is like a surprise horror screening in the cinema of your brain… which is kind of apt because I ended up having a whole movie day. Well this nightmare was so bad that it made me bolt upright in bed gasping for air for the first time in a few years. So you can imagine how racy my heart was. The worst thing about this was that there was no way I was getting back to sleep straight away.
  1. The 2nd best thing that happened was to my sweet, scrawny, tiny and very dopey Batcat.
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Scrawny Batcat
For Christmas, I got a cat flap and all the cats, except Batcat, loved it from the first Day. It was like a letterbox for cats. When they figured it out, it was like I could almost hear them saying ‘Mam – this is amazing, it’s our OWN DOOR!’ and they were in and out of it all day and have been since. Batcat on the other-hand was having absolutely none of it. She would cry and cry and cry until I opened the door. Despite my weeks of trying to coax and help her through, she didn’t seem to grasp the whole concept of the flap.
The squad
Keeping Guard – Jessie, Patch, Hugo
So back to my Tuesday morning where I needed a walk around the house with a glass of water to shake off this dream of being chased and eaten by a giant bacteria-worm down my Dad’s street. Not surprisingly, there was Batcat, sitting at the back door whining for me to let her out. So I did, but not before warning her I was going back to bed so she was staying outside. Off she went and off I went, back to bed. So there I was, dozing off and about to re-enter dream hell, when I heard that familiar letterbox noise, not once, not twice, not three times, but over and over and Over and OVer and OVEr and OVER. I threw back my covers, in a rage! What was going on down there?! I stampeded down the stairs ready to find out which of my little furry demons were trying to wind me up. But there, from down the hallway, I could see the tiny paw of my freaky Batcat. I couldn’t believe it, she’d gotten her paw through the flap. Her whole Paw! Suddenly realising this could be the moment I had been waiting for – I stopped. ‘Come on girl, come on – you can do it!’ I coaxed in my softest voice while I crept toward the door, ‘Tsk Tsk Tsk, come on.’ Well, what can I say when I saw that little head come all the way inside I knew she had finally done it. It was like seeing a child walk for the first time, except better cause it was my baby Batcat! She chirped as she came through the cat flap and I scooped her up, giving her the most cuddly cuddle and strokes. It was amazing and easily makes its way into the best thing that’s happened in months… Judge all you like.
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Batcat the ball of fur
So obviously after all this excitement there was no way I was getting back to sleep.
  1. Me and Batcat went back to bed but we decided on a morning movie; The Spy who dumped me.
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The Spy Who Dumped Me
That was my 3rd best thing and I just need to say that every time I watch Mila Kunis in a film, I fall in love with her more and more. She is a great actress and absolutely drop dead gorgeous but she plays it off with such humility. With every film her characters get better and better. Next to her was Kate Mckinnon as her best friend and What. A. Pair… It made me want to call all my best friends and go to Prague…  again.
  1. The 4th was seeing my Family and finding out more about the latest project my Dad was into.
  2. Then taking my little Sister and my baby nephew for food.
  3. I went to see Pet Sematary at Cinema– completely alone.
That’s right, there was nobody else in the screening with me.  I was so excited.
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Pet Sematary
There was a bit of an issue though. I had geared myself up for a heart attack level of scare so bad that I would be white with terror and need an ambulance before the end. I must have ‘bigged it up’ too much though. It was nowhere as terrifying as I thought it would be. I liked the soundtrack a lot, bodies dragging themselves around on wooden floors and bones crunching underfoot in the woods. A few scenes did make me shiver but I could have just been cold.
  1. Then for the 7th event of the day, Costa! I went with a friend and I AM SO GLAD I DID. Obviously after seeing Pet Sematary, Stephen King came up. Then naturally IT came up and my friend casually mentions a metaphor I didn’t notice when I had read the IT book before. I could not let this pass me by (more on this when I read the book). I hadn’t read IT since I was 15, so within minutes, I was furiously tapping away on Ebay.
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    IT
    I’m now impatiently waiting for a copy of IT to make its way to me in the post.
  2. The 8th best thing was A Clockwork Orange at Odeon
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    A Clockwork Orange
  3. Popcorn and Pick ‘N’ Mix.
  4. The 10th best thing of the day though… Recliners.
That’s right, Odeon have done their cinema out in Hull and Oh My Days! There is no other way to watch a film at cinema AGAIN. They have actual, super comfy, recliners in in some of their screens. Oh Man, Oh Mannnnn!! The comfort level was through the roof. I even saw a few people go with blankets – which I am definitely doing next time I go. I don’t think I can leave it very long either. I want to take one of those recliners home with me. It was such a premier experience. Especially seeing A Clockwork Orange on the big screen which, by the way, gets better every time I see it.