Guest Blog: “THE ABCs OF DEATH 2” Director Alejandro Brugues on “ALIEN”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Samuel Zimmerman
As a burgeoning series of films, THE ABCs OF DEATH anthologies are predicated on, well death. The wait for it. The horror of it. The humor in it. It’s inevitable, and even in just three or so minutes, the build can be massive. These experimental, sometimes exhausting omnibuses see a massive ensemble of international filmmakers try their hands at the short format and visceral release of onscreen demise. But what put them on this path? What shocking, horrifying, hilarious, titillating filmic expirations influenced them? The directors of THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 are contributing guest blogs on their favorite cinematic deaths to all manner of movie sites. Here at Fango, JUAN OF THE DEAD helmer Alejandro Brugués writes of his.
For more onscreen annihilation, find a compilation video of all of the ABCs filmmakers’ choices, below. THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 is currently on demand and in theaters October 31st, from Magnet Releasing and Drafthouse Films.
by Alejando Brugués
When I was asked to write about my favorite on screen death, my first thought was I didn’t want to pick a death just because it was cool and fun. I wanted to find one that was meaningful, at least to me when I first watched it.
It took me about two seconds to pick the chestburster scene from ALIEN.
A lot has been written about this one, by people far better than I am at analyzing things. It has been dissected in every possible way. A lot has been made about the rape metaphor in the film. We all know the story of this scene.
So let me just go back and tell you about the first time I saw it, because it’s one of those moments I remember clearly from my childhood.
I was probably too small to watch the film. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t more than eight years-old, and I was already pissed at all the conversations the adults had about so many films I still couldn’t watch.
Until one night, my parents went out and I got lucky because ALIEN was playing on TV.
I remember I was really enjoying the film. I didn’t know much about good or bad sci-fi at the time, but this one felt great. Then the facehugger appeared. Was this what all the grownups were talking about? It wasn’t big, but it was scary, I give you that. It was a relief when the damn thing died and fell from Kane’s face. More like it would probably come later, but they didn’t seem so bad.
Now it was time to relax, while the crew of the Nostromo had dinner. It was good to see them all together, having fun, joking. Poor Kane, back with his friends, after all the bad stuff he had gone through. You know, all that tension sure gets to an eight year old, and these guys sitting there made you believe your were part of the crew. Now, thank God, things were great again and…
Oh, God, what’s happening? What the hell is wrong with Kane? What’s this… holy shit! Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!!! His chest, dammit, do something! What is that thing! Shoot it! Kill it before it’s too late…
Well, you’ve seen it, you get the idea. When mom and dad got home, they found a very awake and scared young little boy.
One of the reasons this scene works so well is because—as we’ve just seen in this quick visit to my childhood—you think you know what to expect, it lets you feel safe again, and then it hits you in the most unexpected way.
It also turns things around. There are usually two types of terror, the one that comes from outside and the one that comes from within. Here you feel you have things figured out and there’ll be a monster (or more) attacking and then the damn thing rips a hole in your chest and just fucks your expectations.
It’s good because really, when was the last time a scene in a film made you feel like you felt when you watched that for the first time? It’s been 35 years and we still talk about it. We simply don’t have that kind of film anymore.
It’s even better because it’s not just a death scene: it’s a birth. And it wasn’t only the birth of the creature that’s going to make their lives hell through the rest of their trip. It was the birth of one of the most iconic villains in film history.
And it was probably the birth of a whole generation of filmmakers.
As for me, let’s just say I learned that when your parents tell you you’re too young to watch something, they’re probably right. I wish I could say I started to obey them. The next one I watched when they turned their backs again was EVIL DEAD.
You can ask them how hard it was to get me to sleep after that one.