DID YOU READ

Five “Alien” facts to know before you see “Prometheus”

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After months of waiting, the release of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus is finally here. Having sifted through all the posters, trailers, viral videos and press conferences, all of our theories about what the film will explore and how it connects to “Alien” will be revealed. Before they pull the curtain back, we decided to take one more dive in the the rich history of the science fiction classic that started the franchise and talk about some of the more obscure facts behind “Alien” that appear to be present in promotional materials for “Prometheus.” Note: This article contains spoilers for those who have not seen the original 1979 film.


1.) The temple from “Prometheus” was originally going to be in “Alien”

When Scott and his team first set off to make “Alien,” the egg chamber where John Hurt’s character Kane is infected was supposed to be in a temple separate from the crashed spaceship. In the original screenplay by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusset, the crew lands on the planet and investigates the Space Jockey’s ship, discovering a triangular shape etched in to the vessel’s walls by hand. As the crew begins to explore the planet, they spot the the pyramid, but ignore that the wall etchings were a warning rather than directions. Then 20th Century Fox cut the budget, so the egg chamber had to be built on the same set as the derelict spacecraft’s control room.

Now in “Prometheus,” Scott finally got his temple. It’s an interesting comparison in plot development that “Prometheus” is all about chasing a race that possibly created mankind across the galaxy based on cave drawings and winding up at a temple where horrible dangers may be waiting (which, we totally know it is).


2.) Hieroglyphics played a key role in the original screenplay

In losing the temple set, the film also lost the element from O’Bannon and Shusett’s draft where the evolution of the alien is presented to the crew in the form of hieroglyphics on the temple walls. The description shows the cycle of egg/squid/monster, and the crew don’t put the pieces together until they encounter the full grown xenomorph. They also eventually realize that if the monster has its way, they will transformed by the creature in to eggs, starting the cycle over again for the next victims who come across their craft.

Ridley Scott filmed the scene that shows Ripley finding the creature’s nest in the bowels of the Nostromo, where her crew members are being transformed, but later cut it for the theatrical release.

It’s significant that in the trailer for “Prometheus,” there are hieroglyphics in the temple that depict a creature that looks like H.R. Giger’s alien. It’s almost as if Scott and his writers liked the idea of explorers ignoring the blueprint of their own destruction sitting right in front of them so much that that had to resurrect the juxtaposition 33 years later. Now we’ll get the chance see if the characters are smart enough to figure it out. Anyone want to talk about the odds of that?


3.) Ripley was originally going to be a guy

Horror films have a pretty steady (and appalling) track record for their depictions of women being sexually victimized, but there was something about the string of movies in the later 1970’s that lit a fire under Dan O’Bannon. “Alien” was to be the exact opposite, with an entire male crew encountering a menace that violates its victims orally and impregnates its host, non-biased of gender. When 20th Century Fox brought in Walter Hill and David Giler to re-write the screenplay, they changed the cast around so that there would be both ethnic and gender diversity. In the end, while Ripley is the last member of the crew standing (albeit, after being chased around in her undies), Lambert (played by Veronica Cartwright) is the only one of the creature’s victim’s who ends up stripped and hanging from the ceiling, which defeats the original thesis. Even so, “Alien” and its sequel became praised for their depictions of Ripley as the ultimate sci-fi female protagonist.

I’m guessing from all of the screaming and underwear lurching we see in the “Prometheus” trailer, it doesn’t look like things are going to fair well for either sex in the new movie, but I did also notice that the characters played by Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron are the only two crew members we see running from the crashing alien ship. We’ll have to wait until the film comes out on the gender equality scale.


4.) The Android was an Add-On

Another change that Walter Hill and David Giler made to their draft of the screenplay was the addition of Ash, the science officer played by Sir Ian Holm that reveals itself to be a menacing android in the third act. After losing their captain to the alien, Ripley uncovers that Ash has been using them all along to get the creature home, and responds to getting caught by trying to murder her with a pornographic magazine (as if “Alien” needed more sexual subtext). In a film that’s all about physical violation, Ash adds even more injury in the betrayal of the crew’s trust, both in their co-worker and the company that employs them. Ash’s entire presence on the crew is to make sure that the cargo makes it home even if the crew doesn’t.

Ridley Scott’s next film “Blade Runner” continued to explore the idea of androids meant to serve, but not necessarily fond of their human masters. That “Prometheus” features an android completely undisguised as a crew member in Michael Fassbender’s David 8 is interesting, both to see what Scott does with the character in the story, and also to see why years later Ash has to pretend to be human. Having an android on the crew of a deep space vessel sounds like a great idea, especially when handling biologically hazardous entities. So what does David 8 do in “Prometheus” that the company starts hiding them in plain sight by the time Ash joins the crew of the Nostromo?


5.) Ridley Scott is wrong about the Space Jockeys

For the last few months of press conferences surrounding “Prometheus,” we’ve heard Ridley Scott repeatedly say that the “Alien” franchise focused on the monster and ignored the big dead guy in the chair. And while he’s right about that in regards to the movies, what it doesn’t acknowledge is that in 1988, Dark Horse comics published a sequel to “Aliens” that followed an adult Newt’s journey to the far reaches of the galaxy to find the origins of the creatures that had destroyed her youth, and winds up coming face to face with the Space Jockeys. In the book, it was revealed that the ship the Ripley and her crew mates encountered had been a bomber, sent to deliver the alien eggs as biological weapon that would devastate their enemy’s planet, only the pilot became victim to his own cargo.

“Alien 3” completely knocked this story out of canon (and subsequent re-printings have the changed Newt’s name to avoid confusion), but at the time it was an incredibly popular book with an intriguing theory about how the ship got there. Considering how well versed screenwriter Damon Lindelof is in science fiction and comics, I wouldn’t be surprised if he read those as well, and it will be interesting to see if they impact the back story in “Prometheus.”

Are you excited to watch the mysteries of “Prometheus” unfold this weekend? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
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Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
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Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
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Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
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Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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