Thursday, July 23, 2015

When is it SF - and when is it horror?


I noticed in a Facebook feed that Prometheus 2 is scheduled to hit the movie theatres in 2016. And having just googled the movie, it seems Alien 5 is on its way, too. Here's the post. Excuse me while I unboggle my mind.

Ahem. Back to business. As it happens, these movies segue neatly into one of those silly “which one are you” tests littering the Facebook feeds. This one was “which SF hero from the eighties are you?” Mine turned out to be Ellen Ripley, which amused me because Morgan Selwood in the series of the same name owes a tiny bit to Ellen Ripley. And that in itself is amusing because I have not, and will not, see any of the Alien movies – including (of course) Prometheus 1 and 2. So what I know about Ripley comes from the media.

I can imagine a few of you readers are frowning, but it's like this, see? You know how we endlessly discuss science fiction romance and what it really IS? The same can be said about SF fantasy, or SF horror. And while I love my SF and my fantasy, I do not like horror. This is one of the reasons for my aversion to zombies, vampires, and dystopian storylines. I've explained in the past how I see SFR as a spectrum depending on the emphasis placed on the romance arc. The same thing happens in SF horror. As far as I'm concerned, Alien is a horror movie set in space. Who can forget the iconic tagline “in space no one can hear you scream.” It has all the classic elements of a horror story – a monster; the high-tech, even more isolating equivalent of a haunted house; and a trapped bunch of people dying one by one. In a similar vein The Thing (set at an Antarctic base) is most definitely a horror movie, as the being in question morphs from one form to another, obliterating its (trapped) victims as it goes.  Arnie's Predator was very similar, with even less of a passing nod to near-future SF. And let's not talk about Alien vs Predator.

No thanks, not my thing. As far as I'm concerned these movies are gore fests which I place firmly in the same category as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the Thirteenth. Not going there.

At the other end of the spectrum, horror stories can have more of an SF feel. Lovecraft's novella, At the Mountains of Madness, is one such. Lovecraft is known as a writer of horror. As a younger person, before my aversion to horror flared, I read all his Cthulhu mythos stories. For me, At The Mountains of Madness came across as SF more than horror. A more recent example is Apollo Eighteen, which is sort of thriller/horror/SF. (See? Genres mix)

I'm sure you can all think of other examples. As for me, I'll wait with bated breath for Star Wars VII. That kind of SF/fantasy is right up my alley.


11 comments:

  1. I have to say MOM was one of the most terrifying stories I ever read. I still shudder when I think about it. It was only recently, when reading a plot summary (I read the original almost 30 years ago), that I realized how SF it was.

    I went to see EX MACHINA recently, and having been told by others it was sort of an SFR thing, I was a bit rattled by the ending. In truth by the whole thing. Although, having seen the same writer's SUNSHINE and 28 DAYS LATER, I suppose I shouldn't have been! For the record though, I thought it was an excellent film. Despite the fact I watched it all contorted in my chair, thinking every few minutes, "Oh no that did NOT just happen."

    I have to confess I don't mind a horror element, and as a younger viewer I loved ALIENS, but there does often come a point in an SF movie these days when I think, "Oh gees, another bug movie."

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    1. There you go. We all read/see something different.

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  2. I am strange I guess in my movie likes. I love scifi and I hate horror. I have never seen any Chainsaw Massacre, Saw or any related movies and never will, I can't stand horror and the gratuitous violence of them. On the other hand though I love the Alien movies, The Walking Dead and other similar movies. I don't know if it's the scifi aspect of them that makes me like them or that they aren't quite as horrific. I do wish though that their were more SFR movies and tv series.

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    1. We're all different, aren't we? Although I didn't watch the Alien movies, I LOVED the tech - Nostromo and so on. The SFX mags of the time were full of it, as well as the design of the monster ala Escher. That was great stuff. I just can't handle gore.

      Thanks for joining in.

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    2. I'm with you, Steph. I think there's a big difference between movies like ALIEN and TCM, SAW, etc. Something about the torture element takes it to a whole new level that I just don't have the stomach for. Humans brutalizing humans.

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  3. I don't mind horror if it's well done and not just complere "gore fest." I liked the first Predator movie and even watched Alien vs. Predator which I actually thought was surprisingly well done and had an intriguing premise. I just can't say much for the other movies in the franchise.

    I did see Prometheus and although it wasn't up to the standards of the original first two movies, it wasn't a disaster and they did a pretty good job tying it back to the original Alien--which took place in the future of Prometheus. I would go see 2.

    As for Alien 5, there's a buzz going around that Hicks might return. Although I'm not sure how they'd bring him back (clone? android mimic? gene splicing with alien DNA?), it would be interesting to see how they accomplish it and what his role will be. I just hope they don't destroy the coolness that was the original character, if they do it.

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    1. I NEVER forgave them for Hicks. Sonsabitches.

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    2. Really, I think I'm whingeing about the way Hollywood is dredging up all the old stuff and re-doing it, just to make money. Even if you look at the very fun GotG, it's Marvel. Guaranteed audience.

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  4. I can't watch horror at all, although I've watched a couple of non-typical zombie films. I hate scary things. It's not so much the guts and gore, but the creepy things that make you jump (though I can't watch Alien either). Too many nightmares. Even Pitch Black is just on my tolerance level.

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    1. I'm not too keen on scary things making you jump, either, TBH.

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