The Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake made on a much smaller budget that Alien was released in 1978 was a considerable hit with critical aclaim, perhaps the Jonestown massacre caught people's attention at the time.
The film presented an unfriendly alien life form coming to earth in the form of spores and replicating itself in the form of its various human victims, as well as a dog and a man who slept beside each other resulting in a hybrid formation.
It might have helped Fox to realise that they were onto something with the Alien film at the end of its production.
However Philippe decided thatt that when Alien came out, aliens were being depicted as friendly, cute and, cuddly, and then his statement turned towards ET three whole years later at the end of 1982 being the cute and cuddly alien.
Philippe decided that Alien was unconscously a "MeToo" movie after the movement of that name that arised in 2017, that would be in terms in terms of the idea of Patriarchal Guilt.
He didn’t think Dan O’Bannon, Giger, Ridley Scott, Brandywine or Fox set out to make a movie that was going to address those ideas in a conscious way.
It does seem that the psycho sexual nature of this film was purposeful, Ridley wanted the chestbursting creature when it came out to look very rude and very carnivorous. he tilted the head back because it seemed more reptilian and more phallic that way.
Part of Dan's idea about the life cycle was that it was about the idea of men having to deal with men being orally raped.
Indeed Philippe talks about how Axelle Carolyn said in the documentary, that if they had gone to the studio and said, "We're making a male rape movie in space. Give us 11 million dollars, " that there was no way they would have said yes.
The thought perhaps ought to have been about what it was that Giler and Hill saw in that Chestburster scene that they could capitalise on.
One might wonder what was actually being being discussed about the script by the likes of Alan Ladd with his Weekend Read group going through the scripts, where they were discussing buying a concept rather than a detailed scripts, they found themselves comparing the chestburster scene to shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho, and went by gut instincts to go with the script.
Philippe didn't think that back in 1979 when the people came out from watching the film, that they could be saying "Oh my Gosh, this is a move about patriachal guilt" but he thought that it resonated with audiences precisely, because those were the ideas that unconsciously were already in society, and forty years later, society was beginning to talk about it.
However he felt that it was a movie that needed to come out at the time to express this certain energy, in tune with this Furies myth.
It was a completely esoteric idea that Alexandre O Philippe believed in.
Chris Gore of Film Threat had gone to see Alien when he was about twelve or thirteen at the Ameicana cinema in Detroit in Michigan.
In the movie theatre, a group of about twenty people, as soon as Kane started to be in agony, got up out of their seats, ran to the bathroom scared and they could hear the sound on dolby sound, as if they could sense it coming.
Philippe found Gore's story interesting that in that it was the men and not the women who were running to the toilet, and it was something that he felt he could give as an example of his Patriarchal Guilt theory
- Alexandre O Philippe: “We’re talking about a time in history when audiences were ready for a friendly alien, and this is not at all what we have in Ridley Scott’s Alien. So, one of the main questions we explore in Memory is: what was it about this particular film that resonated with audiences in 1979? And so, one of the arguments that we make is that there was an unconscious patriarchal guilt in our society that we needed, and still need, to process. In fact, it’s fascinating to me that we are collectively starting, just now, forty years later, to have an open conversation about this patriarchal imbalance, obviously with the #metoo movement, and a sense, or at least an understanding, that women were not and are still not treated the way they should be, and deserve to be. And so this theme of unconscious patriarchal guilt is, I would say, the central theme of the film, and one that we explore very deeply. And we connect this particular theme with the Greek Furies, and what they represent as well.”(https://gritdaily.com/alien-origins-memory-sundance-40th-anniversary/)
- Alexandre O Philippe: “When a movie becomes as successful as Alien does, at a time when it goes against the grain – which it was going against the grain of the friendly, cute, cuddly alien that I think people were ready for at the time -what does that mean? What does that say? It says to me that there were certain ideas and images that we needed to process as a collective, that we needed to start thinking about as a collective, In that sense, yes, I think the patriarchal guilt that was in our society, and I’m talking about an unconscious guilt… it’s something we still need to work through. There’s an imbalance there that we still need to work through.”(https://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/3543552/sundance-alien-documentary-reveals-sexual-metaphors-film-exclusive)
- Alexandre O Philippe: “I don’t think it was necessarily a MeToo movie, I think it was unconsciously a MeToo movie. I don’t think Dan O’Bannon, Giger, Ridley Scott, Brandywine or Fox set out to make a movie that was going to address those ideas in a conscious way. I don’t think that when people went to the theater in 1979 and watched the film, I don’t think that they immediately came out saying, ‘Oh my Gosh, this is a movie about patriarchal guilt.’ But I think it resonated with audiences precisely because those were ideas that unconsciously were already in our society, that now 40 years later, interestingly enough, we’re starting to talk about.”(https://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/3543552/sundance-alien-documentary-reveals-sexual-metaphors-film-exclusive)
- Ridley Scott: And when it came out , I wanted it to look very rude - and totally carnivorous (Cinefex 1, p43)
- Ridley Scott: We decided that the big chap, in embryo form, would have a head either tilted down or titled back. We tilted it back because it seemed more obscene that way, more reptilian, more phallic. " (Starlog, September 1979, p25)
- Alexandre O Philippe: But this idea that there were forces at work that were beyond the conscious thought of O'Bannon, Giger, Ridley Scott, Brandywine, all those people. I completely believe in this, because as Axelle Carolyn says in the film, if they had gone to Fox and said, "Oh, we're making a male rape movie in space. Give us $10 million." Of course, nobody would've said yes. (https://www.thehorrorchick.com/2019/01/sundance-2019-interview-memory-director.html)
- Alexandre O Philippe: I completely believe in this, because as Axelle Carolyn says in the film, if they had gone to Fox and said, "Oh, we're making a male rape movie in space. Give us $10 million." Of course, nobody would've said yes. (https://dailydead.com/sundance-2019-interview-memory-director-alexandre-o-philippe-on-exploring-the-lasting-influence-of-alien-and-his-upcoming-the-exorcist-documentary/)
- Alexandre O Philippe: There’s a lot of stuff they were doing that was on a frequency, they tuned in of what was going on and needed to be said, but as [filmmaker/actor] Axelle Carolyn says in the film, if they had gone to the studio and said, “We want to make a male-rape movie set in space; give us $10 million,” nobody would have made that. (https://www.slashfilm.com/alexandre-o-philippe-interview-memory/)
NFS: And the fact that Alien has so many psycho-sexual implications.
Alexandre O Philippe: I'm absolutely convinced that a lot of it was unconscious from their part. I don't think that O'Bannon, Giger, or Scott fully realized the story that they were executing.
Ridley Scott talks about making a haunted house movie in space. I think that's what they were focusing on. The eruption of what one could argue is unconscious patriarchal guilt onto the screen, or certain ideas that we need to confront as a society that we are 40 years later now starting to talk about...I don't think anybody thought about it that way.
I don't think you can think about that. If Dan had gone to the studio and said, "We're making a male rape movie in space. Give us 11 million dollars," no way they would've said yes. So clearly the executives didn't have a clue what they were doing. I think Dan was having a lot of fun with it. Giger was, as somebody says in the film, possessed—in doing his art and tapping into, as Will Lynn says, the cauldron of stories that was his imagination. And Ridley Scott, as the visionary that he is, put all this together and orchestrated it in this extraordinary fashion.
Now we can look back and say, yeah there's a lot more to it than I think was consciously happening at the moment [of production]. (https://nofilmschool.com/cinephile-sundance-doc-reveals-how-alien-penetrated-movie-history-and-our-collective-1)
- Alexandre O Philippe: If Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Geiger and Ridley Scott had not been on the frequency of this particular myth, somebody else would have to be. That was a movie that needed to come out at that particular time. It’s a completely esoteric idea but I do believe that. (http://povmagazine.com/articles/view/memory-alexandre-philippe-interview-documentary)
- Chris Gore of Film Threat :Well it's interesting because that
scene the chestburster scene, and I saw Alien when I was a kid, I mean I
was er, I don't know, twelve, thirteen when it came out, erm, and that
scene effected, first of all I knew it was coming.
Alexandre O Philippe: Mmhmm
Chris Gore: Because I saw something in a magazine, and I had heard people talk about this scene, I am in the movie theatre which was the Americana theatre in Detroit, Michigan, when a group of people, as soon as you see Kane er, start to be in agony, I saw twenty people get up out of their seats and run to the bathroom scared.
Alexandre O Philippe: Wow!
Chris Gore: I didn't originally when I first saw the movie, I didn't actually see the scene. I went to the bathroom standing with a group of men, hearing the screams in the dolby sound in one of the biggest movies in detroit, so I actually didn't see the scene the first time, it was , it's, I mean, it was described in the documentary by several of the people you interviewed as being iconic, I think it's more than that, it is a scene, and this is what I think it deserves its own movie, that it changed movies, and I think that there's another one that you'll agree with me on this one is the scene in Dawn of the Dead where the head explode, I have never seen that in a movie, I saw it also for the first time in the theatre, didn't know it was coming, there's no warning for that and that also scarred me in a similar was because it's something at least I have never seen anything even close to that on screen, so I think the chestburster scene for you do, do.
Alexandre O Philippe:Yeah
Chris Gore: To explore all you know, every potential influence, I think one of the things that surprised me the most was the comic books
Alexandre O Philippe:Yuh, yuh, I mean it's, well you know, first I want to talk about your, your, your story, I, I find it literally fascinating and I never, er, and I know people were throwing up, I know people, I think somebody broke a leg I think on the, on the first screening just trying to run out or, ah, but this idea that, that erm, a bunch of people were expecting the scene and ran out before it, it actually happened is fascinating to me, that they were ex, that they were, so you experienced it from a bathroom with a bunch of guys, and you heard the sound
Chris Gore: Heard the sound, it was a bathroom with adults
Alexandre O Philippe: That's amazing
Chris Gore: This is
Alexandre O Philippe: That's amazing
Chris Gore: Yeah, and this is a theatre that was in Detroit, so it was like every type of person, you know this was like all types of people just standing up, it was all men.
Alexandre O Philippe: Damn
Chris Gore: And they were scared, so they were all
Alexandre O Philippe: So they all knew, they all knew what was coming
Chris Gore: They, kind of saw, they kind of sensed
Alexandre O Philippe: Sensed it
Chris Gore: They kind of sensed it was like
Alexandre O Philippe: That's remarkable
Chris Gore: I knew, I, yeah
Alexandre O Philippe: That's remarkable (Film Threat: Memories of Alien with Alexandre O Philippe, 28th January 2019)
- Alexandre O Philippe: You know when a scene like that has an impact especially on men which is interesting
Chris Gore: See
Alexandre O Philippe: It was the men running to the bathroom
Chris Gore: Yes
Alexandre O Philippe: And not the women
Chris Gore: No, it was all men
Alexandre O Philippe: Well, there you go. So what does that tell you? Yahhahahah! Er, and I think it had that, you , this, you know, without giving away Memory, you know, this idea, and that statement that I make that I make in the film that there was an unconscious patriachal guilt which 40 years later were starting now to talk about, openly in our society but there was an imbalance, which was what by the way the Greek Furies represent that needed to be, that we needed to process, that we still need to process, and that's what makes Alien such a remarkably contemporary film (Film Threat: Memories of Alien with Alexandre O Philippe, 28th January 2019)
- Alexandre O Philippe: There
were certain images, erm, and and ideas that came out, that erupted
onto the screen, ahm, the most important one being the chestburster, er
that I do believe resonated with audience on an unconscious level. We
now know of course, what, the way that women were treated especially in
Hollywood at the time. Ah, we're now finding having this discussion out
into the open forty years later, part of the argument of my movie is
that in the chestburster, which you have is a unconscious patriarchal
guilt that came out, that erupted onto, that, and you know. it's, it's
it's documented the way people reacted, you know. it's, it's it was men
who were running out of the theatre, not women.
Um, I, somebody told me this extraordinary story of of, right before the chestburster scene, sensing what was going to happen, he ran out and went to the bathroom and there were about twenty men there in the bathroom, and they were, they couldn't take it, they were, they were, hearing, they were listening to the scene from the bathroom of the theatre, and so I think, I think today now, now that we're having this conversation, I think Alien is an extraordinary, er, extraordinarily uh, contemporary film as a matter of fact. (Marshy Movie Time (James Marsh – Films (22-3-2019))
- Alexandre O Philippe: The way I see it, the nightmare of Alien is what we needed to see, but not the nightmare that we wanted. In 1979, I think people really wanted a different kind of alien. When you look at what was working in the box office, it was running counter-current to Alien. So, to me, what is so remarkable about the film and that property is that people weren’t sure they wanted to see, but it connected with our subconscious in a very powerful way–that’s what makes the movie so unique. (https://thefilmstage.com/features/exploring-the-making-of-a-sci-fi-masterpiece-with-memory-the-origins-of-alien-director-alexandre-o-philippe/)