My Descent Into Horror, Part 2: The Alien Franchise

When it comes to hobbies, people occasionally take breaks from them. That was me back in 2013. I started high school that year, and I had moved on from horror films. In my free time, I liked to play Metroid games. They provided an escape from the real world, which had enough horror in it already. 

Then, one day, I discovered the similarities between the Metroid games and the Alien movies through Wikitroid. For example, Ellen Ripley, the primary protagonist of the Alien films, inspired Metroid’s main protagonist Samus Aran. So I thought, “Hmm, what if I gave this movie a shot?" Eventually, I watched Alien on one uneventful Saturday.

What followed was one of the scariest movie experiences of my life.

In my neighborhood, everyone could hear me scream.

The Metroid games are primarily action-based, which I went in expecting to see with Alien. Instead, I got a non-stop suspense fest as the crew of the starship Nostromo got hunted down by the titular creature. When Ellen Ripley, portrayed by the legendary Sigourney Weaver, managed to blast the Alien (or Xenomorph, whichever you prefer to call it) into space, I distinctly remember cheering loudly.

In no time at all, Alien quickly became a favorite of mine. It also reawakened my interest in the horror genre. About a month after seeing the first film, I moved on to the sequel, Aliens. Like its predecessor, it completely blew me away. It had all the action one could ever want, and I never wanted it to end.

Plus, the chills I got when Ripley prepared to fight the Xenomorph Queen is something I will never forget:

Who WOULDN’T get excited by this?

I would go as far as to call Aliens the best action movie of all time. It also made Ellen Ripley my favorite movie protagonist, and I am sure a lot of others will agree with me. No matter what, she is a character that strikes chords with viewers like me from generation to generation. 

Ripley even shines through in less popular sequels like Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. On that note, I was initially not too fond of the follow-ups to Aliens, mainly when it came to Alien 3’s opening scene. However, I warmed up to those movies over time. For every aspect they got wrong, they got two more parts right.

Watching the films, I wondered, "What if I was in the middle of all the action?" That answer came in the form of the video game Alien: Isolation by Sega. I can feel some of you getting re-traumatized just by reading the title.

Makes you feel all… isolated, doesn’t it?

Here is something ironic: I rarely play horror games despite being a horror buff. Watching a scary movie is one thing, but playing a horror game is entirely different. You genuinely feel like you are in the moment, trying to survive whatever the game throws at you. Even watching YouTubers play scary games terrifies me. Regardless, I looked forward to playing Alien: Isolation on my brother’s Xbox One when I came home from school.

For those of you who are curious, the game revolves around Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda. On her quest to find out about her mother’s disappearance, Amanda ends up on the space station Sevastopol. Soon enough, she encounters the Xenomorph. Amanda has to figure out how to evade the creature and other enemies throughout the game as she seeks out the truth about her mother.

To this day, I have completed Alien: Isolation on Normal and Hard mode. Finishing a game like that feels empowering since it makes you believe you can accomplish anything. Plus, it was worth it after I died over 100 times. I should have counted deaths back then! (CouchSoup veterans will know what I’m talking about here.)

Who wants free kisses?!

For many, the Alien movies are instantly recognizable. I credit them for my interest in science fiction horror. Plus, who knows where the world would be without these films? We might not have fantastic franchises such as Dead Space, Halo, and even Stranger Things. Even more importantly, Ellen Ripley broke ground for strong female protagonists. 

In 1979, my grandmother took Mom to see the original film at a drive-in movie theater. She did not care that Mom was only eight; Grandma wanted her to see Alien because protagonists like Ripley were relatively rare back in the 70s. To this day, Mom still remembers being a little girl and watching a woman triumphantly defeating a relentless monster. Because of the franchise’s impact on me and so many others, I hope it will continue to endure.

My descent into horror did not stop with the Alien franchise, though. Around the same time, I found horror films from another country, and those were the films that inspired me to write. If you think American horror is messed up, stay tuned for part 3 of this article series.

In the meantime, do you have a favorite moment from the Alien series? Sound off in the comments below.

Yes, I Live With A Survival Horror Junkie

The first step is admitting you have a problem. Right? Or does he have a problem? How does this work? 

Suppose you live with a gamer. Maybe it's a family member, a roommate, or even a significant other. And because you live with them, you are exposed to whatever games they like to play. This includes the horrifyingly graphic and disgusting games with copious amounts of blood. Oh my god! The blood! It's the kind of games that they play over and over and over again and on harder difficulty each time. 

If this is you, my friend, you just might live with a survival horror junkie.

 

I have never been a fan of games designed to terrify the living daylights out of me. I prefer to play games that let me escape the horrors of everyday life because, let's be honest, most jobs are a nightmare. But since I moved in with my significant other, I have been exposed to some of the scariest, most intense, and squishy (you know, the sounds that zombies make when they chomp on your face) games I have ever seen. He has actually tried to get me to play some of his favorites, including Resident Evil. The old-school pixelated original version of Resident Evil didn't freak me out (that much- okay, the spiders got me). 

*WARNING: Very salty language in the following clip*

I mean, seriously, I told him there’s never anything good behind red doors. And I was right! 

He also got me to play the re-released version of Resident Evil 2, and that was a giant NOPE for me. I tried. I really did. But when there is a massive blood smear leading under a half-opened door that I have to crawl under, no thank you, I would like to live. I stood there so long that he finally took over the controller. 

I guess you could say that I have a powerful survival instinct. I would rather run away from danger! Not into it! Growling and snarling noises? Go the other way! To me, it’s very simple. Not to a survival horror junkie. They run headlong into the most gruesome and disturbing scenes imaginable and watch as their characters die in incredibly awful ways over and over again. And these are the games they enjoy playing! I get it. It's all about the challenge. I think. 

I have had the incredible privilege (I'm holding up my sarcasm sign) of watching him play through things like The Last of Us, Days Gone, The Evil Within, and a slew of Resident Evil games. This is just a small list. There are many, many more. And sure, today's graphics are incredible, and they can do so many things to make everything look more realistic, but must they? I have seen more realistic-looking entrails and body parts that main characters have to slip and slide through to get away from whatever madness is chasing them than I ever care to (I'm looking at you, Evil Within). Never EVER try to eat ANYTHING when the person you live with decides to start playing one of these games. Just DON’T. 

And why would I want to play games that have literally made him scream? The first time he played Phasmophobia (a ghost hunting game) with his friend, they were both screaming. Like girls. For more on those hilarious shenanigans, you can check out my previous article “When Men Scream Like Girls”.

Shana's creation

As much as these games can make me squeamish and blow my blood pressure through the roof, sometimes funny things can come out of it when I am forced to watch some of these horrifying games. While streaming Evil Within, I had asked my significant other to please turn his "butt light" off (the lantern that hangs from the character’s belt) because it attracts zombies. I thought it was a perfectly reasonable request. It became a hilarious possible t-shirt idea thanks to fellow Replayer and stream watcher Shana Martin. 

I sometimes have an easier time dealing with these types of games if I am co-oping them with him. We played Dead Space 3 together and I was so proud of myself when I had a headshot on the space zombies (or whatever they are), but those bastards kept coming! Headless! Full spine headless space zombie grossness crawling at me was not what I had in mind for a romantic evening of co-op gaming with the man. 

I have also started playing Phasmaphobia with him and friends, but it is seriously scary no matter how many times I have played it. I've been known to stay in the van to “look for orbs” on the cameras. Don’t judge! I live so I get to keep my money and my equipment to help fund future ghost hunting expeditions. That’s my story and I am most assuredly sticking to it. I have also been known to just guess what the ghost is and drive off with the van when we get a particularly nasty ghost that has killed off the rest of the crew—because I am not going in that house!

I’m sure I will continue to get roped into either sitting with him while he plays or attempting to play with him because apparently, my reactions are “funny.” The small bit of satisfaction I get is that many times my reactions to jump scares actually scare him more than the actual game itself. What can I say? I’m jumpy and we get a good laugh out of it, and it makes for some entertaining streams and content. You’re welcome?

As much as I complain about the awfulness that I hear and see emanating from his screen on a daily basis, I don’t think I would have it any other way. It makes him happy, and the fact that he can share something with me that he is passionate about is incredibly important to both of us. I have learned a lot about the franchises and do get interested in the great stories behind things like the Umbrella Corp, for example. Even if I am watching while my hands are covering my eyes.  

 

What games do you get exposed to that you wish you didn’t? Do you or someone you know live with a survival horror junkie?