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Hering, C. (1994). The problem of the Alien: emotional mastery or emotional fascism in contemporary film production. Free Associations, 4(3):391-407.

(1994). Free Associations, 4(3):391-407

The problem of the Alien: emotional mastery or emotional fascism in contemporary film production

Christoph Hering

ALIEN: The Absolute Evil

When I first saw the film Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) and spontaneously compared it with the film of Moby Dick (John Huston, 1956) it occurred to me that something in this very familiar theme of the encounter with a powerful and terrifying Other had changed.1 I was intrigued by this shift but it was only after seeing the film Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) that I realized that it was the picture of the monster itself that had undergone an important transformation, and with it, perhaps, the whole genre. I thought it was the feature of evil, so absolute and total as to preclude any desire in the spectator to inquire about the monster's motivations or history, which was so significantly different in these new figures of terror.

‘Exploitation movies’ like Alien and its innumerable successors plug into our deepest and most severe forms of fear and terror.

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