This originally saw light way back when. But I rewatched Alien the other night, and this sprang to mind. The film may be showing its age a bit, but it’s still a remarkably good ‘haunted house in space’ film.

*****

There are two types of alien that you may encounter. The first type is the cute alien. You don’t need to worry about these. Think Batteries Not Included. They were cute. Yoda was cute. The ultimate cutie was ET of course. Who couldn’t love that little guy?

On the other hand, any slavering H R Geiger creation with multiple mandibles, razor sharp limbs, and molecular acid for blood is not likely to be majoring in humanities. They’re good parents though. They love their children. They’ll do anything to stop you turning a flamethrower on the brood.

I’ve been chased by one of those suckers, and I can assure you it’s very very frightening indeed. I aged about 10 years in as many minutes.

Some years ago the basement of the Trocadero in London was home to a something called The Alien Experience. They got a load of bits of set and props from the films, and set up a faux scientific research facility, which you could take a tour of. They even got Sigourney Weaver to open it. Sadly, I missed that, which is probably all to the good. I might well have been arrested.

It all sounds a bit naff, but a mate of mine and I decided to check it out. It was rather well done, to be honest. Dim lighting, labyrinthine corridors, alien eggs behind glass. When one of the alien grubs hurled itself at a window, the entire tour party simultaneously jumped about six feet. It was genuinely scary.

Of course then it all went wrong, very badly. An alien escaped. So our accompanying Marine had the task of getting us out safely. He looked well hard, all Kevlar and carbine, so the odds looked, if not good, at least acceptable. There was still hardly any light, just a lot of dry ice smoke and flashing warning beacons. Extremely loud warning klaxons, which were very disorientating. Frightened and confused is not a good combination when you’ve gone to all the trouble of suspending disbelief for a few minutes. At a rational level you know it’s all a game, but at a visceral level it’s a whole different kettle of fish, believe me.

So we’re all scuttling along, scared out of our wits, and we got even more scared when another Marine ran round a corner. Then he disappeared just as suddenly as he was snatched into a side corridor by a man in a fibreglass suit. We now had screams and crunching noises to contend with, and earbleeding automatic gunfire from the strobing carbine of our guide and protector. I actually froze. I did. I was incapable of movement till I got dragged by someone.

We all legged it with our tame Marine blasting away and covering our retreat. That was the point where the ceiling collapsed and another alien dangled down clutching at us. Jeez. Run like the devil’s after you!

Eventually we all ended up in an elevator, and we just managed to get the doors shut before the scary man in the fibreglass suit got us. I’m not kidding, the fear was palpable. We were terrified. By a man in a fibreglass suit. Yes, I know. It wasn’t at all logical, but it was a cause for adrenalin shock. Bladder control was something we could only hope to retain.

Then just as we all learned to breathe again, a colossal banging on the doors, which bent under the impact of something big and annoyed. The doors got prised apart by a pair of very dangerous looking arms, and some hapless soul on the tour got snatched away, and was last seen being carried off down the corridor screaming her head off.

We all piled out into the safety of the Trocadero’s basement again. It sounds silly when I write it down, but it was genuinely frightening. My mate Frank is a Frieslander and stands about 6’7”, 250 lbs of solid Dutchman, and he was shaking like a leaf.

So if you want not to be killed by an alien, make sure you’ve got a trigger happy Marine on your side. Or change your name to Ellen Ripley, or miraculously transform yourself into a little girl called Newt and don’t drop your doll’s head.