Horror Vacui and the Critique of Visual Society in Alien and Terminator Films
In conclusion of the work covering the process of creation of the Alien quadrilogy, Salisbury described the films as “zeitgeist-capturing classic.” One can assume that part of the allure of the Alien series is the stress on the low-tech, the use of tools which seem to imply that the monster appears in normal reality, even though set in the future. Certainly, the threat of technology is particularly well visualized in Alien and Terminator franchises. Their heroes and heroines are working class people, and in both cases, their fictional universes depend very strongly on the establishment of the atmosphere of tension in relatable, industrial locations. The plans and ambitions of the characters are mostly down-to-earth, and depart from the democratic grandiosity seen in the epic stories of space adventures in Star Trek or Star Wars, the grand world-saving destinies of the characters in The Matrix, Avatar or Terminator, or the beatified industrial aesthetics of Blade Runner. It was this ordinary and run-of-the-mill presentation of the future that made Weaver appreciate Alien: “I felt what we were doing was turning over a new leaf in science fiction. I loved the fact that this was a real world, that we were real people, talking about our wages and not getting along. But I don’t think any of us expected the movie to still be so unique.” (p. 8). In this chapter, characterizing Alien and Terminator films as dealing with the danger found in the midst of normal and mundane environments will be the starting point for the discussion of the notion of the anxieties caused by the invisible and yet considerable influence of the new media on society.