20 Million Miles to a Place That Isn't Very Friendly (1/23/07)
I love Harryhausen's special effects, even though they're totally cheesy compared to today's SF-travaganzas (though, come to think of it, some of them are pretty cheesy, too - Eragon, anyone?), and Bob introduced me to one of his movies that I hadn't seen before: 20 Million Miles to Earth. On Sunday, when there was offically Nothing On.
There's often Nothing On on Sundays, but it was a really serious case this Sunday, leading to frantic perusals of the Free OnDemand movies, and the actual contemplation of spending $3.99 to rent Mission Impossible III again. Not that MI:III was bad, you understand, but we'd already paid the aforementioned $4 to see it the week before (Netflix? Please. We'd lose the DVD in seconds in our apartment). While idly flipping through the "Free!" Movie section, Bob casually mentioned that the monster in 20 Million etc. was kind of fun, so we dialed it up.
Yes, the monster is fun - as is the movie, mostly because it's completely fucking ridiculous - but the one lasting thing that I took from the movie was that if you're an alien getting picked up and taken away from your planet, you'd better pray that it's not humans picking you up, because Earth is hostile. To start with, they're kidnapping you, and you're not even hatched yet. They stick you in a tight little tube-like thing with scary letters on the side, shove you in their spaceship, and don't even have the skill not to crash and put you adrift in the nasty cold salty ocean, even before you're born. And what if you'd hatched while in the tube?! Awkward!
So, you survive the crash (said crash not really helped by the fact that most of the crew died in flight because your planet is toxic to them, but that's not really your fault, is it? It's not like you asked them to come, or anything), and subsequent floating around in the cold salty ocean (at least the tube thingy was watertight, but if you'd hatched - man, the air would have run out fast - scary!), and you wash up on shore. From there, instead of being taken to somewhere nice and warm to be born, you get unceremoniously dumped out onto the sand, where your nice slimy gel egg-casing gets all gritty and ucky, then you're wrapped in a most unfortunately tacky-looking garment, and sold to some guy who keeps birds in a cage outside the unhygenic trailer he calls a home. At least you were worth 200 Lire, you note, but then you get depressed all over again as you hear that said money is going to purchase a hat. From a place called Texas, which you hear is a country next to America.
(Many Texans agree with this sentiment, by the way.)
Now you are in the trailer. Which is dark. And not as warm as the nice birthing centers of Venus, where you would be cradled in heavy gasses, awaiting your nice orderly introduction into civilized society, except for the fact that you've been KIDNAPPED BY ALIENS AND SOLD TO A GUY WHO LIVES IN A TACKY TRAILER HOME. Well, you'll have to make do. Hatch. Pop out of your gelid birthing-goo. Perhaps there'll be snacks. All that travelling (not to mention the whole "breaking out of an egg-shaped structure that appears to be made of really thick unflavoured Knox Gelatine" effort) has made you kind of hungry.
But there are no snacks, just a sudden bright light, and a huge woman with lipstick and really pointy breasts screaming at you as you try to get your new eyes adjusted to the surprisingly bright light. You say "Hello, I am new here, and I am quite hungry, and I was hoping you might have some fruit, or maybe grain. I am a vegetarian, but butter and cheese is okay - say, you're kind of big", but the atmosphere of this planet is kind of funny, and it comes out as "Meep, meep - mooooooooop *chirp*", and she screams some more, which is kind of silly, since she's, like, massive, and you appear to be about four inches tall.
So, this goes on for a bit - you're all "mooop, squeak!" and she's all "scream, scream", and finally the man who owns the tacky trailer comes in to see what all the noise is about, and you figure since he was happy to pay money for you, he'll be interested in you, friendly, and maybe he'll have a banana, because you're starving. Imagine your surprise when you're put in a cage. A cold, drafty cage without even a blanket. And left there. No bananas or nuthin'.
Well, fuck that. You think "maybe it's because I'm small, and my lungs aren't articulating right. I should start growing", and even though you haven't had any nutrient-rich vegetable-based foodstuffs, you start the whole expanding thing you know instinctively to do, since adapting to strange places has been part of your civilization's abilities since your race first discovered that there were other planets out there. I mean, what intelligent creature hasn't cottoned on to the fact that adapting to your space is far more efficient than trying to force the space to accommodate you? That and the whole vegetarian thing - I mean, eating flesh? So barbaric. And you grow, figuring that if you're big enough, they might be politer to you, since even on your planet, children aren't taken as seriously as adults. It's sizeist, sure, but even the most enlightened race can still have a few faults.
But it's been hours, and you're still in a cage, and you're now really, really hungry, and they're moving the cage somewhere, so the hell with it. When the cage stops moving, you break out, pausing to wonder why the metals on this planet are so soft, and then go off in search of food. Oh, for heaven's sake, that woman sure likes to scream - maybe the females of this planet communicate by screaming - it would explain why everyone is so unfriendly.
Oh, hey - other life forms! Maybe you're wrong about who the dominant species is on this planet! These creatures have four legs, and are definitely more attractive than the two-legged ones, but they're unfriendly, too. Or maybe snorting and running away means "this way to the food!". And there's another life-form, but this one's shorter. And more bad-tempered. Crap - everyone on this planet is nasty! Oh, hell, now you've killed it - but it was biting you and it hurt. Try telling that to the men outside, though - they have no sense of justice. They're all yelling at you, and trying to hurt you - everyone on this planet is batshit insane!
I mean, everyone! They've shot you, they've stabbed you with pitchforks, they've electrocuted you, x-rayed you, set charging elephants at you, screamed at you, lobbed grenades at you, shot surface-to-air missiles at you, and no matter how big you get, they won't even try to treat you like a civilized life-form. It's enough to make you want to cry. This seriously sucks, man.
Fuck this planet. You're all a bunch of fucking animals, man!
Like I said, if you're an alien, steer clear of Earth. The locals are crazy.
Text and images copyright L. Mellin, 2000-2008, except where noted. All rights reserved.