I’m not sure if you’ve learned this lesson from the past 70+ years of science fiction cinema, but here’s the deal: space is full of crazy crap that is going to try and kill you or at the very least mess with you. I know, I know-- Earth is too. The ocean is literally swimming with unfeeling monsters waiting to devour your assorted parts at the drop of a hat. And have you ever been in a densely wooded area? There are bugs waiting in there that are just as likely to masticate your life stuffs as there are giant friggin’ cats and bears. But nowhere on the planet compares to the vacuum of nothingness beyond our sun-orbiting rock. If sci-fi cinema is to be believed, that is.
This week’s "Pandorum" is merely the latest vision of extraterrestial beasties trying to kill and/or eff with us on their home turf. The good thing about sci-fi scares is that, like nature programming on TV, they act as a primer on what to watch out for if and when you find yourself in the drifting through the starry, endless night. Here are, by my reckoning, the five things in space you should always watch the hell out for.
Giant Holes that Are Actually Monsters -– Found in “Return of the Jedi” and “Enemy Mine”
This is really only important if you plan on exploring alien planets, but it’s still good to keep in mind. Giant monsters chilling out in the ground just waiting for you to fall in are jerks, as the Sarlacc in “Return of the Jedi” so helpfully illustrated. It’s a willing participant in gangland killings! The one in “Enemy Mine” isn’t as bad, but it does prove the following point: Dennis Quaid should not go into space. It only leads to trouble.
Your Deceased Loved Ones – Found in “Solaris” and “Contact”
If you run into some sentient life out in space, you should politely ask that it just take whatever physical form is most common to its species. Otherwise the inconsiderate bastards are likely to show up looking like your dead grandparents. Jodie Foster spends her whole life trying to prove alien life exists as a way of coping with the sudden death of her father, and what do the aliens do when she finds them? Show up looking like her dad. Alien concept of mortality or not, that's just rude. That planet in “Solaris” is even worse, considering it just up and makes a whole new person that thinks they’re your dead wife. Space: dangerous and filled with a-holes.
Things That Will Use You as an Incubator – Found in “Aliens”
What in the hell is your problem, aliens from “Aliens”? If you just want to kill and eat everything, fine, whatever. That at least I get. The whole putting your embryos into people and then letting them explode out your chest is just mean. You already hatch from eggs! Why can’t you birth yourselves that way! Or why not just, I dunno, crawl out a person’s mouth if you have to be in a person. We need our chests to remain closed to live. You guys are jerks.
Portals to Hell – Found in “Event Horizon” and “Doom”
Here’s the deal. The Catholic Church has already come out and stated that Hell is no longer recognized as a physical place. It is, they say, more a state of mind than an eternal retirement home for humanity's bad seeds. And while they aren’t the sole architects of the common conception of Hell – there’s the Greek Hades, Enma’s Hell in Japan, and many others – theirs is the one we tend to picture when we hear the word. I have to wonder though... why do friggin’ astronauts keep finding gateways to Hell if it isn’t really a place? Think Sam Neill just up and decided to start cutting himself when he got near that black hole in “Event Horizon”? No, because that black hole goes to Hell. Geez. Oh, and don’t start with the whole, “It’s not hell in the ‘Doom’ movie, John. It’s another dimension.” If it’s called “Doom,” the monsters are coming from hell, no matter what those scientists said to The Rock.
Things That Only Speak Whale – Found in “Star Trek IV: The Journey Home”
You would think giant cylinders that communicate using glowing balls would be multilingual, but noooooooo. They don’t even speak English like every other species in the known universe. Well, the known universe in “Star Trek.” For some reason, the giant cylinders there only speak whale. I hate to break it to you, cylinder, but whale is not really a common mode of communication. Diplomacy and whale just don’t go together. So that’s the first place you went wrong. Then you showed up and started screwing everything up in the solar system when no whales lived there anymore. You need to learn to express yourself in a more reasonable way, cylinder. If you’re ever in space, don’t make eye contact with the cylinder. He’ll just start moaning at you and it’s really obnoxious.