I have a confession. A happy one: yesterday marked the first time I’d watched the movie Aliens from start to finish.
It was the strangest thing. I’d gone my entire adult life (and most of my childhood) presuming I’d seen it simply because I could remember and understand so many references from it. Nearly every line spoken by the Marines was familiar — and often lines I unknowingly reference myself. I’ve always wanted to nuke things from orbit — but now I’m sure why.
I caught it on Netflix.com using the new Starz play library, which isn’t anything near DVD quality, but was good enough. I remembered lots of scenes, which means that I probably saw bits of it here and there over the years. (The final battle against the queen? I’m positive I’ve watched it.) But within a couple of seconds of the credits I knew I hadn’t watched the whole thing through, especially when Paul Reiser’s Carter Burke walked on screen. The next couple of hours were one solid block of disarming familiarity, a movie so essential to geekdom that I’d been able to build a convincing model of it in relief just from the impression it made on so many other things I’ve enjoyed.
So of course I wanted to buy some sneakers. Reebok actually issued the “Alien Stomper” shoes that Ripley wears throughout the film, although I haven’t been able to confirm that they actually did a red-and-white colorway like hers. Surely they did, but they were released in 1987 and specifics are spare. [Update: Yup, there was a red version. Zappos teasingly hosts an image of it, but returns no results for the shoes in their database.] There was at least one reissue, a surprisingly awesome Freddy Krueger edition with screaming burned flesh on the soles. (Three pair on eBay for $80 each. Go get ‘em, dreamers!)
I was also quite taken with Ripley’s jumpsuit, which appears to have some sort of intricate lacing around the lower back, a subtle feminine touch on a utilitarian design that complements such a “tough, competent and…maternal” character. If you happen to know if it was a custom costume or something that was used by a real military I’d be curious to hear about it.
Anyway, what a treat. I got a lifetime of presuming I was versed in a classic but got to savor it twenty years after all my friends. How often does that happen? If only they’d made a sequel to Star Wars.