Spaceballs saved my childhood. Watching it in 2015, Mel Brooks’ Star Wars spoof is a mostly pleasant nostalgia-disseminator, but when I was a child, it served at least one more helpful function: it helped rid me of the nightmares wrought by Alien. Toward the end of Spaceballs, there’s a typically goofball recreation of the famous chestburster scene. (Here, the alien emerges as a vaudevillian tapdancer and John Hurt survives.) Something that had traumatized me so much when I caught a glimpse of it on HBO one night had seemingly been defanged by the epic silliness of Mel Brooks. If you watch Alien in 2015, though, that iconic, blood-drenched xenomorph-hatching scene is still as terrifying as ever. A new video fully explains the reasons why.
The latest entry of Cinefix’s Art of the Scene series takes an in-depth look at the creation of this sci-fi/horror (exhales deeply) breakthrough. Over the course of nine minutes, we learn about the conceptual designer’s strategy, the fact that screenwriter Dan O’Bannon was also a special effects man, how much Alien benefitted from the failure of Jodorowsky’s Dune, and other interesting background details.
Of course, the video also offers some juicy details about the filming of the scene itself–how setting it during a group dinner grounded this incredible horror moment in the banality of the everyday, and just why it looks like the other actors in the scene are shocked. Apparently, they didn’t know what to expect either. After watching this video, you may need to revisit Spaceballs again as something of a palate-cleanser. Or maybe that’s just me, the wuss.