Watching Alien

In 1986,I was 16 but could easily pass for 18, being 6'2". The 4 guys I hung around with were mostly 15 and could pass for 12, and often did so well enough to get the kids' rate at the movies. Based on these facts, I was the one sent to go rent us a porn movie. There was no way I was going to rent porn from my family's video place so I borrowed a membership card from my friend Michael, and went to Video Empire (or whatever) to rent New Wave Hookers which we had seen reviewed in Penthouse.

This was at a time when it was easy enough for teens to get printed pornography but nearly impossible to get any video porn. None of our fathers or older brothers had it, or were interested in giving it to us anyway. Small video rental places which had porn were being bought out by larger ones that didn't. Eventually some of my classmates were old enough to work in video stores and the floodgates opened, but until that day we had to be sneaky. I had even gone to Georgetown to buy a fake ID for the sole purpose of renting porn. Like a dork I had my real address and name on it but the birth date was shifted up 2 1/2 years.The plan was that Michael, Oliver, Tom and Paul, were going to come over for dinner and I was going to rent 2 movies, New Wave Hookers and something that we could watch until my parents went to bed. In retrospect, the idea that we were going to watch porn together sounds insane. Were we all just going to whip our dicks out? Were we going to just sit there with pulsing erections, freaking out? None of us had enough experience with this sort of thing to see any problem ahead.

With so with Michael's videocard, my game face, and copy each of New Wave Hookers and Alien, I approached the desk where I was waved through by the young clerk but stopped and questioned by the owner, a stern Armenian woman who looked like an evil Olympia Dukakis.

"How old are you?
"Let me see your ID.
"Why do you have this videocard?
"What kind of ID is this?
"This isn't a real ID.
"Let me see your drivers license.
"Give me your phone number so I can call your mother to ask her if it's okay for me to rent you this porn movie."

I tried to keep it together as well as possible and was doing okay from the waist up, but all confidence flew out of my legs leaving them weak and shaking. Gathering an ounce of swagger, I looked her in the eye, opened my mouth and said "Oorp! Niop?" etc. She was not impressed so I left with Alien.


So now it's about 1:30 in the morning and the five of us are watching Alien. The four guys are lined up across the foldout couch with glasses of coke and blankets pulled up to their chins. I'm laying down on the couch cushions. It's important to remember that Alien is a terrifying movie, and it's often really quiet, with just bit of clanking and fan humming. This was a new strategy as most movies were only quiet just before the strike, but Alien keeps up that anxiety for 10 minutes at a time. We have the sound up really loud, trying to hear any hint that the creature was around, but it just makes us more paranoid. As Signorney Weaver is lightly creeping through the empty spaceship with a gun, it's all we can do to breath as quietly as possible.

Then we hear, so lightly at first, music, "doo-doo bum doo doo-doo bum-bum. And then "She was more like a beauty queen/From a movie scene/I said, 'don't mind/But do you mean/I am the one/Who will dance on the floor, in the round'/She says, 'I am the one who will dance/On the floor in the round'"

Our cheap shit Radioshack VCR is picking up radio and playing "Billie Jean" in the quietest part of one of the scariest movies ever made. We just loose it, screaming and then laughing and then freaking out and then nervously laughing because we know that the alien is probably still on the ship and that this music is probably just a trick to get our guard down and finally we have to pause it so I can get up to wiggle the tv back and forth to get the radio signal to drop out. In the near pitch dark, we pull ourselves back together and stop giggling. I press play again and lie back down on the cushions. Then there's this part where the cat on the spaceship jumps out and we all scream for a second and then giggle again, not believing that Alien would pull such a common horror movie gag as taunting you with a cat.

Then Oliver says:

"Who spilled their drink on me?
"My shirt is all wet.
"Did you spill your coke all over me?"

Oliver is sitting between Michael and Paul. I look up and over at them and can't see anything so I say, "Hold on a second," pause the tape and then get up to flick the light switch which is in the hall.

As I turn and hit the lights I look back into the room where everyone is looking at the blanket which looks funny, but then I see that Oliver is covered with blood.

His hair, face, neck, shirt and hands are covered with blood and the blanket in front of his is soaked with blood.

I scream. Paul looks at Oliver and Paul screams. Oliver looks at his hands and Oliver screams. Michael sees Oliver's hands then looks at Oliver's face and Michael screams. Paul and Michael see that they are also bloody and they scream louder. Tom, freaking, crains his head around the screaming Paul to see the blood covered Oliver; Tom screams.

Oliver yells, "I've had a nose-bleed!"

Michael and I start laughing, but Paul is still screaming. Wide-eyed and drop-jawed silent, Tom is trying untangle himself to get off of the couch.

Oliver has had massive nose-bleeds in the past, but you could see them. We were so caught up in the terror that he didn't even feel it happening, which apparently isn't all that uncommon. Eventually Oliver had to have surgery on both nostrils to get them to stop but he has continued to have minor bleeds from time to time.

After slowly figuring out what really happened, Oliver stripped off his shirt and we put that and the blanket into the washing machine. While he went upstairs to take a shower, the rest of us continued to laugh and hyperventilate and Paul still screamed a bit. Oliver came back downstairs wearing one of my T-shirts and I think we made a frozen pizza. It took us about an hour to get it together to watch the last 15 minutes of the movie; this time with the lights on and with the couch folded up.

We told my sleeping parents about it a couple of days later.

Chuck Jones