Posted in Monday Mayhem

Alien Invasion: Origins

Aliens have always had a large following among sci-fi fans from every generation to the present. With the “little green men” image conjured from eyewitness testimony of flying saucer sightings in the 1950s, the fear that one day aliens would take over the world came to being. There’s more to this story, though, and as with every Monday Mayhem post, it deserves some study. Let’s have a look at the inexplicable tale to understand from where the alien world domination plot originated.

Alien Invasion
Alien Invasion

On October 30, 1938, dramatist Orson Welles, via The Mercury Theater on the Air anthology series, presented his adaption of H.G. WellsThe War of the Worlds to an unsuspecting radio audience. Other than a brief introduction, the program aired in a news format, lending credence that an actual invasion from Mars was taking place. Many listeners dropped into the middle of the sixty-two minute broadcast to catch simulated news bulletins and interruptions of sorts, terrifying them into running for their lives. The show created panic and hysteria on the eve of Halloween to cause many, days following the incident, to complain to the Federal Communications Commission.

Since then, America has been on high alert.

What some may not know is Welles was not the brainchild to such a realistic method to drama that had unfolded that night. In 1927, a similar incident took place when Adelaide station 5CL in Australia presented another invasion of its people utilizing the same techniques as Welles had used that fateful Halloween eve.

Same news bulletin format, same reaction.

The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds

What was the reaction in 1938? Paul White, CBS News chief wrote bedlam reigned. Town switchboards lit with people trying to verify the reports of Martians invading earth. In Cleveland, CBS’ WGAR received calls from listeners in a panic. Despite pre-Tonight Show host Jack Paar’s attempt to calm the masses, people were accusing the famous announcer of a government cover up, a conspiracy of grand proportions. In Concrete, Washington, a coincidental blackout of phone and electrical lines pressed the listening public to flee for lack of communication with friends and family. Local reports spread the word of mayhem in the streets and placed Concrete on the map for all to see.

Within a month, the media published 12,500 articles about the incident. No one forgot that night the Martians invaded Earth. And so, the alien invasion tales came to be.

As a consequence to the broadcast, the American public couldn’t get enough of alien invasions. Subsequent decades produced a litany of movies centered on the genre due largely to the threat of war and communism:

But if anything is true, the influence of an alien invasion couldn’t be more prevalent than in pop culture. Can anyone argue that at least one child does not walk around in an alien costume during Halloween?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Are you familiar with the original War of the Worlds broadcast? Have you listened to it, since it is available free online?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Alien Invasion: Shifters

The best aliens are the ones we don’t know who they are. Does anyone remember The X-Files? Remember how this grand conspiracy swept the show, yet the audience didn’t have a clue as to what was going on? We know, but we don’t know. We think we have it figured out, but it changes. Maybe.

The X-Files' Scully and Mulder
The X-Files’ Scully and Mulder

Monday Mayhem has always been about zombies and aliens. From the beginning, I outlined the focus right from the first few posts. There is a plan at work here. Have you figure it out yet?

All right, as I’d mentioned, the best aliens are the ones who we haven’t a clue who they are, what they want, and their motives for doing what they do. Let’s talk about The Thing. A story that scares the sweet nothings out of me, the 1982 film introduces us to an alien that changes forms as it kills its prey. To make this real, imagine your best friend suddenly behaving strangely, turning into someone you no longer recognize. Apart from the fact that in real life we do have friends like that, my tongue is firmly planted in cheek as I write this, it would be a devastating thing to live through.

Those aliens who take our form are far worse to fight than those who you see coming.

Another example is the symbiont alien that affects Peter Parker in the 2007 movie Spider-Man 3. Amplifying Peter’s negative attitudes, the alien changes him into someone who is an exact opposite of who he is. Again, this is a far worse enemy than those detestable aliens from Independence Day. Because we can’t see their real form, we have our imaginations to rely on, pondering what happened to our friends in the interim.

It doesn’t end there. The 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of the scariest movies to watch on a cold Friday night. It presents as its stage a small town overrun by alien duplicates of its citizens—another opportunity for aliens to show their ingenious and devilish ways when assimilating a nation. What makes this story unique is its reference to communism, but I won’t get into that.

The last, but best of all examples of aliens attempt at taking over the world in human form is the TV miniseries V. The gist of the story goes like this: alien ships appear in the sky and by all accounts, they come in peace, wanting to share their technology with humans and their advancements. Little does anyone know that beneath their skin lies a monster so incredible that I can’t bear to spoil the story for you. You’ll just have to watch it to find out what I mean. This is must viewing for alien aficionados.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if shape-shifting aliens do exist? The world would make a whole lot more sense given how people change once they receive money and power. I won’t use example here, but I’m sure you can come up with your own.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What do you think? Are we living in a world already filled with aliens impersonating humans?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why I Like Aliens

Last week for Monday Mayhem, I wrote Why I Like Zombies. I detailed how I enjoy watching a movie or reading a book where the undead are unrelenting with capturing their prey. I also drew a connection between those dastardly demons and their representation of humanity’s search for everlasting life. Lastly, I wrote about how they are metaphoric depictions of a writer’s overactive imagination—specifically, my overactive imagination.

Spider-Man 3/Venom
Spider-Man 3/Venom

This week, I want to talk about the reasons I like aliens.

Unlike zombies, who have a distinct set of rules dictating behavior, biological makeup and life expectancy, aliens have none of that. In fact, alien folklore is so open-ended that anyone can make up anything about these characters and still call them aliens. I like that aspect of the extraterrestrials. Spider-Man 3 had an interesting take on aliens. If you haven’t seen it, it had to do with an organism that has the ability to amplify the negative traits in a person, thereby rendering them evil. It’s quite a fascinating twist of the ordinary alien subplot you see in many other films because in this case, the alien does not have a fixed appearance.

Mars Attacks!
Mars Attacks!

On the other hand, I also like aliens because of the exact opposite of what I just wrote. In some circles, aliens have a concrete mythology based on the crash landing of an alleged spacecraft in 1947 Roswell, New Mexico. The UFO supposedly contained aliens the U.S. government, to this day, conspired to suppress detailed information. This incident sparked multiple theories of the government’s involvement with other planetary life forms. These theories created the legends of little green men from mars all the way to Area 51’s complicity to housing alien ships for technological studies.

I like the fact that some of my favorite movies have aliens in them as well. Movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Men in Black, and Paul feature them in prominent roles as visitors from another planet. What’s not to like of cuddly creatures aiming to take over earth?

Much like zombies, aliens also have an allegorical value to them. In the 1950’s, society’s biggest enemy was communism. Naturally, what did Hollywood do? Of course, they produced Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a film about people taken over by aliens. The commentary came when America was in the midst of McCarthyism—a time when anti-communist sentiment was at its height. It’s that allegory that attracts me to aliens the most. Aliens can symbolize any hot-topic issue thinly disguised as entertainment. They can come to embody social non-conformity matters, oppressive governments or even control-centric cults. The possibilities are endless.

But you know what? I also like aliens because they make incredible splatter patterns when shot.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Do you like aliens? What do you like them? What other alien legends haven’t I covered?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies & Aliens Too?

The movie Alien presented an interesting concept to the viewing audience when it first came out in theaters in 1979. The premise goes something like this—humans act as hosts to alien birthing eggs until such time they’re no longer needed and die a miserable death by chest explosion. Interesting, right? Since I’ve been on a zombie/alien kick lately, I thought I’d explore this idea further for Monday Mayhem.

Alien/Zombie host relationship?
Alien/Zombie host relationship?

If you’ve read my post Zombies & Aliens? last week, you would know I delved into the unsettling topic regarding a zombie apocalypse brought on by aliens as opposed to a virus. Seeing how many commenters liked the connection, let’s continue on that train of thought to see where it goes. M-kay?

In the 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, aliens embark on an invasion of earth by replacing humans with exact duplicates, except the copies express zero emotion and individuality. Even though the film reflects a perfect commentary of communism in the 1950’s, it also goes on to explain what people would be like should they decide not to express their free will—in essence, the first inkling of a zombie apocalypse even before George A. Romero hit the scene. The only thing missing is the duplicates don’t eat people.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

I know I’ve touched on this idea before by mentioning how zombie propagation changes with the times. For instance in the early 1900’s, zombies originated from supernatural practices in Haiti where voodoo doctors resurrected the dead to have them work on sugar plantations. In the late 1960’s the movie The Night of the Living Dead had fun with the notion zombies could originate from a radioactive satellite bursting in earth’s atmosphere rendering those caught in the debris undead. And just recently, The Walking Dead, although not based on an original concept, is burning the ratings by depicting a world gone crazy due to a virus turning people into walkers (a.k.a. eaters of the fleshly kind).

Having all these other interesting causes to choose from, why not entertain the thought that aliens could cause a zombie apocalypse?

For instance, a meteorite could scream to earth and crash in the middle of the woods somewhere in the United States. The Department of Defense sends in a team of scientists to survey the area to investigate if the meteor would present potential harm toward anyone approaching it. One by one, the scientists die by radiation exposure. From the belly of the meteor, an organism crawls its way to the bodies of the scientists, penetrating their mouths, making them their hosts. The bodies soon rise from the dead and moan their way to civilization, but not before attacking a multitude of campers in the area, spreading the organism from one host to the other with a simple bite.

It isn’t until half the country becomes hosts to the dreaded aliens that a nuclear solution gets a green light from the presidential office.

Wouldn’t that make for an awesome story?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you believe will cause the zombie apocalypse? Alien, virus or voodoo?