In Space, No-one Can Hear You Scream: Acknowledging the Human Voice in the Alien Universe

  • Stephen Mulhall


In my recent book, On Film, I offered (amongst other things) a reading of the four Alien movies which originates in response to the specific mode of monstrousness that the alien species embodies. My suggestion was that, beyond the threat of their violence (to which terror is the proper response), we are horrified by their drive to involve human beings in their essentially parasitic mode of reproduction. For that process – whereby the alien inserts a long, flexible member into the body of its host through one of that body’s orifices, and deposits thereby a version of itself which develops within the host’s torso to the point at which it must force itself out again – is a nightmare vision of human heterosexual intercourse, pregnancy and birth. The alien species is, in other words, an incarnation of masculinity, understood as penetrative sexual violence; but as such, it threatens the human race as a whole with the apparently monstrous fate of feminisation, forcing our species to occupy the sexual role (that of being violated, playing host to a parasite, and of facing death in giving birth) that women are imagined to occupy in relation to men.


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© Stephen Mulhall 2005

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  • Stephen Mulhall

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