No one can hear you scream in space, which just makes trying even sadder.
The goal of this series is to show that being “manly” and being disconnected with your emotions do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. While the approach to these articles is one of comedy and satire, the emotional core of these movies is very valid. Manly movies make guys cry, for example:
With Interstellar making polarizing waves as to whether it was enjoyable or not, and NASA announcing missions to Mars, this seemed like a good time to talk about how scary space is. Originally I was planning on doing a list on space travel movies, but darn it if we aren’t terrified of space. The best films about space are the ones where things go wrong, and the best course of action is just not to be in space anymore. Whether its mechanical failures, sabotage, or some sort of alien monster trying to eat our eyeballs, space films outside of the main “Wars” and “Trek” franchises are basically horror films.
They’re manly, they’re awesome, and they routinely make us cry.
1. Event Horizon
A ship that harnesses the power of an artificial black hole to travel faster than light? “Why not? Sounds like a good idea,” say the engineers in this film. I’ll tell you why not: because the ship pulls a Doom 3 and stops off in Hell before coming back to our dimension. Sam “Jurassic Park” Neill takes a group of future dead bodies to recover the ship, not knowing that the ship is basically space-haunted. The ship design in this film is iconic, and the film itself has garnered a cult classic status despite not really being a cult movie to start with.
The emotional moments of this film reside in the evilness of the ship trying to drive Sam Neill insane (spoiler alert: it succeeds spectacularly). Granted, he was a little unhinged from the get-go due to his spouse committing suicide. “SUICIDE, YOU SAY?!” says the evil ship, then makes Sam relive the discovery of his dead wife. Once is bad, but to take such a horrible situation and twist it so that the dead loved one mocks you? That’s a low blow.
If you haven’t played Alien: Isolation, I highly recommend it. Truly, if one wants to inhabit and experience the morbid horror of this first film in the franchise, that’s the game to play. The film is simpler than its sequels would have you remember: alien parasite attacks a ship of unprepared victims, only one of whom gets away by blowing up everything. The body horror alone is blood-chilling, with the rape analogue of the face-huggers, the insidiousness of acid blood, and the helplessness of a weaponless crew.
There are many sad parts that come to mind, but the part that really gets to me is the introduction of the face-hugger through the alien bursting through Hellboy’s dad’s chest. They find the parasite and it latches on to Dr. Bruttenholm, sure. Everyone’s worried because they can’t take it off. But then it dies and falls off. The false sense of relief everyone experiences, especially the victim, is cruel. They have a meal, they joke, and then BOOM…no more ribcage. Makes it even more cruel when you realize that the rest of the cast was not aware that they were rolling at the time (Ridley Scott was just letting them eat and joke around when he and Jon Hurt enacted Operation: Scare the Living Piss Out Of Bilbo, Zuul, and Viper).
3. Pitch Black
In times past, if I mentioned a Vin Diesel movie everyone would jump on me, saying that he’s just a gravel-voiced weirdo. But with his vocal love of D&D, his excellent job at voicing the Iron Giant and Groot, and his inability to let The Pacifier ruin his career, Vin is a powerhouse. And like it or not, the Pitch Black franchise is entertaining, especially the low-budget first film.
This film mixes a fear of the dark, the fear of bloodthirsty aliens, and the fear of a psycho killer on the loose. Throw in a corrupt cop and add a dash of great visuals, you’ve got cinematic gumbo.
The sad part that really gets to me is the Riddick’s temptation for the main female protagonist. With their entire crew either killed or trapped in a cave, Riddick convinces her to get onto the lifeboat. Still guilty about almost dumping the entire crew to avoid crashing her ship, this pilot bawls while crawling onto the ship. Riddick has no qualm about leaving the rest of the crew, but after this horrible moment she convinces Riddick to go back for the others. They successfully do, but then right before getting on the pod, she’s killed by the monsters. It’s a complicated scene, because Riddick’s the good guy but also the bad guy, and we root for him but also he was going to leave them there…it’s sad and confusing, OK?
This is a mid-90s film, but it’s pretty darn good. Starring Admiral Robocop himself Peter Wellers, picture a planet-wide version of a live minefield left over from a long-ended war. Both sides basically hate each other because it’s just what they do, but due to low supplies and energy a stalemate has been reached. Originally one side got the advantage by filling the planet with self-replicating murder-robots that burrow underground. “Screaming,” popping up and killing anything with a heartbeat, these robot creatures only halt for those who wear life sign-scrambling wristbands (spoiler alert, these bands stop working).
Eventually it’s discovered that the robots have built better versions of themselves, and even humanoid models. Becoming a third faction in this war, suspicion arises when the cyborgs infiltrate both human sides. The sad part that gets to me is the female screamer falls in love with Buckaroo Banzai and defends him from another copy of herself. Think “Battlestar Galactica” if one Number Six fights another to defend Adama, but that fight is the first time we even found out that Six was a Cylon. Ouch.
5. Europa Report
Spoilers! I’ve mentioned this one before but worth mentioning again: this low budget indie film is both scary and scientifically accurate. Flying to the ice sea of Europa, this crew quickly finds out (through found footage) that not only is there life, but life that messes with electrical equipment. Accidents and danger occur, people freeze to death (as you do), and we learn that it’s best to just stay in bed.
The sad part for me is when the remaining crew tries to leave the planet. Just like in Alien, the promise of hope and then the rug-pull of destruction is the worst. The capsule leaves, the astronauts agreeing that their greatest adventure has gone south and needs to end. Then due to whatever electromagnetic distortions that the life on Europa creates, the ship basically shuts off mid-flight. Within that moment of balance between the thrust running out and the gravity kicking in, utter devastation kicks in. “We’re not going home, are we?” “We’re not living through this, are we?” Picture yourself going through all the stages of grief in the few seconds between hard-fought salvation and hopeless ruin.
Like what you see? Secure enough in your masculinity for more? Check out more Guy Cry Cinema or watch Dan on No Right Answer, the weekly debate show that knows what’s really important: Pointlessly arguing about geek culture.