Again, Alien is a big influence in terms of fear and psychological horror. As are HP Lovecraft’s paranoid stories of ancient, unknowable, terrifying things. I best first get out the way that yes, Lovecraft was a massive racist and no doubt his fervid imaginings can be linked to an irrational mind, but he’s a master at conjuring that sense of cosmic and ancient horror – the idea of beings from the dawn of time that we can’t possibly come to understand, and that will most likely drive you to insanity.
We saw this Mike Nelson installation at the Collective Gallery in Edinburgh back around 1999.
It’s called To The Memory of HP Lovecraft. It’s hard to express just how creepy it was to wander through this space. This systematic but deranged, disturbed space. Something was driven to this. It was very ordinary, and blankly lit. Weird and scary. Seriously, it’s haunted us ever since.
There’s a sequence towards the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey where a group of astronauts encounter the inexplicable monolith on the moon, which feels particularly influential in terms of its sense of mystery and dread.
There’s definitely something of this mystery and dread in Alien too. Whilst writing this, I looked again at the original 1979 trailer and realised how much it influenced the DLLH trailer, without us even thinking about it.
That tagline: In space, no-one can hear you scream, is a doozy. The idea of insignificance, and of being trapped far away from other people is pretty terrifying. Loneliness, isolation – and how we face and counter those things for our own survival and sense of self.