Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dark of Space

With Mothership, an official Alien rpg, and probably some others I'm forgetting, the 70s "grubby future" sci-fi horror genre is quite well represented in gaming.

But sci-fi horror wasn't invented in the 70s. Alien borrowed a lot from the films like It! The Terror from Beyond Space and Planet of the Vampires, where gleaming spaceship hulls, shiny floors, and smart uniforms were the rule, but horrors still lurked in the darkness. When you think about it, Forbidden Planet is kind of horrorific if we ignore Anne Francis--and Robby the Robot.

The antecedents of this sort of "rocket horror" are to be found in prose science fiction. A.E. van Vogt short stories "Black Destroyer" and "Discord in Scarlet" were similar enough to Alien that 20th Century Fox settled a lawsuit. Reaching even further back, CL Moore's Northwest Smith short-stories from the '30s had a strong horror element.

It's time to get blood splatter on all that chrome! No one can hear square-jawed spacemen scream in hard vacuum, either.


Dick McGee said...

It! remains one of my favorite films from that era, only slight behind the Thing. Wonderfully creepy flick that inspired so many later works, directly or indirectly. A shame its name was stolen by those wretched clown-spider movies from King.

Never actually got to read Black Destroyer as a standalone, ran into it the Voyage of the Space Beagle compilation. IIRC the Coeurl was in Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials, and if not it certainly should have been.

The_Myth said...

Thanks for mentioning "The Black Destroyer."

Coeurl sounds like the basis for D&D's displacer beast! Black, cat-shaped, with shoulder tentacles!!

Trey said...

It definitely was!