Everybody screams at The National Space Centre
By midlandsmovies, Aug 1 2015 08:38AM
Horror blog Runs in Rivers made plans to make everybody scream in space at Leicester’s National Space Centre with a summer screening of Ridley Scott’s Alien. Midlands Movies Mike (and Marek) headed down to this exclusive showing making sure our priority one was to bring back some great memories. All other priorities rescinded...
On a lovely Summer evening in July, me and my fellow film friends Matt, Tim and Kath headed to the National Space Centre in Leicester for an evening of movie amusement. Picking me up from my base in the city centre – I decided to bring along my recently purchased plush facehugger (a kind of horrific teddy bear of movie memorabilia) – we drove to one of Leicester’s premier tourist attractions to watch the 1979 horror sci-fi Alien.
None of us had seen a film screened in this one-of-a-kind location before but we were very excited owing to Runs in Rivers plans to show it within the planetarium of the venue.
Runs in Rivers themselves are a local horror blog reviewing indie, underground and extreme horror and this special screening was a chance for many local sci-fi fans to catch Ridley Scott's classic on the big screen – some, including myself, for the very first time.
With the unique venue ensuring a suitably cosmic setting, the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium is just one part of the National Space Centre. Opening in 2001 (!) the centre’s odyssey begins with six main galleries of exhibits and visitor activities covering flight, astronomy and cosmology. We however would be enjoying Weaver, Skerritt and co inside the Digistar 3 dome cinema.
We pulled up around seven in the evening at the centre’s main car park and after a quick “vape” we waited by the first attraction that is situated nearby called the “space catapult”.
This launch cradle is designed to hold a satellite inside the cargo bay of a US Space Shuttle eventually “flipping” it out into space spinning like a top to keep it stable in orbit. However, given its name we discussed its use by Wile E. Coyote or Bart Simpson and the unfortunate fact that it simply looked like a bit of space junk! However, this merely begins a brilliant journey inside where visitors can see more exciting fare like the gigantic Blue Streak and PGM-17 Thor space-craft, both housed in their Rocket Tower.
Walking under one of the few Soyuz capsules in Europe, the automatic “cargo” doors of the centre already had us excited for our exploration and Runs In Rivers choice of venue could not have been better.
As we grabbed a couple of space beers (actually just Heinekens) to warm up, the friendly staff and organisers made everyone feel comfortable with their welcoming chats and warm hospitality. In addition, they had provided a full on Alien (see pic) for the evening whose working jaws were a great touch. The Alien often crept up on unsuspecting visitors who were queuing, resulting in big laughs from us all. Nevertheless, I got caught out later by the same thing as I leapt in the air after the Xenomorph lunged over my shoulder. It was at this point I met up with our writer Marek. Unbelievably, since launching Midlands Movies, Marek has contributed an amazing amount of articles, reviews and features for us and bar a brief moment one morning (where neither of us was quite sure of who we were) this was the first time we had met. In three years!!
Along with Marek was fellow film fan Paul Crowson, the self-styled Dr. Action of the awesome movie blog Dr. Action and The Kick Ass Kid Commentaries. Check them out here http://dractionkickass.blogspot.co.uk
After a great chat, it was soon time to enter the auditorium and with a vista of stars covering the planetarium’s dome, the excited whispers turned into enormous approval of the location for this exceptional showing.
We sat down on the cinema’s chairs – which go back to an almost horizontal angle so be careful not to fall asleep – but with the film close to start, the thrilled crowd were unlikely to nap during the scares and jumps aboard the Nostromo.
And what of the film itself? Well, there’s very little to add to what has been said many times before. You know the story. The H. R. Giger-designed extraterrestrial creature stalks a space crew after being picked up via a contaminated John Hurt (a Midlands local from Derby no less). Outer space never looked so vast on the planetarium’s projection though, whose slightly curved screen meant that the view was a true representation of your eyesight, making you turn your head across the wide shots such was the size of the screen.
The Oscar winning effects looked as great as ever and the most startling aspect of a film that was 36 years old was that I commented that it looked like it “had barely aged one bit”. Bar a few dodgy 70s-style shaggy haircuts, the brilliant set design, perfect blend of SFX with the actors and Scott’s foreboding direction gives the film such a timeless quality it could have been made in the last few years.
An iconic movie, it has since been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and appeared in our Top 50 Movies of All Time voted by our readers alongside it’s equally lauded sequel Aliens by director James Cameron.
We said during the vote: “Perfectly directed, the film influenced a slew of imitators and launched a franchise behemoth that he would return to in 2012’s Prometheus. Featuring Alien-rape, the film is a superb blend of scares, screams and spooks in space with excellent special effects and a new heroine in Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley”.
As the credits rolled we discussed what a great night it had been. Scott’s “starbeast“ continues to amaze and astonish even after all this time and a perfect evening was had in a perfect setting and all credit must go to Runs In Rivers for putting on an impressive cosmic celebration.
This is Mike, last survivor of the Space Centre, signing off.
For more info on Runs in Rivers and to book future events please see their website here:
To visit the National Space Centre in Leicester check them out at this link:
Midlands Movies Mike