Many decades ago, Ridley Scott made the first Alien (1979) film using concepts and imagery reminiscent of H. P. Lovecraft. This was no coincidence, of course, for H. R. Geiger, the designer of the alien beings, was also the creator of his own artistic Necronomicon (1977) and an aficionado of all things Lovecraft (though some critics question the degree of influence). Nevertheless, the concept of utterly incomprehensible creatures who care nothing for humanity and its pretentions is quite Lovecraftian in theme.
And, of course, as I have shown elsewhere, notably in The Cult of Alien Gods (2009) and the eBook The Origin of the Space Gods (2011), the ancient astronaut theory in all its ridiculous permutations takes its origin from the French UFO culture, in turn influenced by H. P. Lovecraft’s tales of ancient cults serving extraterrestrials they mistake for deities.
Therefore, it is with some irony that I note that Scott, along with screenwriter Damon Lindelof (late of Lost and Star Trek), has announced that the plot of the new Alien prequel, Prometheus, will take the form of an homage to the ancient astronaut theory, derived explicitly from Eric von Daniken’s silly little books that tried and failed to prove that aliens came to earth to stack up piles of rocks and paint pictures of themselves.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Scott said:
"NASA and the Vatican agree that is almost mathematically impossible that we can be where we are today without there being a little help along the way. [...] That's what we're looking at (in the film), at some of Eric van Daniken's ideas of how did we humans come about."
Funny, I don’t recall NASA being in favor of creationism (at least in this election cycle), and I’m pretty sure aliens aren’t quite what the Vatican had in mind.
Obviously, as a fan of Lovecraft I have no problem with using ancient aliens as a fictional plot device. The problem is that Scott seems to thinks this fictional premise is actually true, and I rue next summer if Scott and the film’s cast and crew do the interview circuit pretending that ancient aliens really happened and giving spurious respectability to a theory that should have died decades ago.
As Lovecraft himself explained to William Frederick Anger (August 14, 1934), the Lovecraft circle never meant for their tales of ancient aliens to be taken as truth:
“We never, however, try to put it across as an actual hoax; but always carefully explain to enquirers that it is 100% fiction.”
I hope that Ridley Scott, David Lindelof, et al. will have the courage and the good sense to do the same.
P.S. Press reports say the film refers to its creatures as the "Alien Gods." Now, where have I heard that before?
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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