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October 30, 2003 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-30

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2B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, October 30, 2003
Truths be told: Exposing urban legends at 'U'

The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine
No one can hear you scream:

y Kaema Akpan
or the Daily

Do you remember when you took
tour of campus trailing behind that
right-eyed cheerful Campus Day
eader? There were annoying ques-
ions that your parents kept on ask-
ng while you lagged behind. You
istened to tales of virgins that drive
ions wild and finding your future
nate under the curvature of the
krch. That was great and all, but
vhat are the real stories lurking
>ehind Angell Hall's closed doors
end buried beneath the 'M?'
"The urban legends here are root-
d in tradition and are definitely
neant to be more fun than scary. As
ar as whether or not they are true
. well, it's a secret," said Campus

Day leader Alison Gerken.
Everyone knows of the stories,
but do urban legends really exist,
especially here at Michigan?
"They make for a good horror
movie. I personally don't believe in
them, but they better not happen to
me," LSA junior Tara Traub said.
It's time to get down to the nitty
gritty. In honor of Halloween, here's
everything that your campus day
leader never told you, and more: the
urban legends of the University of
1. Have you ever wondered about
the creepy cemetery positioned a lit-
tle too close to Markley?
Flocks of crows can often be seen
taking refuge in the trees or on the
ground, and animals are supposed to

see the "unseen." So, what's the
deal? In 1967, after failing their
third consecutive organic chemistry
exam, a group of overwrought stu-
dents, in a fit of mass hysteria, were
seen running to the Hill area from
Central Campus never to be seen
again. Their spirits are known to
gather in the cemetery, where some-
times they can be heard chanting,
"if only we had gone to State." If
that isn't believable, at least now
you have an explanation for the ran-
dom spinning of the Cube.
2. A professor was inspired by his
pubescent years spent as a hippy,
and decided to teach a mini course
on the effects of the Grateful Dead
on society. Later banned from the
University for his promotion of drug

use, he staged a protest on the bell
tower with his students and fell to
his demise when he tried to fly. He
is now known to haunt the bell
tower, which offers insight into the
four different times that can be
found on the tower ... 4:20 anyone?
3. In 1995, while construction
workers were building Randall
Laboratories, cadavers were found
buried underground. Apparently
they had been "forgotten."
"We learned about it in my
Michigan history class and I
thought it was really interesting that
there were bodies buried under-
neath," said LSA junior Jenni Ferro.
It's also creepy that only two-thirds
of the bodies were dug up, still leav-
ing bodies underground."
What the history course failed to
mention was that they were really
the bodies of students who went to

University Health Services and were
misdiagnosed with a case of strep
throat or a positive pregnancy test.
4. For those of you who that
thought you were safe on North
campus, keep dreaming. Bursley is
built on top of tunnels leading from
the mental ward of an insane asy-
lum. Crazed ex-engineering students
recently turned Kinesiology majors
are known to wander the tunnels in
search of a 4.0 grade-point average.
5. And finally, this wouldn't be a
story if there wasn't any mention of
the squirrels. You know you have
seen them - they are enormously
large and enormously stupid. Be
careful, because in a jealous rage,
these squirrels are known to attack
any intelligent or more superior life
form, in other words, Michigan

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

We don't check our candy
before we eat it. Unless it is
open and chewed on already ...
w t, yes W!e d+ o

Ridley Scott's 1979 visionary film
"Alien" follows in the grand tradition
of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and
"Star Wars" in its
epic scope, which
illustrates and
then isolates the
image of a colos-
sal ship as some-
thing stranded in
desolate, endless
space. Instead of
focusing on an existential Kubrickian
journey or the grandiose space opera
of "Star Wars," Scott's film focuses
on the utilitarian notion of "mission
gone wrong, let's get home."
With just one non-sci fi film under
his belt, Scott was offered "Alien"
and recognized a way in which he
could implement his newly discov-
ered Metal Hurlant - a European
avant-garde comic magazine -
influence into the visual style of the
film. Collaborating with influential
Swiss surrealist painter H.R.Giger
for conceptual design of the actual
Alien, they created the biomechani-
cal look that has dominated the rep-
resentation of extraterrestrials in
sci-fi movies to come.
The film is peppered with slow,
long panoramic shots that establish
mood and build suspense. The care-
ful camera movement and narrative
display a type of pacing lost in
today's horror and science fiction
films, e.g. "Red
Planet." This
manner of
patient filmmak-
ing trusts the
audience enough
to wait for the
tension to build
and not drown
them with explo-
The power of
silence is shown
through constant
focus of the size
of the ship,
which builds
and foreshadows
something more sinister. The use of
negative space, the strength of what
is not seen and anticipation is the
mastery that has made directors like
Hitchcock and films like "Jaws"
such cultural milestones. Also inno-
vative were the eschewed romantic

ideals of noble scientists and fear-
less space explorers, which are all
too familiar of the genre. Instead,
the realistic notions of space travel
becoming mundane and the crew as
contracted laborers make a great
contrast to the
wondrous shots of
Ilu interstellar space.
From The fact that the
the cast is old helps
Vault give the sense of
blue-collar workers
stuck transporting
ore and ready to go
home. Conversations consist of the
disdain for the ship food, which pro-
duces double entendres between eat-
ing and sex. Issues of class, sexism
and bureaucracy are present as we
see the two repairmen incessantly
wondering about lesser pay shares,
Ripley's orders being ignored by the
crew and the faceless company giv-
ing out dangerous mission objec-
tives favoring discovery over the
group's safety.
After receiving a signal of appar-
ent distress, the crew is sent to
investigate the source and every
aspect is shown with intricate detail.
From the descent to the planet's sur-
face, to the ominous glimpse of the
alien ship, to the petrified pilot and
the beautiful atmospherics of the
primordial mist of subterranean
environment, nothing is missed. The
tense inspection of the Alien egg by
Kane, played by John Hurt ("The
Elephant Man"), followed by its
explosion onto
his face is the
perfect payoff to
the build.
But that's all
you get because
the camera cuts
away. No pro-
longed, action-
filled struggle
with the alien,
but more sus-
pense instead.
Then the leech is
seen resting on
his face, as it is
slowly prodded,
examined and
then bleeds acid and more pay-off as
the acid burns through the ship with
ease. The Alien creature is constantly
changing shape and is seen so infre-
quently that a tangible form cannot
even be placed on it. The imagina-
tion is left to do most of the work.


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Sigoumey you fox.
Straight from the "Jaws" school of
film, Scott believes the less the
antagonist is seen, the more frighten-
ing it becomes. A modern applica-
tion was seen most recently in M.
Night Shyamalan's film "Signs."
This film made another brave
move by having only a female
character survive, keeping Ripley,
Sigourney Weaver ("Aliens"), who
had no prior movie experience, as
the lead for all subsequent sequels.
Her portrayal of a tough, able and
quick-thinking Ripley displayed
the grace-under-fire attitude that
set the prototype for future female
sci-fi heroines.
After this film, the focus moved
away from the idea of sci-fi as horror
and more into sci-fi as action. There
is no clearer evidence of this than the
arrival of director James Cameron in
"Aliens," the 1986 sequel that
focused on an all-out war on the
inhabited planet between the aliens
and humans. The franchise continued
with epigones such as "Aliens 3" and

Courtesy of FOX
"Alien: Resurrection."
Despite turning out another sci-fi
masterpiece in "Blade Runner," (the
director's cut ending must be seen
to be appreciated) even Ridley Scott
lost the original precision he
showed with this film and moved
away from the subtle style of trust-
ing filmmaking to a more visceral,
straightforward action style with
movies like, "Hannibal," "Black
Hawk Down," "Gladiator" and
"Matchstick Men."
The masterstroke of "Alien" was
its willingness to build with preci-
sion, and exacting perfection, every
detail that lead to conflict and action.
It is hard to find this attention to
detail in today's films.
With the theatrical re-release this
Halloween, a new viewing of this
monumental 70's film will be an
alien experience for the average the-
atergoer but a welcome and needed
look back to an almost lost style of
storytelling of dark nuance and
M1: KI


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