Part of the reason that Alien’s star beasts were so effective was the potent sexual threat inherent in each monster. The facehugger’s oral assault on Kane, with its penetrating tubes and choking tentacles leading to a horrific fatal birth; the child (itself a penis with teeth) thrusting out of John Hurt, showering everyone with gore. And then the final, full grown alien with its phallic head sprouting another penetrator to puncture the skulls of the unlucky Nostromo crew. Penises everywhere, horrible dripping weird penises coming to kill everyone.This stuff isn’t a secret: Giger very deliberately designed the alien this way. Sex and death is at the heart of all he does.
This iconic bestiary would be a hard act to follow by anyone but would it be too much to ask for whoever it is that designed the nasties in Prometheus to do a bit more than just take one look at Alien and decide to do the exact opposite? Because that’s exactly what they did; Prometheus’ monsters are all vaginas. Don’t believe me? Have a look at the snake thing’s mouth. That’s right. A vagina. How do they kill? They envelop. No penetration occurs here; they wrap themselves around the two most irritating characters in the film and mercifully dispatch them. Noomi Rapace’s techno c-section results in a slithery customer akin to a lady’s parts with some of the leg left on. What does this Lovecraftian marital aid do to the bald engineer man? It envelops him.
This opposite day mentality even extends to the creatures’ colouring. The Alien was sleek, black and dripping wet? Make the Prometheuses white and the texture of raw chicken skin! This results in them not being scary in the slightest and completely laughable.
The fear of forced penetration is real but no-one is scared of being eaten by a giant vagina. A fast moving predator that lurks in the shadows is terrifying but an ungainly beige gynecological mess is not. By trying to distinguish itself from Alien by slavishly doing the opposite, Prometheus sacrifices the deep terror that put its predecessor into the stratosphere of horror.