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The Movie Glen Mazzara Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Oct 28, 2012
Originally published on October 28, 2012 6:33 pm

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For writer and producer Glen Mazzara, whose credits include the TV shows The Shield, Hawthorne, and the AMC zombie hit The Walking Dead, where he serves as show runner as well as executive producer, the movie he could watch a million times is Ridley Scott's Alien.


Interview Highlights

On why he thinks Alien works as a horror movie

"I think horror films always have to be as simple as possible. And this one is really just about 'Don't let the monsters in the house.' You know, when I go out and I leave my kids at home, I say, 'Don't open the door for anyone.' And Ian Holm, who play's the ship's science officer, Ash, opens the door."

On borrowing from Alien for his TV series The Walking Dead

One of the things that we did in The Walking Dead season premiere was our group comes across a prison, and we designed a set in which they go into dark corridors, you know, trying to clear it out of zombies so they could occupy this prison. I definitely said, 'I want this to feel like Alien.' As the group is going around I want to just feel claustrophobic, I want just a flashlight cutting the darkness, and I was happy that I was finally able to rip off the movie because it's been such a seminal piece for me, my whole life."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. We've been asking filmmakers about the movies they never get tired of watching, including this one which is perfect for Halloween.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GLEN MAZZARA: Hi. This is Glen Mazzara. I'm the executive producer of "The Walking Dead". The movie I've seen a million times is "Alien," directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver. The movie opens where a bunch of space truckers receive a beacon, and they have to investigate.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

TOM SKERRITT: (as Dallas) Mother's interrupted the course of our journey.

JOHN HURT: (as Kane) Why?

SKERRITT: (as Dallas) It seems she has intercepted a transmission of unknown origin. She got us up to check it out.

MAZZARA: One of the men is attacked...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

MAZZARA: ...and they end up bringing him onboard. And when they cut off his helmet, they find that this creature has wrapped itself around his face.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

SKERRITT: (as Dallas) What's it there down his throat?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I would suggest it's feeding him oxygen.

MAZZARA: This creature ends up invading the ship and stalking them.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: (as Ripley) Wait a minute. Wait. Dallas?

MAZZARA: And it's just pure terror. It's so scary. And I absolutely love it. I think it's a perfect film.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

MAZZARA: The other scene that really struck me is this - they're trying to track the creature throughout the spaceship, and they come across a cat. They have a pet cat on the ship, and the cat's been running around. And it, of course, scares everybody, and it runs off.

And they say, well, if we're tracking the alien, we're going to continue to get false readings off the cat. Someone has to go get the cat.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

SKERRITT: (as Dallas) I'll do it.

HARRY DEAN STANTON: (as Brett) Then go and get it.

MAZZARA: Harry Dean Stanton, who plays Brett, the engineering tech, is tracking this cat.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

STANTON: (as Brett) Here, kitty.

MAZZARA: And he comes into this room - and I don't know what this room is, but it seems to be raining in the room, and there are dangling chains. And he's trying to find the cat, and he's just, you know, calling for the cat. And it's just - you're just leaning in, you're so fascinated watching this scene. And then, of course the alien, which is now in full form and is over seven feet tall, is behind him, you know, and he just turns around and he sees it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

MAZZARA: The suspense of what's happening as he's just trying to find that cat is just so unbelievably scary. And the room is amazing, and it's just a great, great moment in cinema. It's really stuck with me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ALIEN")

MAZZARA: One of the things that we did in "The Walking Dead" season premiere was our group comes across a prison, and we designed a set in which they go into dark corridors, you know, trying to clear it out of zombies so they could occupy this prison.

I definitely said: I want this to feel like "Alien." As the group is going around, I want to just feel claustrophobic. I wanted just a flashlight cutting the darkness. And I was happy that I was finally able to rip off the movie because it's been such a seminal piece for me my whole life.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LYDEN: That's Glen Mazzara talking about the movie that he could watch a million times, Ridley Scott's "Alien." Mazzara is the executive producer of the hit TV series "The Walking Dead." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.