As the eye-melting Avatar begins its march towards inevitable world domination, we thought it might be fun to go into the wayback machine and dig up the short film that got James Cameron started. In 1978, Cameron was just another young sci-fi geek with dreams of making big movies. He had, however, basically read up on all the ins and outs of special effects. So, he and his buddy Randall Frakes got together and made this short, Xenogenesis, which is hilariously short on plot but pretty impressive effects-wise, especially considering that it was made by complete novices. (His work on this film would get Cameron hired as a model maker for Roger Corman productions, where he’d rise very quickly. The rest is history.)
It’s also kind of amazing how Xenogenesis manages, in its quick running time, to touch on several of Cameron’s more prominent obsessions: The man vs. machine plotline, the machine vs. machine plotline, the engineered human character, even the beginnings of the exosuits we see in Aliens and Avatar (manned here by, of course, a tough female character). All that’s missing is a bad-ass marine with huge biceps; we’re assuming Cameron just couldn’t afford one of those yet.
Here’s Part 1:
And Part 2: