48

In Aliens when the marines first encounter the aliens, they head into the 'nest' and one of them says 'it's hot in here' and Hudson (Bill Paxton) says 'Yeah, but it's a dry heat'.

This line has always made me think that he is paying homage to another film or production.

Am I right or am I reading too much into the way he delivers the line?

  • 1
    In the biography of Vince Lombardi starring Ernest Borgnine (Portrait in Granite: The Vince Lombardi Story ), I recall Vince's character describing Green Bay winters to his wife Sarah: "But it's a dry cold." Later, his wife retorts: "Good it's such a dry cold." Hearing that line many years ago, for the first time and not long after moving from Rouen-Noranda, Quebec, to Southern Ontario, was very memorable. – Pieter Geerkens Mar 6 '17 at 21:02
  • I always thought that was a weird line, with all the water dripping around him because of the apparent humidity. (But it was still funny!) – BrettFromLA Mar 6 '17 at 21:08
  • "a bonfire's a dry heat" – zzzzBov Mar 6 '17 at 21:09
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    RIP Bill Paxton (1955-2017) – smci Mar 7 '17 at 8:06
  • "Cool Runnings" had "It's not the heat, it's the humidity", which also occurred in "Mr. Moto in Danger Island". – Andrew Grimm Mar 8 '17 at 2:25
77

It's an old joke/cliche dating back many years but it's not movie related

In Arizona, Texas and other parts of the west, the temperature often averages over 100 degrees during the summer. “But it’s a dry heat!” is the clichéd response that some natives give, explaining that it’s more tolerable without humidity. “The thermometer frequently registers 120 in the shade, but it’s a dry heat, and one doesn’t notice it at all” was cited in print in 1910 to jokingly describe the heat in Southern California.

Source with other references

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    I knew it was referring to something and it's no surprise that old jokes from the west of America don't really translate all that well to rainy old England ! – Pat Dobson Mar 6 '17 at 15:59
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    This answer makes it seem like the phrase is completely a joke, and only used in that sense. It's not. Dry heat IS more tolerable than the same temperature in humid weather, and people still use it without making any kind of joke. – ell Mar 6 '17 at 17:59
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    @sgroves Is 100% correct. 90° F in 100% relative humidity in the modern swamp of D.C. is almost unbearable, while 90° F in 10% RH in the modern desert that is LA is a pleasant afternoon. – Todd Wilcox Mar 6 '17 at 18:13
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    It's not just that a dry heat is more comfortable, it can be survivable when the same temperature at high humidity would kill you. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_index#Table_of_values – armb Mar 6 '17 at 18:21
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    When I (from NYC) went to college (near LA), I was shocked to discover on several occasions that the temperatures were in the 95-100 degree range—it didn’t feel even remotely that hot to me, since temperatures that high in (far more humid) NYC are vastly more unpleasant than the same temperatures in southern California. – KRyan Mar 6 '17 at 18:58
19

It's just a bit of gallows humor.

The remark is often said in real life to downplay someone else's complaint about heat. It's a casual remark and not something one would expect to hear in a life-and-death situation like the one in the movie -- so Hudson uses it as dark humor, its carefree normalcy contrasting with the extreme tension of the situation.

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    I also think that it's meant to be sarcastic because in that scene it's pretty clearly very humid. – MikeTheLiar Mar 6 '17 at 17:49

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