Alien is the perfect combination of science fiction and horror. It’s undoubtedly one of the greatest and scariest ever made. Since today is my birthday, I thought I would talk about one of my biggest obsessions growing up. Even though Alien is R rated and clearly not meant for kids. Despite the toys, comics, and video games that were eventually spawned from the franchise. I enjoyed watching the movie on DVD and crawling around like the titular alien. My parents were the ones that initially told us it was a must watch. Since we were very much into aliens at the time.
It’s kinda surprising that its simple title hadn’t been used until now, but Alien stands out for several reasons. The teaser trailer is one of the best ever made. Starting with an egg in space that cracks. Followed by an eerie sound accompanied by mysterious flashes of an astronaut crew that gets progressively more intense. Until it suddenly ends with perhaps the most iconic movie tagline of all time, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” It makes me wish I was around during the 70’s to see that trailer for the first time…
Alien is basically a haunted house movie set on a spaceship. With astronauts as the victims and an extraterrestrial as the monster that hunts them down one by one. Ridley Scott perfectly captures the claustrophobic nature of the ship matched with its moody atmosphere, in what would turn out to be only the second film he directed. Alien centers on the crew of a space freighter called the Nostromo. A small crew/cast that consists of only 7 people. The ship’s captain Dallas, Ripley, Lambert, Brett, Kane, Ash, and Parker.
The crew awakens from hypersleep to answer a distress signal on the moon LV-426. Where they discover a mysterious vessel containing eggs. The titular alien (or Xenomorph) is one of the most unique aliens ever created. Most defined by its equally unique lifecycle. Kane becomes an unwilling host when the spider-like “facehugger” attaches itself to him. A process that makes most people assume there’s a sexual overtone to it. This leads to the film’s scariest scene that was a complete shock to everyone (including the actors themselves). While eating dinner, Kane begins to choke, convulse, and suddenly blood spurts out of his chest along with a “chestburster.” A snake-like creature that growls before slinking away.
It could have been killed if not for Ash. Who turns out to be a murderous milky android that intends to bring the alien back to Earth. After shedding its skin, the alien takes on its iconic adult form. A biomechanical creature with a long banana shaped head, no visible eyes, claws, a razor sharp tail, acid for blood, and a retractable second mouth. Thanks to the use of practical effects, Alien won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The creature itself was performed by a tall African man. The alien is able to pick off the crew due to its body blending in with the ship. Crew members are killed from above, in the air ducts, and off screen.
While it seems like the captain is the main character, Ripley ends up being the lone survivor. Although the role was intended to be male, making her female was a stroke of genius. Ripley is a smart resourceful badass brought to life by Sigourney Weaver’s star making performance. Her cat Jones is a really good actor too. When the ship’s computer (Mother) self destructs the Nostromo, it seems like she’s safe. Until the alien survives long enough to be shot into deep space through an airlock. Above anything else, Alien made us fear the unknown. Which is why Alien has made such a lasting impression on both the horror and sci-fi genre.
Followed by: Aliens