Director: Ridley Scott
Written by: Dan O'Bannon
Weapon of Choice: Flamethrower
Other movies in this series:
Out in the depths of space, the crew of the Nostromo receives a distress call coming from a distant, uncharted planet. They land and investigate. What they discover is a seemingly-unstoppable alien creature that grows, learns, and develops, and has the nasty habit of picking off members of the crew one by one.
I first saw Alien in 1988, in my basement, with my best friend's brother. I was a big fan of James Cameron's sequel, and if I recall, I actually read the novelisation by Alan Dean Foster first. Even so, Alien scared me a lot more than Aliens did. Stylish, intelligent, eerie, well-written, and unsettling, Ridley Scott's claustrophobic and discomforting Sci-Fi Thriller is a modern-day classic. It's the film that taught us that "In space, no one can hear you scream." Only twenty years later, this is already one of the most influential Science Fiction films of all time, and is widely respected by non-Horror fans.
In Spanish, this film was called "The Eighth Passenger." Cool, no?
The chest-bursting scene is still powerful and unnerving, and, as a testament to the talents involved, literally every actor in Alien (Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, and Yaphet Kotto) is still visibly working today. H.R. Geiger's creation is one of the most original (and endlessly duplicated) film monsters of all time. It really is amazing, and unlike anything that came before. Sigourney Weaver is fantastic (as she would be again in the sequel), shining even among such a top-notch cast, and deservedly became a star.
I adored Aliens from the first time I saw it, so I went into this one with a bias I've never really gotten over. I love the pacing and story of Aliens and still prefer the 1986 film, but for once, can respect the views of those who disagree with me.
After all these years, Alien (including the special effects and the future technology) holds up surprisingly well (who would've thought computers would progress at the rate they did, anyway?). It's still scary, still fascinating, still well worth screaming about.
Best Scare: When Dallas (Skerritt) runs afoul of the scaly beastie in the tunnel.
I'd Recommend It To: Any Horror, Science Fiction, or Film junkie.
Note: I saw this recently on the big screen, and it was even better than I remembered. You know, Ridley Scott shouldn't feel bad that, from Split Second to Creature to Event Horizon, there have been Alien clones . . . his original is still better than all of them.
The tyranist's thoughts
Alien is one of those classics that I find so hard to review because I always think that I am babbling too much. I first saw this movie a lot of years ago and it was the second scariest movie this young boy had ever seen ( The Shining being the scariest). But I was in love. I have been a science fiction nut since I learned how to read and have plumbed the depths of the genre. This film remains a classic in both fields I love. On the science fiction front, it has a ponderous, adventurous atmosphere that is intentionally like 2001: A Space Odyssey that is combined with the pure sci-fi mystery of wondering just what is out there. On the horror front, there are multiple legitimate scares combined with a very menacing, claustrophobic mood. You'll see that beast in almost every organic shape in the dark for weeks.
A lot of people claim that Aliens is better than this one. For me they are one and the same, but I am reputed for being unable to see small pieces of something I love and only see the whole. I believe that most of that criticism is due to pacing. I don't have a problem with the slow movement of the movie and really enjoy the suspense and tension that it builds. I guess we live in the age when MTV has deprived the American public of its attention span.
The one thing in the movie that I feel I must complain about at least a little is Jones. She goes back for that cat so often. Of course, if you have read Philip K. Dick's short story "The Alien Mind" you might think that going back for the cat is a very, very good thing.
I don't believe that any self-respecting horror fan has not seen this movie, but I would implore those of you who have skipped it in favor of Aliens over the years to give it another shot. This movie is well-worth the time spent.
Total Skulls: 12
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|What the hell?|
|x years ago . . .|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood hits camera|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|