Made in 1979 and directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is from a time when aliens were seen as being cute and cuddly. This is the film that changed all that, made a star out of Sigourney Weaver, and spawned three sequels as well as redefined the horror genre.
What can you really say about a film like Alien that has not been said a million times before?? To say it is great would be a vast understatement, to say it defined a genre doesn’t sound epic enough, and to say that the alien is scary is simply a pathetic way of describing one of the truly terrifying movie monsters ever committed to film…ok, as I am already on my knees bowing before Alien I should probably crack on with bringing anyone (is there anyone left??) who is unfamiliar with the story up to speed.
In space no one can hear you scream…I love that tagline
The seven person crew of the commercial ship the Nostromo are in stasis returning from Thedus to Earth when they are awoken by their onboard computer that has detected a faint transmission coming from a nearby planet. Company policy dictates they investigate so they land on the planet, causing some damage to their own ship, and whilst Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt), and Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) set out to investigate the signal's source, Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm), and Engineers Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto) stay behind to monitor their progress and make repairs.
Finding a derelict ship on the surface Kane ventures into a large hold and discovers what appear to be thousands of egg-like objects. Without warning something leaps from one of the eggs and attaches itself to his face. Taking him back to the Nostromo Dallas and Ash attempt to remove the creature but discover that its blood is concentrated acid that burns through the deck, thus meaning that they cannot remove the creature. With very few options the crew decide to put him back into stasis and resume their course towards Earth so he can recieve medical attention.
However before they can do this the creature detaches itself from Kane and dies. The crew don’t know what has happened and Kane seems none the worse for wear, so before they all go back into stasis for the journey home they sit down for a meal, but for all of them the nightmare is just about to begin…
Let me give you a history lesson as far as I am aware.
Now back in 1979 aliens were not vicious killing machines intent on slaughtering anything that crossed their path, consequently when Alien was released audiences were completely unprepared for what they were about to see. From the moment the alien is ‘born’ in the infamous dinner scene to the final horrifying confrontation between Ripley and the creature the audience is treated to a genre defining triumph of chills in which they, like the crew, expect the alien to come leaping out of a dark corner at any moment. The alien is fast, deadly and the crew are completely unprepared for its ferocity and consequently have no idea about how to fight it, and more importantly how to kill it. It stalks the ship and the crew picking them off one by one leaving the terrified survivors to come up with a way of killing it that won’t also result in their deaths.
This was really also the first real chance that audiences got to see a strong female lead, generally women are the damsels in distress, that need to be rescued by the heroic man. Here Ripley seems to be the only member of the crew who possesses the necessary will to fight the alien and ultimately kill it. The rest of the film’s cast are on fine form as the increasingly terrified men and women trying to stay alive whilst a vicious alien is remorselessly hunting them through the corridors of their ship. I really cannot stress enough how good the entire cast is and the audience can feel their terror oozing out of the screen to smother those watching in a terrifying blanket of horror.
The claustrophobic nature of the ship, the dark corners, the 70s era sci-fi will set audiences on the edge of their seats. The alien is remorseless and even worse it is seemingly impossible to kill. The tension is kept at breaking point the entire way through the film with the characters trying to come to terms with what is loose onboard their ship with them.
This is the film that has inspired hundreds of copies, but all of them pale in comparison to this, the original horror masterpiece. The film is available in both its original form but has been re-mastered in a director’s cut version that includes footage that wasn’t seen in the original release. I seriously doubt that anyone into their sci-fi and/or horror has not seen Alien and any self-respecting fan of the genre has to see this, the groundbreaking, and truly epic classic film.
As I have spent this entire review basically drooling over the acting, story, setting and everything else that goes with this film it should come as no surprise that my Thumb is well and truly Up.
10/10 - Truly great sci-fi horror