Yet another movie that needs no introduction, so I'll dive right into talking about some of the video releases.
Get the widescreen edition. The pan and scan version of this film is actually boring. "Alien" is one of the few films that absolutely, positively needs to be seen in its original ratio. The special edition of the laserdisc also features some legendary scenes that were deleted from the original movie. Apparently this is the version that, as of this writing, was scheduled to be released on DVD in 1999.
Now, onto the movie. ... It's the best horror-science fiction film ever made. Like "The Exorcist," it spawned countless imitations which are still being cranked out today. Even big-budget fear films like "Hollowman" borrow liberally from it, along with submarine thrillers like "U-571." (Among some of the more amusing "Alien" clones are "Alien Contamination" and "Galaxy of Terror.") It launched the careers of actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto and Harry Dean Stanton.
The story, co-written by Dan O'Bannon (who would later direct "Return of the Living Dead") follows a crew aboard the futuristic shipping space vessel Nostromo, who are awakened from hibernation when the ship detects an alien life form. When they land on a desolate planet to investigate, a creature that fans dubbed the "face hugger" attaches itself to one of the crew members (John Hurt) implanting an alien inside of him. It finally emerges by blasting out of his stomach at the dinner table. Scott directs the film in a gritty and realistic way, wisely leaving much of the monster up to the imagination. We're barely even given a glimpse of the alien, which was designed by artist H.R. Geiger.
Like many fine horror films, "Alien" focuses on class struggle, between the "grunts" and officers on the spaceship and ultimately between the entire crew and the military-minded corporation they work for. Beyond the paranoid alien landscapes crafted by Giger, the claustrophobia of the Nostromo and the incredibly eerie score by Jerry Goldsmith (of "Omen" fame) lies the real horror: That we can't trust any human being with authority over us. It was a theme that would be carried on throughout the rest of the "Alien" franchise -- a series that would last nearly 20 years.
This was only Scott's second movie. Unfortunately, it would be his only real horror film, although he did tackle "Hannibal," a movie that flirts with horror and features one of the most gruesome gore scenes ever to appear in a mainstream movie. After the awesome success of the original "Alien," which spawned everything from bubblegum cards to photonovels to a Heavy Metal comic book adaptation, sequels were inevitable. Thankfully 20th Century Fox waited for the right man to show up to do the job. That man was James Cameron. His sequel "Aliens" is considered by some to be better than the original.
Awesome movie. Old, but definitely worth watching.
Posted by drew on September 16, 2010
this was one of four horror films that gave me nightmares when i was a kid, i love this film.
Posted by Flipsider on July 17, 2011
There are some classics that don't necessarily play well with today's generation... this is not one of them. This is still one of the most effective horror movies ever made, with awesome characters and acting. The creature design is legendary. It also features one of the best scores ever put to film.
Rank this film on a '666 scale' of one to six (left to right). Based on 2424 votes.