Alien (12/20/12)

AlienMovie Two Hundred Ninety

The crew of a ship returning to Earth investigates a strange signal from a small planet and discovers the horrors of Alien.

The Nostromo is traveling back to Earth from a mining expedition with a crew of seven but picks up a strange signal from a planetoid LV426 and are forced to investigate. Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Kane (John Hurt), and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) set out to investigate the signal where Kane encounters a strange egg that opens up and a creature attaches itself to his face. Brought back on-board the Nostromo, the creature eventually pops out of his chest and the rest of the crew has to find it. Along with the rest of the crew, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Ash (Ian Holm), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), and Parker (Yaphet Kotto), they are trapped with the alien creature on board when they discover that Ash is actually an android and the discovery of LV426 was actually a secret directive from their employer.

In this post-Prometheus world we live in, I imagine people will either strongly side with Alien or welcome the “prequel” with open arms. Watching Alien again after several years actually made me appreciate Prometheus a bit more from a broad view. On its own, however, Alien is still a terrifying and claustrophobic film that has aged incredibly well and manages to maintain its status as one of the best sci-fi/horror movies ever made. Also, having watched the director’s cut of the film from the blu-ray anthology set, I didn’t notice any real differences in the film.

Much has been made of Ripley as a strong female lead for a film but in Alien, much of her survival is based on being at the right place at the right time. If she had gone out onto the planet, she might have ended up like Kane. She could have been killed by Ash, but Parker is there to help. If she had gone with Parker and Lambert in search of the alien, she might have been killed. There are obviously situations in which she is smart and strong, but in 1979, Ripley was not much better equipped for a situation like this than anyone else on-board the Nostromo.

I’m not a big fan of defining genres of films and Alien is a shining example why. Is it sci-fi or is it horror? Frankly, it’s both but I would argue that it’s more horror. The setup of Alien is not very different from a film like Texas Chainsaw Massacre where a group of people stumble on a bad situation and have to survive. The only difference here is the location is space, hence the sci-fi connection. Other films in the series take a different path, to varying results, but Alien proves to be a favorite among many fans of the franchise – and with good reason.

Personally, I prefer the more action-oriented sequel, Aliens, but Alien is a film that utterly chills me every time I watch it. I know the twists, I know the parts that make me jump, but they still have a profound effect on me even after multiple viewings. I’ll change what I said at the beginning of the this review; Alien is definitely one of the greatest horror films ever made.

I give it 5 chestbursters out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


40 responses to “Alien (12/20/12)

  1. Pingback: Prometheus (6/10/12) &(10/26/12) | Andy Watches Movies

  2. I adore this film, I understand why many people prefer Aliens – they are damn close in terms of quality, but I’ll always prefer the claustrophobic nightmare that is Alien 😀

  3. The ending with the alarm and the strobe always puts me on the edge-of-my-seat.

    Good points about the Ripley character, though I agree with Mr. Rumsey’s comment about “Alien” the film being the birth of her strength.

    What’s great about the franchise is how they are all different in style and look from each other.

    • I do love the ending scenes, always makes me break out in a nervous sweat even though I know what’s coming.
      I love that they change the tone of each movie slightly even if some of the newer movies in the direct series are so-so.

  4. I prefer Aliens as well – it was released when I was 12, the perfect age to watch a fantastic female lead who didn’t look like a Barbie Doll kick major ass alongside the hottest guy I ever saw in my life (my 12-year-old fangirl attraction to Michael Biehn has yet to waiver). Plus, Tom Skerritt gives me a foul reaction. I hope in real life he is a nice, warm, engaging guy, but I can’t watch him without feeling somewhat nauseous.

  5. Alien is an incredible flick, a true classic. As you allude to, one of its strengths is that it crosses genre lines so well… few movies can do that.

    I vastly prefer this to Cameron’s sequel, though. Big time proponent of this one over the second….

    • My love for the sequel MAY largely stem from nostalgia. I had the toys, graphic novels, etc. for Aliens and didn’t see Alien for several years after. I’ll have to give the sequel another watch soon to be sure of my stance.

  6. Love this movie. Great write up.

    I really enjoy all 4 of the pre-Predator crossover Alien films, for different reasons. This is a shining example of sci-fi-horror. Aliens is sci-fi-action perfection. I like the suspense/tension of 3, even if it isn’t as horrific as the first. 4 is a great cheese piece that shouts “Check out Alien, Michael!” as it throws special effect after special effect at the wall to see if it sticks.

  7. Excellent write-up Andy! I’m pleased you did justice to my all-time favorite movie. I’m not a huge fan of the so-called director’s cut myself – as Ridley Scott basically ruined what was already a perfect piece of work – no big surprise there.

      • Yeah, there are multiple problems I have with the director’s cut. (Spoilers ahead – for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet). Apart from Scott trimming the quieter transitions between scenes after particular shock moments (in order to speed up the pacing I guess), there are the following three major gripes. 1. Unnecessary extra shots of the alien hanging from the undercarriage have been inserted just prior to Brett’s death which destroys the surprise reveal with the tail unfurling behind him. 2. In the original cut, just prior to Dallas entering the air shaft – there was a scene in which he goes to visit MUTHUR for advice on how to kill the alien and asks “What are my chances?” This scene is important because it reveals that Dallas isn’t really the brave captain he makes out to be. It is missing from the director’s cut. And finally – 3. The cocoon scene. This scene has been put back in after it was removed from the theatrical cut. It was originally taken out because a) It was a rushed job during filming and looks awful and b) It stops the film dead in its tracks as it rushes headlong towards the finale. These were valid reasons for ditching it in the first place and there are no good reasons for putting it back in. Oh yeah, and the other major gripe I have with the director’s cut is that Scott has dicked around with the contrast – so there is more detail in the shadows – which destroys the suspense of ‘where will it pop out from next?’ Sorry to get on my soap-box about all this – but it really irks me when directors can’t leave well enough alone.

        And to anyone who hasn’t seen ALIEN – give the director’s cut a wide birth and watch the remastered ’79 theatrical cut instead. 🙂

        So yeah, anyway, end of fanboy rant!


  8. Great review for those like me that haven’t seen the Alien franchise. It sets it up without giving too much away . Did see Prometheus so it and your review preps me well for it.

  9. Nice write-up, Andy. Alien is my fav of all time so it’s hard for me to be objective.

    Yeh, the DC versus the TC is an interesting one. I remember reading rumours about a near mythical ‘Dallas cocoon sequence’ long before those rumours became concrete. I thought at the time that if such an important sequence existed it should be in the film but as Greg Moss sez above, it’s the wrong time to put the brakes on. Intriguing concept, but badly timed.

    While I prefer the TC I have to say there are good things about the DC; I like the scene of them all listening to the transmission and then later, when the search party has left the ship, Ripley listens to it by herself. It’s always annoyed me, in the TC, when she asks the science officer for permission to listen to the transmission – with Dallas & Kane off the ship, Ripley is the senior officer. I don’t think she needs Ash’s permission!

    I also like the Lambert/ Ripley altercation – coz in the TC we don’t see a real reaction from any of the search party to Ripley’s decision not to allow them back onto the ship. The only problem with this scene in the DC is one too many “freeze him!” lines from Parker…

    I too don’t like the extra shots of the dangling alien in the Brett sequence; the cat sells it. The alien unfurling behind Brett & then the cat – done and done. But I do like that Parker & Ripley get there as Brett is taken lending more sense to Parker’s “The son of a bitch is huge!” line in the TC. I always used to watch that bit and think ‘how do you know how big it is?’

    Aliens is a fantastic sequel – but it’s Alien for me. Alien 3 is a complete mess – the extended version is an improvement – but watching Alien 3 is like watching a tragic accident happen in slow motion. Resurrection I have nothing but contempt for.

    Anyway, good stuff, mate.

  10. Pingback: My December Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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