Alien (1979)

Alien (1979)
  • Time: 117 min
  • Genre: Horror | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt


A commercial crew aboard the deep space towing vessel, Nostromo is on its way home when they pick an SOS warning from a distant planet. What they don’t know is that the SOS warning is not like any other ordinary warning call. Picking up the signal, the crew realize that they are not alone on the spaceship when a alien stowaway is on the cargo ship.


  • Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship…Nostromo? The crew of this commercial towing vessel is nearing the end of their large voyage, and they have definitely reached the end of their wits. With bonuses and families in mind, the crewmembers are looking forward to their life on Earth. Just when they think that the voyage is over, they receive a signal from an unknown planet, and they decide to investigate. When an enigmatic foreign organism attaches itself to one of the exploring crewmembers, the crew lets the alien of unknown origin onto the spacecraft, and they soon realize that they made a mistake.

    As the original film in one of the most successful franchises in the sci-fi/horror movie sub-genre, Alien was a defining moment in film. Filmed on an unprecedentedly small $8.4 million budget, this movie showed that with a devoted director and some resourcefulness, almost any film can be accomplished. This was Ridley Scott’s big break as a director, and he would go on to give us great films like Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and American Gangster.
    Though it was capitalized by its visual effects, this film also had some great characters; including Ellen Ripley, who is one of the most iconic female bada** characters in film history. Also, the movies version of aliens, a popular sci-fi staple, is also very recognizable.
    Now let’s talk about the horror aspect of the movie. Besides a few short instances, I was not as scared as I expected to be. I accredit it to my previous knowledge of the infamous “chest-bursting” scene. For both those who have and have not witnessed this great film, I definitely suggest the experience that this film offers.

    I was very impressed with the low-budget effects, which still hold up today. However, I was not as into it as I was hoping, and as horror is the main focus, this fault definitely took some points off the board.

  • “Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Meaow. Here Jonesy”.

    Two years after George Lucas and Steven Spielberg wowed viewers and rejuvenated the science-fiction genre with Star Wars (1977) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) respectively, Ridley Scott scared the living hell out of moviegoers with Alien, perhaps the most terrifying (read: satisfying) sci-fi horror picture ever made. It spurned three sequels in which only James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) came close to eclipsing the original.

    Alien is, in my opinion, Scott’s finest achievement as a filmmaker and it is only his second feature. A few years later, he directed another sci-fi masterpiece called Blade Runner (1982), establishing himself as one of the genre’s supreme visual stylists.

    Alien stars Sigourney Weaver who plays arguably the greatest sci-fi heroine of all-time – Ellen Ripley. She is part of a minimal crew on board a large deep-space tug called the Nostromo. Along the journey back to Earth, they intercept a distress call from a nearby space body and decide to investigate, unaware of the perils that lie ahead.

    Kane (John Hurt) is attacked by a ‘Facehugger’ which impregnates him. He then dies in the film’s most iconic scene – the chestburster sequence – in which a small, phallic creature pops out of his chest in gory fashion. It then escapes to somewhere in the ship where it sheds its skin and grows into one of cinema’s most terrifying creations, the grotesquely beautiful Alien.

    Designed by H.R. Giger, the Alien is sparingly-glimpsed. Like the film’s characters, we are unsure how it really looks like and how evil it really is. This ‘Jaws effect’ approach, together with Scott’s slow, deliberate pacing and direction, adds considerably to the terror that it creates. The tension is incredible, especially in scenes when a character wanders off alone to his eventual doom.

    The creature’s savagery is matched by its instinctive intelligence. Even though it is all-powerful, the Alien chooses to hunt down each character one by one, playing on their fears as they see their numbers dwindle by the hour.

    The film is brilliantly scored by the late Jerry Goldsmith who used musical cues to dictate the level of suspense. The art direction and set decoration are fantastic with influences from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). This is most evident in the interior design of the Nostromo which gives a sense of isolation and claustrophobia.

    The final quarter of the film is literally a dizzying blend of sight and sound. As Ripley races against time to escape the Alien, Scott brings the suspense to an unbearable high through the use of shaky hand-held cameras, flickering lighting, loud hissing sounds, and quick cuts.

    Often compared to its direct sequel, Alien is in my opinion the better picture. Although Cameron’s Aliens is more epic, has a higher rewatchability and packs more thrilling action, the first installment is near perfect in the way it handles tension. It is as nerve-wrecking watching it the tenth time as the first.

    Not only is Scott’s film an excellent technical achievement, it is an artistic triumph as well. It is, I daresay, one of the greatest films ever made.

    Verdict: Of all the science-fiction horror films ever made, Ridley Scott’s finest work is still the greatest.

    GRADE: A+ (10/10 or 5 stars)
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