Movie Name: Alien
Studio: Brandywine Productions
Release Date(s): May 25, 1979
MPAA Rating: R
The deep-space crew of the Nostromo receives word of a possible alien distress signal coming from the surface of an unexplored planet. The ship sets down and three people go out to find the source of the signal…three return, but one has brought back an alien entity attached to his face. The creature was found on a crashed alien ship and has acid for blood. When the creature appears to die, Kane (John Hurt) is found alive and well. Something is growing in Kane, and when it breaks free it becomes lost in the Nostromo. It is up to the crew to find the alien and stop it before it kills them all.
Alien was directed by Ridley Scott and started a phenomenon. The first movie took aspects of the sci-fi movie It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) and Planet of the Vampires (1965) and added a horror aspect to them. It has spawned three sequels, two movie tie-in with the Predator series, comic books, and now Ridley Scott has returned for a big screen semi-prequel called Prometheus released in 2012.
Alien is a perfect blend of horror and science fiction with amazing visuals. The movie utilizes the art of H. R. Giger and his alien creature design. While it easily could have been seen as a guy in a costume, it is shot in a way to keep it obscured for the most part with just hints of what the alien really looks like (in fact near the end when it is blasted outside, it is a bit of a disappointment on some of the shots).
The decision to give the alien a machine-like appearance that blends in with the modern dank and dark surroundings of the Nostromo was genius. It pays off in the final scene in which Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) doesn’t see it mixed in with the escape pod wires and cords until she’s right on top of it. It blurs the idea of technology and life and that is further blurred by the revelation that Ash (Ian Holm) is a robot who has been ordered to allow the crew to die to procure the alien specimen. The alien and Ash are both cold killing machines.
Alien also introduces the theme of “Mother”…something that carries on throughout the series. In the series, Mother is the computer. Mother doesn’t protect her children, and Mother allows all the death to happen by giving the orders to pick up the alien. Ripley and the crew put themselves at odds with Mother and have to fight her for their life…In Aliens, the role reverses and Ripley finds herself in the role of a mother and facing another mother and both are trying to protect their offspring.
What makes Alien is that these themes work with a script that is scary. The alien is everywhere and scary as hell. It is full of jumps and very tense moments (I love animals but sorry, Jones the cat would be dead). Alien is actually my favorite movie of the series, but I do like Aliens also. Both movies really utilize the alien creatures to the maximum and create very two different movies.