Alien (1979)

alien poster 1979 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great, scary, smart, horror-sci-fi film


Movie Info

Movie Name: Alien

Studio: Brandywine Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): May 25, 1979

MPAA Rating: R

alien john hurt egg scene

Lesson learned…don’t stick your head in giant alien pods

The crew of the Nostromo has been pulled out of sleep to respond to an emergency distress beacon.  With questions to its origin, a trip to an alien planet brings back horror.  An alien has been unleashed on the ship and the alien is growing and eliminating the crew one-by-one.  Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) finds herself at odds with much of the crew as she joins them in trying to stop the creature…in space, no one can hear you scream!

Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is a horror science-fiction film.  The movie was initially released to mixed reviews, but the film soon gained a cult following and was regarded as one of the better films of the genre.  The film won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects with a nomination for Best Art Direction.  The film was selected for preservation in the Nation Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2002.

alien baby dinner scene

…and a legend is born!

Alien was already a legend by the time I saw it, and while Aliens now seems to be the popular favorite, I still think Alien is the best in the franchise.  The horror and style of the film still holds up years later.

The film’s story (admitted by the screen writer Dan O’Bannon) steals a lot from other movies, but manages to make an original feeling film.  The idea of an alien trapping people on a ship was lifted from It, The Terror from Beyond Space, the landing on the planet was Planet of the Vampires and Forbidden Planet, and the whole killing of the crew is reminiscent of the original Thing from Another World. It was woven into a story that feels borrowed, but entirely original at the same time…and the horror is ratcheted up in the process.

alien 1979 ash android ian holm

Got Milk?

Part of what makes the film original is the casting.  Weaver’s Ripley was kind of planned to be a man, but it was written in a way that it didn’t matter if the character was male or female…and one of the strongest female leads was born when Weaver stepped in.  She’s joined by a very strong supporting cast including Tom Skerritt as the captain who is quickly dispatched, John Hurt whose death is one of the most memorable scenes in film deaths, and Ian Holm who really creates a truly creepy sleeper android in Ash.  Veronica Cartwright continued her skill at being a great scream queen at the time, and I always liked her antagonistic relationship with Ripley.  The decision to have the “working crew” upon the Nostromo with a whole different skill set also was interesting and allowed for a ton of variety in the actors including Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphet Kotto.

alien dallas killed

Gimme a hug!!!

The king of Alien is its special effects and look that has held up over the decades.  The designs by famed artist H.R. Giger took the organic and made it mechanic.  This is not only a really cool look for the alien but leads to great scares like the ending sequence where you can’t see the alien blending into the escape pod.  These up-close visuals are combined with great big sets and models for the shooting in scale…plus I can’t commend Bolaji Badejo’s performance as the actual alien enough especially when dealing with an awkward suit.

Alien is a great film and it is a film I can watch over and over again.  I really also like Aliens but I feel Aliens is really a different film with it being action-horror (stressing the action) while this film is more horror than sci-fi.  There are also a lot of layers to the series within the film and within the series as a whole (the idea of “Mother” hangs heavy over the first set of films while “Father” is a theme of the Prometheus line).  Alien is a must see even if you think the series has lost a lot of its quality over the years.  Alien was followed by Aliens in 1986.

Related Links:

Prometheus (2012)

Alien:  Covenant (2017)

Aliens (1986)

Alien3 (1992)

Alien:  Resurrection (1997)

Aliens vs. Predator (2004)

Aliens vs. Predator:  Requiem (2007)

It!  The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

Planet of the Vampires (1965)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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