Film: Alien

Cover image
Film:

Alien

Series: 1st in Alien Quadrilogy
Director: Ridley Scott
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

A landmark of science fiction and horror, Alien arrived in 1979 between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back as a stylishly malevolent alternative to George Lucas’s space fantasy. Partially inspired by 1958’s It! The Terror from Beyond Space, this instant classic set a tone of its own, offering richly detailed sets, ominous atmosphere, relentless suspense, and a flawless ensemble cast as the crew of the space freighter Nostromo, who fall prey to a vicious creature (designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger) that had gestated…

Reviews

Amazon.com

A landmark of science fiction and horror, Alien arrived in 1979 between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back as a stylishly malevolent alternative to George Lucas’s space fantasy. Partially inspired by 1958’s It! The Terror from Beyond Space, this instant classic set a tone of its own, offering richly detailed sets, ominous atmosphere, relentless suspense, and a flawless ensemble cast as the crew of the space freighter Nostromo, who fall prey to a vicious creature (designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger) that had gestated inside one of the ill-fated crew members. In a star-making role, Sigourney Weaver excels as sole survivor Ripley, becoming the screen’s most popular heroine in a lucrative movie franchise. To measure the film’s success, one need only recall the many images that have been burned into our collective psyche, including the “facehugger,” the “chestburster,” and Ripley’s climactic encounter with the full-grown monster. Impeccably directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is one of the cinema’s most unforgettable nightmares. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

=Combining the monster film fright of The Thing From Another World with the suspense of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Ridley Scott’s atmospheric Alien (1979) delved deep into the dark fears of space exploration in a year when Star Trek: The Motion Picture was more concerned with spectacular space battles. Sigourney Weaver, in the definition of a breakthrough role, stars as the most steadfast crewmember of the mining ship Nostromo, which after touching down for an emergency call unwittingly receives an unwelcome guest—yes, an alien. As the mysterious, bloodthirsty creature roams the dark ship, the remaining crew—including John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, and Harry Dean Stanton—fall prey both to their own emotions and the monster. Latching itself onto Hurt’s face and giving birth in an infamous, stomach-turning way, the titular visitor embodies ghastly characteristics that are at the same time motherly, violent only from an instinct to protect and reproduce. These concepts of motherhood and reproduction are further explored in the original’s star-studded sequels—James Cameron’s Aliens, David Fincher’s Alien 3, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien Resurrection. Indeed, one could say that Scott’s film is the first feminist monster movie, reinforced by both the mother-monster and Weaver’s strong-willed Ripley, who goes against the damsel-in-distress stereotypes of most horror flicks. (Ironically, the role was originally written as a man.) Designed with psychosexual imagination by macabre artist H.R. Giger, Alien still elicits screams from viewers—screams that unfortunately, in space, no one can hear. Jason Bergenfeld

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