In 1979 Ridley Scott decided to mix Jaws up with 2001: A Space Odessy. The result was a sci-fi horror movie called Alien. Now, decades later the movie has become a classic, spawned several direct sequels and even a spin-off in the form of the Aliens Vs Predators movies (which is a weird title considering Predators are aliens in the strict sense of the word). The influence of Alien went beyond the movies into popculture and that gave birth to comics, action figures, videogames etc. But let’s go back to the movie that started it all: Alien
Alien is a tight film that takes is time to set up the characters involved. That is notable because at it’s core Alien is a slasher film in a sci-fi setting. The Alien offs the crewmembers of commercial towing-vehicle the Nostromo one by one like almost every slasherfilm out there. In a way the Alien differs almost nothing from characters like Michael Meyers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees except his surroundings; a spaceship (A place where Jason would eventually end up also). But that’s where the comparisons with the slashergenre come to a halt, because there are not stupid horny teenagers here that are so connected to the slashergenre. Here we have smart educated middle aged people, all with their own agenda;
There’s Dallas, Ripley, Lambert and Kane who are working upperdeck, Brett and Parker who are engineers and are constantly whining about the salary and there’s Ash who’s the science officer and more. These people are on their way back to Earth but catch a signal which they have to check due to some regulations. The story is known: a few crewmembers go out and examine the planet and discover a nest full of eggs. From this egg an arachnid-like beast attaches itself to Kane who is taken into examination in the ship. Here it is where the classic scene occurs in which an alien bursts out of the chest of Kane and immediately disappears only to reappear later in it’s full grown size: a lethal slimy killer on top of the foodchain.
What is so admirable about Alien is that even after more than 30 years after it’s release it still holds up pretty strong. It was a good en tense movie on it’s release and still is. The effects are very convincing and even don’t look dated, although some scenes would’ve been differently shot nowadays because of the advances made in CGI in these 30 years. But none of the Alien movies that have used CGI are as good as this one. There are some things that look dated though; the computers are running on a DOS-like OS more than 100 years from now and the room with al the small led-lights might have looked futuristic in 1979, nowadays it looks like a freakin’ disco. But those are just minor points of negative criticism in what it is a strong made horror-movie which comes highly recommended by me.
Remember that the next time you watch a leprechaun, cenobite or hockey masked killer wrecking havoc on a space ship you’re watching a rip-off of this damn fine movie.