In Space no one can hear you scream. And that's how we like it.
Recently I watched Under The skin with Scarlett Johansson, and although I liked the atmosphere of the film it just seemed.... strange. Like a weird surrealistic version of Species. Although it was better than Species. And the film left me thinking. Thinking about when Horror movies were actually scary not weird or gross. And I immediately thought about Alien. The 1979 sci-fi horror classic, directed by Ridley Scott. Although not the first sci-fi or horror film it defined modern sci-fi horror. Although it is not always obvious.
The Alien series is one of my all time favorite movie franchises, with the second movie, Aliens, being arguably my all time favorite movie. I love everything about the franchise, (aside from the fouth film and the AVP movies) from the bleak, gritty atmosphere, the rough, grimy feel, the tough as nails characters, the REAL scares, and the all around fun moments. So I've decided to go back and take a look at the original film. The one that proved, sci-fi is not all lightsabers, and Skywalkers.
The film opens with screenshots of a distant system of the galaxy, shots which still inspire awe to this day. It slowly pans around the system with eerily beautiful music playing. As it progresses we see several white lines manifest on the screen and with every second more lines are slowly added until it forms the movie's title. It shows a shot of the ship, the USCSS Nostromo a commercial towing vehicle. And with it the massive ore refinery that it is carrying. The ship which was achieved using miniatures, although outclassed by later films it is still a feat in movie special effects for the convincing feel to it. It the switches to the inside where it shows a series of shots showing the decor of the ship. Playing a hauntingly mysterious tune as if the the scene could go smoothly or terribly bad. It then progresses down a hallway and shows a room. A room filled with the cryogenic stasis tubes. Which contain the sleeping crew. We are then introduced to the crew of the USCSS Nostromo. Captain Dallas, played by Tom Skerrit, Kane played by the ever present John Hurt, Ripley as portrayed by the award winning Sigourney Weaver, Lambert played by Veronica Cartwright, Parker played by Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean-Stanton as Brett and Ian Holm as Bishop. We watch them interact with each other over breakfast. We see them communicate as real people would joking, teasing, and more. We then see Dallas enter a control room to speak to the ship's AI and receive an order. We promptly watch them prepare for entry onto the planet below. They encounter a problem as one of their ship's legs breaks rendering part of the lower compartments damaged.
A team comprising of Dallas, Kane, and Lambert then depart towards a derelict ship in the distance towards the horizon. The get to the ship and we see a strange skeleton in a chair. Possibly the captain or one of the crew. The image of the thing's face is left in our minds the the trio continue onward. Kane is then lowered down into a lower level of the ship. Possibly a cargo hold. He then finds hundreds of strange egg like objects. A strange blue mist like light is seen over the eggs, and we see it react as if it is a sensor of some sort. Kane then analyzes one of the eggs only to be attacked by the creatir inside the egg. Dallas and Lambert then carry Kane back to the ship in a hurry. They get there but Ripley sticking to protocol decided not to let them back in due to the creature on Kane's face. But due to his curiosity and wanting to study it Kane lets them in against Ripley's order. Later on we witness Bishop and Dallas examining Kane. The attempt to remove the creature is put to a stop after they attempt cutting into it and acid blood spurts out. They then rush through the lower levels in an attempt to stop the acid from eating through the hull. They get to one of the lower levels and see it die down. After that they decide to just leave Kane where he is.
After a while they fix the ship and take off of the planet. After leaving Kane wakes up. We see them sitting around the table eating. When Kane suddenly starts convulsing. They try holding him down when a strange creature bursts out of his chest. A scene so scary and sudden that anyone who knows nothing about the franchise will truly terrified. The creature then escapes aboard the ship. After having a funeral and sending Kane's body out into space. The crew takes off after the alien. Brett is the first to go after going after the cat Jones. Dallas then goes into the vents after the alien with a flamethrower and motion sensor. But does not make it out. With just Ripley, Ash, Parker, and Lambert left, they try and figure out what to do. Ripley decides to go into the control room now being the superior officer. She then finds out that the company they work for wants them to bring the alien back. Alive. Ash interrupts Ripley, and she tries getting answers that he won't give. Ash then turns on her and throws her around the compartment before trying to hill her. Before he can succeed Parker and Lambert return and help Ripley. Parker then attack Ash and we discover that Ash was an android. An android concerned with the company's motives rather than the safety of the crew. Ash informs them that the creature can not be killed and that they will not survive. Ripley then goes to make a few final preparations while Parker and Lambert go get some fuel tanks, where they run into the alien and are then slaughtered. Ripley hears this over the coms. She then heads down to the lover levels of the ship. She runs into the bodies of her crew mates and is immediately horrified at the sight. She then activates the ship's self-destruct feature. She then frantically runs through the ship to get to the escape shuttle. She also makes a stop to get the cat, Jones after she dropped him earlier after a run with the alien. She eventually get to the shuttle and witnesses the ship exploding. She strips down to her under clothing to get ready for cryogenic sleep. She goes over to the control panel to where the alien suddenly pops out revealing that it had managed to get onboard. She then puts on a space suit and loads a spear gun. She manages to strap herself into a seat at a computer panel. She then starts singing a song to herself. She then opens the air lock and the alien gets sucked out but holds on to the door. Ripley promptly shoots it with a spear. The Alien then tries getting into the the ship through the thrusters. But Ripley blowers it to hell by activating the thrusters. Finally killing it she makes a final recording about the events of the movie and goes into cryosleep. Ending the movie
Now what was meant to be a quick online review has become an overblown article. But Alien was a movie that was not only scary but revolutionary as well. Filled with great effects, haunting music and chilling atmosphere. Alien has also led to create a whole world of science fiction. A world that is beloved by many. It is also what launched Sigourney Weaver into super stardom. Sigourney Weaver who is now known the world over as a powerful female lead got her start in one of the most famous science fiction movies ever made. A movie that would then become her biggest and most famous role. Alien scared us back in 1979 and continues to do so. Something we enjoy.