Alien (1979)

Alien (1979) movie poster

director Ridley Scott
viewed: 08/23/2012

The film that taught us that “In space no one can hear you scream.”

My personal relationship with the film, Alien, dates back to its initial release in 1979.  I was 10 years old and convinced my mom to take me and a friend to the movie.  It was my first R-rated film.  Against better judgment, doubtlessly, it was also my younger sister’s first R-rated film.  She would have been 6 at the time.  These are indeed the things of which nightmares are made and from which therapists do profit.

It had been years, years since I had seen the film.  Like apparently many people, I had wanted to review it before watching director Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012) when it came out earlier this year but it took Netflix this long to get around to sending it to me.  While I missed the opportunity to prep and refresh for watching Prometheus, I was still quite keen on revisiting the film, the sci-fi/horror classic, a film that actually lives up to such a moniker.

The film was always of a higher class than the bulk of the horror or science fiction films of its time, and it’s probably safe to say that it still is.  It was only Scott’s second feature film, as is often noted, but it’s masterfully designed, paced, and crafted.  The designs, largely developed from H.R. Giger remain a peak in the field.  Can you even think of designs that compare with the sexualized surreal creatures, pods, and ships even since?  The constantly-evolving creature, in darkness, never seen in full, teasing with its acid blood, its projectile fangs, its complex physique, even after a series of several films, comics, games, proliferation is still outstanding.

And Sigourney Weaver.  A working class hero.  Not yet quite the female action hero that she becomes in James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) but still a far cry from the scantily-clad scream queens of the typical horror film of its day.  Much has been noted about the age of the cast, that unlike so many slasher films of the day, it’s not a load of young things getting picked off one by one during acts of horniness, but a crew of more middle aged spans, a bit more haggard or simply wearing no make-up.

Revisiting Alien was well-worth it.  It’s a great movie.  My son Felix is presently 10 and I wouldn’t watch the film with him. When I was 10, I was totally into horror movies (“monster movies”) and at that time all of the films were rated R and getting more gruesome and pessimistic, so it wasn’t such a bad thing to have taken me to.  My sister on the other hand…

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