In space no one can hear you scream.Alien (I watched The Director’s Cut) is a 1979 science-fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto.
We start off with scenes of an empty spaceship. There are odd sounds and bits of paper rustling and small perpetual motion toys in perpetual motion. As we watch a number of lights start to flash, a dot matrix printer starts it’s ratta tat tat, and we hear beeps and blops as the ship comes to life. We glide into a room where we see seven sleeper pods. One opens up and Ripley crawls out wearing nothing but her underwear.
Alien came out in 1979, two years after Star Wars, and in the same year as Star Trek:The Motion Picture, Mad Max, The Black Hole, and Phantasm-among others. The mind blowing success of Star Wars gave us a bumper crop of Sci Fi in 1979, most of them not very good. Alien was surprisingly good.
Overall an amazing looking film with solid effects and lots of gotcha moments. It’s the look of Alien that has stood the test of time. The Nostromo, a deep space ship owned by The Company, is filled with pipes and tubes and random things sitting around and hanging from the ceilings. There are also rooms that are all white and clean, such as the room where the Captain talks to Mother, the ship’s artificial intelligence who talks via a keyboard and dozens of Christmas lights.
Mother woke the crew up so they could investigate a signal. It’s coming from a system that is about halfway between Earth and wherever it is The Company does it’s mining. They go to the planetoid and find a crashed spaceship. They find a giant dead body and wonder where the rest of the crew is. The alien ship looks ancient. We see a few hallways and the room with the dead alien and one other place-a room filled with a layer of mist and a bunch of eggs.
One thing leads to another and there is soon a monster loose on the ship. In standard horror/suspense fashion, our crew of seven is whittled down to one. Our hero Ripley escapes with the cat Jones, everyone else, including the monster, dies.Alien is a great movie, but it’s not without problems. The story makes no damned sense at all. Several of the effects are laughably bad, especial the scene where the robot Ash’s head sits next to his body. And Jerry Goldsmith’s music is easily the least memorable score in the history of science fiction.
Alien is all about asking questions and refusing to surrender any answers.
Why didn’t Mother pick up the alien broadcast on the way out?
Was that layer of mist somehow keeping the eggs contained?
What do the aliens eat? How did it grow from six inches to ten feet in a matter of hours?
Why does the Nostromo have a Self-destruct option? It’s a tug boat after all.
Why aren’t the two techs who keep the ship working paid the same bonus as everyone else?
What’s a cat doing on a spaceship?
Is the alien intellegent?
Why did Ridley Scott decide that the giant elephantish alien was just a spacesuit when it is very clearly a giant elephantish alien in Alien?
Why are there only seven people on a spaceship the size of a mountain?
How did Mother translate the alien signal and decide it was a warning?
How did they know what the gravity was on the planetoid? And why was the gravity on such a small planet pretty much the same as Earth normal?
Why the hell did Giger stop desiging crap for movies? His designs were awesome.
When did the alien ship crash?
Where did all those eggs come from and why were they on the alien ship?
How long does it take the Nostromo to make it’s run?
Alien has spawned a vast world of books, comics, games, and movies. Some have tried to answer a few of the questions left unanswered in Alien, but most have ignored them and carried on with monsters jumping out of shadows. And that’s fine. But one of the great things about Alien is how rich a world it creates with so little actually going on for most of the film.
I like Alien, if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth watching.