CLASSIC REVIEW: Alien (1979)

Theatrical Release Poster – 20th Century Fox

The following is a review of Alien – Directed by Ridley Scott. For more Alien reviews, check out this category.

Who could’ve known back before Alien was released in 1979 that director Ridley Scott – a relative late bloomer when it comes to filmmaking, who had only previously directed one film – would create one of the most iconic science-fiction horror films of all-time.

Jaws in space,’ or ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre of science-fiction’ as it has apparently sometimes been called by both director Ridley Scott and writers Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon may not have seen the light of day where it not for the science-fiction boom caused by George Lucas and his first Star Wars film, but with Alien Ridley Scott managed to carve out his own distinctive corner of science-fiction filmmaking.

Ridley Scott’s Alien is a science-fiction horror film about the crew of the spaceship the Nostromo, which responds to a transmission from a nearby planet and runs into the worst possible nightmare known to man. After one of the members of the crew, Kane (played by John Hurt), is rendered unconscious from an alien attack, the crew violates quarantine protocol to bring him on board. Soon they learn that the alien creature that has attached itself to Kane’s face has impregnated him with a dangerous alien creature ready to terrorize the crew of the Nostromo.

One of the words that best describe Alien is ‘believable.’ The creature design of the Xenomorph isn’t too far-fetched, even if it is distinctly alien. The world that we are introduced to also feels believable. It is a lived-in universe with very few fantastical elements other than the fact that it is, of course, set in space, discusses space travel, and includes an alien.

The members of the crew are also all very believable. They feel like individuals with real lives. Central to the cast is, of course, Sigourney Weaver who played the iconic female science-fiction character Ripley. But the true star of Ridley Scott’s Alien is, of course, the titular monster.

The Xenomorph is a monster that is best put to use when it is bathed and cloaked in darkness. Hidden just out of sight, but furiously exciting when it rears its head. This is the quintessential movie monster of the late 20th century and a truly perfect creature design by H. R. Giger, which still keeps both young and old fans up at night.

Since its original release, Alien has spawned imitators by the dozen and enough sequels to properly introduce every new generation of the simplistic but awesome premise. Ridley Scott’s Alien may not, however, be everyone’s favorite film in the franchise, seeing as James Cameron’s sequel not only overhauled the genre choices but also gave a refreshing action twist to the danger of the iconic monster.

Even though many may dislike the franchise as a whole because of later films, it is one of very few franchises that actually have two true masterpieces. While I remain one of those people who prefer Cameron’s version to Scott’s, there can be no doubt that Ridley Scott’s Alien is way more important to the genre and as big of a masterpiece as the equally iconic sequel.

10 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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