By the time the groovy seventies came rolling through, I would say most alien horror films were always kind of tame. Silver Age horror tapped into the fear of extra terrestrial life and gave us some good films like 1951’s The Thing From Another World and then The Blob. Those movies aren’t all too scary but that was the Silver Age of horror. Most of the appeal is out of hilarity. Many film directors weren’t bold enough to cross that line. I’ve always been annoyed with the superiority approach of certain alien films. They’re always smarter and on a higher level with technology. Either they want to kill us like Invasion of the Saucer Men. Or they want to help humans embark on a path to success like in 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still. Yea, an alien invasion would be scary but seeing it on film didn’t cut people deep. Make them tremble and look away.
In early May of 1977 director George Lucas would introduce the world to a small film titled Star Wars. It wasn’t Star Wars: A New Hope! There was no Star Wars Episode I shit! Simply Star Wars! Do you understand all you douche bags! Stop calling it episode 1 or New Hope. I don’t care if George wants it that way! 1977’s Star Wars… is Star Wars! Anyways, it would bring audiences into a new universe where in some unknown galaxy resides thousands of alien species all working and living together. An evil empire controls the planetary systems and yada yada yada… if you don’t know this story then get the hell out of here.
Up until this point I would say alien films were pretty… mild. But we’re talking the seventies folks! This is the birth of Bronze Age horror! Movies like 1973’s The Exorcist, 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1975’s Jaws and 1978’s Halloween. These films would kick society in the nuts and terrify us into oblivion! They weren’t fucking around anymore and it would only be a matter of time that some genius would finally give the world an alien creature to be truly scared of. This movie is none other than Alien.!
Alien is a 1979 film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O’Bannon. It stars Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, and Yaphet Kotto. The film was pitched as “Jaws in space” and it took Scott and O’Bannon a great deal of time and effort to get produced. With the success of Star Wars, 20th Century Fox saw the science fiction genre as an open window to profits. Alien was the only script they had on hand and immediately green lit the filming. The effects of the human spacecraft were done by Ron Cobb and Chris Foss and the creature was done by artist H.R. Giger. The movie met with mixed reviews but has gone on to be considered one of the greatest works of science fiction of all time. It has spawn countless clones and numerous sequels.
As the spacecraft the Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. The crew immediately alter course and investigate. During their discovery a crew member is attacked by an alien life form and brings it back to the commercial craft. Soon this alien form emerges as a terror and begins to hunt down every member of the crew.
I love this movie! It scared me as a kid and it still does to this day. But right off the back Alien isn’t the most original film. Resembling stories like The Thing From Another World and It The Terror From Beyond Space. A killer monster is on board of a ship and is hunting everyone down. But what Alien does is take well known themes and tropes and pumps a breath of fresh air into it. Like I said before up until this point I would say alien films were pretty… mild. But this movie is no way mild. The xenomorph is the scariest and most terrifying monster that has ever been created and also one of the coolest. To this day it remains a constant in visual terror. The xenomorph is like molten lava. You wouldn’t want to touch it and to do so means certain death.
Gene Siskel actually said this movie was like a “haunted house film set in a spaceship.” Well he’s a douche bag! This isn’t a haunted house in space, it’s a slasher film in space! Well, maybe not a slasher in pure form… but it is close. We do have a killer in this movie but it isn’t a human with a weapon. It’s this hideous predator that uses a projectile jaw to kill people. It’s going after the crew on the ship but they’re not typical reckless youth. They’re older adults. It pursues each crew member one by one and uses stealth and ninja skills to bump people off.
But the xenomorph is much worse. Most people don’t know this but the scene where the alien is killing Lambert and Ellen is hearing it over the loud speaker. Well the directors revealed that the alien is actually sexually assaulting Lambert that entire time. Yea man that is fucked up! There is a deleted scene that does demonstrate this but it was never used. I am glad they didn’t go with the direct route but it makes that scene much darker when knowing what is truly going on.
The movie is beautiful and deep. Full of immersive atmosphere and claustrophobic tones. Even the sounds feel padded and close to always remind us we are surrounded by empty space. The hallways and rooms of the Nostromo will immerse you into the situation. Everything looks like it has been worn and discolored because of fumes and a lack of cleaning. The environment is as real as the creature itself. Everything feels real and the characters are actually there. The crew feels like they’re been on this ship for years. We get to see their interactions with each other and not one is boring or over the top. As Ripley becomes our “final girl” we’re begging for her to get away but we’re left stranded because there is no place to run. The sheriff isn’t coming to save Ripley, she’s on her own and through everything becomes a badass lady!
So on day twenty nine, I proudly honor Alien a film that still remains a gem to the horror community. Know one has been able to make anything as scary. The films serves as a reminder of the deep terror of space and set a new standard in aliens. The movie will thrill you and keep you biting at the bit in the suspense. This is why I have chosen this film for my Horror Movie Marathon.