Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Dan O’Bannon
– Tom Skerritt as Dallas
– Sigourney Weaver as Ripley
– Veronica Cartwright as Lambert
– Harry Dean Stanton as Brett
– John Hurt as Kane
– Ian Holm as Ash
– Yaphet Kotto as Parker
– Bolaji Badejo as Alien
Every time I view Alien I can’t help but to marvel at this timeless masterpiece horror classic, the best ever made. Ridley Scott, with the help of brilliant Alien design from Oscar-winner H.R. Giger, takes the viewer to the very end of the nightmare tunnel, and maybe a little farther. This movie was made on a shoestring budget and the old fashioned way, with imagination and talent. The end result is the absolute epitome of a horror movie that only gets better with age.
The Nostromo is a mining ship, a huge towing vessel, complete with dark, claustrophobic and unforgiving sets. Most of these were made out of old airplane parts and the result was and still is a spectacular achievement in horror. The flickering lights, gently swaying and clanking chains and dripping water all providing a sinister environment for a most unwelcome guest.
The crew and cast are (or were) a blue-collar lot of unknowns, but the chemistry and acting is superb and believable — enhancing the absolutely real horror that awaits each one of them. There are no Superheros here, and they were in no way prepared for what awaited them. They are scared, and rightfully so, and no one projects this better than Veronica Cartwright as Lambert, the very embodiment of a hysterical, sobbing woman scared out of her wits…and for very good reason.
Alien is truly awesome from beginning to end as the hands on effort and imagination of Ridley Scott is stunning, even in this day and age of special effects and CGI. The designs of Giger are wildly original and unforgettable and the editing by Terry Rawlings was crisp, making for a perfect storm of a horror flick. No one who has seen Alien will ever forget the dinner scene, one of the most dramatic even to be presented to an unwary viewer. Even the actors were unaware of what was coming down, maximizing the effect of the event.
Film monsters can never get any more terrifying than the Alien. It is almost always dangerous to project an absolute about anything, but as far as I am concerned, everyone else can just flush their so-called monsters down the sewer (Green Goblin in Spiderman? Yeah, right!) I’m sorry, there just can’t be anything in reality or the human imagination that can top this creature that we barely get to see during most of this film. The metaphorically rich design of this snarling, biting, chomping, eviscerating and head-banging nightmare is terrifying.
If you think the Predator had a bad attitude, you will not believe the hostility that the Alien carries around. The Predator, as tough as he was is about the equivalent of the Pillsbury Doughboy when compared to the Alien. Ash said it best, “It’s structural perfection is only matched by its hostility…Perfect organism…unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”
Every time I watch this movie, I thoroughly enjoy the enormous raw talent and creativity that made it possible. The ships are organic, almost alive as was terrifyingly demonstrated by the creepy, cavernous spaceship that surrounded an even creepier Space Jockey. I cannot say enough about the use of lighting and sound, both of which complemented Goldsmith’s wonderful musical score. Ridley Scott is a genius; his creativity with using ordinary objects and hands on attention to detail make this film what it is. The design of the Alien monster is a feat that will probably never be duplicated. As far as violence goes, violent does not begin to describe his methodology, heart-stopping is more accurate.
From the terrifying sets to the even more terrifying Alien, with a very sinister elongated head replete with rows of smashing teeth, the viewer is scared shitless, time and time again. The movie literally oozes with organic evil as the makers of Alien put on a horror show clinic. Ridley Scott shows you just enough to make your imagination and senses run wild as the viewer only gets a glimpse of this terror of all terrors.
There are 3 scenes in this movie that really excel. First, of course is the Last Supper chest-bursting scene. Much has been said and written about this, you must see it to believe it, one of the most dramatic scenes ever attempted on the screen. It was brilliant!
The second scene was when Brett went to retrieve the cat, Jones. You just knew, you just knew that when Brett went through those double doors that something terrible was about to happen. The sets literally emanate haunting malevolence as the aforementioned trio of inconsistent lighting, the swaying, clanking chains, the dripping water and the dirty, grimy mining machinery, are all poised to come alive at any moment! Here is where first Jones and then the doomed Brett get a first look at the monster and brother what a monster he is!
The third memorable scene employs what a great horror movie always employs and that is the unexpected and ingenious plot twist. Ash is revealed as a Company planted robot, charged with bringing the alien back to earth in an ultra violent and equally terrifying reality check at Mother’s console. That oozing milk-mouth, and the reverberating and super chilling voice of the freshly decapitated Ash, did nothing to encourage what was left of the Nostromo crew. He coldly let them have it between the eyes as to what they were really up against.
Somehow it just didn’t seem right for Ripley to get the best of this Alien from Hell, even with the brilliant twist of the monster stowing away (again). My preferred ending is for the Alien to fall madly in love with Ripley, squick her, (an amorous adventure that she unfortunately will not survive) and to direct the craft to The White House, where he again falls madly in love with First Lady Rosalyn Carter.
Special Ruthless Ratings:
- The number of times I realized this movie was 27 years old : ZERO, only Mother’s computer console looked dated, no big deal
- The number of times the oppressive sound-track made you reach for your knife: ZERO, it was magnificent
- The number of times you freeze framed to try to see Ripley’s Camel-Toe when she was semi-naked in the Escape Pod: 198
- The number of times you realized you were watching the scariest movie ever made: 27
- Were you surprised when the sequel, Aliens was damn near as good as this one?: Yes
- Was this Ridley Scott’s best work ever?: Yes; Blade Runner is a close second, though
- Didn’t he make Hannibal too?: Don’t remind me
- Anything else?: Nope