Since Halloween is approaching, now is the perfect time to look at horror cult classics. The last 4 decades of the 1900’s have brought film goers many jewels, especially in the horror genre. Today’s gem choice is brought to you in 1979 by acclaimed horror director Ridley Scott, starring Sigourney Weaver as the lead, This is Alien.
Alien takes place in the year 2122, focusing on the crew of the Nostromo, a mining vessel returning to earth after mining an unnamed ore. However, they are redirected by higher ups of the company they work for, Weyland Yutani, in order to intercept a distress call on a planet known as LV-426.
Upon touching down on the planet, the Nostromo crew encounter a massive alien spaceship. The investigation of said vessel leads to the encounter with a small alien parasite that attaches itself to one of the crewman’s face. The crew make several attempts to remove the creature from their crewman, yanking, cutting, nothing seems to work. The creature will not budge and even bleeds acid, burning through the floors of the ship. The following day, this creature has removed itself from the crew member’s face and lies dead on the floor, the creature may be dead, but this is only the start of the true nightmare.
In a franchise spanning decades the original, Alien remains an exciting classic with excellent performances, great atmosphere, chilling visuals and much more. Scott utilizes everything in this film to a seemingly perfect peak, as the once huge ship of the Nostromo feels panickedly cramped once the Alien starts to prowl the halls. The pacing of the film is excellent, as you are given time to get know the crew in their natural setting. Time is given to their development, but not so much time as to bore the audience.
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley delivers a believably reluctant hero, Ripley is no action hero. She is merely the pilot of the Nostromo, but the events of the film force her to grow past what she normally is in order to survive.
The film, nor this review, would be complete without talking about the Xenomorph. If you think filmmakers of the past were limited in terms of effects, you would be grossly mistaken. The Xenomorph suit is a practical effect done well. The worst thing you can do in a horror film is over use your monster. You hardly ever see the full body of the Alien in this film and it adds to the sense of the cramped paranoia that the crew and audience are feeling, you don’t know where it is, or where it will strike next.
Not to say everything in this film is perfect, as there are parts of this film that date the film considerably. The most notable thing is the presence of the CRT desktop monitors, I’m pretty confident that in the year 2122 we will not be using those on our spaceships in the distant future.
While the film might have a flaw here and there, it is still an incredibly strong film, even when you consider the film without the pile of sequels. Alien is isolation horror done well. There is a reason the franchise and Xenomorph design is so memorable over 30 years later. So if you wish to step back to a time when horror movies were more than character stereotypes getting slaughtered, return to LV-426 and the Nostromo where no one will hear you scream.