During its return to the earth, commercial spaceship Nostromo intercepts a distress signal from a distant planet. When a three-member team of the crew discovers a chamber containing thousands of eggs on the planet, a creature inside one of the eggs attacks an explorer. The entire crew is unaware of the impending nightmare set to descend upon them when the alien parasite planted inside its unfortunate host is birthed.
Described by Roger Ebert as a "trapped in a haunted house" movie, this movie set the bar for Horror in the Summer. The "Nostromo," like "Star Wars" spacecraft, looks worn and in use, compared to the "just out of the box" look of "Star Trek" spacecraft. (And I'm a fan of the "Star Trek" universe!) The claustrophobic feel of the "Nostromo" is due to "filming inside of a tube" location shooting next seen in "Das Boot." A band of "space truckers" are awakened from hibernation, and are shocked to find that they are only half way home. The Company orders them to investigate an Alien transmission, which sets up a descent into Hell as the crew finds themselves being stalked by an opportunistic "Exomorph." As the crew is picked off one by one, the true nature of the beast and the odd attitude of the Science officer, Ash, raise the anxiety level over 100%. What sets this tale apart from other "space monster" films is the character of Third officer Ripley, who raises uncomfortable questions to Capt. Dallas about company policy in general and Science officer Ash in particular. After Capt. Dallas disappears, take-charge-female-Ripley discovers Ash's true intentions and leads her diminished crew to action. The level of violence has been described as "near pornographic," which is helped along by H.R. Giger's "worst nightmare" mature Alien. This is the first of a memorable franchise, featuring a strong female leader that continues into the "Prometheus" prequel.(?)
There is a clause in the contract which specifically states any systematized transmission indicating a possible intelligent origin must be investigated... Alien is directed by Ridley Scott and written by Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon. It stars Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, Ian Holm and Harry Dean Stanton. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Derek Vanlint. The space merchant vessel Nostromo receives an unknown transmission as a distress call and land on the moon where the call had come from. Bad idea... Back on release it was one of the most talked about movies of 1979, backed by a terrifically tantalising trailer - which itself was backed by one of the greatest tag-lines of them all, the weight of expectation of a genre blending classic was colossal. This was only after all director Ridley Scott's second feature length film, could a sophomore pic really be all that? History as we now know has proven that to be the case. On plot synopsis it's standard format, where the haunted house and a killer on the loose has been replaced by a space ship in space. Yet once the pic plays its alien hand, and it becomes a battle of survival in one location, it dawns on you there is really no escape. No running into the garden and down the street, no hiding in the attic hoping the killer saunters off home, this is find and destroy or be destroyed yourself - with the future of mankind depending on the humans to succeed. Some still go into a viewing of Alien nowadays and decry it for being too much of a slow burn, yet this is one of the pic's biggest assets. Time in space is slow anyway, and lonely one would guess, so Scott wisely lets the characters be introduced, lets us understand just enough about their psychological make up before things go belly up (literally as it happens). When the pot finally boils over it's terrifying, the bar well and truly raised for horror/sci-fi hybrid conventions. With art design by H.R. Giger and Goldsmith producing eerie musical rumbles, the whole piece has a disquiet about it, notably with distressing sexual connotations and symbolism that haunts the mind as the body horror unfolds. The quiet passages are nerve shredders, Alien across the board is a visceral experience, especially for those who have ever watched it on a big screen in a darkened theatre. It made a star of Weaver, who unbeknown to those on first viewing is the main character, another masterstroke by Scott, with Ripley the character in Weaver's hands shunting women's character's in big budget films forward by some considerable margin. All the cast are on great form, there's no showy stars in here, a collection of hard working British and American actors feeding off their director for super returns. Now 40 years old, Alien shows no sign of losing its classic status, and rightly show. A seminal class act that still holds all the qualities it had back in 1979. In space no one can hear you scream - indeed! 10/10
The standard bearer of horror in space, Ridley Scott's masterpiece still thrills new generations of fans. The Giger-inspired alien induces a claustrophobic nightmare that still carries on in sequels and prequels.