Alien (or stylized as A L I E N ) is a 1979 science-fiction thriller horror film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O'Bannon. Based on a story by O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, It is the first film in the Alien franchise. When the movie was released on May 25, 1979, it received mixed-to-negative reviews, however, the reception was changed and it is considered to be one of the greatest sci-fi horror movies of all time. In 2002, the film gets preserved in the National Film Registry. A "Director's Cut" version would eventually be released in 2003, which restored a few deleted scenes.
A commercial space tug USCSS Nostromo is on a return trip back to Earth with a seven-member crew in stasis: Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane, Warrant Officer Ripley, Navigator Lambert, Science Officer Ash, and two engineers, Parker and Brett. The Nostromo suddenly detects a mysterious transmission from a nearby moon. In response, the ship's computer awakens the seven-man crew from stasis, and the crew members started to get some breakfast, just then, they detected a distress signal from the planet named Acheron (LV-426), and they investigate the signal, the crew detaches the Nostromo from its cargo and they landed onto the moon. Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane and Navigator Lambert set out on foot to investigate the signal's source, while Warrant Officer Ripley, Science Officer Ash, and Engineers Brett and Parker stay behind to monitor their progress and repair damage caused during the unscheduled landing.
On their way, they discovered a bizarre derelict alien spacecraft. Inside, they found the remains of a large alien creature. Meanwhile, the Nostromo's computer partially deciphers the signal coming from the ship and Ripley determines that it is not a distress call as previously assumed, but rather some kind of warning. Back inside the alien spacecraft, Thomas Kane discovers numerous of eggs sitting, he looked closely too the egg, and suddenly, the egg suddenly opens and releases a face-hugger that attaches itself to his face. Dallas and Lambert carry the unconscious Kane back to the Nostromo where Ash allows them inside, defying Ripley's orders to follow the ship's quarantine protocol. They unsuccessfully attempt to remove the creature from Kane's face. and the Nostromo was fully repaired to resume back to Earth.
On their way back to Earth again, Kane woke up unharmed, and the crew members were having a mealtime at the table, but suddenly, Kane started to choke and convulse, until an alien creature bursts from his chest, killing him in the process before escaping into the ship. During the search of a alien, Brett follows the crew's cat, Jones, into a large storage room where he encounters the Alien, which has now grown into a formidable being larger than a man. It quickly kills him and flees with his body into the ship's airshafts as Jones watched silently.
Dallas arms himself with a flamethrower and heads into the vents, but the creature ambushes him and disappears with his body. Lambert implores the remaining crew members to escape in the Nostromo's shuttle, but Ripley explains that the shuttle will never support four people at all. Ripley discovers that the Nostromo's corporate employers had known about the Alien all along and that Ash was placed aboard with a secret order to return the creature to them, even at the expense of the crew's lives. Before she can warn the others she is attacked by Ash, who attempts to kill her. She is saved when Parker intervenes, decapitating Ash with a blow from a fire extinguisher and revealing him to be an android. The crew interrogates Ash's remains, and he expresses admiration for the creature's psychology, unhindered by conscience or morality, and taunts them about their chances of survival. Ripley cuts off his power; as they leave, Parker incinerates him in rage.
The survivors plan to arm the Nostromo's self destruct system and take their chances in the shuttle, but Parker and Lambert were killed by the Xenomorph while gathering the necessary supplies, meanwhile, Ripley initiates the self-destruct sequence, but finds the alien blocking her path to the shuttle. She retreats and attempts unsuccessfully to abort the self-destruct, and heads for the shuttle with Jones the cat, but finds the Xenomorph blocking her way. Cut off from escape, but she retreats and attempts unsuccessfully to abort the self-destructs, without any other options, Ripley and Jones the cat make their way to the escape pod as the count down with the Nostromo self-destructs, and as they flew away from the Nostromo, the entire cargo ship Nostromo explodes.
As Ripley and Jones are prepared to enter stasis, she discovers that the Xenomorph is on aboard, having wedged itself into a narrow space. She puts on a spacesuit and uses gas to flush the creature out, trying to blow the Alien out with the resultant explosive decompression, but it grips onto the doorway. She shoots it with a grappling gun, but the gun catches as the airlock door closes, tethering the alien to the shuttle. It pulls itself into an engine exhaust but Ripley fires the engines, blasting the creature away. Ripley broadcasts a distress call with "Final report: A commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting, the other members, Kane, Lamber, Parker, Breet, Ash, and Captain Dallas are dead. Cargo ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up...This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off." after her final report, she enters to the stasis with Jones the cat, and the film ends.
Why It Makes You Scared of Space
- Unlike other movies about space aliens, rather than have them as intelligent beings who try to invade earth, they're here more like deadly predators, which is creative and scary.
- Memorable and iconic characters, such as Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver. The Alien (later known as the "Xenomorph") itself also became an iconic movie monster. Notably, the Xenomorph was designed and created to convey a fear of rape; it succeeded.
- Amazing designs courtesy of Ron Cobb, Jean "Moebius" Giraud, and Chris Foss, who designed the movie's human aspects, such as the space suits and the Nostromo itself, and the late H.R. Giger, who designed the movie's alien aspects, which succeeds at being very disturbing and helped popularize the artist. Noteworthy is that Foss, Giger, Moebius, and O'Bannon had previously worked on Alejandro Jodorowsky's canceled film adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune.
- The idea of a space film about a killer Alien creature named Xenomorph goes inside of the spaceship named Nostromo and finding to kill the Xenomorph before the Xenomorph kills everyone on the ship at the time is very original.
- The movie has a lot of great and memorable characters, but not limited to:
- Ripley was a near badass character in the third act in the movie, before her more badass improvement in the second film, she averts being a damsel in distress, though she is in her underwear at two points (much like a scantily-clad female character). She subverts audience expectations by killing the alien.
- Dallas is also a great character, even though that he is similar to Kirk, he's not the one who kills the alien, subverting audience expectations.
- Ash is also a great character, although that he is similar to Spock, he turns out to be an android trying to keep the alien alive, so he doesn't kill the alien either, subverting audience expectations.
- The poster is very iconic, with the quote "In space no one can hear you scream" on the poster.
- Excellent acting, with Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, etc..
- Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack is impressive, even if a lot of it ended up not being used (see Bad Qualities).
- Lots of scary scenes that became iconic, notably the chestburster scene. The filming of this scene actually terrified the actors; Veronica Cartwright's reactions were genuine.
- Unlike so many generic horror movies which are over reliant on pointless gore, violence, and jumpscares, this movie successfully manages to be scary by utilizing extreme suspense, tension, and horrific/disturbing imagery -- which it does amazingly.
- Great looking sets.
- Amazing cinematography.
- Most of the special effects are amazing, especially the Alien suit.
- The deleted scenes that were restored for the Director's Cut version are interesting. For example:
- The cocoon scene in particular is considered to be one of its more disturbing scenes.
- So many awesome quotes, examples include "This thing bled acid! Who knows what it's gonna' do when it's dead!", "Micro changes in air density, my ass.", "It's a robot! Ash is a goddamn robot!", and of course "Final report, the commercial star-ship Nostromo. Third officer reporting. The other members of the crew—Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash, and Captain Dallas—are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier within six weeks. With a little luck the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off."
- Brilliant sound design that enhances the creepy and anxiety-inducing atmosphere of this film.
- The film teaches a good lesson about consequences caused by disturbing unknown life forms as shown with Kane.
- Awesome direction by Ridley Scott.
- Some of the special effects were painfully obvious, most notably the cuts between Ash and a mannequin version of him.
- This is at least excusable for the time period and budget the movie was made in.
- A lot of Jerry Goldsmith's score got cut out of the film, which angered the composer and caused him to swear off working with Scott for years until Legend.
- However, Goldsmith's score is very impressive as mentioned above.
- The movie has a couple of plot-holes, as well as the characters sometimes making foolish decisions.
- Was it really smart of Dallas to go after the alien by himself?
- Some scenes at the climax of the film can be risky for viewers with photosensitive epilepsy.
The film was a commercial success, grossing over anywhere up to $104 million to $203 million against a $11 million budget.
The movie received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics. However, over time its reputation has changed and it is now considered to be an influential and classic sci-fi horror movie, earning a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and four stars from Roger Ebert, who at first hated the film.
The film has won one Academy Award (Best Visual Effects for H.R. Giger, Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder, and Dennis Ayling), and three Saturn Awards (Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Ridley Scott, and Best Supporting Actress for Veronica Cartwright).