1979. Now I’m not talking about the Smashing Pumpkins song here but the actual year. While a couple of my friends were alive that year, many of them were not even born so they probably don’t realize that quite a few things happened that year. First off, I turned 2 and got a collie for my birthday which I named Puppy Prince (don’t ask me why cause I do not remember my 2 year old logic behind the name.) Aside from that, Sid Vicious died of an overdose, President Carter was attacked by a rabbit, and the idea of Usenet was being conceived at Duke. Also, a movie was released that, while not necessarily well received at the time, would become one of the most respected and landmark movies in the sci-fi genre. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce, Alien.
The plot: Sometime in the future, the cargo ship Nostromo is on it’s way back to Earth when it’s systems detect a possible distress call and wakes the 7 man crew from stasis sleep. Having received orders to investigate any strange signals, they land on a mysterious planet and three members of the crew, Captain Dallas, Kane, and Lambert, go out to investigate the signal. They discover an alien spacecraft and the remains of a large alien whose chest has exploded from the inside. Kane discovers a chamber filled with thousands of alien eggs but when he accidentally falls in the chamber, one of the eggs hatches and an alien creature attaches itself to his face. Dallas and Lambert take Kane back to the Nostromo but Ripley initially refuses to let them in due to quarantine regulations but the science officer, Ash, overrides the lock and lets them in. The crew are unable to remove the creature form Kane’s face due to it’s acidic blood but it soon moves off his face on it’s own and dies. Kane wakes up and the crew is eating a last meal before returning to stasis sleep when Kane begins convulsing and a small alien bursts from his chest and escapes into the ship. Captain Dallas orders the creature found and contained or destroyed but due to it’s blood, they have to be careful. They try using motion trackers to find it but when Brett tries finding the ship’s pet cat, Jones, he is attacked by a now fully grown alien. The crew comes up with a plan to jettison the creature but when Dallas goes into the air ducts to lure the creature into the trap, the creature out maneuvers him and ambushes him instead. Ripley accesses the computer and learns that Ash was instructed to return the alien to Earth, at the expense of the rest of the crew. When she confronts him, he attacks her and, after learning that he is an android, he is stopped when Lambert and Parker manage to decapitate him. The three surviving crew members decide to set the ship to self destruct and abandon it in a shuttle but when the alien kills Lambert and Parker, Ripley, and Jones the cat, are the only ones to make it onto the shuttle. After the Nostromo explodes, Ripley prepares to enter stasis sleep when she discovers that the alien is on the shuttle with her. She finally manages to open the shuttles airlock and uses a grappling hook to send the creature into space before using the shuttle’s engines to blast it into space. Ripley then records the ship’s final log before getting into stasis with Jones to make the trip home.
Alien was initially met with mixed reviews when it was first released but many critics have reassessed their reviews, most of them after the director’s cut was released, and it now has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Initially critical, Roger Ebert later praised the film, citing that it’s pacing helped make this movie so effective as it builds up in sow steps. In 2002, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and has since been ranked as one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time. The audiences definitely went to see this movie as it wound up making over $100 million domestically and somewhere between $20 and $100 million overseas.
I have said it before and I will say it again. This movie holds up just as well today as it did back when I first saw it. This is an incredible movie. The visual effects were great and definitely deserving of the Oscar that they won. I thought Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt both did outstanding jobs, especially Sigourney since her performance became the basis for what any female lead in a sci-fi/horror movie should strive for. The alien design and suit was incredible and actually did scare me the first time I saw it. The story itself was really good and Ridley Scott did an amazing job in telling it. Hands down one of the best sci-fi movies in the last 30 years and definitely should be seen at least once.
Rating: 5 out of 5