Thursday, October 30, 2014

Alien (1979)


Alien (USA/UK, 1979) - Color, Director(s): Ridley Scott
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 15]
Approx. 117 min.

Z-rating: 4 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 1 stars out of 5

What the hell are all those lights for?

When talking about the Alien franchise, most people think of Aliens, the action-packed sequel by James Cameron. Most of the video games based on the franchise have been shooting games, so it's easy to see where the association comes from. The original is much more of a slow, atmospheric horror that takes its time building up tension. Set designs and special effects are mind-numbingly detailed and look fantastic, even by today's standards. Much of the look is due to the work of H.R. Giger who designed, among many other things, the alien creature. Anyone who's seen enough Roger Corman pictures can tell you that a set can be quickly and cheaply built to look like the interior of a space ship, but they look so realistic here that it's easy to forget you're watching a movie.


We start with the Nostromo, a commercial towing vehicle with a crew of seven people, on its way back to Earth. The crew is awakened from stasis by the ship's computer after it intercepts a transmission of unknown origin from a nearby planetoid. They're ordered by the company to investigate the source of the signal, so they land on the planetoid. A member of the team accidentally gets a face-hugger attached to his... well, face that they can't remove. Every time they try, the tail wraps tighter around his throat. When they try to cut one of its legs off, it bleeds acid that burns through 3 levels of the ship. The crew is stumped about what to do when the thing just falls off and dies. The guy whose face it was on just gets up like nothing happened, so everyone just forgets about it and they have their last meal before returning to stasis. During the meal, something bursts out of his chest and runs off. The crew goes after it but it rapidly grows to over 6 ft. tall and starts killing off the crew one after another.


This movie is often referred to as a slasher in space because the alien creature, eventually dubbed "xenomorphs" in the the sequels, stalks the crew around the spaceship like Jason stalks teenagers through the woods. There are also some false scares like when they think they found the xenomorph using a motion tracker but it turns out to be the cat. Ripley, as the final girl, is the only one who wants to follow protocol when the face-hugger is attached to the guy's face. Ultimately, she's the one who figures out that the company wanted the xenomorph, a "perfect organism" they want to weaponize, brought back even at the expense of the entire crew. 

Hug me, dammit!

Nudity: At the end of the movie, we see Ripley strip down to her panties and an undershirt. The panties are so skimpy that we see some plumber's crack when she leans forward.


Gore: There's the famous chest bursting scene, which is probably the most famous scene of the entire movie. There are also splatters of blood each time someone is killed by the creature. The part where they beat the crap out of the android and all that white, milky stuff comes out doesn't really count.


Awesome: Very. The confined setting creates a suspenseful atmosphere and the crew being so helpless is what makes it terrifying. They aren't prepared to fight this thing and can't use conventional weapons because it bleeds acid. I think this movie is a masterpiece but the action-packed sequel is what really put this franchise on the map. I have to admit that I've always preferred Aliens because it's more exciting and has more than one alien. Even though it's more of an Action/Sci-Fi film, it's still scary as shit to know they were actually prepared to fight these things and still got their ass handed to them. Alien 3 had Ripley on a prison planet where another alien is running amok, killing inmates. Also, she finds out that she has an Alien Queen growing inside of her. Alien Resurrection takes place 200 years later with a Ripley clone. Obviously, they were trying to breed the aliens and end up letting them escape. Eventually, we got two Alien Versus Predator movies that were really lackluster. Much like Freddy vs. Jason, we were promised a crossover between the two franchises for many years. There was a comic book crossover way back in 1989-1990, a bunch of toys were released during the mid-90's, but we didn't get a movie until 2004! Unlike Freddy vs. Jason though, the AVP movies did not live up to expectations and many fans were disappointed.