User Reviews (1,227)

  • ivo-cobra820 February 2018
    One of the best classic sci-fi horror films of all time - A masterpiece
    A masterpiece one of the best classic sci-fi horror films from the 70's I have ever saw and experience. The first time I saw this film was in the 97 when I was 13 years old because this film was so popular that time and even today people talk's about it. Watching the first time this film I must say I loved it. I love this film to death of all the sci-fi films today this one is the best one and beats them all. This is the real science fiction film about "extraterrestrial life form" it is interesting, brilliant about time in the space and life form that want's to whip whole humanity out. This is Ridley Scott's masterpiece and one of his best films of all time. Everything about this film is perfect, the script, the actors, puppetry, models, and special effects about Alien design.

    I would give this movie an 8 but it deserves a perfect 10 because it has a vision of the most imaginative directors on earth. Dan O'Bannon wrote brilliantly a story and screenplay with help from Ronald Shusett. Both of them make a brilliant imaginative story. This film has no plot holes I don't see them. Helen Horton as the voice of Mother, the Nostromo's computer was believable and realistic and well performed. The design for the parasite (the facehugger) was excellent designed and brilliant.

    Everyone from the cast in here at acting is spectacular and acts believable. I love all the characters: Parker, Brett, Lambert, Ripley, Ash, Captain Dallas, Kane and even Jonesy the cat. He was really trained I love that cat in this movie. The design about the ship Nostromo is fantastic and so is space and the computers in this film. The eponymous Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by the Swiss artist H. R. Giger which the effects and designs were excellent spectacular created in the film. Jerry Goldsmith makes an excellent music score for the film that I have enjoy it.

    My favorite scene in this film is when Parker torchers with flamethrower on Ash's corpse and burns his remains great a special effect. This movie stars Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Bolaji Badejo and Helen Horton they are all believable in their roles.

    This is my favorite science fiction film tough I prefer Aliens over this film (because it is my favorite film), The Thing, Leviathan even The Blob as a horror films because I enjoy them more but "Alien" is my favorite science fiction film the best of it's kind. 10/10 doesn't deserve the hate.
  • chrishn6 February 2005
    "Alien" is not just the monster, it's the atmosphere and the way you feel!
    In "Alien" we follow a seven man crew en-route to earth on board the huge space freighter "Nostromo". The crew is in cryosleep, but the on board computer interrupts the journey when a foreign radio signal is picked up. It originates from an uninhabited planet and the crew lands to investigate. There they make contact with an alien life-form...

    What makes Alien so great is the constant feel of uneasiness. Right from the beginning you have a feeling that something is wrong. The crew is not particularly friendly towards each other, and you truly feel all the in-group tension. The ship itself is a huge worn out industrial-style maze of halls and corridors, and it feels more like a prison than a place to live. It is as if not only the alien but also the ship itself is against the humans. The Alien itself is the scariest monster in history because it is a ruthless, soul-less parasite completely devoid of any human or civilized traits. The design of the monster is a stroke of genius. Sure it has a humanoid form, but it has no facial traits or anything else which could give away emotions or intentions. Its actions reveals no weaknesses nor civilized intelligence. The Alien is more or less the opposite of everything human and civilized, plus the creature is more well-adapted to the inhumane interior of the ship than the humans who build it. To sum up, you then have a setting where the humans are caught in a web of in-group tensions, an inhospitable ship and the perfect killer which thrives in the ships intestines. You almost get the feel that the humans are the ones who are alienated to each other and to their own ship.

    Ridley Scott tells the story with a perfectly synchronized blend of visuals and sounds.

    The actors do a superb job, portraying their characters in a subtle but very realistic way. The seven man crew is not a bunch of Hollywood heroes. They are ordinary people with strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. In this way they all seem so fragile when confronted with the enemy.

    As mentioned the ship is very claustrophobic and Ridley Scott adds to the eeriness by using camera movement, lights and shadows in an effective way. The living quarters are bright and should be comfortable to the crew, but there is something sterile about it all. The rest of the ship is basically a huge basement.

    The music by Jerry Goldsmith underlines the eeriness so well, and the movie wouldn't have worked without his score. Combined with the sounds of the ship it all adds to the uneasiness.

    This is not a story about heroic people who boldly teams up against evil. It's a story about ordinary people facing true fear, which is the fear without a face. The fear we can't understand and can't negotiate with, because its only goal is to survive on the expense of us. It's a story where some people bravely fight back whilst others are destroyed by the terror. It's a story where people a killed in a completely random way. There is no higher-order justice behind who gets to live and who dies. All seven characters are just part of a race where the fittest - not necessarily the most righteous - will prevail, and all seven characters start the race on an equal footing. None of them are true heroes, and none of them are true villains.

    All the above makes Alien so great as a horror movie. The terror isn't just the Alien itself, it's the entire atmosphere which gets so effectively under your skin, that you just can't shrug it off after the end credits like you can with so many other Hollywood horror movies. The title "Alien" doesn't just refer to the monster, it is the theme of the movie and it is the feeling you have during and after the movie. 9/10
  • BroadswordCallinDannyBoy15 April 2004
    Classic tale of terror
    This is one of the finest science fiction films ever made. Everything is so carefully and expertly constructed to the point that repeated viewings are just as good as the first. Also, the atmosphere, along with the amazing sets, is real shocker and few movies have managed to create the same kind eerie feeling.

    The story starts with the crew of the cargo vessel "Nostromo" waking up before schedule. They soon realize their on-board computer has detected life on a nearby planet and they go to investigate. One of them unwillingly brings back an...ALIEN (!) which soon becomes a very unwanted passenger. The introduction of the title creature in the famous chest-burster scene is a real jolter. Especially if you watch it after dinner.

    The music, too, must be mentioned and it moves the story along with unrelenting terror. However, the lack of music, in certain scenes, works just as well and this combination makes for one of the best musical montages to be put on film.

    This is a classic film that spawned a series, which is good overall, and a bunch of copycats, many of which are just sad. "Alien" came first and it is easily one the best. 10/10

    Rated R: violence/gore and profanity
  • Patuquitos31 January 2005
    The mother of all movies
    Back in early 20th century, Lumière brothers didn't have a clue of what they were playing with. I'm freaking sure that if somebody could have magically told them that thanks to their work, a movie like 'Alien' would have been made in the future, they both would have died of a sudden, shocked by the consequences of their labor, like an honest scientist would if he was shown an evil use of his research. In that sense, but in the best way imaginable, 'Alien' is the atomic bomb.

    In my opinion, 'Alien' is the only perfect movie in the history of cinema. Of course, this could be debatable, but of all the films I've watched since I was born, this is the only one in which I haven't been able to find the slightest flaw. It gets a golden ten out of ten. Bright, solid and massive.

    I could go on with a panegyric, but I'll try to be short and accurate:

    The direction is just perfect. Every shot is marvellous, every movement of the camera is breathtaking. There is absolutely nothing you could add or subtract. Touch it, and you spoil it. Seriously.

    The acting is splendid. The performances build a credible world centuries away. I don't know about you, but this take on the future was unveliabably acceptable. Sigourney Weaver is more than a revelation, John Hurt is a master, and the rest are nothing short of marvellous.

    The script is a work of art, the story is mesmerizing, well-constructed, well-developed, and free of absurd twists. Its simplicity and efectiveness are yet, 25 years after, to be matched.

    The atmosphere is pure genius. Gothic, claustrophobic and sometimes baroque. The use of light and dark is beyond description, the use of sound is as creepy as it gets.

    The FX are the best possible for 1979. In the time of the release, some scenes were stomach churning.

    The score. Jerry Goldsmith's work matches the images so perfectly it seems to bleed from them. It is and will be the best soundtrack for a sci-fi flick in space ever.

    The tagline. "In space, no one can hear you scream". THIS is a tagline.

    And, of course... the alien. The only alive creature that can steal Weaver the movie. Its design is the most innovative I've seen. It has spawned dozens of disgraceful imitations. This is the real deal. Not only the look, but the complete design of a life form, including biological features. Acid instead of blood. Jaws inside jaws. What more could you possibly want? This is how a movie is done.

    A very good sign of a movie that has gone down in history is the amount of collectively well remembered scenes. Well, 'Alien' has so many that I won't go into it. This movie contains so many iconic scenes that has become an icon itself.

    So, what else? I urge all young directors to watch this movie a zillion times, as I've already done, and take notes all along. But not in order to rip off from it, as many others have done, but to learn, learn, learn, learn and learn how a movie should be done. 'Casablanca'? You must be joking.

    Oh, I almost forget! There's a lovable cat in it.

    RATING: 10
  • gftbiloxi23 April 2005
    Iconographic Horror
    Warning: Spoilers
    ALIEN received mixed reviews when it debuted in 1979--largely from science fiction critics, who accused it of being little more than a sort of Friday the 13th in Outer Space, a blood-and-gore horror flick given a futuristic twist via special effects. But while these accusations have more than a little truth, it has been an incredibly influential film--and even today, in the wake of CGI effects, it still holds up extremely, extremely well.

    The story is well known: the crew of an interstellar craft responds to what seems a distress signal, only to encounter a remarkably lethal alien life form that boards their ship and sets about picking them off one by one. Some of the special effects are weak (the alien spacecraft and the android "revival" are fairly notorious). There is little in the way of character development, the film has a fairly slow pace, and the story itself is predictable; you can usually guess who is going to die next.

    BUT. The art designs are incredible: the entire look of the film, from the commercial nature of the spacecraft to the iconographic alien itself (brilliantly envisioned by Giger) is right on the money. Director Ridley Scott encouraged his cast to ad lib from the script, and the result is a shocking sense of realism--and the somewhat slow pace of the film and the predictability of the story gives it a sense of relentless and ever-mounting paranoia that is greatly enhanced by the tight sets and camera set-ups. With its odd mixture of womb-like organics and cold mechanics, ALIEN is a film calculated to send even the most slightly claustrophobic viewer into a fit of hysteria.

    The entire cast, led by Tom Skerrit and Sigorney Weaver, is very, very good--and the film abounds with memorable images and scenes ranging from John Hurt's encounter with the alien egg to Skerrit's search of the ship air ducts to Weaver's terrifying race against time as the ship counts down to self-destruct. Seldom has any film been so consistent in design, cast, direction, and out-and-out fear factor, and although certain aspects of ALIEN are open to legitimate criticism the end result is powerful enough to bring it in at a full five stars. A word of warning, however: you'll need to send the kids to bed for this one. And you'll probably be up half the night afterward yourself! Recommended.

    Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
  • bob the moo16 October 2001
    Classic horror
    The further we go in special effects, the more movies show us and ignore the unseen, the more people will return to dark horrors like this one.

    It's hard to look at this film without considering the sequels and knowing the alien itself, however when made the alien was mostly unseen and a mystery. It's difficult to forget what you've seen, but it's important to approach this film first if possible rather than joining the series late.

    It's amazing that this is over 20 years old - apart from the actors looking so young, the film doesn't feel dated at all. The sci-fi visions here are still bleak and futuristic as they were then - this is not the Star Trek vision of the future. The foreboding exists long before John Hurt spills his secret, Scott's direction is excellent throughout. Once the alien is "born" the tension is cranked up and the characters dispatched one by one (a formula we know oh-so well now!)

    However here the characters are not merely alien-food but have some dimension to them. Weaver is excellent, while the support cast is full of great support actors (Stanton, Kotto, Hurt, Skerritt, Holm), but of course the real star is the one we see least of.

    We barely see the alien in full detail, most of the time it is set in shadows, moving with deadly intent.The alien here is not simply a killing machine as seen in later films but is cruel with it. Witness the alien trap a female crew member and slowly rub up her leg, moving with slow seductive movements before moving with terrifying speed to kill another crew member sneaking up behind it. The slow movements betray the alien's pure cruelty.

    The film is a study in terror. It may not be as action packed as the other films in the series but it brings the claustrophobia of being hunted to a new level.
  • David Wilkinson20 July 1999
    Structural perfection matched only by its hostility
    Director Ridley Scott's well-honed talents of pacing and editing create a tense atmosphere that superbly conveys dread and fear of an unknown, unseen evil entity. In 1979, the technology didn't exist to generate a computer image of a Being from another world, and thank God, because this film would have sucked just like all these post-Alien creature features do. Everyone who loves this movie knows what I'm talking about. Ridley Scott had to be extremely careful not to show a full shot of the Alien, except in very brief scenes, and not to reveal exactly how it moves, because then we would see that it is just some tall, skinny guy in a rubber suit. Nowadays, some computer guy would whip up a really scary-looking, but nevertheless FAKE-looking (yes, computer guys, we can tell) Alien, and the director would not have to even think about trying to breathe life into H.R. Giger's hallucinations to make a successful picture.

    The dark, cold beauty of this film will never be equaled.
  • Walter Frith22 January 2005
    My favourite tagline for a movie
    "In space, no one can hear you scream." This remains my favourite tagline ever for a movie. When 'Alien' was released in 1979, it caused almost as much talk as 'Star Wars' did when released two years earlier. The science fiction genre was being revolutionized at this time and 'Alien' had a horror characteristic to it which was psychological, visually striking and compelling with the type of strength in silence not seen since '2001: A Space Odyssey' in 1968. Definitely a big influence in blockbuster film making, 'Alien' has spawned three sequels so far and is a great horror/science-fiction classic not to be missed. It is director Ridley Scott's best effort on the big screen for making fear the best character in the film.
  • Infofreak12 December 2002
    A horror classic that has stood the test of time! Still by far the best movie in the series.
    'Alien' while technically science fiction is also one of the greatest horror/suspense movies ever made. Ridley Scott is now one of the most well known and successful directors in Hollywood, but I don't think anything he's made in the last ten years is a patch on this perfect film, which is a near masterpiece in my opinion. In fact, on reflection there are only three Scott movies I genuinely like, those being his first three. The last of these 'Blade Runner' was released twenty years ago now, so to me Scott is long past his use by date. Whatever, 'Alien' itself is a brilliant piece of work, and is almost flawless. Scott's direction is superb and everything else about it is outstanding - a strong script from Dan O'Bannon et al, an evocative score from Jerry Goldsmith, brilliant design and special effects, including the amazing contributions from H.R.Giger, all add up to an amazing movie experience. I also really liked how the cast were character actors and not "stars" so there was plenty of suspense generated as to who will live and who will die. This is something very few subsequent movies have done, 'Pitch Black' being one of the exceptions. Sigourney Weaver may be an icon as Ripley now, but when the movie was first released she was virtually unknown, having had a small cameo in Woody Allen's 'Annie Hall' and not much else. The rest of the cast are equally as good. I especially enjoyed Yaphet Kotto ('Blue Collar') and the legendary Harry Dean Stanton ('Wise Blood') as the wise cracking "below deck" crew. Many people seem to prefer James Cameron's sequel 'Aliens' over this, but as I much prefer horror and suspense movies to action ones I think this is definitely the better movie, and still the strongest and most effective in the series. 'Alien' is a horror classic and an absolutely unforgettable movie that I can't recommend highly enough. If you haven't seen it before watch it immediately!
  • Pluto-314 August 1998
    The beginning of one of the greatest series of all time. This film will always remain a classic. It's scary, influential and insanely entertaining. Not just that but Ridley Scott actually has a great sense of style and mood and he plays with that a lot, to make us shiver. There's also an interesting mystery surrounding the Alien which we know practically nothing about. Sigourney Weaver is just as powerful as usual and really brings strength to the film; they make one. Last but not least, the musical score. Wow! It's fantastic. I think the Alien series is known for that aspect as well. Let's hope they'll continue the series and dang we need it all on DVD !
  • silsworld30 March 2005
    As Near Perfection As Possible.
    Three words perfectly describe ALIEN: Long, dark and ominous.

    You know you're in for a good time when even the opening title gives you a shiver. The music plays perfectly as the word 'ALIEN' slowly appears, line by line. Then there are the establishing shots of the ship; poorly maintained, claustrophobic.

    And then there's basically forty minutes of people in a ship pondering and eating and getting along (or not). The film has one little thing that allows it to draw you along so slowly - a promise. A promise made by the advertisements and hype that this was going to kick your ass. You just had to wait.

    But when it happens, it happens. Though the film doesn't speed up per se, there's a lot more happening in front of the screen to make it at least look like stuff's going on. The first half crawls almost depressingly, but the second half catches your eye and refuses to let go.

    I suggest everyone sees this film. Even if you skip through the beginning, you need to see this. It defined sci-fi and horror all in one.

    It's perfect.
  • zetes6 April 2000
    The Purina Dog Chow company will expand and make a big mistake!
    Warning: Spoilers
    Ridely Scott is such a minimalist in Alien that many sci-fi nuts find it slow and unexciting. So many people prefer Aliens, its sequel, to this one. I think Aliens, directed by James Cameron, is another sci-fi masterpiece (and maybe the best action film ever made), but I think Alien is much better. In fact, I would say that it is among the best films ever made, in sci-fi, only second to 2001.

    The plot absolutely lacks contrivance. All the plot points develop how they would naturally. And there are great surprises throughout the film. Even if you haven't seen the film, you know about the chest-bursting scene. You probably saw it parodied dozens of times. But watch the scene where Ian Holm reveals his secret! That is one amazing scene! I actually saw the sequel first, so I kind of knew that secret, too, but it still shocked me. It was so well directed.

    Notice how the dialogue works. It never particularly draws attention to itself. It actually reminds me of Robert Altman, how he directed such movies as Nashville, where many characters are speaking at the same time, and nothing seems more or less important than anything else. It is just like real life. Alien is one of the most realistic, documentary-like sci-fi films ever made.

    Also notice the setting. The Nostromo's design is so believable that I feel that I'm actually seeing a real space vehicle. The alien ship also beams with its spookiness.

    The characters are also extremely believable. They are so well written that even the first character who dies is completely developed. If you get the DVD, they actually created dossiers about each of the crew members. It also has extra scenes which round out the characters even more. I think Ripley is one of the most endearing characters in film history. Even in the last two sequels, which were visually interesting but not very well written or directed, Ripley held my interest. I teared up when she died at the end of 3. If they made a fifth one, I would go, no matter how terrible I knew it would be. The acting is also top-notch. Ian Holm, a great actor, gives one of his best performances here. I love the last scene that he is in. Truly a master. And of course Sigourney Weaver could have just as easily been nominated for an Oscar for her performance here as she was for Aliens. I wish she would make more movies. She's so talented.

    The most important part of a film, in my mind, is the mood. And boy, does Alien have one of the most genuinely spooky movies I've ever seen. Make sure you watch it after the sun has gone down. Also, watching it alone will help. The special effects are kind of cheap, but Scott knows this well enough. He only shows the alien for seconds at a time. Besides keeping us from seeing the shoddiness of those puppets, this technique makes the alien seem all the more creepy and mysterious.

    10/10, no doubt at all (BTW, the symbols all over the Nostromo are the same insignias as those of the Purina Dog Chow company)
  • shortround839117 April 2009
    Alien.....the one that started it all........
    Alien....the creature......the film.....the legend. The one that started it all, the one that led to one of the greatest sequels ever made, one that got a comic book mini-series and 2 cross-over films with "Predator". This is THE film. And without a doubt, the greatest horror film ever created, and this totally makes "Halloween" look like "Chicken Little". You can forget about all those rubbish "Friday the 13th" or "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies, 'cause "Alien" just takes horror up to so many levels! In "Alien", we find ourselves in the distant future with a crew just coming back from a haul of 20 million tons of ore back to Earth. But while the crew members are in stasis, their ship picks up an "SOS" from a nearby planet, and once the crew is awakened, they are forced by the "Company" regulations to follow that signal. And then when they land on the planet and it turns out that something terrifying is in store for them, when a hostile organism attaches itself to one of the crew members. And later on, it becomes clear that the crew member was being impregnated and then dies a horrible, violent death from a deadly breed of an other-worldly life-form. And now the rest of the crew must fight off the creature.

    As other classic films should always have, "Alien" does great on the characters. And of course, the most recognizable one is the lead woman, Ellen Ripley who is played then-unknown Sigourney Weaver. She provides a very human face and you're gonna feel like you're actually watching a real-life woman in here, and it could be because of her accent, or her mannerisms. But as the film progresses, she develops into a more mentally tougher woman while combating the Alien. There are times when she totally keeps it cool, times when she's afraid, times when she's angry, and times when its just Ripley being Ripley. And thanks to Weavers acting talents, she can really dish out one hell of a character.

    The rest of the supporting cast are nothing short of spectacular, Parker and Brett are the selfish, sarcastic men who only want to make a profit. And through most of the film, you can feel the tension that Ripley and Parker have. Lambert, who one of my favorites from here is the second woman who happens to be the opposite of Ripley, a total coward. Dallas, who the viewer might get the vibe that HE is the main character in the 1st 15 minutes or so, is pretty much the leader here. Kane, is the tired, dead-looking guy who is the one that carries the alien species inside of him. And finally, Ash is the one with the sinister purpose and you start to suspect that he's up to no good at some point. And movie characters need to have their own personalities and that's what "Alien" has.

    And as for the Alien itself, well what can i say? It is the most horrifying creature in the history of cinema, period. I mean, how could you stop it? It has acid for blood, and is very lethal to fight face-to-face. And the special effects were over 20 years ahead of its time. The face-hugger on Kane looked so freaking real, that you're gonna be scared just by looking at it, even it doesn't do anything except breathe most of the time. And the sets couldn't have been better, very futuristic, yet there's always something ominous and dark about them.

    The suspense is impossible to resist as the sequences deliver the chills at times when you least expect it, and when you do expect something to happen, nothing happens. And "Alien" is one of the very few horror films that understands that you can't scare people by raking up the bodies and the blood, but you have to build up the suspense to do it. And director Ridley Scott is such a genius, and he shows that here, he absolutely knows how to make any kind of film, ones that can scare (Alien), one that can sadden (Thelma and Louise), and one that can excite/thrill (Gladiator). And Ridley really keeps up the dark atmosphere, especially in the beginning when there's no talking for the 1st 5 minutes or so, we get the feeling that something's not right all the time. Some parts are very quiet and very depressing and we feel exactly what we see.

    This is the legend that I'm talking about here, folks. Don't miss the chance to see this, because it will scare the living daylights outta you more than any other movie you're gonna see in your life. Take my word for it....I'm practically a movie buff, so I know what I'm talking about....
  • Duncan Gowers12 March 2002
    The original masterpiece that launched a dynasty
    Warning: Spoilers
    As the credits of "Alien" open, the slowly paced opening titles and soft, eerie score give some indication of what viewers will experience when watching this film. It starts off so unassumingly that first-time viewers are unlikely to be moved by the story or inspired by the slight character development in the film's first half. It is in fact this lack of certainty that makes "Alien" work so well, for as the film hits it second half it shifts dramatically from slow space road movie to an intergalactic haunted house fright show. This flip in drama, pace and tension makes for an unnerving ride into the unknown and results in one of the landmark sub-genre-sci-fi movies of the 20th century.

    The film is directed by Englishman Ridley Scott, who had a total of one feature and numerous commercials under his belt when he took control of proceedings. Since the success of "Alien", Scott has had an uneven career with highlights like "Blade Runner", "Thelma and Louise", "Gladiator" and most recently "Black Hawk Down" and low points like "Legend", "G.I. Jane" and the bore-fest "1492". "Alien" represents the overtly stylistic and slick approach Scott brings to his films, traits that are useful in science fiction but can sometimes seem out of place in more realistic genres.

    Here Scott retires the glitz and glamour of "Star Wars", which had been released two years before "Alien". Instead he portrays the spacecraft and crew as nothing more than a cargo ship and a rag tag bunch of intergalactic truckers. This works very well, as the viewer gets the distinct sense of the tedium and oppressive vastness of space travel. The way the crew are so nonchalant about visiting another planet makes the audience feel that yes, perhaps one day man will view space travel with a shrug.

    The opening scene shows us a huge spaceship, named the Nostromo, returning to earth with 20,000,000 tonnes of mineral ore on board. The crew sleep in hibernation, until the onboard computer awakens them. It seems the computer has picked up a possible distress signal on an alien planet. Under the law of the nameless and faceless 'Company', the crew are obliged to investigate.

    The waking scene is superbly filmed. Kane (John Hurt) slowly rises, like a chick from and egg. Squinting and only partially awake, slow dissolves from one angle of Kane to another emphasise his delirium and partial consciousness. The final dissolve dissipates to the mess hall. Here we meet the entire crew of the Nostromo for the first time.

    The ship is led by Dallas (Tom Skerrit), with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as the first officer. Ash (Ian Holm) is the odd, skittish science officer, Kane (John Hurt) is weathered but adventurous, Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) is the whiny and weak navigation officer, and Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) are the engineering grunts. The ship is controlled by Mother, a mute version of HAL 9000 from 1968's "2001: A Space Odyssey". Like "2001", the reasons for having humans on board is unknown; they almost seem pointless as the ship can basically control itself. Are they simply pawns or guinea pigs awoken at the will of the computer?

    They respond to the distress signal after landing on the desolate planet. The beacon is tracked to a derelict spaceship, which Kane, Lambert and Dallas enter. Curious and naïve, Kane wonders into a cavern of eggs. Stumbling on the slippery surface, he slips and comes into contact with the living contents of the egg. With the parasite attached to his face, Dallas and Lambert rush Kane back to the ship.

    On board Ripley, who is now in command, demands that Kane be kept in quarantine for 24 hours. Against her wishes, the odd Ash lets the three crew in. Upon removing Kane's helmet they find a claw shaped being attached to his face. It eventually falls off and dies and amazingly, Kane awakens, seemingly unscathed.

    At this stage the film remains slow and ponderous. Intent on getting back to earth, they have one final meal before returning to hibernation. As they eat Kane convulses violently and a creature bursts through his chest. In utter disbelief the crew watch it skuttle away to the far reaches of the ship.

    From this point the film takes off. Space and distance are enclosed as Scott uses a brilliant mix of close ups and wide angled shots to display the vastness of the Nostromo and the claustrophobia in the crew.

    The alien and set design are outstanding. The massive sexual overtones of Swiss artist's H.R. Giger's alien and derelict ship are truly breathtaking, as is the futuristic-retro styling of Michael Seymour's sets. Grubby yet cool, the production quality of "Alien" is something to admire.

    It took seven more years before a sequel was made and when James Cameron took over the directing chair he revolutionised the series by making it all out action over spooky sci-fi with "Aliens". It may be a better movie, but the original remains a quality stand alone film and a landmark in the sci-fi horror sub genre that has not been matched by any other saga.
  • Brandt Sponseller6 February 2005
    A new appreciation of this film's excellence
    Warning: Spoilers
    Seven members of a space mining cargo ship who are headed back to Earth are awakened from hypersleep when their ship detects a signal from an intelligent civilization on a small, uncharted planet. When they locate the source of the signal, they find more than they bargained for, and all of their lives are endangered.

    My feelings about this first film in the Alien series have vacillated slightly over the years. I loved it when I first saw it as a young teenager in the theater back in 1979. Later, I wasn't as enamored with it, and had actually rated it as low as a 7 out of 10--at one point believing it to be my least favorite of the series. Now, however, my appreciation of the film has matured a bit, and I'm back to thinking it's a solid 10 out of 10.

    The film's strong points are rooted in director Ridley Scott's focused commitment to sustaining a desolate, dark atmosphere and gradually building suspense over the course of the film. Alien is unusual for its era in its pacing, its lack of comic relief, and its refusal to provide breaks from its growing tension. All three of these facts make it a somewhat "difficult film". It's not recommended for light viewing. It's not a "popcorn film". You have to be in the mood to sit down, slow down, concentrate, invest emotion, and let yourself be enveloped in the film's world.

    With Alien, Scott has created a kind of bleak tribute to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). This is evident in many characteristics of the film, such as the graceful slowness of the cinematography, editing and much of the action in the first section of the film, including sustained pans across sterile-looking environments and wide external shots of (a) hulking but elegant spacecraft, the personification of the ship's computer, known as "Mother" here rather than Hal, a few subtle instances of classical music, the surprise discovery of a monumental structure on another celestial body, and so on.

    However, there are no instances of pleasant psychedelia here, no retreats into dreamworlds, no messages of hope, no benevolence from alien beings. Alien is strictly concerned with making its sci-fi an issue of classic horror. At a base level, it is about a malevolent monster, first encountered in a dark, Gothic environment and later chasing our heroes through a cross between a haunted house and crypt-like labyrinths.

    Much has been said about visual artist H.R. Giger's alien and production design, and the film wouldn't be nearly as successful without it. Giger is largely responsible for the look of the beacon ship on the small planet, both its exterior and interior, the cocoon later encountered on the cargo ship, and the creatures. His work also inspired a lot of smaller elements, as can be seen in doorways, pipes, and other features of the cargo ship. Like most of his work, these features are a combination of metallic and organic, mechanical and biological, futuristic and Gothic. They complement the austere Kubrickian sensibility in a surprising but completely successful way.

    Scott also uses simple effects like steam, as well as unique lighting and sound effects to help build the film's thick tension. These techniques gradually become more conspicuous as the film goes on, finally culminating in a claustrophobic symphony of flashing lights, constantly hissing pipes and hoses, and an incessant audio alarm.

    Finally, the last key to the excellence of the film is the cast. Although a somewhat stereotypical movie-world ragtag bunch, their characterizations provide more depth than the norm, with Sigourney Weaver as the standout, in perhaps the defining role of her career, and one of the more admirable filmic portrayals of a woman--she's the smartest, most sensible, strongest, and certainly most sexy of the bunch.
  • nycritic18 February 2006
    This Ageless, Silent, Haunted House Floating in Silent Space
    Warning: Spoilers
    Before gore, special effects, and the denouement of the alien itself in future sequels, this was the movie that revolutionized the concept of the "haunted house" and merged it in a seamless sieve with "body horror" and its ultimate intrusion into our own most intimate space.

    The story had been done before, in different genres, never veering too far from its horror origins. Lovecraft (and others) had written about expeditions that had gone to "investigate" and "collect important data" only to find themselves being hunted down one by one, be it an unseen terror or their own fears.

    Ridley Scott's ALIEN looks and feels like a science fiction movie. However, it is not. Everything in its look and tone suggests horror of a more cerebral kind. When three crew members come across what seems to be a large space-jockey with a thing attached to its face, dead, we feel our stomach turn. If something that small was able to take over a creature this large, they are in deep trouble here. The scene is masterful, restrained, but a classic in the horror-movie sense: it's as if we had been witness to terrible events which had taken place and decided to get to the bottom of it. Scott tightens the noose employing age-old tricks of the horror genre and only once shows blood and guts -- one which follows a calm dinner sequence. He never allows the viewer to get a true glimpse of this sadistic killer much like Spielberg in JAWS and this becomes nerve-wracking because again, fear of the unseen is more powerful than what comes into view. The theory dictates: "I was afraid of that thing? I thought it was bigger!" All we see of this alien are his teeth and in one memorable, twisted scene, his tail snaking up Lambert's (Veronica Cartwright) leg. Later on, as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in her breakthrough role), the quintessential Final Girl, makes her escape, it is possible to hear Lambert shrieking. What the alien is doing to her we can only imagine and recoil.
  • jazzest31 January 2005
    Simplicity in Storytelling and Art Direction Makes the Film Timeless
    The very reason of the huge and continuing success of this 25-year-old sci-fi classic may be the simplicity in its storytelling and its art direction, which has seemingly made the film timeless and universal.

    A simple And-Then-There-Were-None type of story has no era-related influence from the late 70s, while many sci-fi films tend to mirror the world at the time they are made. Staged mostly in a closed environment inside a spaceship and briefly on an unknown planet far from Earth, the film practically has no connection to any particular culture.

    The designs of aliens' colony on the planet and of the alien by H. R. Giger must have been remarkably cutting-edge back in the time; for contemporary eyes, they look rather simply beautiful. The title design at the opening is also appropriately simple: Green LED-like lights turn on one by one to form the letters of "ALIEN."

    The film doesn't look old at all after 25 years and probably will never do. This is one of great examples that simplicity attains eternity.
  • Philip West19 September 2011
    Thirty-two years on, and still exceptional.
    In the crowded gallery of horror films, Alien hangs in a prominent position, high above its rivals. By virtue of its deft blend of psychology and physical horror, it lifts the genre out of the graveyard and into deepest space . While its scale models, grimy characters, and shimmering soundtrack may no longer appeal to a generation of audiences who revel in the hotchpotch storyboards of 'Drag Me To Hell', Alien still commands great respect, and rightly so. It has not lost any of its cutting edge, even after thirty-two years.

    Alien's simplistic premise keeps the film tight and lean; a taut, slow-burning game of cat and mouse involving a vicious, shadowy creature whose acidic blood can melt the very girders of the ship it has invaded, and a compelling blend of the brave (Ripley), cautious (Dallas), and mechanical (Ash). There are no meaningless references to childhood memories or superfluous romance. The characters and their personalities are weathered, believable, and their mission plausible. The profit-driven search for mineral ore provides a realistic corporate counterpoint to the main story, which sees the seven crew members dragged, somewhat unwillingly, into the extraterrestrial's world. With the possible exception of Ash, they did not seek this encounter; the computers lead them to it. How each crew member responds to the situation is key; in effect, seven sub plots form, each focusing upon something different, be it a crew member's mannerisms, their way of thinking, or indeed, a violent death (Chestburster). This is Alien's greatest appeal; it provides an insight into the human mind, as psychological horror movies should. Which crew member do we, the audience, root for, admire, or resent? Who can trust who?

    Sigourney Weaver, so often credited with inspiring a roll-call of female cinematic heroines, rightly earns every syllable of praise that has been heaped upon her since the film's release; Ripley's resourcefulness and courage are marvellous to behold. However, as the genuinely disturbing android Ash, Ian Holm is supreme; his reserved demeanour and considered approach masking the motives that lay hidden out of sight.

    As an exercise in sound and vision, Alien is a memorable spectacle. There are many moments that are striking. The colossal hauler Nostromo, futuristic and industrial in design, dominates the screen as it crawls slowly, almost gracefully, towards Earth. The sheen of the soundtrack and the echoing calls from the freighter to 'Antarctica Traffic Control' are atmospheric to the core, while the fogbound alien planet, littered with blackened mountains and the silhouette of the hulking, derelict vessel, is hauntingly desolate. Spaces where, in modern horror films, the gaps would be filled with meaningless dialogue, are left vacant. The viewer can interpret what they see with no need for speech. Ridley Scott's vision of 'horror first, science-fiction second' was, without a doubt, fulfilled; audiences should ignore the flashing lights and controls of the spaceship and focus upon the Alien. Around which corner does it lurk? Who becomes its next victim?

    Alien is a film of immense quality. It has the capacity to frighten and to deceive. It flows precisely from scene to scene with no wasted shots and most tellingly, does not stray off course by incorporating fanciful special effects or worthless roles filled by fringe characters. One spacecraft, one extraterrestrial, seven humans, and one cat is all we are given. And quite simply, anything more would have been a waste. While the genre of horror may have moved on, the art of horror is captured perfectly, here, in the blackness of space.
  • LordBlacklist5 March 2006
    The Quiet Beginning
    Review 1 of 4

    Alien is one of those films that will never age. It takes the simplest story and tells it as well as it can be told. I look at this film as the first in a trilogy, many may not agree with that, but Alien is a perfect beginning. It establishes an entire world and makes it feel real. Everything feels new and interesting. The things that are not explained in this film are exactly what makes it so fascinating to watch. Where did that ship come from? It doesn't matter. Like a good novel the film allows you to fill in the pieces with your own imagination. This goes for the alien it self, since we see so little of it that it becomes all the more terrifying for it. Ridley Scott is like a painter with his images. So many frames of this picture seem like they could be made into still photographs. Alien is science fiction and yet with the way it is shot and acted the movie feels like a documentary. It's that sense of verisimilitude that has made this movie last for so long. So much is present in the subtext. I get the feeling that one of the underlying themes of the film is that technology in the future will little by little overtake the lives of human beings, but paradoxically the nostromo still needs a crew in order to operate. I believe this film is one of the few realistic depictions of what encountering a real Alien life form might actually be like, and that it may not be what we are expecting. something that has always stood out to me about the film is the level of familiarity that the characters have with their surroundings. Many science fiction films love to draw attention to their futuristic technology but the characters in Alien react to it like a construction worker would with operating a crane: it is their job. This film is so good for so many reasons. The performances are nothing short of amazing, the set design exquisite, the score by Jerry Goldsmith is subtle and evocative, but the main reason for me that alien still holds up after all these years is that it takes itself very seriously. There is no Hollywood style self referential humor that would saturate the later entries of the series. Sigourney Weaver may have gotten the academy award nomination for Aliens, but her work here is very solid. She plays a character who through much hardship finds strength within herself that never appeared to be there to begin with. If you look at the Alien series as a trilogy this is the film where Ripley discovers who she really is, or defines her character, and the only way one can do that is through the choices they make in extreme circumstances. This is a film of great tension and subtly, well worth seeing over and over again to pick up on all the layers of subtext that may have been missed the first or second viewing.
  • funkyfry22 August 2006
    Solid suspense film set in space
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is one of the few sci-fi horror films from the period of the late 70s/early 80s that has really held up with time.

    On a visual level, the film is highly satisfying. Green and light blue colors are saturated throughout the film, but so grayed that the movie almost appears at many points to be shot in black and white. The miniatures and matte effects used in the original film were quite good.

    The movie works on pretty much every level, though you can't really say it's an incredible story either. On a sci-fi level, the best parts are the early parts where we first see the alien technology. I was disappointed actually in the print that I saw because I believe it was altered with computers, I remember seeing more matte screens that resembled the HR Geiger artwork when the film was on video. Anyway, the alien technology succeeds on a level never before achieved in terms of showing a realistic alien culture. We can almost imagine these creatures living on this ship, it seems to fit in with the alien biology so well.

    When they arrive back on their own ship, the film unfortunately descends into a fairly typical horror action film. Perhaps taking a note from Hitchcock's "Psycho", Scott kills off the only reasonably well known actor in the film (at the time of its release), Tom Skerrit, fairly quickly and leaves us with the then-unknown Weaver as the hero. This makes her the first really butt-kicking female heroine of a sci-fi action film, and that alone qualifies this film as groundbreaking.

    The cast in general is just amazing. Yaphet Kotto, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton -- these are quite simply some of the best character actors of their generation, all gathered for the purpose of making this more than just a typical monster movie. Other films such as "Predator" tried but failed to get a supporting cast as distinguished and talented as this one gathered for a sci-fi action film. The quality of these actors makes the film better not only in the individual scenes they are in (such as Holm's incredible turn once exposed), but also the aggregate total of the film -- because the actors are so good and the characters relatively fleshed out, we can imagine right up until the film's final moments that any one of them could be the one who ends up surviving.

    Another interesting element not often commented on is the cynical attitude the astronauts have towards "the company", which employs them. From Kotto and Stanton's character's complaints about the hours, all the way up to Weaver's discovery that all of them were expendable and kept in the dark as to the true purpose of their mission (which Skerrit's character seems to also know more about than Weaver's), there is a kind of dark realism here that you won't find in the vast majority of films of this type. It dovetails with the other element I've talked about, the fact that the cast is so good that any one of them could be the "hero" -- this is a very democratic look at the future, one edged with deep cynicism but with an ultimate eye towards presenting a future of real people who are oppressed by situations far beyond their control. It is a far cry from the Utopian dreams of Heinlein and other sci-fi progenitors and represents this film's true gift to science fiction as a whole.
  • Michael DeZubiria31 July 2004
    Whose idea was it to bring a cat in the first place?
    Warning: Spoilers
    I'm a little confused as to why there was a cat on board in the first place. Needless to say, given that there was an entire crew on board the Nostromo, a merchant vessel carrying, if I remember correctly, something like 20,000,000 tons of mineral ore, there was hardly a lack of companionship. At any rate, I can easily brush aside my curiosity about the effort that went into designing the life support system that would have been needed to keep the cat alive along with the rest of the humans as they traveled for months on end in deep sleep. It doesn't matter, because the cat was involved in most of the scariest scenes.

    That being said, I think that one of the things that really makes Alien great is that it explains all the twists and turns of its plot in great detail, which is almost unheard of in science fiction and horror films. No one displays ludicrous behavior to allow for the construction of bloody, gory death scenes, the alien, masterfully designed, isn't rushing across the screen in every scene to allow for maximum payoff of the costume design, we don't even see it until well past the halfway point in the movie. Like Jaws, Alien takes its time to allow the characters to gradually grasp the enormity of their situation.

    The Nostromo is a merchant ship, which allows for a non-military crew to be faced with a mortal enemy that they do not understand. The ship intercepts a strange transmission that must be from an intelligent source since it repeats itself every twelve seconds, and so it wakes up the crew to investigate. The subtlety of the way the conflict is introduced is very important. The transmission didn't just appear, the ship awoke the crew months ahead of schedule, because it was programmed to do so should anything like that happen. And to the chagrin of a couple of the money financial-minded crew members, it is also in their contracts to investigate any such occurrence. The movie is covering its tracks very thoroughly and to great effect.

    When they reach the planet from which the transmission originated, they find the spectacular discovery of what appears to be a crashed alien spaceship, complete with a dead alien pilot still in his chair. A brief look at the body suggests that the pilot may have exploded from the inside, creating curiosity about his death that the movie never satisfies but doesn't need to. One of the crew members discovers what look like dozens of leathery eggs, gets attacked, and is brought back on board the ship. Significantly, protocol is broken to get him and the alien life form back on board for medical attention.

    When they discover that the alien has blood that melts through the hull of the ship like thermite, a new and particularly difficult challenge arises. How do they kill a deadly enemy without making it bleed? And to make matters worse, the very ship is programmed to work against them. They are in the most hostile environment imaginable, worse than anywhere on earth. They are being stalked by an unknown creature that they can't injure for fear of damaging the hull of the spaceship, and the ship itself has placed the survival of the alien life form above their own survival. They have to trick the alien into submission without letting the ship know what's going on. Even HAL wasn't THIS creepy.

    Released at a time when science fiction was probably at the most popular that it had ever been (and possibly ever will be) thanks to the recent release of Star Wars and the soon to follow first sequel, Alien came along and capitalized in an area of science fiction that people evidently were very eager for, the darker, more sinister and dangerous side. The side of science fiction with the bloody deaths rather than light sabers and heroes. In fact, by looking at the way people probably saw Alien in 1979 and the way they see it now, you can learn a lot about how science fiction and horror have evolved over the years. Back then, this was horror/science fiction. Today, it's science fiction/horror. But while it was more horrible in 1979 than it is today, it is significant that, while other films that have come along over the years have overshadowed Alien as far as the intensity of the horror, the movie has lost none of its powerful effect. Rather than reinventing the science fiction genre by adding horror to it, it is now maintaining the life of the science fiction genre by reminding us of how good it can be when it's done right.
  • willwoodmill14 February 2016
    Defining moment in sci-fi horror history
    Alien is one indisputably one of the best science fiction, and horror films ever made. And easily one of the most influential ever. As it basically invented and defined the science- fiction horror genre, paving the way for films like the thing, and predator.

    One of Alien's best aspects is its amazing cinematography and creature/set design. All of see work together to give the film a visual style that was unlike anything scene at the time and Ridley Scott would re-use in Blade Runner. Alien's magnificent visuals can be strangely credited to Alejandro Jodorowsky, who found and assembled all the different artists used in Alien for his adaptation of the novel dune, which was unfortunately canned before shooting started, but every cloud has a silver lining, and Jodorowsky's Dune's silver lining was Alien.

    Another one of Alien's best aspects is its pacing and atmosphere, though some people today may call Alien "boring," these people know nothing about film and are not to be trusted. Alien opens with a slow footage of space, as the eerie score plays, open credits come up, and the title is slowly spelled out, this is then followed by a slow montage of the empty ship Nostromo, followed by the crew slowly waking up from cryospleep. In fact we don't see any sign of an alien until 1/3 of the way through the film, and we don't see the main alien until halfway through the film. And this is why some call it "boring," but these people came to see the wrong film, they expected something like predator, a straight forward action film where the hero tries to kill the creature, instead what they got was something more like Halloween or Psycho, a subtle unnerving film that builds tension and doesn't blow its load all at once.

    The characters in Alien are also far above the average horror movie, they aren't annoying teenagers, or people that we just want to see die. They're relatable diverse logical characters, that have really natural chemistry, as can be seen in some of the films earlier scenes. And another interesting thing about the characters is, we have to figure out which one the protagonist is, it isn't revealed immediately and makes all lot of scenes much more tense because we don't know which characters are going to die.

    Though Alien begins slow, the final scenes of Alien are some of the most "on the edge of your seat" scenes ever, I don't won't to spoil anything for anyone who somehow hasn't scene alien yet, but you will most likely be on the verge of a heart attack while watching.

    One final note, I recommend you watch the original version first, and then you most definitely should watch the directors cut.

  • anders-rock29 May 2011
    Creepy, well made and haunting
    Every second of this movie gives me the shivers. Even in the slow moving first half the atmosphere is so ominous and creepy and the acting so excellent that I'm never bored. The movie builds up the tension so masterfully you're on the edge of your seat all the time. I've heard some people say that the effects are dated to which I will answer: No not really. The monster is a man in a suit with some mechanics in the head and while there are a few shots where it's movements seem a little stiff we rarely see it and when we do it's only for a short duration and it actually in many ways looks more real than most CGI creatures of today. The artwork and design is one of the reasons this movie holds up so well to me. The ship looks appropriately old and battered up and the alien itself is pure genius. This movie just keeps thrilling me every time I watch it.
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