January 15, 2009



"Star Wars" may have lit up bubblegum audiences to the appeal of science fiction fantasy, but Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror picture introduced real heart palpitating fear and suspense into the equation. Scott's groundbreaking use of sound, lighting, and complex design elements make “Alien” a bold artistic cinematic journey that coincides with a great story. Swiss surrealist H.R Giger created the “biomechanical” look of the film. Giger’s monochromatic 1976 painting "Necronom" served as a stepping-off point for the morbid design of the monstrous alien creature of the film’s title. Giger’s brooding iconic imagery gives the movie an inescapable aura of authentic primordial evil.

The pitch-perfect story, by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, follows a group of commercial astronauts aboard the gigantic cargo spaceship "Nostromo." The tight-knit crew is on their way back to Earth with a full payload when they get an unknown transmission from a "planetoid." The astronauts are assigned by their unseen employers to investigate the source of the strange signal. The five men and two women team suffer damage to their ship upon landing. The planet’s landscape is dark, cold, and oppressively lonely. You couldn’t imagine a less hospitable place in the middle of nowhere. The group discovers that the distress signal is coming from an abandoned spacecraft. Unbeknownst to them, the ship’s massive hull houses the eggs of a vicious female alien beast for which there is no comparison in the history of cinema. This is one bad baby.


Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, and Sigourney Weaver each contribute flawless support to the suspenseful ensemble drama as a group of spaceship crewmembers whose number diminishes before the fury of an alien intelligence with a surgical bite and metal-burning acid for blood. Watching Sigourney Weaver (clad in a tanktop and panties) fight the quickest and most vicsious alien monster you’ve ever seen is pretty much as good as sci-fi cinema gets.


The level of audience-tension that Ridley Scott ratchets up is excruciating. You feel it in your bones. Cleverly devised plot points and disturbing character revelations keep you off balance right up to the final frame. The creative mechanical special effects in "Alien" have withstood the test of time even as CGI as taken over as the industry standard. There is not another sci-fi movie as lushly designed, suspenseful, and horrific as “Alien.”  

Rated R. 117 mins. (A+) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)

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