Alien Review


“In space no one can hear you scream” is one of the best tag lines in movie history, and sure enough, it’s tagged on to one of the best sci-fi films in history… which is also a great horror movie! Kicking off Alien week with Alien, and although the sequel is great in its own category, I feel it’s personally safe to say that the series never reaches the heights this first film created. So let’s take a look at it!


In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. Little did any of them know the horror they would soon encounter…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Alien 3

Ripley, the beginning of the endless nightmare…

Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) – Ripley is the warrant officer on board the Nostromo, and is quite tough and strong, despite what a lot of the male members of the crew would say. To say she has no idea how this day would change her life would be an understatement…

Dallas (Tom Skerritt) – Dallas is the Captain of the Nostromo, and does his best to stay calm and give orders no matter what crazy situation the crew find themselves in…

Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) – Nostromo’s navigator, Lambert is a bit more of a … normal person, in that when a horrible alien starts tearing apart your crew, she has a bit of a panic attack. It’s fair enough, really!

Ash (Ian Holm) – Ash is an android and the ship’s science officer. His true identity and goal is hidden from the rest of the crew, who in Ash’s eyes are expendable anyway…

Kane (John Hurt) – Kane is the Executive Officer on board the Nostromo, and therefore second in command. His natural curiosity leads to a rather unpleasant end…

Parker (Yaphet Kotto) – Parker is the chief engineer on the ship, and despite his skin colour, doesn’t die first! Hooray!

Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) – Brett is the ship’s engineering technician as well as having a “bit of a knob” personality.

Plus… no more, actually. Well, there’s an alien or two…

The Good:

Alien 1

Still LOVE the model shots and general effects in the film.

What is there not to like about this film? The atmosphere of a ran-down old spaceship that’s more of the future-equivalent of a truck, the great effects, set design and creature design, the slow, tense atmosphere, the horrible deaths… I mean, it’s worthy of the praise it gets, there’s no doubt about it.

Ripley is the standout character, especially given it was 1979 and female leads were rare, let alone female leads that outlive all the males ones and are generally shown to look stronger and possibly even more brave than they are. The rest of the crew are fine in their roles too, don’t get me wrong. Ash the “evil android” is great, menacing without acting evil (due to having no emotions…), Kane, the … rather normal curious man who had a horrible fate, Brett and Parker, the two everyday working man types, and Dallas the brave leader and Lambert the old fashioned helplessly scared female. It all works so well, and is a refreshing change from the kind of perfect intelligent types you got in sci-fi movies and TV series of the time.

The alien “face hugger” and the Xenomorph itself are still among the scariest creatures I’ve seen. The now famous chest bursting scene is great and shocking and all, but the scene where Kane slowly peers into the alien egg, completely silent with no music or anything, and then suddenly gets face huggered is still among my favourite film moments… you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, as the old phrase goes.

I’ll also never forget the moment where Parker knocks Ash’s android head half-off, leaving it dangling off to the side as it still approaches him… that nearly freaked me out more than the actual aliens at the time I first saw it. I also always remember Dallas in the vents, everyone warning him that the alien was nearby followed by a brief flash of the Xenomorph with its hands open wide, then cut to everyone’s reactions. Perfect.

But yeah, there isn’t much to say about the film. It’s tense for half of the runtime, and a good example of a horror movie for the other half.

The Bad:

Alien 4

A rare full glimpse of the Xenomorph… before it’s sucked into space…

Really the only bad I can think, and it’s just a minor complaint, is that after such a beautifully crafted first half, it does kind of … sink to some cliché horror movie tropes, like someone wandering away from the group only to get picked off, or the audience sees “it’s behind them!” … but hell, really it doesn’t bother me. I don’t know how you would have carried the more cerebral horror of the start on for the whole film anyway…

Overall Thoughts:

Alien 2

Yeah, stick your face in the mysterious alien eggs that’s just opened. Why not?

So the Alien franchise gets started with an out and out classic, that rare case of top cast, top script, top directing, top set and practice effects designs, everything. In terms of tense sci-fi horrors, it’s hard to top Alien.

5 Star Watch

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