Saturday, November 10, 2012

Alien (1979)


Alien (1979) - Movie review plus screencaps:
It's a concept that had been done numerous times before: a group of people are trapped with a killer and are picked off one by one.  It's even been done before in a science fiction setting, in films like "It! The Terror From Beyond Space,"  "The Thing From Another World," and "Queen of Blood," but it's never been done as effectively as it was in Ridley Scott's 1979 classic "Alien."

Cargo Ship in Space
In a traditional, supernatural horror movie, there's always a voice in the back of your head that tells you that ghosts, vampires, etc..., don't really exist in the real world.  What's great about Alien is that it creates a scenario where monsters really can exist, because who knows what kind of terrors could be lurking out among the stars?  The film takes great pains to make the science fiction elements as believable as possible; giving the spaceship a somewhat cluttered, lived-in, and run-down feel, and making the crew all a bit disheveled and down-to-earth.   It feels more like what you would see on a modern day naval cargo ship, as opposed to the "Star Trek" style pristine spaceship, with colorfully jumpsuited crew members, that audiences had been used to seeing in sci-fi at the time.
Harry Dean Stanton Smokes in Space
But make no mistake, despite the science fiction setting, this is definitely still a horror film.  Ridley Scott does a wonderful job of pacing the film.  Building up the tension, and then releasing it, and then building it up again, each time even more frightening than before.  Each scare in the film is later topped by the next.  Every time the characters have a chance to relax, catch their breath, and think they may finally have this thing beat, it's just a preamble to something even more terrible happening a moment later.  It's pretty much THE textbook example of how to make a scary movie. 
The Space Jockey
This film was imitated by numerous filmmakers following the wake of it's success, but none of the films were as frightening or successful as this one.  When James Cameron was brought on to direct the sequel, he wisely decided not to try to out-do Scott in the horror, and instead made his film more of a military action picture.
The Face Hugger
The film has a wonderful cast, including Sigouney Weaver, Tom Skerrit, Yaphet Kotto, John Hurt, and one of my personal favorites, Harry Dean Stanton.  They all do a great job of making the fantastic situations they are in seem realistic and believable, acting like real human beings, and not sci-fi movie heroes.
Hunting Party
Overall, I'd say this film is a classic, and is probably the greatest hybrid science fiction / horror film ever made.

Rating 4½ Robots (out of 5)

The Cargo Hold

The Alien Attacks

Ripley Comes up with a Plan

More screencaps after the jump...

Spaceship Corridor 1

Spaceship Corridor 2

Spaceship Corridor 3

Nostromo Screen

Blue Computer Screen

Corridor Lights

The Sleepers Awake


Computer Screen

Cargo Ship in Space 2

Another Screen

Another Spaceship Computer Screen

Alien Planet

Nostromo Uncouples from it's Cargo

To the Surface


Heads Up Display

More Computer Screens!  Hell, Yes!

Unknown Pleasures

Leaving the Ship

Monitoring the Mission

Alien Spacecraft

Looking at the Spacecraft

Alien Mist

An Opening

Inside the Spacecraft


Approaching the Space Jockey

Fossilized Remains

Exploring the Egg Chamber

Examining an Egg

The Egg Opens

Outside the Airlock

Studying the Alien

Examining the Face Hugger

Fear and Revulsion

What the Fu--?!?!

Hi There!  I'm a Creepy, Phallic, Alien Chest-Burster!

Opening Door

Space Suits in Storage

Storage Lockers

The Mother Chamber

Does Not Compute

Broken Android


Fighting for Survival

Docked Shuttle

Releasing the Shuttle

Preparing to Abandon Ship

Alien Smile

Emergency Destruction System


Ripley Hides from the Alien

Explosion in Space

Ripley Peers Out of the Locker Window

Ripley in her Space Suit

Time to Breathe



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