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Better Late Than Never: ALIEN

The Film: Alien (dir. Ridley Scott, 1979)

Age at Which Author Finally Saw It: 33

How Could You Have Missed It?: Even though I live for great science fiction, horror films don’t appeal to me. I am easily spooked and incapable of shaking off fear before I go to bed and dream. I was worried Alien would be too scary for me to handle and have been putting off watching it for years.

Impressions: I was correct to be nervous about the horror factor, but it was daylight and I put a light on for good measure. With those comforts (and a blanket to hide behind when necessary), I was able to appreciate what a fine film Alien is. The suspense was layered and leveraged just right, and I was surprised to see how well the sets and effects hold up, given that the film is over thirty years old.

Along that line, I was especially blown away by Ellen Ripley. Sigourney Weaver hit a wonderful note as a fresh-faced, stubborn officer. When you consider the year this movie was released, it’s remarkable to have a woman portray such an important protagonist in a genre film. Actually, it’s not even that common in the present. Making Ripley the last member of the Nostromo’s crew standing was a risk, and it paid off.

Ellen Ripley

My initial thought about Ripley was, “what a badass.” But, that’s not right. She’s a survivor. While she’s obviously capable, it’s not like she kills the Xenomorph and saves the entire crew. She uses her intelligence to get out alive and stop the creature from hitching a ride to Earth. Her actions pave the way for her to become a badass, but she’s not there just yet. I appreciate the difference. And I was so frakking relieved that Jones the cat survived.

As far as the alien, I don’t want to meet one in a dark corridor. I’ve heard of facehuggers, chestbursters, and Xenomorphs, but didn’t realize they were all the same alien. It was neat and terrifying to watch it grow up over the course of the movie. And though the film could easily have only been about the alien discovery and gore, I love the depth added by the fact that someone wanted the Xenomorph on Earth for nefarious purposes. I can’t resist a conspiracy. I think this Ridley Scott character is one to be watched.

Are you a Convert?: Yes. Alien was a brilliant mix of thrills and sci-fi, and I was riveted for the duration of the movie. Though I didn’t fall for it to the extent that I’ll be crafting an Ellen Ripley cosplay (the best way I know to express my devotion to a film), I will be making it a point to check out some of the sequels.

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  1. Jake says:

    Ridley Scott has said that Prometheus was never intended to be an Alien prequel, it only takes place in the same universe as Alien, so I don’t really consider it part of the series. But in my opinion, Alien and Aliens are the only 2 movies in the series you’ll ever need to watch

  2. tuga says:

    Like other have said, do yourself a favour and skip Ressurection. It just isn’t good. JP Jeunet can do great work ( Delicatessen is still amazing ), but… don’t. Just don’t.

    Prometheus is fine ( it’s beautiful to look at ), but is in no way a must see. Stick to the first 3.

  3. Mandy says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’m 42 and still haven’t seen this movie. When I was a preteen, my parents rented the movie to show my grandparents and I did not want to see it so I hid out downstairs. (I couldn’t be in my room because the TV was in the next room.

    But I do love SciFi and maybe it’s time to give the movie a chance. Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Jess Q. says:

    I’ve seen all the Alien movies once through, years ago, and never again. They aren’t bad or anything, I just never felt the need to see them again, really.

    I kind of liked Prometheus just as a random sci-fi movie. And I saw Resurrection in theatres, without having seen the previous Alien movies at the time, and I liked it.

    By the way, the credits on Alien: Resurrection are impressive even if you don’t like how it turned out – same director as Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet), and written by Joss Whedon.

  5. Mickey Wallington says:

    I saw it again recently and forgot how HOT Sigourney Weaver was back in the day.I needed a napkin to wipe the drool while she was changing outfits at the end! CALIENTE!

  6. Justin says:

    My friend hasn’t seen all the Alien films so we are watching them all over. We honestly had the most fun with Alien Resurrection, but understand that 1 and 2 are the roots, we both agreed 3 was the weakest. We’re huge fans of Prometheus, and after watching Predators, can’t wait to re-watch Predator 1 and 2 along with AvP 1 and 2.

  7. larry bowman says:

    All you really need to watch is the first 2 and watch the directors cuts there awesome. Might watch part 3 just for completion.

  8. Teresa Bates Strickland says:

    These guys are nuts Prometheus was great ridley did not direct alien res some French dude did it was a nice story but it was cut to pieces by the people who own it

  9. As vjj pointed out, there’s a scene in the Director’s Cut that, while nifty cool, creates a hitch in the discussions of the reproductive cycle of the xenomorphs in the other movies. It’s just neat to see from a film trivia perspective.

    The big one to see is the Director’s Cut of Aliens, which addresses more than a few plot holes and fleshes out the tragedy of the populated colony being wiped out.

  10. vjj says:

    The Director’s Cut of Alien includes a scene where Ripley finds the cocooned bodies of Dallas and the other one. In another scene Veronica Cartwright bitch-slaps Ripley for wanting to lock them outside with the facehugger

  11. vjj says:

    Alien is still the best.

    Alien: Isolation is a new video being developed were the developers are staying true to the source material. We’ll see.

    You can skip Alien Resurrection, Alien vs… and Prometheus.

    Prometheus was the movie which proved that Ridley Scott doesn’t really know what he’s doing. No one in their right mind would work with someone as odiously anti-talented as Damon Lindelof

  12. I watched the theatrical cut. Should I check out the Director’s?

  13. Feel free to skip Alien: Resurrection, unless you really enjoy watching train wrecks. Which I do, so I did.

    3 had some interesting ideas and FANTASTIC cinematography, with a terrible story.

    Also: Which version did you watch?