Alien (1979)
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, Ian Holm, Jones the Cat
Streaming On (in the UK, as of 3/11/2020): NOW TV
Has Stu seen this before?: Nope!

I have never seen Alien. I have seen Aliens though. About a decade ago I was at a friends house and they were deciding on a movie to watch in the background. They settled on Aliens, I tried to compromise by suggesting we watch the original since I had never seen it. I was defeated, and my drunk ass ended up being the only one who really watched the film anyway. So for about ten years I have neglected to go back to watch the original. Until today. I have finally crossed Alien off my movie bucket list. After all this time I have just one thought: damn me for taking so long to watch this.

Alien is fantastic. This is not a controversial opinion, I’m aware. However, I am both annoyed and happy at myself for waiting so long to watch it. Whatever I remember about Aliens is pretty much lost in a haze of alcohol and time, so it feels like I am entering the franchise for the first time, however this is one of those films everybody should watch so the fact I am 28 and watching it for the first time just feels like a crime. I have seen so many films try and fail to replicate the Alien formula only to fail. Alien without any doubt is a masterpiece in moviemaking, where everything just comes together just right to create a thrilling, intense and timeless sci-fi horror.

Alien mostly takes place on a commercial spaceship on its way back to Earth with materials when the ship intercepts a transmission and thus wakes the crew up to investigate it. While landing on the planetoid the transmission originated from, the ship is damaged and while repairs take place, a team goes to investigate the source of the transmission. One of them, Officer Kane (Hurt), discovers a cavern full of eggs when one of them hatches and makes good friends with his face. They return to the ship, despite Ripley (Weaver) refusing to let them on due to the alien lifeform making out with John Hurt, the science officer (Holm) lets them in.

Despite struggling to get the lifeform off of Kane’s face, due to its blood being extremely acidic, it mysteriously disappears and later ends up dead. Kane initially makes a full recovery but while enjoying a well earned meal, he starts convulsing and in one of the most iconic scenes in movie history, a little alien bursts out of his chest and runs off. It quickly grows in size and causes havoc on the ship as they try to fight back. (warning, I’m about to put in a GIF of the chestburster. If blood or things bursting out of chests aren’t your thing, scroll past)

Time is often the enemy for films like this, dated effects causing once terrifying films to look hilariously bad by today’s standards. Alien still looks great though and having a genius like H.R. Giger design the alien was a good move because the design of it is still effective to this day. Of course a part of that is the expert way the film is shot, rarely letting the whole alien on screen at once, and using lighting, music, sound and the acting skills of the fantastic cast to help drive up the tension. There will be times you expect the Alien to show up and it won’t, but just as when you let your guard down it’ll pick that moment to show up. It rarely relies on a jump scare, the film itself does a good job making you feel uncomfortable and/or excited to see when it will show up next.

I don’t really have a criticism about the film, I genuinely sat down to watch it and was enthralled for the next two hours. I might have said that the first act of the film is a bit slow but it uses that time wisely to establish the characters, their individual personalities and manages to hint at a certain character’s real motives just through the way they act. Just seven actors but each one of them manages to put in a memorable performance. Sorry, eight actors, I almost forgot the star of the film – Jones the cat. Should have won Best Feline at that years Academy Awards.

Plus, this is the film that helped launch the career of Sigourney Weaver, it deserves to be heralded as a masterpiece for that alone. I will be watching the next two movie to go alongside a review of the Alien Trilogy video game on the PS1, and I gotta say I am looking forward to rewatching Aliens now. I am not a big horror fan but a couple of scenes managed to make me squirm and I loved every second of it. Even by today’s standards I’d say Alien is a must watch film whether you’re into horror and/or sci-fi. I may have waited 28 years to watch Alien but it was worth the wait.


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