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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Alien 1979 Reviewed

Updated: 2 days ago

Featured Image For Alien 1979 Reviewed. A solitary alien egg against a dark, foreboding space backdrop, ominously cracked with a bright light emanating from within.
In the cold silence of space, terror hatches - Alien: Listen closely for the scream that no one will hear.

Some movies are more than just movies. Some seep into your pores, some change your wiring. When they're done right, they don't just flicker on the screen, they flicker in your brain. They live there, scenes playing out in the dark theater of your mind. For a horror fan, for a sci-fi fanatic, Ridley Scott's Alien is one of those movies.

Alien 1979 Key Takeaways

  • The power of atmosphere:

  • The film's use of claustrophobic spaces, dim lighting, and unsettling sound design creates a constant sense of dread that amplifies the horror.

  • The slow-burn pacing and focus on building suspense rather than jump scares deliver a more deeply unsettling experience.

  • The monster as the ultimate 'other':

  • The xenomorph, with its biomechanical design and acidic blood, is both deeply human in some forms and monstrously foreign in others.

  • Its relentless, primal nature makes it an unstoppable killing machine, playing on fears of the unknown and uncontrollable.

  • The vulnerability of humans in space:

  • The Nostromo crew aren't space heroes, they're everyday workers caught in an extraordinary situation. This makes their plight far more relatable (and terrifying).

  • Technology fails them, highlighting that even in the vastness of space, there's nowhere to truly escape a threat like this.

  • The strength of the female protagonist:

  • Ripley challenges traditional 'final girl' tropes; she's intelligent, resourceful, and emotionally complex – a true survivor.

  • Her strength and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds became a benchmark for female action leads that followed.

  • Symbolism and deeper meanings

  • The phallic and violently reproductive nature of the xenomorph and its lifecycle taps into psychosexual fears and anxieties.

  • Themes of corporate greed, the expendability of workers, and the dangers of unchecked scientific curiosity can be explored.

Woman recoils from the screen during a chestburster scene in "Alien," a hand covering her mouth in shock and disgust.
The grotesque beauty and shocking violence of the Alien send shivers down her spine, a testament to the film's visceral power.

The year 1979 saw the sci-fi horror genre blast off with this thing, a perfect storm of shadowed corridors, creeping claustrophobia, and a monster the likes of which we'd never seen. Every spaceship movie made since owes it a debt, every creature designer is still playing in its shadow and, for better or for worse, it launched a thousand sequels. There's a reason for all of that.

The premise is deceptively simple. The workaday crew of the commercial towing spaceship Nostromo – think grimy space truckers – are rousted from stasis to investigate a distress call. They pick up an unwelcome guest, and the rest, well, the rest is history. Every bit of cinematic horror history, that is.

What makes Alien so great, though, isn't the plot. It isn't even the relentless suspense that ratchets higher with each dark, dripping corridor. What makes this movie legendary was the slow build, the lingering terror, and a creature so viscerally other, so perfectly evolved as a killing machine, that it was almost beautiful.

The alien – the xenomorph as we'd come to know it – was the twisted genius of Swiss artist H.R. Giger. Think biomechanical, think oily darkness and gleaming, grinning teeth. Think of it as a walking, acid-blooded nightmare. It's both humanoid in shape and yet deeply, horribly alien. That primal blend of familiar and utterly unnatural? That's what makes it so damn scary.

Man watches "Alien" with clenched fists, brow furrowed, a bead of sweat visible on his temple.
His body betrays his fear, the relentless tension and shocking violence of "Alien" fueling a primal fight-or-flight response.

A Ridley Scott Sci-fi Horror Alien Movie

The sets, designed to blend the industrial and the organic, mirrored this perfectly. You felt grubby just watching this movie. Couple that aesthetic with a cast of veteran character actors like John Hurt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, and Tom Skerritt, and you had a perfect recipe for claustrophobic tension. None of them are true stars, a stroke of genius. They don't feel like heroes, they feel like us – humans who build spaceships, humans who get caught out by forces beyond their understanding.

And then, of course, there's Ripley. Sigourney Weaver's turn as Ellen Ripley, the level-headed warrant officer with a spine of steel, is nothing short of iconic. We've seen final girls before, but Ripley...Ripley was something new. She was tough, but she wasn't cold. She was terrified, but she thought her way out of it. She's probably the closest thing the 70s gave us to a fully actualized female action hero.

It would be easy to go scene by scene with this film, to dissect its genius. There's a lot to talk about – the facehugger, the chestburster, the unsettlingly phallic design of both the creature and the alien ship itself. Alien is packed with layers you can peel back, each one more disturbing and fascinating than the last. That's the thing about true horror. Done right, it lingers, it nags at you. You can't quite forget it and, in a way, you don't want to.

So, does Alien live up to its legendary status? Hell yes. It's a rare movie that manages to be both perfectly of its time (that 70s grime, the slower, less frenetic horror) and also timeless. It might be a slow burn for fans raised on the whiplash editing and jump scares of today's horror flicks, but that's part of its brilliance. It takes its time because that creeping dread, that lingering something's not right feeling is where the real scares live. Is it the perfect film? No. No film is. But if you're talking about sci-fi horror, if you're talking about monsters that still send shivers down your spine, Alien deserves to be in the conversation. Watch this movie with the lights down low. Then go ahead and check under the bed. I dare you.

And that is Alien 1979 Reviewed. Another great classic horror movie.

Stay tuned for more horror movie reviews

If You Liked Alien 1979 You Might Also Like These Films

  • The Thing (1982): Directed by John Carpenter, this masterclass in paranoia and body horror follows a group of researchers in Antarctica who encounter a shapeshifting alien creature capable of perfectly imitating its victims. The isolation, practical creature effects, and relentless tension mirror the best aspects of Alien.

  • Event Horizon (1997): A sci-fi horror film with a touch of cosmic horror. A rescue crew investigates a long-lost experimental starship that disappeared into a black hole. They discover the ship reappears infused with a sinister presence that preys on their deepest fears. Shares Alien’s claustrophobic setting and a sense of overwhelming, unknowable evil.

  • Predator (1987): A sci-fi action film packed with suspense. An elite paramilitary squad is stalked by a technologically advanced alien hunter in the Central American jungle. While more focused on action than Alien, the relentless pursuit by an unseen, highly skilled enemy creates a similar thrilling tension.

  • Sunshine (2007): A psychological sci-fi thriller directed by Danny Boyle. A crew embarks on a desperate mission to reignite the dying sun, but personal tensions and a mysterious presence onboard threaten their success. Like Alien, it balances the vastness of space with a feeling of claustrophobic doom.

  • Pandorum (2009): A sci-fi horror film with a twist. Two astronauts awaken from hypersleep on a seemingly abandoned spaceship with no memory of who they are or their mission. They soon discover they're not alone and must fight for survival. Features Alien- style suspense, a decaying ship setting, and monstrous threats lurking in the shadows.

Alien 1979 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is the movie Alien about? 

A: Alien is a science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, following the crew of a commercial space tug, the Nostromo, as they encounter a deadly alien lifeform. After responding to a mysterious distress call from a seemingly deserted alien ship, one of the crew members is attacked by a parasitic creature. This creature subsequently impregnates him with an alien embryo that erupts violently from his chest. The remaining crew must fight for survival as the rapidly developing, highly aggressive creature stalks them one by one.

Q: Who are some of the main cast members in Alien? 

A: The film stars:

  • Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, the warrant officer

  • Tom Skerritt as Dallas, the Nostromo's captain

  • Veronica Cartwright as Lambert, the navigator

  • Harry Dean Stanton as Brett, an engineering technician

  • John Hurt as Kane, the executive officer

  • Ian Holm as Ash, the science officer

  • Yaphet Kotto as Parker, the chief engineer

Q: What is the role of Sigourney Weaver in Alien? 

A: Sigourney Weaver plays the iconic character of Ellen Ripley, the level-headed warrant officer of the Nostromo. Ripley proves resourceful, intelligent, and ultimately becomes the sole human survivor of the xenomorph encounter. Her role established a new archetype for the female action hero, and Weaver's performance remains a landmark in cinema.

Q: Can you tell me about the production design of Alien? 

A: Alien features stunning and disturbing production design that heavily influenced the sci-fi horror genre. Here's what makes it so special:

  • The Alien (Xenomorph) Design: Swiss artist H.R. Giger designed the Xenomorph, creating a biomechanical horror with sleek, elongated features, gleaming teeth, and acid for blood. This design was both visually striking and deeply unsettling.

  • The Nostromo and Alien Ship: The interior sets of the Nostromo spaceship were designed to feel grimy and industrial, a 'lived-in' environment far from the pristine spaceships of other sci-fi films. The derelict alien ship had an organic, skeletal design, blurring the lines between technology and living organism. These elements contributed to the film's unique and oppressive atmosphere.

Q: What are some other films related to the Alien franchise? 

A: The Alien franchise has expanded considerably since the original:

  • Direct sequels: Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien: Resurrection (1997) continue Ripley's story.

  • Prequels: Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017) delve into the origins of the alien species and its creators.

  • Crossovers: The Alien vs. Predator films (2004 & 2007) pit the Xenomorphs against another iconic movie monster.

Q: Who composed the music for Alien? 

A: The haunting and atmospheric score for Alien was composed by Jerry Goldsmith. His use of dissonance and unconventional instrumentation heightened the film's suspense and sense of creeping dread.

Q: How is the movie Alien regarded by audiences and critics? 

A: Alien is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest science fiction horror films ever made. Here's why:

  • Critical Acclaim: Critics praised its craftsmanship, tension-building, performances, and the ground-breaking creature design.

  • Cult Status: The film has a massive cult following and its influence can be seen in countless subsequent sci-fi and horror movies.

  • Awards and Recognition: Alien won the 1980 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and has been included in numerous 'best of' lists by organizations like the American Film Institute.


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