ALIEN (1979) Reviews and overview

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Fan poster by Ken Taylor (2009)

Alien is a 1979 British-American science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay written by Dan O’Bannon, based on a storyline co-written with Ronald Shusett.

The Brandywine Productions movie stars Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto.

Alien was distributed by 20th Century Fox, with producers David Giler and Walter Hill making significant revisions and additions to the script. The titular Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger.

Alien garnered both critical acclaim and box office success … It has remained highly praised in subsequent decades, being inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2002 for historical preservation as a film which is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. In 2008 it was ranked as the seventh-best film in the science fiction genre by the American Film Institute and as the thirty-third greatest movie of all time by Empire magazine.

The success of Alien spawned a media franchise of novels, comic books, video games, and toys, as well as three sequel and two prequel films. It also launched Weaver’s acting career by providing her with her first lead role, and the story of her character Ripley’s encounters with the Alien creatures became the thematic thread that ran through the sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997).

The subsequent prequels Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) abandoned this theme in favour of a crossover with the Predator franchise. Scott began work on an Alien prequel in 2009, which developed into his 2012 film Prometheus.




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“After 40 years, this sci-fi horror masterpiece still feels lethally contemporary. With screenwriters Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, Ridley Scott created an essay on the hell of other people, the vulnerability of our bodies, and the idea of space as a limitless new extension of human paranoia. Alien also functions as a nightmare parody of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which had happened just 10 years previously, and the biological weapons industry.” The Guardian,  1 March 2019

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” …the limited strengths of its staple sci-fi horrors – crew of commercial spacecraft menaced by stowaway monster – always derived from either the offhand organic/Freudian resonances of its design or the purely (brilliantly) manipulative editing and pacing of its above-average shock quota. Intimations of a big-budget Dark Star fade early, and notions of Weaver as a Hawksian woman rarely develop beyond her resourceful reaction to jeopardy.” Time Out London

“Like the best Lovecraft stories, Alien effortlessly fuses horror and science fiction. It is a terrific example of cinemtic cosmic horror because it primary relies on what Lovecraft called “the oldest fear,” the fear of the unknown. The alien itself is rarely seen and is constantly changing as it stalks and dispatches the fragile human prey, creating great tension and feelings of cosmic dread but when we do see the bastard, the scenes are absolutely mind-numbing…” Lurker in the Lobby


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