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This is another film I enjoy watching during this time of year. Yes, its recent prequel, Prometheus, proved almost as disappointing as the three prequels to Star Wars (1977), but the genius and success of Alien cannot be denied.
Some have called the film a redo of It: The Terror From Beyond Space (1958), but I’ve always likened Alien more to the classic Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. Both stories have a limited number of characters and an isolated feel to them.
The crew of the ship Nostromo are en route to Earth but have been prematurely awakened from their hypersleep by the ship’s computer, named ‘Mother,’ to investigate an unusual transmission.
They land the ship at the planet the signal is coming from, and a search party goes out to find the source. Instead they find an organism which attaches itself to one of them (John Hurt), who goes on to become part of the famous scene where the title creature violently makes itself known by coming out of said crewman’s stomach.
The remaining crew (Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto) begin figure out how to destroy this menace before it destroys them.
Like Ridley Scott’s later film Blade Runner (1982), this film is a science fiction movie with a believable look to it.
Sigourney Weaver deservedly became a star with this film (and would actually win an Oscar nomination when she reprised the role seven years later in Aliens), but the rest of the small cast (there are no other human beings seen in the movie) is also good because they portray their characters as people who, when the audience meets them, have many of the same issues to deal with that most real-life people do.
Science fiction and horror have always gone hand-in-hand, but perhaps never more so than in this classic.