Scifi Horror
Alien
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Dir: Ridley Scott
Star: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, John Hurt
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1979
Format: DVD R1
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The corporate owners of the space tug Nostromo interrupt it's journey to investigate a transmission of unknown origin. The crew is woken from hyper sleep and they land the ship on the remote planet LV426 in order to respond to what they think is a distress call. Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Cain (John Hurt) and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) don spacesuits and head off to the transmission source, which turns out to be a giant derelict alien spaceship. While Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) are repairing the damage that their ship suffered on landing Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) takes over decoding the 'distress transmission' from the strangely unhelpful science officer Ash (Ian Holm). She discovers that the message is a warning, but its too late Cain has been attacked and has an alien creature attached to his face. The Alien is the most perfect killing machine ever created, and now they've allowed on board the Nostromo.

As a boy I remember sneaking my TV on to watch this late one night, and it scared me stupid (one of only two films ever to do this). Alien is a horror masterpiece, often copied rarely matched. In a time of Star Wars and Star Trek family friendly sci-fi action movies Alien was more realistic and much darker affair. It changed the sci-fi horror movie forever. Gone were the giant atomic creatures here is something really scary, a real nightmare.

This is not a film about what you see but what you don't, as the tension is racked up mercilessly by director Ridley Scott. From the opening scene on a deserted ship's bridge to the scene where Brett is searching the cargo holds the atmosphere changes from eerie to nail bitingly terrifying. Forget Gladiator this is Scott's finest moment, his direction here is brilliant if not perfect. Scenes are wonderfully lit (or not lit in this case) as the crew search pipes and dark narrow corridors you really get the feeling that danger could be just around each corner or hiding in each shadow. This makes the alien attacks even more frightening as you often find yourself jumping out of your seat. There are just to many excellent scenes to list, but the use of steam and strobe lighting during Ripley's evacuation is outstanding.

It has been said that the role of Ripley was one of the best female parts of all time. It certainly was revolutionary, as she is the first female action hero. No longer would women scream and run away looking for the nearest man to save them, now they would grab a flame-thrower and battle seven-foot acid blooded aliens. Full credit must go to Sigourney Weaver for an excellent performance in this landmark role. Lets not forget the rest of this small cast though. Every performance is good which is maybe not surprising given the depth of talent on display. Nearly of the actors are household names and if not you are bound to have seen something else with them in.

The other star of the movie is the Alien. In a brilliant directorial move we don't get a good look at it until the end of the film, but what we do see is hideous. We are afforded glimpses here and there, and this works really well for two reasons. Firstly it adds to the tension and, secondly it over comes any shortcoming in the effects making the creature much more believable. As mentioned the creature itself is the product of a warped mind, and in this case the its the mind of the Swiss artist H.R. Giger. He is well known for his gory biomechanical images and the alien creature is the logical extension of his work. The creature will go down in movie history as one of cinemas classic horror icons (like Dracula and Frankenstein's monster) it really is a monster unlike anything seen outside of nightmares.

Alien is a brilliant film. Truly scary, superbly directed with outstanding set design and effects. A top-flight cast are on real form, but the hideous alien creature upstages all but Ripley. We are provided with a dirty functional vision of future space travel with ordinary work-a-day characters, which really brings realism into the film. One shock follows another as the tension builds to unbearable levels ending with an excellent explosive finale. Add to this Jerry Goldsmith's beautiful yet eeire original orchestral score and sci-fi horror films will never be the same again. If you haven't already seen it watch it now, or better still at night with the lights off.

Rating: 5 out of 5

What? You want to know what the other film was the scared me as a kid. Well don't laugh but it was The Swarm. Hey you said you wouldn't laugh.

Tagline

In space no one can hear you scream.

Quotes

commercial towing vehicle 'The Nostromo'
crew: seven
cargo: refinery processing 20,000,000 tons of mineral ore
course: returning to earth

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Clean and remastered, looks brand new
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Great new score
Features Loverly animated menus
Very informative Ridley Scott commentary track (although he is obviously smoking during the recording)
Trailers & TV spots
Some interesting but not essential deleted scenes (including the cocoon scene)
Two silent outtakes
Extensive photo galleries and artwork
Great original storyboards
Isolated music score
Alternative music track
Alien facts Easter Egg (highlight acid hole on special features menu)
Verdict A top quality disc with impressive extras for a twenty year old film. The only thing missing is a bit more input from the actors.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Alien Lagacy boxset has an extra disc. This is only available as part of the boxset, and is included in the Alien case.

DVD
Picture 4:3 Nice and clear
Audio Stereo Fine for a documentary
Features The 107 minutes retrospective making of Alien documentary. It includes interviews with the whole crew, but unfortunately not the cast. On the whole well worth watching.
Verdict An interesting disc, but it is rather empty. Why wasn't it included on the film disc.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home