Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Alien

directed by Ridley Scott

Alien poster  
The commercial spaceship the Nostromo is towing its cargo back to Earth when its crew are awoken by the ship's computer. They pick up what they think is a distress signal, and are obliged to investigate.

Some of the crew are more bothered about their bonus pay than about carrying out a rescue. But what they find is a derelict alien ship, with no-one apparently in need of saving. That's until Kane (John Hurt) finds a number of large and odd-looking eggs, and first contact is made.

When one of them is attacked by a face-hugging alien the crew have to decide whether they should try to save him, or let him die. But giving him medical help means breaking quarantine procedures, potentially endangering the whole crew. Inevitably they underestimate the alien.

What follows is a tense horror as the small crew are stalked around the ship by a nightmare creature. H. R. Giger's alien design is a gothic monster that suggests a mixture of everything we're primed to fear. It's demonic, dragon-like, with a little snake and reptile in the mix as well, and altogether strange. Yet this movie is more terrifying thanks to the way Ridley Scott holds back from revealing the monster in its entirety for as long as possible.

"You still don't know what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."

- Ash
The claustrophobic atmosphere on the Nostromo is brilliantly suspenseful. Systems thrum like a racing heartbeat, water drips, and the dark, dirty ship with its creaking machinery puts you in mind of a crypt.

Ian Holm is restrained as Ash, the somewhat shifty science officer. But it's Sigourney Weaver's Ripley who really shines in this film. She doesn't start out as a total hard case, so it's more interesting to watch her change as she finds her courage.

Alien works because it combines a great concept with brilliantly paced suspense and uniquely dark and creepy visual effects. It's a genuinely scary treat.

Film Details

Decade: 1970s

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 18

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson