Alien (1979)


As its successors, carbon copies, and wannabes have shown, “Alien” is a film that easily could have taken its premise and diluted it in to exploitation or just another stock monster movie. There’s something eerie and absolutely unnerving about “Alien” from the moment it begins. Director Ridley Scott, paired with the brilliance of H.R. Giger and Dan O’Bannon, spawns a truly creepy tale of a phallic alien hatching in the belly of an old ship that begins wreaking havoc on its surrogate caretakers. It takes a powerful woman to conquer the male manifestation with a protruding orifice, one who defies all kinds of gender stereotypes and tropes.

Ellen Ripley is a heroine devoid of a label who acts neither as a man nor woman during her battle with the horrific alien aboard her ship. Sigourney Weaver’s performance as the tough as nails protagonist of Ridley Scott’s horror film is in a league of its own as Weaver conveys Ripley’s struggles through her own efforts to comprehend the force of nature that’s infiltrated her ship the Nostromo. “Alien” progresses from a dread soaked fight for survival against a crew and a powerful unpredictable alien force, and transforms in to a battle for life for Ripley who evades the relentless monster at all costs. A seemingly isolated incident involving a breeding ground for eggs results in a confrontation with a multiple legged monsters that launches on to one of her crew members, implanting the egg for a vicious alien being.

Ripley then seeks to eliminate it from existence as its parasitic presence ensures it a chance of landing on Earth and breeding through its blood soaked means of incubation. “Alien” is a brilliant science fiction and horror hybrid that seems like a simplistic monster in the house picture and reveals layers underneath its somewhat simplistic premise. John Hurt plays the unfortunate recipient of the alien egg, injected in to him by the dreaded face hugger, that also bears a very familiar resemblance to the vagina with the aggressive presence of a penis. You could also posit the idea that Hurt’s character is raped by the alien breeder, that makes him an unfortunate incubator. Once the alien is revealed in the iconic chest bursting sequence, it becomes clear where its presence lies, as a being that’s out to survive beyond all else.

The moment in mess hall is still very mind blowing, if only for the genuine emotions displayed by the shocked cast, as the alien bursts free and establishes its dominance almost immediately. In a world where the seemingly stealthy alien monster now known as the xenomorph spends its time dashing through movies, and battling other beasts, “Alien” is a wonderful introduction where the alien fought for survival. Before it was a hive and one of a colony, it was a lone monster seeking to destroy everything in its path and reproduce with its various appendages that violated every vulnerable space for its victims. It’s a rare slow boil horror science fiction masterpiece that keeps the alien enigmatic and swift, rather than just a lumbering beast hogging the screen. Director Ridley Scott’s “Alien” is a near masterpiece with many imitators and zero superiors.