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Alien (1979)

Director: Ridley Scott
Cast overview: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt
Running time: 117 minutes

Sci-fi isn't a genre with which I'm too familiar, but this is right at the top of the category, in my opinion. I know this is a popular franchise, but I was always put off due to the fact I had preconceived ideas of the films being unoriginal and plotless. I was certainly wrong about this particular curtain-raiser to the franchise, which is terrific for a sci-fi film considering it was made in 1979.

This is fantastic. The writing is realistic - well, as realistic as an alien making its way onto a spacecraft can be - and the characters react in different ways; it's clear that these aren't Hollywood actors, but ordinary people reacting in the way that ordinary people would, combined with the natural stresses of the situation. Ridley Scott deserves praise for his direction, which creates a sense of creepiness and claustrophobia, the ship in itself feeling isolated from a viewer's perspective.

For 1979, the effects are fantastic, from the design of the ship to the alien itself. They put you in the midst of such a situation and enhance the effect of the film in pulling you in and not letting you go. It's gripping from start to finish. The music, the special effects, the production values, the script - I think they're all top-class and add to what is a very good mix between science fiction and horror. Part of its appeal is also that it feels fresh - it could have been made yesterday and it wouldn't look out of place in modern-day cinema.

In short, this is a fantastic science fiction film that was genre-defining and, in my opinion, stands up as one of the best and well-made films of the genre, and an important and iconic film in the history of cinema.

[last lines]
Ripley: Final report of the commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting. The other members of the crew, Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash and Captain Dallas, are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.
[to Jonesy the cat]
Ripley: Come on, cat.

Ripley: Whenever he says *anything* you say "right," Brett, you know that?
Brett: Right.
Ripley: Parker, what do you think? Your staff just follows you around and says "right". Just like a regular parrot.
Parker: [laughs] Yeah, shape up. What are you some kind of parrot?
Brett: Right.

Brett: Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Meaow. Here Jonesy.

The rumor that the cast, except for John Hurt, did not know what would happen during the chestburster scene is partly true. The scene had been explained for them, but they did not know specifics. For instance, Veronica Cartwright did not expect to be sprayed with blood.

To get Jones the cat to react fearfully to the descending Alien, a German Shepherd was placed in front of him with a screen between the two, so the cat wouldn't see it at first, and came over. The screen was then suddenly removed to make Jones stop, and start hissing.

It was conceptual artist Ron Cobb who came up with the idea that the Alien should bleed acid. This came about when Dan O'Bannon couldn't find a reason why the Nostromo crew just wouldn't shoot the Alien with a gun.