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Alien
Directed By Ridley Scott





Many hours of my youth were spent tucked up in bed watching Alien - with my sheets in hand ready to cover my eyes. Like most kids, I'd watch films my parents told me not to watch, and Alien was one of my favorites, and still is.

This seminal sci-fi-horror released at the end of the 70's, the decade that produced some of the greatest horror and sci-fi films, Alien remains as unique, enthralling and dam right creepy as is was thirty years ago.

The plot is rather simple: a group of workers aboard a commercial towing vessel headed back home have their journey interrupted by a mysterious transmission from a nearby planetoid. They stop to investigate, only to end up bringing an extraterrestrial threat back on board their craft.

Trivia
The Alien script started out as a bare bones, half story written by Dan O'Bannon and was shopped around for years before several re-writes (by several parties). The story eventually became a collaborative effort that added an android, changed crew names, Ripley's sex, and the entire ending. Saying it "helps him think on paper and pin down what he's doing," Ridley Scott storyboarded the full movie, which doubled the budget.
The film is basically like a slasher movie set in space. Alien started an entire sub-genre we now know as sci-fi horror, and has influenced countless films with its effective blend both sci-fi and horror, and is a landmark in both genres.

The first hour of the film consists of a slow build up, concentrating on tone, mood and atmosphere. As would be expected on a deep space journey, tensions between the crew members would be inevitable, hence the rather amusing exchanges between Ripley, Brett and Parker. Ripley's relationship with Captain Dallas is also turbulent at times, stemming from Ripley's sometimes pedantic adherence to protocol, but despite their little tiffs you also get the feeling that they are also really good friends.

The film is basically like a slasher movie set in space. Alien started an entire sub-genre we now know as sci-fi horror, and has influenced countless films with its effective blend both sci-fi and horror, and is a landmark in both genres.

The first hour of the film consists of a slow build up, concentrating on tone, mood and atmosphere. As would be expected on a deep space journey, tensions between the crew members would be inevitable, hence the rather amusing exchanges between Ripley, Brett and Parker. Ripley's relationship with Captain Dallas is also turbulent at times, stemming from Ripley's sometimes pedantic adherence to protocol, but despite their little tiffs you also get the feeling that they are also really good friends.

Trivia
Anton Furst (Batman [1989], Full Metal Jacket, Awakenings) ran the laser beams in the egg chamber, an effect Scott was "blown away with." (Furst, who won an Academy Award for his Batmobile design, committed suicide in 1991.) The inside of the egg was made of steamed cattle and sheep parts (delivered fresh every morning) and the fluttering movement caused by Ridley Scott's surgical-gloved hand moving around.
From special effects perspective, Alien was way ahead of its time. The use of practical effects is a rarity in today's world of CGI graphics. Alien along with 'The Thing,1982' are in my opinion the two greatest examples of the use of practical specials effects, and still hold their own even by today's standards. The chest-burst scene remains as shocking and unsettling now, as when I first saw it. If the same scene were filmed today, with cheap CGI blood added afterword, the effect would just not be the same.

The cinematography is dark, moody, and really adds a level of dread to the claustrophobic service tunnels and corridors of the ship. All the sets look fantastic and gives an authentic feel a space vessel, with computers, lights, beeping noises. Everything in the ship has a dark, scratched, worn look to it giving the realistic feel of a well living-in and overworked vessel..

Jerry Goldsmith's score is compelling, and the heart beat like thumping during key scenes is a real nice touch. Ridley Scott provides some superb, subtle directing, showing a real flare for building tension and mood. Alien was the precursor to Ridley Scott's timeless sci-fi masterpiece: Blade Runner, 1982, which shares the dark mood, tension and unique directorial style that has become synonymous.

Seldom has any film been so consistent in design, cast, direction, and out-and-out fear factor.