Alien is a memorable movie with a couple scenes that are recognizable amongst even the lowliest of horror fans. Brilliant in its ability to draw out scary scenes over a long period of time, this film may not be for the technologically crazed generation of today that needs things to happen at a lightning fast pace. For its time, this movie was technologically advanced and I believe that it still is today. When you combine this with the wonderful acting of the cast, especially Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Ash (Ian Holm), then you have a great horror film.
Alien begins with our introduction to the crew of the Nostromo, a commercial towing spaceship that collects mineral ore from various planets. The inhabitants of the ship are in hyper sleep and wake up to find they are not near Earth, which they were expecting to be. Mother (the computer operating the Nostromo), stopped the ship because it picked up a signal from another planet. Of course, the crew investigates the signal and all hell eventually breaks lose. This movie follows a very used formula of people dropping one by one in a contained space. While overplayed, this technique works in this environment due to its uniqueness and the director’s (Ridley Scott) ability to create long lasting tension that makes the two-hour movie go by faster than it really should. Groundbreaking during its time, Alien still holds up and bridges two different viewing populations together: the horror fans and the sci-fi fans. Lovers of either genre will enjoy this film due to the mix of scares and science fiction lingo that not everyone can really grasp.
Art direction is a major success of this film due to its very believable setting and villain, the alien itself. I can’t really imagine a scarier extraterrestrial. Not only is its physique horrifying, but also its incredible ability to survive anything that is thrown its way. A cat and mouse game ensues at times between the alien and the crew, but we realize throughout the movie that the alien is much smarter than any human could ever be, which adds another layer of horror to the picture. While humans can be defeated (mostly), this alien shows no signs of weakness.
What makes this film not necessarily perfect is the length and the stupidity of some of the characters. At 117 minutes, this horror movie is long considering today’s norm. This may turn some people off, but for the most part the movie has excellent pacing. The characters can be idiots also, but not all of them. While Ripley is intelligent, some of the other characters are lacking in basic survival smarts. Instead of working in packs, some of them decide to venture off alone, which is the definition of idiocy. The introduction of the crew to the alien is also moronic. If I was on a different planet and saw a hugeroom full of weird eggs, would I start prodding them and opening them up? The answer to that is no. I would take some pictures and wait for a whole crew of people who know what they are doing to analyze the actual eggs. Of course, this is a little nit picky and not everyone will agree with this sentiment.
Horror island is receiving an alien that is a perfect killing machine. This particular villain is the member of an entire species of organisms that have no conscious and only care about surviving in the most brutal of ways. If any of the creatures on horror island attempt to get in the alien's way, then it’s safe to bet on the alien winning that battle. I wouldn’t put it past this race rising to the top very soon and if that is the case, everyone better watch out.