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5 reviews, 166 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Gee, Meg, It Only Took You 30 Years. . ."
5 stars

For one week beginning this Friday, Chicago’s beloved Music Box Theater is going to be reviving “Alien,” the 1979 blockbuster futuristic horror film that launched both a highly profitable and thematically fascinating string of sequels (provided that you can mentally erase all memories of those “Alien Vs. Predator” craptacular) and the careers of director Ridley Scott and actress Sigourney Weaver, who became both a instant star and a lasting genre icon with her indelible performance as Warrant Officer Ripley, one of the great female character in the history of science-fiction. To commemorate this re-release, I would like to reprint this piece that I wrote for The Website That Shall Not Be Named a few years ago on the occasion of the release of the Director’s Cut. As you will see below, I regard this as one of the great films of all time and if you are in the area and have never had the chance to see it on the big screen before--or even if you have--you owe it to yourself to catch it in all its gory glory while you have the chance.

A funny thing happened to me as I sat down to once again watch Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi/horror classic "Alien". Having seen the film approximately a zillion times before, I had planned to focus my attention solely on the changes made for this "Director’s Cut" edition-in which a couple of scenes have been added and a few non-essential moments have been shaved off to make room for them-but as the movie rolled on, I found myself once again getting completely caught up in Scott’s blend of everyday behavior, mounting terror and some of the greatest "BOO!" moments ever captured on film. If the mark of a truly impressive suspense film is that you still find yourself jumping in your seat even when you know exactly what is going to happen next, then "Alien" is one of the greatest such films ever made.

For those who, for some unknown reason, still haven’t caught up with the film in the last 25 years, a brief recap. In the not-too-distant future, the crew of the commercial ship Nostromo-Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Ash (Ian Holm), Kane (John Hurt), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto)-is awakened from hyper-sleep in the middle of nowhere to investigate a distress signal on an unknown planet. While exploring the surface, Dallas, Lambert and Kane come across the remains of a fossilized spaceship. Well, not entirely fossilized, as Kane startlingly finds out. They return to the ship and, after they launch, they realize that some thing has tagged along for the ride and is intent on picking them off one by one.

Much has been written over the years about the style of the film-how Scott (making only his second film) took the notion of a jerry-built future first seen in "Star Wars" and expanded on it to create, with the Nostromo, a world where everything was mechanical and in constant need of repair, fluids dripped from every available pipe and the surfaces were littered with cigarette packs and porno mags-but one of the surprising things to rediscover is just how tautly and intelligently written it is. There has been much debate for years over who actually wrote "Alien"-the screenplay is credited to Dan O’Bannon (who had previously written "Dark Star", which was essentially a goofier version of the same basic story) producer Walter Hill (a gifted writer/director of lean action films in his own right) supposedly did a lot of rewriting and the final product feels like a seamless blend of their sensibilities-but no matter who did what, the end result is a truly remarkable bit of genre writing in that it actually stresses character over the lavish effects. The characters are memorable because the script focuses not on the hardware but the people running them-any audience can identify, for example, with Parker and Brett, the two guys who work in the basement and basically keep the whole ship running and feel that they aren’t getting a fair shake (or share) from the cleaner, more elite people above deck. As for the more suspenseful moments, the script always plays smart and fair and creates plausible situations for the crew to get into where they can be picked of by the creature without being forced to act like morons.

Another neat thing to recognize in hindsight is just how much Sigourney Weaver, making her screen debut in a major role (after a cameo in "Annie Hall), winds up taking front and center in her first turn in her greatest role, that of Warrant Officer Ripley. Because she was the least-known performer in a cast of little-known people (at the time, perhaps Tom Skerritt and Yaphet Kotto were the most familiar people), because her character was cold and efficient in the way she conducted her work (check out the scene in which she ignores a direct order to allow the possibly contaminated Kane back onto the ship) and, yes, because she was young and beautiful, it could have been assumed that her character might have been one of the first to be dispatched. And yet, during the group scenes, Scott subtly always has her in the dominant position so that we slowly find ourselves identifying with her after all.

The new moments included in this version of the film will be familiar to hard-core "Alien" fans, who will have seen them in one form over another in the past 25 years. There is a bit in which the crew closely examines the "distress signal" that they are receiving, an additional shot of H.R.Giger’s legendary creature design during the killing of Brett and a bit in which Lambert violently confronts Ripley after the latter’s refusal to let Kane aboard. The most significant addition is the legendary "cocoon scene", in which Ripley discovers what happened to several of her fellow crew members. Originally deleted because Scott feared it slowed the headlong momentum of the finale, its restoration is important because it closes up one giant plot hole (answering questions about the reproduction cycle of the creature) in an authentically freaky matter.

To these eyes, the four "Alien" movies have always been the dominant genre film cycle of modern times (yes, even the scandalously underrated "Alien 3" and the intriguing "Alien Resurrection") and I would take them over the "Star Wars", "Harry Potter" "Lord of the Rings" or "Star Trek" franchises any day of the week. However, the original remains the most singular and perfect entry of the bunch. It has enough wit and suspense to keep audiences of any era entertained. It contains enough psychosexual implications to fuel grad-student papers for decades to come. And no matter how many times you see the moment where Dallas turns around in the air shaft or the part where Kane sits down for dinner, you will inevitably hear yourself scream.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=583&reviewer=389
originally posted: 09/11/09 00:00:00
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User Comments

9/14/19 Tom Great 5 stars
10/02/16 morris campbell great sci-fi horror coolest movie monster of all time 5 stars
4/26/16 Ken Amazing sci-fi/horror film by Ridley Scott. 5 stars
2/07/16 Anne Some of it disgusting, technically superb 3 stars
6/04/15 stanley welles a skilful roller coaster blend of horror and science fiction 5 stars
3/01/15 manalone923 PATHETIC 1 stars
10/09/12 austin one of the scariest movies of all-time 5 stars
1/21/12 Predator Muhhhaaaah - Terrific 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/19/11 Ark So scary I still can't watch the scene where it gets Dallas! And I am a big athletic guy! 5 stars
8/23/10 Joseph It just doesn't get much better than this 5 stars
5/03/10 Jeff Wilder If Aliens is the greatest sci-fi action movie ever, this is greatest sci-fi horror. 5 stars
11/01/09 art HORRIBLE! 1 stars
8/28/09 Julian There have been so many copycat versions but .... say no more 5 stars
8/18/09 Jon B This film didn't scare me, but the pacing and atmosphere is top notch scifi 5 stars
8/03/09 Steve Hock Klaxons flashing, Mothers calm voice, a running cursing Ripley. Super scene! 5 stars
7/11/09 then came bronson THE scariest movie since Jaws and Texas Chainsaw 5 stars
4/12/09 K. Sear The ultimate in gothic sci-fi horror. A true classic. 5 stars
5/24/08 ben dover amazing movie with an incredible atmosphere 5 stars
1/04/08 Mo An awesome, spellbinding movie; but did Ripley really need to go after that fucking cat?! 5 stars
9/24/07 Rogue Gallart Classic! What film should be! Ridley Scott is a Master! 5 stars
7/27/07 Wee Todd Didd The first is still the best. 5 stars
5/02/07 john I think it's overrated. It's unique but it didn't really scare me at all. 3 stars
3/26/07 Ken Scary and amazing 5 stars
2/20/07 action movie fan great sets and special effects make this a powerful shocker 4 stars
2/14/07 R.W.Welch Great suspense. One of the top five sci-fi operas. 5 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega One not to be forgotten. 4 stars
10/02/06 Jeremy Davies Great movie, but far outclassed by aliens 4 stars
9/21/06 Booksworm Made the mistake of seeing it on cable;not scary at all,but still a damn good movie!! 5 stars
9/03/06 David Pollastrini a bit slow in places but still great. 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist A great science fiction classic.Simply legendary!! 5 stars
7/11/06 David Cohen Forget the rapidly degenrative sequels, this is the real deal 5 stars
5/04/06 dionwr Superbly made B-movie 4 stars
5/04/06 Uri Lessing Intense and scary 5 stars
5/03/06 MP Bartley A brilliantly oiled, edited and designed film. Pure horror. 5 stars
5/02/06 Matt Seaver It doesn't quite hit me as I think it should, but I certainly don't dislike it. 3 stars
5/01/06 Ryan_A Not a horror guy, but I do love this one... 5 stars
5/01/06 PaulBryant Sigourney just doesn't do it for me. 3 stars
5/01/06 David Cornelius My tummy's not feeling too good 5 stars
5/01/06 William Goss Wow. A landmark horror movie, and a personal all-time fave. 5 stars
5/01/06 EricDSnider Truly suspenseful 5 stars
5/01/06 Alex Paquin Haven't seen it -- I'm not much into sci-fi / horror 3 stars
5/01/06 HBS-SH Only movie directed by Coppola's favorite editor. 5 stars
4/18/06 Dave A great science fiction horror masterpiece. 5 stars
3/03/06 omar best sci fi movie ever...except for the sequel 5 stars
2/11/06 movie_buff Gritty, chlostrophic, scary & they keep it real - a watermark for the genre. 5 stars
1/12/06 Perry Mason Brilliant sci-fi horror. 5 stars
1/10/06 Tamara D.Leonard Such a classic SciFi thriller. So many memories on the opening night in the theater. 5 stars
1/03/06 cody This movie has bad ass sexy sigourney weaver, cool effects and scary but not good as it 2 4 stars
11/20/05 chris great stuff!! 5 stars
10/30/05 Quigley slightly overrated and not very scary, but I can see why it's a classic. it's gross, too 4 stars
9/05/05 Zack wayyyy better then the others 5 stars
8/23/05 Eden A b-movie dressed up as an a-movie. Very well made 5 stars
8/16/05 ES Slow to the point of ponderous, paved the way for aliens 4 stars
7/17/05 Brandy Harrington Great movie 5 stars
7/02/05 Eddie Great Movie 5 stars
6/21/05 Manu Ginobli Great movie 5 stars
4/26/05 lio bloody brilliant film 5 stars
4/17/05 Russell Hobbs psychology dominate force in pic,for those wove seenit manytimes, watch it witn sund off 5 stars
4/16/05 Cary Gordon The ultimate, genre defining SF suspense picture. 5 stars
3/31/05 Richard Box The Best Alien creature ever is born FANTASTIC 5 stars
3/22/05 indrid cold More horror than sci-fi, and not a particularly good horror movie. 4 stars
12/14/04 Etheridge Hoogendijk OD-ing on creepy sound effects while story gets spread way too thin. 2 stars
11/13/04 X $ % & ! I wish I had acid blood. 5 stars
11/13/04 Samuel Very scary film. Alot of people don't agree, but I think its better than the sequel. 5 stars
11/04/04 Lord Durvok 2 Four words guys: Best. Fvcking. Movie. Ever. 5 stars
9/01/04 A upton Love those panties,,mmmm 5 stars
8/25/04 Aaron Smith the alien is just a monster, no depth to him whatsoever 3 stars
8/02/04 magaafi not bad........ 5 stars
7/20/04 Patjng the 1st and the best' 5 stars
6/21/04 Stab Wounds Yay. 5 stars
6/16/04 franknutz great film i think the original is better than directors cut but see them both 5 stars
3/20/04 Jack-pyschO-Lantern Sorry, but this is isnt as good as the others... Even the last one was better. 3 stars
2/22/04 Kyle A pace and mood-setting that rivals "The Shining". GREAT stuff! 5 stars
12/23/03 Joel W. De Sario An invincible,leathal, haunting creature with digusting eating habits results in desparate 5 stars
12/08/03 john the sfx are still great! a sensational sci fi thriller! 5 stars
12/08/03 bz The re-release still holds up after all these years. 5 stars
11/28/03 alien assassin still has the ability to shock. 5 stars
11/20/03 Shelby Sherman Horror films should scare you....Alien does! 5 stars
10/31/03 American Slasher Goddess A Sci-Fi gem. 5 stars
10/06/03 jawsboy24 Pretty much a masterpiece! GREAT SFX, acting, cinematography, directing, music, etc. ****'s 5 stars
10/01/03 Spiderfan729 Loved it! Better than Terminator by a loooonnnngggg shot! 5 stars
8/31/03 Lord Durvok II Not only best of the four, but one of the best Sci-Fi/Horror films ever. I love it! 5 stars
8/06/03 Alice Best science Fiction ever. 5 stars
8/05/03 Double G alien rules 5 stars
6/20/03 Sammy jason should watch it again because this movie rocks!! 5 stars
4/15/03 Andrew Carden Weaver Is Great, The Effects Is Fantastic...but Goes On Far Too Long!!! 4 stars
3/03/03 Aceman True masterpiece! 5 stars
12/28/02 Jack Sommersby The best sci-fi/horror film ever made! 5 stars
12/17/02 C.reeves A good sc-fi movie 3 stars
10/30/02 mallory i love it 5 stars
10/28/02 José in my opinion, the very scariest film ever 5 stars
10/26/02 Charles Tatum Still scary after all these years 5 stars
9/30/02 sdfr the original deep space shocker, and still the best ever. 5 stars
9/25/02 Morally Sound This is the on;y "Alien" flick in the series I didn't like. 3 stars
8/22/02 Bluto So Scary because it was belivable technology, not sanitized like Star Trek 5 stars
7/24/02 CVJ Excellent in every way 5 stars
7/04/02 gary vidmar Creepy and tense. The monster is probably the scariest I have ever seen 5 stars
5/28/02 Kyle Fuck you, Andrew. Being a critic doesn't mean criticizing everything. 5 stars
4/27/02 maximal01 Freaky. The ending is great, and it's scary because it's unseen. 5 stars
4/08/02 lauren mccreight the best of the four alien movies.....period. 5 stars
3/23/02 Steve Mackey After seeing "The Relic", "Alien" looks more and more like the best scifi ever made. 5 stars
3/22/02 lowenklee dreamlike, very disturbing 5 stars
3/19/02 Steve Mackey Probably the best quality sci-fi movie ever made. 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Fun to watch Weaver kick alien ass. 4 stars
1/10/02 tc sigourney's crack now thats scary 5 stars
12/20/01 Andrew Carden Watchable Movie Overall, but No Momentum, and The 2nd Was Better. 3 stars
12/20/01 OSVALDO pepin 5 stars
11/26/01 Monday Morning Needs less talk, more tit. 3 stars
10/29/01 Jake This movie doesn't look, sound or seem outdated! Best Sci-Fi movie forever. No contest. 5 stars
10/16/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its O.K. but not much horror ike the other seqeuls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 stars
10/06/01 jawsboy Ridley's finest work along with Gladiator. quite a bit better than Blade Runner 4 stars
10/03/01 Phoenix Good acting and frightening moments save this from being a typical monster-in-space movie. 4 stars
9/05/01 spaceworm (boo!) 5 stars
9/04/01 Crunchy Frog In space, no one can hear you stick your finger up a dog's ass 5 stars
8/06/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) This movie kicks ass. It's definitely a cult classic, too. 5 stars
7/27/01 Henry Ginsberg One of the best si-fis ever made . 5 stars
7/15/01 Nazi dad Ruined some new jeans first time I ever saw it. 5 stars
6/30/01 Rampage brilliant and freaky 5 stars
6/29/01 King Jackass Classic. 5 stars
6/27/01 Stewart The chest-bursting scene is the highlight of this movie. The acting is pretty good, too. 4 stars
5/09/01 Jake This will be the best sic-fi movie, forever!!!! Doesn't matter what anyone else says. 5 stars
5/06/01 Gracy Lionheart Loved It. It is a great film to add to one's movie collection. 5 stars
4/23/01 Skip Young Aliens was much better. 3 stars
3/12/01 Sthenno Best sci-fi horror film ever!Perfect cast,acting,directing,set design,and Alien! 5 stars
2/24/01 Schpydah One of the best horror films ever. The horror is gorgeous and perfect: somebody slap me. 5 stars
2/24/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Ah, yeah.... 5 stars
2/12/01 CJ O' Callaghan Horror film with tension thats hard to take at times. ridly scott - direct alien 5, please! 5 stars
1/31/01 jordan best scifi movie of all time? 5 stars
1/18/01 fifu worth look a very cool movie 4 stars
1/14/01 Invader The movie is slow mostly,but its the real terror when it occurs. 5 stars
12/27/00 Destruction Worker The DVD has one kick@$$ menu! 5 stars
11/13/00 Corporal Dodgson A bevy of thematic motifs, outlined by a hybrid horror-scifi haunted house tale. Amazing 5 stars
11/12/00 The EVIL Penguin a classic 5 stars
10/24/00 Viking How about a Director's cut to commemorate it's twentieth anniversary 5 stars
9/27/00 Jmpsnoopy This movie was scary as hell! 5 stars
7/11/00 Matthew Bartley A MILESTONE FOR A VERY GOOD REASON 5 stars
6/15/00 XXX Ridley Scott's best, and the best of the four Alien movies. 5 stars
6/12/00 danilo much more exciting than overrated Aliens! Awesome! 5 stars
6/07/00 TERRIE SMITH Some good jolts in this first entry in the series but ALIENS was even better 4 stars
6/03/00 perverted pixie My favourite of the series- the stomach poping scene cannot be beat! 5 stars
4/16/00 JDC Great feeling of loneliness and isolation. In space, no one can hear you scream... 5 stars
4/15/00 BB-15 Still the best of the series. 5 stars
2/10/00 Kyle Broflovski Great, but..."Aliens" is better. And that's the bottom line, cuz Kyle B. said so!!!! 4 stars
11/21/99 Jedi15 A gripping and terrifying film! Wonderful performances. Also, check out Aliens and Alien 3. 5 stars
8/20/99 Dante Possibly the best film ever made - it is PERFECT! 5 stars
7/24/99 Krishna Manohar A Classic. A great first chapter to a great series. 5 stars
6/20/99 Ed Wood Top 5 of all time 5 stars
6/14/99 Dylan mmm...great. 5 stars
6/04/99 Ah Dooey Scary as hell, better than I Know What You... and Urban Legend! 5 stars
4/29/99 Rob Mckechnie I was lucky enough to see this in the cinema a few weeks ago, and its still scary! 5 stars
4/19/99 Lucas jackson a great sci fi they do not get much better than this 5 stars
3/29/99 little jerry The eerie mood Scott creates is superior to Cameron's Rambo approach.Best sequel-Alien 4. 5 stars
2/19/99 chuck-d How can anyone not like this? Suspense, aliens, cool sets, full of grit 5 stars
1/26/99 Goofaloo Any movie that can spark three sequels (and counting) is a classic. 5 stars
1/24/99 YellerDog Groovy. 5 stars
1/22/99 C Dub One bad ass flick! 5 stars
11/28/98 Mike F It was boring. I didn't like it. 2 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Nailbiting suspenser! 5 stars
11/23/98 Ray Russ We are not worthy! The video sits atop my alter. 5 stars
11/23/98 Lord Of The Dunce It never could get better. 5 stars
10/26/98 Silent Rob A classic in 2 veins. What more could you want? 5 stars
8/30/98 Mister Whoopee Giger created a masterpiece here. Compare it to the latest and puke. 5 stars
8/27/98 Chuck-D like empire and star wars, the second was higher quality, but the first is BETTER! 5 stars
8/24/98 {{{OZ}}} The original and best. A classic. 5 stars
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  25-May-1979 (R)
  DVD: 06-Jan-2004


  13-Nov-2003 (R)

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