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31 Days of Halloween – Alien

I didn't even realize it was a horror film when I started watching 'Alien' for the first time, but by the time it was over, I realized I had watched one of the greatest horror films of all time.

I first saw Alien a few years (more years than I care to admit) back when I was in high school. I was certainly aware of the film before then, and of course aware of the alien itself (which has become a cultural icon in a way), but I don’t think I realized exactly what the film was about before sitting down and experiencing it. I was totally expecting a standard sci fi action film, more in line with the sequels of Ridley Scott’s original. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was, indeed, watching a horror film. It took me until the end of the film, however, to realize that I was watching one of the best horror films ever made.

Kudos to Scott for taking all the regular trappings of the horror genre and moving them to a completely unique setting. Just like a bunch of teenagers holed up in a campground being stalked by a serial killer, Alien uses all the classic tropes of the genre. Only instead of teenagers, you have space miners, and instead of a campground you have the even more confining confines of a spaceship. Most importantly, however, instead of a serial killer you have a terrifying alien that will hug your face, lay eggs in you, burst half grown out of your chest and then tear you into pieces. Given a choice, I’m taking my chances against the psycho in a ski mask, thanks.

Adding to the film’s credentials are the amazing special effects. Most of them still hold up today, more than 30 years later. Also, this wasn’t the typical horror film cast with a bunch of young no names. Alien had an amazing cast: Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton. It was a fantastic ensemble, and a career changer for Weaver, who would go on to play Ripley in three additional films.

At the end of the day though, Alien is about the scares. It’s a scary movie. It hits on several classic human fears. Of course there is the fear of the dark, the huge alien hiding in the unlit regions of the ship. The fear of monsters is covered with the hulking almost insect like alien. The creepiest part has to be the fact that the alien buries its eggs inside of other beings, growing inside of poor Kane (Hurt) until it finally bursts out of him. Is there anything more disturbing than having some alien being inside of you? I don’t know that there is.

Not being a huge fan of the horror genre myself, Alien stands out as not just a great horror film, but a great film. Period.


Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Categories: Features, General

2 Responses to “31 Days of Halloween – Alien”

October 19, 2011 at 10:13 AM

. . . . .

One of my all-time favorite films. And you’re correct, Bobba-Looga not just for its horror genre elements.

I remember a year before the film came out I was at some World Science Fiction convention where – among other things – I was introduced to Harlan Ellison as well. At the panel for Alien, the first part of the story (leading up to Kane’s attack) was narrated with black and white storyboard images in a packed room. Everyone listened intently at the speaker’s tale of what would be transpiring on the screen once the film saw release. His last words? “And a tube goes down his throat, paralyzing him …”

The thrilled audience was quiet. All you could hear was muffled breathing. I distinctly remember one guy raising his hand to ask a question: “Is this a comedy?” Everyone guffawed.

As it turned out, this film began my love-affair-from-afar with Sigourney Weaver … an affair I still carry on to this very day.

Nice post, Bob …

October 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM

I remember reading somewhere years ago that Ridley Scott called Alien a haunted house movie set on a spaceship, so the horror connection is certainly not without merit … and the fact that I was pretty much on the ceiling when Dallas met the alien in the duct seals it!

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