Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett (original screenplay) Walter Hill and David Giler (script revision)
Tom Skerritt as Dallas
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley
Veronica Cartwright as Lambert
Harry Dean Stanton as Brett
John Hurt as Kane
Ian Holm as Ash
Yaphet Kotto as Parker
When Alien was released, I had not yet succumbed to the power of the horror film. It was not until later that a friend of mine suggested that I rent it. I did so more out of respect for my friends taste than anything else because I was not a big sci-fi fan either. I discovered why I considered him a friend after viewing this masterpiece.
The film starts us on a quiet mining vessel, the Nostromo, traveling through open space on a heading towards Earth. The command and control computer system, Mother, receives an S.O.S. signal from a nearby planet, reroutes the Nostromo, and begins the process to awaken the crew from hypersleep to investigate.
Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Kane (John Hurt), and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) proceed to the planet surface and begin their investigation. It looks as if a vessel has crash landed with no survivors. While searching the vessel they discover a room filled with pods that, upon further study, have living beings inside like an egg. When one of these “eggs” begins to open, Kane looks inside and is attacked.
Dallas and Lambert rush back to the ship with Kane in arms but Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) will not let them in without a regulatory quarantine for at least 24 hours. After much bickering back and forth, Ash (Ian Holm), the ships doctor, bypasses protocol and opens the hatch to let them in.
Once in the infirmary, Kane’s helmet is removed the crew discovers a claw shaped critter is attached to his face. When someone tries to remove it the critter’s tightens up around Kane’s neck. But there was no need to worry because after a little while the critter dies and falls off anyway, leaving Kane none too worse for wear.
While the crew is eating their last meal before going back into hibernation for the return to Earth, Kane starts to have convulsions that end with an screaming creature bursting out of his chest and scurrying off while the rest of the crew just stand around in disbelief. The remainder of the film starts with an attempt to capture the alien, and ends with an attempt to just escape the Nostromo alive.
When I first began watching Alien I had a suspicion that I was not watching your average ordinary sci-fi movie. As a matter of fact, I have had many an argument with others debating the possibility that Alien is not a sci-fi movie at all but rather a full fledge horror film that just happens to be set in outer space. How can I make that blatant a presumption you might ask? Because Ridley Scott could take this very same screenplay and with a few changes base it any place and any time and it would still work.
I became a huge Ridley Scott fan after watching Alien, and remain one to this day. An effective tone was set from the beginning and Scott gave the film almost a documentary feel that succeeds in bringing the audience closer to the action than they had intended.
All of the credit cannot go to Scott alone though. Jerry Goldsmith’s score, Michael Seymour’s design, and H.R. Giger’s artistry all combine to create a film that will go into the annals of movie history as a classic to be learned from. Remember guys, this was made before CGI; all this work was done with costumes, models, and filming techniques. I cannot see where someone could honestly call themselves a “horror freak” and not enjoy Alien. But that is just my opinion.
By The Zombie Master, Lee Roberts