The 1979 scifi movie Alien stars 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, and Bolaji Badejo as the alien. It was produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler, and Walter Hill. The director was the legendary Ridley Scott.
The story begins on the commercial starship Nostromo. The crew is awakened from hypersleep to discover a transmission coming from an undiscovered planet. They are ordered to investigate the transmission at its source, a mysterious alien ship. Three of them enter the ship to find thousands of leathery eggs. When Kane attempts to get close to an egg, a spider-like creature leaps out of it and attaches itself to his face and won’t come off. Later on, the creature comes off Kane’s face and dies. He seems fine until at dinner another creature bursts through his chest, killing him instantly. The alien then flees the room, leaving the rest of the crew in a state of shock. One by one, each of them is killed off while attempting to track it down.
The special effects of this film are incredible. The alien was actually portrayed by a 7’2″ Nigerian design student in a costume. The best look we get of the alien is towards the end of the film when it attacks and kills Parker and Lambert. We see the head as well as part of the body. There are few computer graphics in the film, so the alien looks like it is actually on the ship with the crew and not placed in it later as a graphic. The thing about computerized special effects is that you can tell that they are computerized. They don’t look realistic and they create an unintended sense of fantasy to a film. For Alien, everything looks natural.
Another powerful characteristic is the suspense of the film. We do not get a look at the alien until roughly an hour into it, when Kane finally encounters the egg and the spider-like creature, commonly referred to as a “face-hugger”. Ridley Scott really builds up his audience for the big climax. Soon after the alien appears, it makes its kill and quickly disappears into the darkness. We can’t see where it is, which makes it even more frightening. Another example is when Brett is slain by the alien. In this scene, although we don’t get a view of the entire alien, we realize how large it has grown in such a short time. You fear most what you cannot see, as they say.
Alien is a classic that completely revolutionized the scifi genre. It is known as one of the scariest movies of all time. Nothing quite like it had come before it or has come since.