Thursday, October 13, 2016

Arrow in the Head: Ripley's Believe It Or Not

Year: 1979
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt 
Run Time: 1 hour 57 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

Read my full review at Arrow in the Head.

Additional Notes: I can see why they hired James Cameron to do the sequel to this film. Alien is a massive, unprecedented special effects spectacular that tests the limits of the gooey monstrosities you can show onscreen. And aside from an obvious cut replacing a dummy head with Ian Holm’s and a late wide shot that exposes too much of the Xenomorph’s “dude in a suit”-liness, the effects hold their glorious icky power to this day. H. R. Giger’s orifice-tacular design is gross enough on its own, but it’s realized with tremendous skill. 

Like I said, design is what really counts in this movie. Although the basic interiors have lost their charm after years and years of rip-offs and copies, there are subtle elements that still stand out, my favorite being the hatches that swirl shut like a camera lens.

I suppose I should mention the cast, although the human element barely registers in this cold and (literally) alien film. They have solid chemistry and their banter is amusing, although they’re only given a handful of character traits between them. Sigourney Weaver isn’t, like, mind-blowingly good, but she retains her femininity while still presenting a tough, professional attitude, a balance that earns her all the credit she gets for being an iconic strong female character.

I really don’t have that much more to say about Alien, because at its core it’s devilishly simple. I respect what it does and how it works, but as the years pass I’m less and less sure that it’s Ridley Scott’s doing why it works so well. All I can say is, when compared to its proto-predecessor, the likewise Dan O’Bannon scripted Dark Star, Alien is a massive quantum leap forward for 70’s sci-fi.

TL;DR: Alien is a base and dirty grindhouse horror flick with the impeccable design of an A-list sci-fi picture.
Rating: 8/10
Word Count: 1051
Reviews In This Series
Alien (Scott, 1979)
Aliens (Cameron, 1986)
Alien 3 (Fincher, 1992)
Alien: Resurrection (Jeunet, 1997)
AvP: Alien vs. Predator (Anderson, 2004)
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (Strause & Strause, 2007)
Prometheus (Scott, 2012)


  1. Hey, neat. They let you do a good movie for once!

    My deal with Alien is that it's too well-made not to love, but the characters are mostly too careless to enjoy. (The film's most famous scene, for example, is entirely the result of decisions that no one could possibly have made--namely letting John Hurt out to HAVE LUNCH, while a springloaded macroparasite wrapped itself around his heart.)

    1. I have to agree on that one. There's a lot of flaws at the heart of Alien that rabid fans ignore, and it's too cold and inhuman for me to genuinely love it, but it's just so PRETTY