12 March 2013


Alien 1979
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Based on Book: no
  • Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Sigourney Weaver – lots, for example Working Girl, Dave, Death and the Maiden, The Ice Storm, A Map of the World, Holes, Snow Cake, Be Kind Rewind, Avatar, and of course the other Alien movies.
    • Tom Skerritt – Smoke Signals (if you’ve never seen it, see it!)
    • Veronica Cartwright – Six Feet Under, The X Files, A Slipping Down Life, Witches of Eastwick, The Mod Squad (the ‘60’s), and many more I’ve never seen or heard of.
    • Harry Dean Stanton – practically every movie ever made, notably Paris, Texas, The Rose, Mannix, The Andy Griffth Show (that one is old!).
    • Ian Holm – lots of Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings, Day After Tomorrow, From Hell and more
    • John Hurt – I Claudius, Harry Potter, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Melancholia, Rob Roy and seven million others
    • Yaphet Kotto – Homicide, Life on the Streets and many more
  • Why bought: classic sci fi, recommended by friend ÖB.
  • Seen: once – September 7, 2012

          To paraphrase the Chief Engineer, Parker, this movie creeps me out.
It took me about a quarter of a century to actually see it. It was worth the wait, and it deserves its status as a classic.  This is one scary movie!  As in all scary movies the characters – stupid people – are always wandering off alone (although the absolute plan is to stick together) to get grabbed and eaten (sort of) by the really icky monster.  This alien is definitely not E.T.!
                In case you yourself have lived on another planet for the last twenty-three years here’s the story: a commercial spaceship is carrying a cargo back to earth when the ship gets a strange signal.  The crew is woken up to deal with it. That’s when the fun begins.
                It’s not the scary stuff that makes this movie good.  What makes it a classic are the characters. Top notch actors, developed individuals, class conflict.  Yapha Kotto and Harry Dean Staunton are great as the working class mechanics who semi-jovially, semi-seriously threaten to go on strike if they don’t get a greater share of the take.  Ian Holm starts out normal but gets creepier and creepier.  Sigourney Weaver of course carries the second half of the movie as she rescues the cat and battles the alien all by herself.
                And throughout the whole movie, the lurking mining company who owns the ship makes it very clear that profit and military power have priority over human life.  Capitalism goes cosmic!
                I have a feeling that there are some logical glitches in the story but right now I’m not going to worry about them. It was exciting, scary, profound (at least a little) and masterfully done by all. It’s an advantage not having seen this in 1979. Now I have the box and don’t have to wait years and years for the rest.  I can watch them all this weekend if I want to.
                This one gets 4* of 5.


  1. Yes, this was positively creepy. It's the only part that actually works as a horror movie. But yes, I agree it's the characters that make it a classic. All of them are remarkably individual, compelling and superbly acted. Ian Holm freaked me out, too. Very sinister. And thought-provoking:

    "I admire its purity. A survivor... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality."

    "Delusions of morality". Wonderful phrase. The purity definition applies to Shakespeare's villains, too, Iago and Edmund especially.

    The pace was a little slow, but the direction, as one might expect from Ridley Scott, was quite great enough to compensate for that. I was rather impressed with the plot. It flowed very smoothly and felt perfectly natural, including the android-twist. This is not always the case with movies in general and sci-fi in particular, is it? Visually stunning for 1979, I'd also say.

    In four words, hackeneyed story, superlative execution. In other words, a true classic.

    PS I was mightily pleased that the cat survived.

    PPS "Capitalism goes cosmic!" Love that phrase, too!

    1. Thanks for the great comment. I didn’t think there was anyone left but me who hadn’t seen this classic. I’m glad we’re now a group of happy few newcomers. And on this one we’re in accord. That’s nice but I like disagreement too so on to 2 and 3!