10 Movies in 10 Days / Alien (1979)
The first movie to ever scare me…truly scare me, was Alien. I’m not sure how old I was but I know that I was small, a single digit age. My dad was watching a movie and I remember my parents being adamant about it being my bedtime, to not get up. Of course that had the opposite effect on my young self and I got up. What could he be watching that I wasn’t allowed to see? The answer? Alien. I crept down the hallway and spied around the corner of the couch to find a man crawling through ventilation shafts, a flamethrower his only light, who is met by a shiny, tooth-filled nightmare that would haunt me for weeks. My love of science fiction, and to a big extent, horror, was planted on that fateful night. Welcome to my #2 film on this countdown!
Like most Ridley Scott movies, Alien has aged incredibly, incredibly well. He’s got a real talent behind the camera, some would call it controlling and demanding, but you can’t argue with the results. From the aged and worn hallways of the Nostromo to the bowels of the wrecked craft on LV-426, the world feels lived in…like it has a history. As it turns out, it does have a history, one that has thankfully continued to be told over the course of many spin-offs and sequels. That being said, Scott’s original masterpiece has yet to be topped. I’d venture to say it’s one of the greatest films ever made, let alone in the genre of science fiction.
We wouldn’t get very far in a story like this if you didn’t have a strong antagonist. Screenwriter Dan O’Bannon had this idea of a crew waking up in deep space due to a distress signal and their ensuing detour to check out a wrecked ship on an unknown planet. This was as far as he’d gotten with the idea when he went on to work on a few other films, including Alejandro Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Dune. It was there that he me an artist name H.R. Giger, an artist whose work would disturb him so much that he used one of his drawings to finish the plot of his idea. Alien was born.
I’m not going to delve into the plot or pull away from the tension, tension that is wound so tight you can hardly breathe at times, because to do so would steal magic from the film. If you’ve never seen it, you need to add Alien to your “must see” list soon. If you’ve seen it but it’s been a while, what better opportunity to explore the Nostromo with its varied cast of very believable characters. More than that, you get to witness one of the all time great film heroines go up against one of the all time great villains. What more can you ask for?