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Alien (1979)

In space, no-one can hear you scream

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 117 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


It’s always worth reminding yourself during a watching of ‘Alien’ that not all extra-terrestrials are quite as nasty as this one. When things start to get a bit scary, simply take a few deep breaths and think of E.T. Or Alf. Or Mork. Well, maybe not Mork, but you get the idea.

Deep in the bowels of space, the cargo ship Nostromo is on its way home to Earth. Routine mediocrity is the order of the day among the crew of seven, until what’s thought to be a distress signal is received from an unknown planet. Unfortunately, by the time they’ve realised it’s not a distress call at all but a warning, crew member Kane (John Hurt) has had his face latched onto by a faceless, spider-like space critter.

From then on it’s cack-your-slacks time as a freshly-impregnated Hurt gives birth (via an exploding stomach at mealtime) to a beast that will go on to pick off the crew of the Nostromo one by one, growing bigger and stronger with every victim.

Despite taking only second-billing in the cast list, Sigourney Weaver is the star of the piece as the soon-to-be iconic Ripley. Here, however, she’s a considerably less intimidating character than later on in the franchise, and her well-documented fondness for the word ‘bitch’ appears to be only in its early stages.

This is a much, much darker slice of sci-fi than anything ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Star Trek’ were throwing into the ring at around the same time, and in actual fact leans further towards the horror genre than anywhere else. Director Ridley Scott keeps things dark and moody at all times and, similarly to Steven Spielberg with ‘Jaws’, keeps glimpses of the monster to a minimum.

But perhaps the best thing about it is that, despite the subject matter, everything seems remarkably real. There are no Arnie-style quips to interrupt the movie’s tensest of moments, the characters’ behaviour under the circumstances seems true to life, and the plot is simple enough not to need any far-fetched twists in order to keep it on track.

It's Got: Enough gender-related symbolism to keep a beard-and-sandals film studies prof in analysis heaven for weeks.

It Needs: To be watched in the dark, on a big screen, and with no interruptions.

DVD Extras Original theatrical trailers, deleted scenes (which make for some interesting viewing), out-takes, audio commentary by Ridley Scott, artwork & photo galleries, original story boards, isolated original score, and alternate music track. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


Still one of the best movies to come out of either the horror or sci-fi genre – this one gets the blood pumping.