It’s time for FILM IN OUTER SPACE BLOGATHON hosted by Moon in Gemini and my movie pick is Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). I should have picked Aliens, the second movie in the franchise but then that would mean I miss out on talking about that shocker of a scene at the dining table. Or the egg. And that cool understated poster with the tagline, In space no one can hear you scream.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Can you believe the movie came out 38 years ago? Gosh, I was actually too young when Alien came out and I think I may have watched it after I saw Aliens (“Game over, man!”) and fell in love with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein)*. I even wanted to have my very own big gun!
But back to Alien. It’s 2122 and a crew of the Nostromo is on their way back to Earth with their payload of intergalactic ore, only to be awoken by the ship’s computer named Mother because she detects a beacon from a distant planet. According to company policy, they need to investigate and so they do.
The crew is composed of Kane (the late John Hurt) who’s second-in-command, Captain Dallas (Tom Skerrit), Science Officer Ash (whom I just realized is a very young Ian Holm of Bag End/Bilbo Baggins), Chief Engineer Parker (Yaphet Koto), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) driver Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), and third-in-command, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).
After a rough landing that requires about hours of repair before they can get back to their ship, three members of the crew set out to investigate the source of the beacon. They find a horseshoe-shaped spaceship and inside, “star man” or what viewers have dubbed the space jockey.
Kane finds a hole in the ground and ends up in an area that has all these egg-shaped thingies just hanging out. Of course, he falls (I think he does) and one of the eggs opens up. How does that saying go again? Curiosity kills the cat?
But Kane is not dead. He’s brought back to the ship against the objections of Ripley who goes by the book. Nothing alien should enter the ship. Kane overrules her and lets the crew inside and from here on, it’s classic horror as the alien starts picking the crew one by one, starting with Kane who becomes the creature’s incubator of sorts before it makes its grand entrance during what would have been their last supper before going into hypersleep.
In today’s current cinema trends, Alien would be a lumbering and slow movie but considering its genre: sci-fi horror, it’s not. It’s perfect. The setting is claustrophobic and utilitarian, and the crew, hard-working men and women who just want to get home, have their own emotional arcs that have us fearing for their lives with each passing minute.
I showed this to my oldest son and he marveled at the fact that movie was over 30 years old yet you couldn’t tell at all. To this day, I consider it one of the best horror movies ever made with a bad-ass heroine whom we never saw coming and a legacy that continues to this day… although I kinda gave up with the last prequel movie after Prometheus.
What’s your favorite film set in outer space?