We’ve finally made it to the end. This is my all time favorite horror movie and one of the best movies period.
In Space No One Can Hear You Scream
En route back to earth, the crew of the Nostromo are awoken early from cryosleep when the ship comes across a distress signal. Under company orders the crew touch down on an unknown planet to investigate…
Going by the title of the movie you can expect that they come in contact with an alien.
What sets this movie apart is how the alien shows up. I won’t spoil anything but I’ll just say that it was a moment that has been burned into my memory.
The film was written by Dan O’Bannon and directed by Ridley Scott. The script had been presented to a number of studios before it reached 20th Century Fox. Even then they were hesitant to make it, sci-fi wasn’t a particularly hot genre. That changed after the release of the original Star Wars in 1977. Only then the project was greenlit.
One of the core components you need for a horror movie are the characters. If you don’t care about them then it won’t matter when they’re in danger. Described as “truck drivers in space,” the Nostromo crew are very relatable and likable. A big part as to why they were likable was because they were all relatively unknown actors at the time. This was only John Hurts second film and Sigourney Weavers first. We spend a good chunk of the movie getting to know them, something I feel has been lost in a lot of horror movies today. When the alien does show up I felt terrified for them.
Another key aspect in a horror movie is the atmosphere and again it’s pulled off in spades. The tag line “In space no one can hear you scream” is perfect. Immediately you feel like these people are in deep, deep space. If something goes wrong there’s no one to help them. This is emphasized further with the music. Composer Jerry Goldsmith has created one of the most haunting soundtracks I’ve every heard. Again, you get a sense of the vibe from the opening theme that this is going to be a terrifying ride we’re about to go on.
Finally we get to the creature itself and oh my god this thing is the stuff of nightmares.
All of the creature effects were done by the late Swedish artist H.R. Giger. The goal was to design a monster that people had never seen before. The alien was played by a guy named Bolaji Badejo. In preparation he took mime classes so he could train his body to move slow, further giving the crew and the audience a sense of dread. Another wise choice on the directors part was to keep the monster in the shadows.
“I’ve never liked horror films before, because in the end it’s always been a man in a rubber suit. Well, there’s one way to deal with that. The most important thing in a film of this type is not what you see, but the effect of what you think you saw.”
– Ridley Scott
I completely agree, the mind is always more frightening then anything else.
The last thing I’ll talk about is our main lead, Ellen Ripley.
Hands down one of the best protagonists in any genre. At the time it was rare to have a female as the lead in a horror movie. Even though all the characters were written to be unisex the thought had never occurred to most that the lead would be a female. The idea came from the head of the studio, Alan Ladd Jr. who felt that this would make to film unique and attract a broader audience. When everything starts to fall into chaos she is the one that pulls everyone together. She’s tough, confident, intelligent, and commanding. She set the high bar for what I expect in a good horror movie protagonist.
I honestly can’t praise this movie enough. I enjoy all the movies on this list, but Alien will forever hold a special place in my heart. If you have seen the movie then highly recommend that you pick up the Alien Anthology on blu-ray.
The collection comes with the first four movies in the series (only the first two are worth talking about) and two extra discs full of special features like documentaries, deleted scenes, and storyboards to name a few. If you have the time I recommend watching Alien and Aliens back to back, they really complement each other very well.
Of course the series didn’t end after the James Cameron sequel, though it probably should have. We then got Alien 3 which was not only a terrible movie that spat in the face of its predecessors, but it was one of the worst movie productions ever. That was followed by Alien Resurrection, another film that tried to replicate the earlier film but failed. Then you have Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator Requiem which are a literal joke and an insult to the franchise.
Hopes were high that the series would be get back on track when it was announced that Ridley Scott was going to return. This led to Prometheus (2012) and Alien Covenant (2017). The problem I had with these right away were that they were prequels. I’m not against the idea of a story set before something preexisting. Unfortunately, most prequels we do get feel pointless and come across as if the writers couldn’t come up with a new idea. What made the original Alien as scary as it was, was from how little we knew. It created a sense of mystery and ultimately it didn’t really matter where the monsters came from. The point was how do we stop them, not to understand them.
I will give some credit to Prometheus because it tried to do something a little different, even though it failed miserably. Along with characters that are incredibly cliche the movies don’t do much to break away from what we’ve already seen. The reason Aliens was so successful was that it didn’t copy the original. This is where nostalgia starts getting in the way of creativity. According to 20th Century Fox, Ridley Scott will be doing one more movie that will close out his Alien Prequel trilogy. At this point I couldn’t be bothered. Ridley isn’t the same director he was back in the 70’s and 80’s.
I know there are people who like these movies, and fair enough, but in my opinion nothing will ever come close to the original.
And with that, my top 10 horror movie list has come to a close. This was a lot of fun to do and I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any horror movies that didn’t make the cut please list them below, I’d love to see your top 10 lists. Thanks again and have a great Halloween.