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ridley scott

If it isn’t remakes of 20 year old films then companies are re-releasing 20 year old films with new footage in order to get some of that hard earned cash, but there are certain films, works of art, that a re-release is entirely warranted and this past weekend one of the most original, and scary movies to ever be released.

Alien isn’t so much scare you out of your seat scary as it is psychological scary. Here you have a group of characters enclosed on a massive, dark ship with any number of places for the creature to hide. As with similar movies in the genre characters are picked off one by one by one until a final valiant effort and a final confrontation leave the main character bloody, tired, and wanting some serious R&R. Such is Ridley’s Scott’s Alien, a movie that pioneered the genre in 1979 and entered pop culture with one of the most spoofed scenes in movie history.

Starting things off the Nostromo, a commercial freighter for the ominous “Company” picks up a distress call from a derelict spacecraft on LV426, and uninhabited, inhospitable world. After sending out an away team one member of the crew is attacked with a face-hugger, the first state of alien implantation. After the creature makes it’s dramatic appearance the aforementioned deaths of the crew begin until only Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) remains.

Having never been able to see Alien in the theaters on its original release (being that it was released four years before I was born) this was my first chance to see the film on the big screen, as opposed to DVD and rebroadcasts on FX. It was also everyone’s first chance to see some additional footage that director Ridley Scott re-spliced into the film to give it a more complete feel, and prepare everyone for the forthcoming Alien Box Set on DVD and Alien vs. Predator next year in theaters.

The charm of this film lies in the characterization of the people on board the Nostromo. Alien basically laid down the frame work for the cliché characters we see today in movies. The most interesting, besides the complete bad-ass-ness of Ripley, is Ash (Ian Holm) the ships android, or “artificial person” as Bishop likes to call them. The look of the android through the entire movie is just as menacing as the alien itself, and almost as scary because you know what he will do in the end.

For being produced in 1979 the film’s restoration keep the beauty of the sets intact with the dark, claustrophobic interiors of the Nostromo and dark reaches of space on the exterior. Surprising enough the special effects have held up quite well, for the most part. Obviously technology for special effects was fairly primitive compared to today but the alien looks just as good, if not better, than those in Alien: Resurrection, and aside from a very cheesing looking miniature running across the table after the chest-busting scene there is nothing that couldn’t be compared to Hollywood blockbusters of today where CGI has replaced quality stuntmen and women.

Seeing Alien in the theaters for the first time was a real treat for me, mainly because this was my chance to experience what my parents did at my age. Entering the theater, and seeing a packed house was also a joy as I now know that there are plenty of fans out there who respect such a great film, old or new. Every now and then you need a good blast form the past to show you have far movies have fallen from the hay-day when artistic talent was a prized possession. Alien withstood the test of time and could very well have introduced a new generation of science fiction fans to one of the holy grails of the genre.