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PERFECT ORGANISM: Nordling At Last Dives Into ALIEN!


Nordling here.

First, sorry this final installment took so long.  I could give all sorts of reasons - life stuff, movie stuff, work stuff, but the fact is when I started this article I found myself thrown into a huge case of writer's block.  How in the hell can I write about ALIEN, one of my legitimate top ten films of all time?  I really felt (and still think) that I'd be doing this movie a great disservice just by attempting it.  In the end, I just armored up and dove into it.  If you've been reading this series so far and enjoying it, thank you and I appreciate you sticking through with me with it.

Since the release of PROMETHEUS, ALIEN has changed somewhat, especially with Ridley Scott's new ideas for the universe he helped create.  I do go into the new stuff a little bit, but in the end, ALIEN is its own thing, and I think it's unfair to both PROMETHEUS and ALIEN to go into much detail about it.  ALIEN stands on its own without PROMETHEUS to back it up, and I think you can take or leave PROMETHEUS when watching ALIEN.  I definitely wanted to avoid going into the ideas of PROMETHEUS and how it affects ALIEN because ALIEN, when all is said and done, really is a different movie - different in intention, and different in the end result.

Although it may not seem so, the science fiction/horror hybrid is fairly difficult to pull off successfully.  There’s a fine line that has to be walked – overplay the horror, and the larger ideas of science fiction get shoved to the wayside; overplay the sci-fi, and the movie simply ceases to be scary.  It would seem to be a chocolate/peanut butter mix but it’s actually quite rare when it works.  Movies like THE THING (both versions) or THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT manage to make it work, but for the most part, movies that try end up being SyFy fodder.

ALIEN is rare for that aspect alone – both the science fiction and the horror work equally well.  ALIEN has a lot of ideas, some of them larger than would seem to work in what is ostensibly a monster movie, but it carries them off perfectly.  And as a horror movie, ALIEN is one of the scariest ever made – its sexual imagery, coupled with its full-on embrace of some of the best gore imaginable, and what many consider to be the greatest movie monster of all time, make the movie relentless in its ability to frighten audiences the world over, many times over.  ALIEN balances the wonder and the terror in ways that most other movies don’t even dare to try.

ALIEN was released in May of 1979; three months later Francis Ford Coppola’s APOCALYPSE NOW, after many months of post-production, was theatrically released in August, and 1941, Steven Spielberg’s comedy about the days after Pearl Harbor, was released in December.  Through these three films one could chart the death of 1970s cinema.   Soon to come was the excess of the 1980s, the domination of the blockbuster, and the more thoughtful films of that era were slowly pushed aside in favor of spectacle and less personal filmmaking.

And yet, looking at the most successful films of the 1970s – THE GODFATHER, THE EXORCIST, JAWS, STAR WARS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, SUPERMAN THE MOVIE, all the way to ALIEN, you can see that perfect marriage of 1970s sensibility with genre filmmaking.  In fact, most of those movies that we remember from the 1970s that impacted filmmaking so profoundly were strictly speaking, genre films, like THE FRENCH CONNECTION or A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.  There’s a strange dichotomy involved with those movies – these films are for popular sensibilities but address deeper ideas and themes that before the 1970s weren’t commonly found in popular entertainment at the time.

ALIEN, in its way, is the most perfect of all those movies with how it melds the two – huge sets and simple but effective dialogue, big ideas with the most intimate character building, and intelligent themes with a thrill-ride finish.  ALIEN wasn’t the last film in the 1970s, but thematically, the argument could be made that it closed out the decade perfectly.  ALIEN on its surface may seem to be just another horror film – it’s inspired from movies like IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE! and the original THING – but Ridley Scott, along with the writers, the artists, and the producers who made it work, elevate the material to greatness.

So what makes ALIEN work so well, even all these years later?  It could be boiled down to one thing – passion.  Nothing in ALIEN is half-assed.  H. R. Giger’s creature and set design is unparalleled even today, and Giger even got his own hands dirty helping to build the many designs he created.  Ron Cobb’s beautiful work on the Nostromo is still practically an industry standard – the man knows how to build science fiction spaceships (although he was also inspired by the work of Chris Foss), and with the help of Roger Christian, the art director, Ridley Scott’s vision of a “used future” was fully realized.  Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett’s script may seem on the surface to be boiler-plate stuff, but they always had a passion for great artists and their work, and they helped to bring these great artists together to make ALIEN into the movie it became.

ALIEN feels real because of the “used future” aspects of its art design, and for the characters, which aren’t scientists or government officials for the most part, but just regular people.  I remember my father particularly embracing ALIEN for this aspect alone – so much of science fiction, up until STAR WARS, felt cold and antiseptic, but in ALIEN we get regular Joes who drink coffee and aren’t complicated people – they’re just there to do a job and go home.  The characters’ relationships with each other are just like all the other guys at the office – they’re friendly to each other, but they aren’t there to make friends, they’re there to haul their rig.  These “space truckers” give ALIEN that genuine weight of reality.  These guys are us.

I love how much of the dialogue overlaps in the opening scene.  One of the primary influences, for me, to ALIEN seems to be Robert Altman – how each of these characters feels organic and real.  Scott gave each of these seven crewmembers a backstory but they strictly don’t address it in the movie, and as a result these characters don’t feel like writer constructs but real people.  Each of these actors brings something special to their role – the way Ian Holm's Ash moves with purpose, even doing a strange jog-in-place as if to loosen some servos and motors, or the way Harry Dean Stanton's Brett casually rolls a joint.  I love how John Hurt's Kane is so eager to go explore some remote corner of the galaxy – you get the feeling that he’s the lone idealist of the crew, which makes what happens to him all the more tragic.  Even Dallas’s determination to go into the vent speaks of his guilt – he is the one who insisted that Kane come back aboard, after all, and just the resigned way he tells Ripley that he’s going in instead of her speaks volumes of his own culpability.

Ash is a fascinating character - is he motivated by his programming, by the Company, or is there something more sinister at work?  Ian Holm plays Ash not as a cold, emotionless robot, but something worse - someone trying, and failing, at human emotion and empathy.  "I can't lie to you about your chances, but... you have my sympathies."  Ash isn't just following orders to bring the alien home - he seems to be reveling in this creature's destruction of its crew.  "I admire its purity... a survivor, unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality."  Is this something that Ash aspires to, or something that he sees in humanity that he considers weak?  Holm plays Ash brilliantly, becoming the face of a very faceless Company, and in that face we see... nothing but disdain for the crew of the Nostromo.

Yaphet Kotto’s Parker was always an interesting character for me – he’s not a hero, he just finds himself put in that position because of the film’s events.  But this thing killed his best friend, and his captain, and he’ll go face-to-face with it if he has to.  In the beginning, Parker is griping about his pay, and that he want to “go home and party” and by the end he risks (and loses) his life trying to save another crewmember from the alien.  If any of the characters is said to have an arc, it could be Parker’s, and Yaphet Kotto plays him with fierce determination and self-effacing humor.  Sadly, Veronica Cartwright’s character is probably the weakest of the bunch – Ridley seems to just have her react to things (although Cartwright gets the most memorable blood-splatter of many a horror movie).  Of all the characters in ALIEN, she is mere fodder, but she also could be said to be the audience surrogate in the film.  But mostly, she’s just there to scream.

Then, of course, is Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver in her first major film role, and she carries herself believably and well.  She is forced into a position that she is unfamiliar with – Dallas and Kane are the superior officers, and she’s just third string, but she steps up when she has to.  She’s also the only one thinking clearly enough to not have Kane aboard her ship once he’s face-hugged – Ash, operating on higher Company orders, countermands her and brings him aboard.

If there’s one complaint about Sigourney’s performance, it comes from a script issue – looking for that damn cat when bad things start to go down.  It’s a common complaint among fans and critics that Ripley goes off looking for Jones while a monstrous alien is on board, threatening to jump out at any moment.  Certainly, it seems an inconvenient time to go looking for him, but I do think that it gives the audience something to empathize with in regards to Ripley – she’s no emotionless machine, unlike Ash, and she’s not a complete pragmatist, either.  It’s a crack in the façade as she decides to look for the unofficial 8th crewmember, and I think it makes her a richer character emotionally.  That said, even Ripley knows when to drop the cat and run when she sees the alien blocking her way into the shuttlecraft.

Weaver, of course, goes on to play Ripley in three other ALIEN films, and each time brings a different aspect to the character that we haven’t seen before.  But in ALIEN, she’s our first look at the character and she shows even then an inner strength and bravery that makes her character so iconic.  And she isn’t doing it to save the world, but the lives of her crew and for herself.  She’s not super-Ripley like she was in ALIENS, and she’s also at her most exposed.  I love how Weaver sings “Lucky Star” (the SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN version, and not Madonna’s song) as she preps the shuttle to jettison the alien.  She does it to calm her nerves, but the more she sings, the more her fear grows, and the melody becomes disjointed.  It’s a moment of vulnerability with Ripley that probably makes that character even richer in ALIEN than in the other movies.

Then there is the famous chestburster scene, the scene that sent many audience members reeling and running out of the theater, which seems almost tame by today’s standards, but only if you look at it outside of the movie.  In the movie, it still remains terrifying – Kane, so far in the movie (although we haven’t spent a whole lot of time with him awake) is a perfectly likable fellow, a man who still thinks of space as this wonderful place to explore and still hasn’t seen the nastier side of things.  And then, he gives birth, and while much of it is done with the magic of film editing, it’s the gaps that we fill in our minds that make this sequence even more terrifying.  At the time critics decried ALIEN’s use of “gratuitous” gore, but this scene is absolutely essential to the movie.  My favorite story on the ALIEN Anthology box set is about a theater owner telling Ridley Scott how ALIEN used to mess up his bathrooms something fierce until he went to the projectionist’s booth and edited the chestbursting scene right out.  Just imagining the horrified look on Ridley Scott’s face makes me smile – he must have laid into that theater owner tremendously.

There’s so much more to be said – Jerry Goldsmith’s score, for example, which is both rich and yet still terrifying, hinting at the infinite possibilities of this very dangerous universe, and yet keeping a true sense of adventure and even whimsy at times.  Even the marketing campaign is brilliant, suggesting far more than showing, and that iconic poster is still one of the best movie posters ever.  Even the tag line, “In space, no one can hear you scream” evokes wonder and throws down a challenge to those brave enough to see the movie.

What has always terrified me about ALIEN isn’t just the alien itself, although that is still frightening even all these years later.  No, ALIEN is the antithesis of movies like STAR WARS or CLOSE ENCOUNTERS or even 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.  There is nothing friendly out there.  In fact, the universe moves on its own, indifferent to humanity in any way, shape or form.  We are simply meat, or worse, eggs.  Even the Space Jockey suggests something greater than humanity – the ship itself doesn’t look like anything human could have designed it; all curves and no right angles, and PROMETHEUS notwithstanding, the Jockey looks decidedly alien.

The alien, as envisioned by O’Bannon, Shusett, and Giger, is truly a “perfect organism”.  Even looking at it full-on in the light of day, the alien seems… wrong.  It’s no accident that the work of H. P. Lovecraft is hugely influential to the feel of ALIEN, especially since one of Giger’s most well-known art books is called NECRONOMICON.  But even with Ash’s statement, the alien feels different in this film as opposed to all the others.  In ALIEN, it really does seem unstoppable, and if there’s any misgiving I have for ALIENS it’s that that movie makes this inspired creation a little less foreboding.  Looking at ALIEN now, and taking the films afterwards into account, there’s nothing about the alien that a pulse rifle can’t cure in a second or two, and that takes away some of the more scary aspects of the creature.  That’s not disparaging ALIENS in any way, and it’s just the law of horror movies in effect – the more of the monster we see, the less frightening it becomes.

So it’s to Ridley Scott’s immense credit (and that of the editors, Terry Rawlings and Peter Weatherley) that in ALIEN we barely see it at all, except in very fleeting edits.  Instead, our minds fill the spaces that the movie refuses to fill, and the alien becomes that much more horrifying in retrospect.  It’s almost as if the movie camera itself is too frightened to look directly at it.  Derek Vanlint’s stunning cinematography (sadly, he passed away in 2010) gives ALIEN the scope and grandeur that makes the film’s universe that much more real and solid.

Of course, Ridley Scott revisited this universe in PROMETHEUS, but while I had issues with that movie, I welcomed Scott’s return to it.  That said, ALIEN is just flat-out a better movie – unlike PROMETHEUS, which admittedly has a larger story to tell, ALIEN’s simplicity remains its strongest facet.  This is a movie geared to entertain and perhaps frighten, and larger questions about the universe and humanity and even corporate malfeasance remain strictly in the background.  That gives those ideas a much bigger stage, oddly enough – because they aren’t specifically addressed, that gives them room to play in the mind of the audience.  ALIEN also has the distinct advantage of having more of a clarity of purpose than PROMETHEUS; no matter how much we may want to stop and admire the flowers on the side of the road, we still have to keep moving.  Even if you don’t buy into Ridley Scott’s philosophy about who and what the Space Jockey is, it doesn’t really matter to ALIEN as a movie.  It still works remarkably well, and if you don’t want to carry the ideas of PROMETHEUS over to this movie, you don’t have to. 

In fact, ALIEN works better if you don’t.  It’s still a very scary movie, even after all these years have passed and filmmakers young and old have strip-mined it of its ideas and its scare tactics.  It sounds reductive to call it a “haunted house in space” movie, but it’s exactly what it is and all those ideas thrown around just give the movie a more solid footing in reality.  ALIEN feels like it could happen – our future and ALIEN’s depiction of it still feel somewhat plausible.  In a universe where a Company sends its blue-collar workers to die in some back-alley world just to get a bioweapon, it feels very plausible.

ALIEN is my favorite of the series – unlike the other films, which inevitably shrink that universe down a little bit each time, ALIEN feels mythic.  It’s a simple story, but Ridley Scott, Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett, H. R. Giger, the many artists and set designers, the wonderful score by Jerry Goldsmith – they all bring their considerable talents to the story and the result feels far bigger than what it appears to be on paper.  Like STAR WARS or 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY before it, ALIEN shows us just enough to intrigue us and get us asking questions, and as the best storytellers know, it’s the questions that often have more value than their answers. 

I prefer the theatrical release to the director’s cut (I don’t have much use for the added scenes, and I think the Dallas scene towards the end is a bit perfunctory) because the theatrical eases us out of our defenses before it decides to stick in the knife, and even though it’s a little slow the tension increases to the point that the movie feels like the old story about putting a frog in slowly heated water – by the time it’s brought to a boil, we’re past the point that we can do anything about it.  ALIEN still has an undeniable power, 33 years later, and remains just as terrifying and relevant.

Nordling, out.  Follow me on Twitter!

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Readers Talkback
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  • July 8, 2012, 4:45 p.m. CST

    This movie is great

    by Jackson

  • July 8, 2012, 4:46 p.m. CST

    My favourite too

    by Industrious Angel

    As good as Aliens is, Alien was truly unique, a real landmark in filmmaking.

  • July 8, 2012, 4:48 p.m. CST

    nice job, Nordling

    by murray_hamilton

    solid write-ups for each installment

  • July 8, 2012, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Cartwright has never been hotter

    by john

  • July 8, 2012, 4:54 p.m. CST

    I have never seen this entire movie.

    by MisterE

    For whatever reason, I've never seen all of "Alien". I've seen Aliens many times, A3 a few times, and A4 once. I need to fix that problem.

  • July 8, 2012, 4:55 p.m. CST


    by Hey_Kobe_Tell_Me_How_My_Ass_Tastes

    Gonna miss the big lug

  • July 8, 2012, 4:57 p.m. CST

    always liked that quick shot of Ash jogging in place - so weird

    by murray_hamilton

    great performance from Holm

  • Admitting this makes the brilliance of ALIEN/ALIENS that much more enjoyable.

  • July 8, 2012, 4:58 p.m. CST

    Oh, and great write-up, Nordling.

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    Well done.

  • July 8, 2012, 4:59 p.m. CST

    Goodbye, Ernest Borgnine

    by Seven_of_Borgnine

    :( PS - Alien is in my top ten as well.

  • July 8, 2012, 5 p.m. CST


    by Industrious Angel

    One thing you didn't mention, Nordling: the Soundtrack. It's one of the best (if not simply the best) out there - the use of those rhythmic devices like breath, heartbeats, beeps, dripping water - it's rarely in the foreground but permeates "Alien" from start to nearly the end when we finally get a piece of peace. And another big plus in my book: Dark darkness. Sure, there is Ridley Scott's trademark blue backlight in some scenes but most important scenes where it's dark are really dark. Most filmmakers decide that darkness has to be lit very brightly for filming purposes (anyone remember Shelob's lair?) but in Alien, you're challenged to discern anything along with the protagonists. Another film that got this right was "The Descent" btw.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:01 p.m. CST

    I agree with just about every word of this recap

    by Seven_of_Borgnine

    But I always go "huh?" when Ash tries to kill (?) Ripley with a rolled-up magazine. I know he's a weird unpredictable robot, but why doesn't he just strangle her or something?

  • July 8, 2012, 5:06 p.m. CST

    7 of borg9 - miy condolences and yeah, the magazine scene was just stupid

    by Hey_Kobe_Tell_Me_How_My_Ass_Tastes

    must have been an inside joke but the movie was so great it can overcome such minor lapses into stupidity

  • July 8, 2012, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Completely about what Aliens did to the Alien.

    by MapMan

    They became too easy to kill in Aliens. Shoot them. Burn them up. Run them over. Hell, a shotgun to the mouth will take care of them. They became a lot less scary in Aliens and all the films afterward.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:07 p.m. CST

    Borgnine is dead?? another legend passes away. RIP

    by atlatl

  • July 8, 2012, 5:10 p.m. CST

    Aliens didn't do anything to the alien

    by Turd_Is_Floating_Underneath_The_Gravy

    This myth continues to persist, and probably will persist for those who only see what they want to see, and don't use reason or logic. The alien in Alien could have easily been killed by gunfire.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:11 p.m. CST

    Seven of Borgnine - it was attempted rape

    by BenBraddock

    According to Sir Ridley, Ash wasn't in possession of a penis, yet he may have been in possession of a libido.. this was basically as close to raping Ripley as he could get. Think Scott put it down to Ash being a very advanced robot, "He's basically a replicant" was his quote, which I found very interesting.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:12 p.m. CST


    by Industrious Angel

    I was always under the impression that Ash tried to cover his tracks, maybe even let it look like a heart attack or accident.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:15 p.m. CST


    by reni

    Great work, man! I've watched Alien a lot recently. No doubt that Parker has a great character arc. He goes from selfish, greedy to protector and hero... We talked about this before in talkbacks but I do wonder how close the film makers came to letting Parker live at the end...? What a great actor Kotto is... Especially in his prime Blue Collar/Alien period!

  • July 8, 2012, 5:16 p.m. CST

    benbraddock? are you fookin serious? aww hael naw

    by Hey_Kobe_Tell_Me_How_My_Ass_Tastes

    Ridley likes to shit all over himself when it comes to replicants

  • July 8, 2012, 5:21 p.m. CST

    A joint?

    by phifty2

    I thought he just rolled his own cigarettes.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Er... OK

    by Seven_of_Borgnine

    but it was still really weird, in a movie full of weird things. It did succeed in being disturbing, I suppose.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:24 p.m. CST

    Watched it again right after Prometheus

    by Mockingbuddha

    I liked Prometheus much more than I thought I would, but Alien continues to be one of the best. I love when I'm watching LOTR with the kids and going, "Hey thats that gross milk robot that tried to kill Ripley with a magazine!" or when we're watching Hellboy, "Hey that's the guy that had that bloody alien bust out of his chest!" I was sad that there was no mention of Moebius in this write up though. He was only in on the design stages briefly, but you can see so much of his influence on the Nostromo set designs. Read some of his comics and then watch Alien. There is a lot of overlap.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:24 p.m. CST

    Yeah, it's on the Director's Cut commentary!

    by BenBraddock

  • July 8, 2012, 5:26 p.m. CST

    And I wouldn't write off Lambert.

    by phifty2

    If you like the real world and everyday people aspect of the film then her character is the most believable. She didn't sign on for this, has no idea why this is happening and is scared shitless the entire second half of the film. She wants to survive, like the others, but just doesn't have it in her to do much about it.

  • just before it descends to pop Harry Dean Stanton. Every time I watch the movie, the shot shocks me anew ! It doesn't draw attention to itself and on realising what you're looking at you get a jolt of fear... brilliantly done.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Also love the shot when they remove Kane's helmet

    by BenBraddock

    and the face-hugger is revealed. It tightens it's grip around Kane's throat with its tail, seemingly almost instinctively, which gives the scene an incredible realism. Brilliant attention to detail.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:36 p.m. CST

    "In ALIEN, it really does seem unstoppable..."

    by phifty2

    No. I love Alien but no. In Alien it seems you could throw something in another corner to distract it then just run by it. They just seemed more viscous and unstoppable in ALIENS. We could argue all day, we could say one was a drone/worker and the others were warriors but at the end of the day put me on the Nostromo with a rusty sword rather than LV-426 with a squad of Marines and infinite ammo. But I guess that's what's great about film. We each take away something different from the same source.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:37 p.m. CST

    Nordling great piece you've written...

    by Fletch Gannon

    You've covered all the bases regarding 'Alien' as a movie as well as how it fits into 70's cinema. I've enjoyed all your articles regarding the Alien series and look forward to what you'll tackle next!

  • July 8, 2012, 5:37 p.m. CST

    Mermaid Man would have maid mincemeat of the alien

    by thelordofhell

    R.I.P. Ernest Borgnine

  • July 8, 2012, 5:42 p.m. CST

    "Hell, a shotgun to the mouth will take care of them."

    by phifty2

    You say that like you're talking about a slingshot loaded with a gummy bear. Yeah a shotgun to the mouth will ruin your fucking day. I don't care what planet your from. You guys act like they threw everything they could at the creature in Alien and it just kept on a coming. IT NEVER got hit with anything until the grapple gun at the end.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:49 p.m. CST


    by phifty2

    Anyway, i'm sure if someone peppered the thing with 10 mm explosive tip caseless rounds it would have died. The whole point is they had nothing to fight it with and didn't know what they were up against. In the sequel they had everything to fight it with and underestimated that they were up against.

  • I can watch Alien without any of the ideas presented in Prometheus crossing my mind. Had EITHER of the principal writers (O'Bannon or Shusett) had a hand in the writing, I would have considered it unchangeable canon. But Lindelof and Spaights are simply fans who got a chance to add a side story to the franchise, and I can treat Prometheus as fanfic.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:50 p.m. CST


    by Seth_Isurus

    He was trying to get Ripley to fellate him, but because he was a robot he didn't have genitals. No really. It's all covered in the DVD commentary.

  • July 8, 2012, 5:54 p.m. CST

    Rolled up magazine

    by Raymond Shaw

    Hey, a rolled up magazine was good enough for Jason Bourne.

  • You could say they "feel" rather than "perceive".

  • July 8, 2012, 6:02 p.m. CST

    It's been said, but the rolled up magazine was face rape

    by D.Vader

    In a movie with alien face rape, it was time for the robot to attempt some face rape of his own. Sexual undertones, good sir, that is why he attempts to choke her with a magazine.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:08 p.m. CST

    Prometheus doesn't do anything to Alien

    by D.Vader

    Other than show you what that Space Jockey looks like. Completely separate story.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:11 p.m. CST


    by kwisatzhaderach

    Not only was Prometheus fanfic but shitty fanfic at that. Lindelof took everything that was mysterious and cool about the Space Jockey and totally fucked it. Way to go asswipe.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:12 p.m. CST

    I wish I had never seen Prometheus.

    by Swoomustdie

    Doesn't change how much I love Alien or Aliens, but I hate the fact that rubbish will be considered canon for it's universe.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:14 p.m. CST

    Great job-- and there's a point I'd like to expand on a bit.

    by chifforobe

    "That gives those ideas a much bigger stage, oddly enough – because they aren’t specifically addressed, that gives them room to play in the mind of the audience." This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It makes the world of a story feel bigger when the characters reference events that happened in the past or are happening elsewhere in this same world. In the first 'Star Wars'-- the universe you imagine while the characters sit in dusty little rooms is actually much more vast and spectacular than the one on display in subsequent films (think about the part when Luke says, "not unless you can alter time... or teleport me off this rock"--or creatures never shown, like the Wamprat; it's almost a running gag that we're teased with the endless possibilities of this galaxy). It's a fantastic device, and not only has it been completely forgotten in contemporary films, but its been misinterpreted by aging filmmakers as an invitation to go back and fill the gaps with uninspired caulk. It's bad enough when the same director makes this mistake, but I read years ago that James Cameron was considering a 'Forbidden Planet' prequel. Imagine a CG reveal of the mysterious Krell, or the crew of the Bellerophon being killed off by what we already know is a CG Id Monster. Needless to say this would be a grotesque, misguided, and perfectly likely development.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:19 p.m. CST

    Re: PROMETHEUS — Interesting 1987 quote from Lance Henriksen.

    by justmyluck

    *With ALIENS, there was some question regarding how to present Bishop to the audience, **Jim [Cameron] and I talked for a month on the phone—he was already in London—to try to figure out the best way to introduce Bishop,** Henrikson explains. **We had an idea about him being alone, while everyone else was in hypersleep, tending to meters and buttons and doing a thousand, thousand push-ups. You see this lonely figure in this ship by himself. We realized that doesn't do much storywise, and then we came up with the knife.** - Starlog #121 Wonder if Fassbender's *David* into came about from Cameron and Scott's discussions when they were considering a joint ALIEN project. People generally like that sequence; it would make sense.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:23 p.m. CST

    maybe she loved her little cat

    by Rupee88

    And didn't want it out there to get eaten by the Alien. But yeah maybe not the best time to look for it. I do get why she went back to get it though. And yeah, awesome movie...10x better than Alien and 10000x better than Prometheus.

  • Damn shame.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:28 p.m. CST

    Question about facehugger in Alien....

    by cock smoker

    When Ash calls them down to the med lab and they are looking for the face hugger after it comes off Kane, the face hugger falls from the ceiling and onto Ripley. Its clearly dead at that point. My question is how did it get up there? I've always assumed face huggera died once they finished delivering their "loads". Did Ash put it up there? After seeing this move 50+ times in last 25 years I'm still stuck on this.

  • They were already part of the story before he even came aboard. It's like blaming X3 on Ratner, despite the fact he showed up after everything had already went to shit.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:30 p.m. CST

    And the Jockey's are the least of Prometheus' problems.

    by Shermdawg

  • July 8, 2012, 6:30 p.m. CST

    The facehugger just crawls into a dark corner and dies

    by D.Vader

  • July 8, 2012, 6:32 p.m. CST

    I WILL blame X3 on Ratner

    by D.Vader

    Who takes ALL the credit for that movie. So I will give him the blame. He had the ability to have the Pheonix flame up at the end or extend Pyro and Iceman's fight. The script sucked, that's for sure, but if he wants to act like the savior of the X-films, I'll make him the scapegoat too.

  • Tom Rothman and Halle Berry.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:40 p.m. CST

    I also blame screenwriter Simon Kinberg

    by D.Vader

    Who I think is a shit screenwriter.

  • Most probably have Prometheus above Alien 3 but I love the gritty darkness of 3 and it holds up from beginnning to end. Unlike the abortion that was the final 45 minutes of Prometheus.

  • Alien is a film that took me a while to like. I actually disliked it when I was younger, I like it more now that I'm older.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:41 p.m. CST

    Your blame is misguided, then.

    by Shermdawg

  • you know it's true. And Aliens was a pretty good movie but just too many flaws to make it truly great. It was intense when it was released though..remember seeing it at the theater.

  • How about Star Wars or Indiana Jones next?

  • July 8, 2012, 6:44 p.m. CST


    by Nordling

    Noted and updated. Thanks!

  • July 8, 2012, 6:47 p.m. CST

    Great series of articles

    by Seth_Isurus

    This has been a fantastic series of articles - really enjoyed reading them. It's a pity they weren't published before Prometheus hit theaters, as the debate about that movie has badly cluttered the talkbacks. These articles deserved a better caliber of comments.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:47 p.m. CST

    You sure about that, shermdawg?

    by D.Vader

    You believe Ratner actually thought he had filmed an exciting fight scene between Pyro and Iceman? Or that the screenwriters made the right choice in having Magneto abandon Mystique?

  • July 8, 2012, 6:53 p.m. CST

    I couldn't care less what Ratner thinks.

    by Shermdawg

    Rothman was the one running that production, and dictating what the story should be.

  • July 8, 2012, 6:56 p.m. CST

    Great series of articles

    by JAGUART

    Thank you Nordling!

  • It's all on the producer?

  • July 8, 2012, 7:06 p.m. CST

    Incredible score by Jerry Goldsmith

    by Raptor Jesus

    One of his best, and that's saying A LOT. Oh, and I would go back for the cat, too.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:07 p.m. CST

    I'd go back for the cat too

    by D.Vader

  • He certainly did in terms of its box office. Good job handicapping its take with an R-rating.....when its content didn't even warrant one. Also, I love the fact that they brought Lindelof aboard to supposedly remove all facehuggers and xenomorphs and whatnot from the script so it could "stand on its own" yet the whole second half is a retread of Alien with worse creature designs. It's like, even though they wanted to tell a new story, someone was too afraid to not include familiar elements, because it would piss off the fans somehow. Dunno where to place the blame on that, Ridley or Rothman. Ridley has made it clear in interviews he does all he can to avoid conflict, so he's probably just as guilty in not talking that decision down. If it was Rothman, it's funny he's actually taking an interest in appeasing the fans now......especially after X3 and the "we already got their money" statements. Whatever the case, including the xenomorph in Prometheus and listening to the outcries of giving the film an R-rating when there was no R-rated imagery bit Fox in the ass.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:10 p.m. CST

    Saw it the other night, and noticed when Ash got his head knocked off

    by Crimson Dynamo

    he was doing 1960's style "robot hands"

  • Nope. Not on X3. The production was doomed the moment Rothman let Berry run Singer off to Warner Bros. abandoning his X3-X4 doubleshot. Vaughn bolting, and later criticizing the film didn't help matters much either.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:15 p.m. CST

    chifforobe is onto something...

    by patrick wilson

    so true that "uninspired caulk" line. i remember a warren magazine dedicated exclusively to A L I E N and it had all sorts of speculation beyond the movie, and posited that the aliens were bioweapons for the space jockeys. but it also speculated that the aliens use their tails for communication. would aliens have been as intense with scenes of their tails whipping around like signal flags? hmmm....three tail whips to a fellow alien, with the translation "get 'em!" heh.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:19 p.m. CST

    audience reaction

    by patrick wilson

    I was eleven when i saw it in '79. even through my own fear, i have never forgotten the freaked out nervous laughter when decap ash opens his eyes and speaks to them. that audience didn't know what was coming next...

  • I think it has a bit, at least the first half of Alien that deals with the landing and exploration of the derelict ship. Prometheus has definitely taken some of the oomph out of the original Alien. It is still a great film though. I recently watched the director's cut after not having seen it for awhile, and while I agree with Nordling that the theatrical cut of Alien is still the best, I really enjoyed the director's cut much more than I have in the past. Great write up though Nordling. I think you made an interesting observation: "ALIEN wasn’t the last film in the 1970s, but thematically, the argument could be made that it closed out the decade perfectly." I agree with this notion, but I feel that it wasn't Alien that started this pattern. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) A L I E N (1979) TOTAL RECALL (1990) THE MATRIX (1999) AVATAR (2009)

  • July 8, 2012, 7:34 p.m. CST

    When Ash is describing the Alien; his admiration...

    by Logan_1973

    It sounds like he is describing himself, which is where his admiration comes from. I think Ash has the best arc out of everyone in the movie.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:43 p.m. CST

    Prometheus doesnt do anything to Alien

    by shane peterson

    because it's not even the same space jockey....and we dont even know if it's the same species. Compare the massive size of the original jockey from Alien to the Engineers in prometheus. Not even close to the same height and bulk. Prometheus is just set in the same universe with some of the same general tech and Weyland corp.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:43 p.m. CST

    The Dallas scene at the end is not perfunctory

    by kellyman1970

    That scene changes the concept of the creatures behavior. If we only know the creature to kill for fun (aggression) that makes the creature more like a man (man is the only creature that kills for fun). If it captures for pro creation, then its an offensive or natural behavior. The aliens behavior in "Aliens" does not count. The reveal of this behavior in "Aliens" is an invalid argument because "Aliens" is a different movie or as you put it, "In the end, Alien is it's own thing". PS. Id love to hear your thoughts on the subtext of the films "sexual imagery". Everyone always runs around talking about the films sexual undertones in its design but hardly anyone understands and can explain its purpose.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:43 p.m. CST

    except for that BS deacon alien at the very end

    by shane peterson

    complete fan service BS.

  • A L I E N is the terror you would feel if being stalked by a predatory animal while alone in the woods. ALIENS is "war terror" that a soldier and his comrades might feel waiting for the enemy to come up over the hill, charging towards their line of defense. Alien is more frightening, more terrifying, but Aliens is more intense and adrenaline pumping. Different approaches to sci-fi/horror, but still both sci-fi/horror movies.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:54 p.m. CST

    What's there to say?

    by Yelsaeb

    Alien is a perfect movie.

  • July 8, 2012, 7:57 p.m. CST

    Regarding HP Lovecraft

    by 6000_little_griglets

    I'd never associated Alien with Lovecraft before... the connection seems to come up a lot in recent Alien related articles... is this a new thing or did i miss (which is highly possible) something? Apart from the word Necronomicon, has Giger or anybody else associated with the production stated matter of factly that Lovecraft was an influence on Alien? i'm genuinely curious... if it was a direct influence i really have no issue; personally i never associated the two, that's all. I guess both universes are cold and in both universes man is insignificant, but Lovecraft's universe struck me as touched by magic and myth, something i never got from Alien.

  • Alien and Aliens had both great world building and compelling drama driving their narratives. That is the primary fail of Prometheus. Not even so much the logic holes and characters doing stupid things or dying stupid deaths, but the fact that while some of the grand concepts were interesting (ancient alien space gods, man becoming god-like by making androids), it all just wasn't very compelling like Scott's original film.

  • Giger's sexually suggestive designs in his own art and his concepts for ALIEN don't have a story purpose, but they do give phallic (e.g. the alien's head) and vaginal (e.g., derelict's orifices) imagery a dark, cold, bleak, and bio-mechanical treatment *intended* to provoke a psychological response in the surrealist mode. As for plot *purposes*, feminists have read suggestions of the male pregnancy (chestburster), technology as male birth (the Nostromo as male womb — its throbbing heartbeat sounds), the *perfect organism* alien as rapist (its tail going between Lambert's legs), Ash as rapist (rolled *tube* of magazines in Ripley's mouth, Ash excreting semen-like milk). Isn't that enough?

  • July 8, 2012, 8:07 p.m. CST

    Letting nothing happen

    by Boxcutter

    Dept. of the Bleeding Obvious I know, but here goes: the suspense in Alien is the real killer. Things just unfold at a certain pace. Even the sequel kept us "waiting" for about an hour before all hell let loose. The original just primes us beautifully for about 35-40 minutes, and even after the money scenes of the face hugger and the chestburster, Ridley still has the temerity to have a false scare with the motion detector and the cat before Brett goes looking for it...for FIVE whole minutes. Nothing but him, his steps, his PoV and the cavernous cargo holds of the ship and its sounds and the echoes of his calls and the water plopping from the chains. One of my favourite sequences ever - where nothing happens and the coathanger in your shoulder blades gets tighter and tighter. A B-movie elevated to art.

  • July 8, 2012, 8:25 p.m. CST

    I liked PROMETHEUS!

    by Chris Moody

    Seriously...I don't understand the bitching about this film. It is fantastic!

  • July 8, 2012, 8:28 p.m. CST

    ernest borgnine dead 1917 - 2012

    by julia

  • July 8, 2012, 8:29 p.m. CST

    The 'Invincible' Alien

    by wrath 4771

    One of the talkbackers above nailed it with the alien - it was never indestructible, but the crew basically was blindfolded and had one arm tied behind their back when it came to fighting the creature. They had no weapons except a flamethrower and there was the very real danger of the alien burning a hole through the hull. How were they going to stop the creature? I think it's one of the many facets of the film that made it so brilliant.

  • July 8, 2012, 8:37 p.m. CST

    I like Prometheus too, Chhrrrisssm

    by D.Vader

    Its flawed but far from the "total piece of shit" exaggeration most talkbackers spew. Movies have to be perfect or they're total shit in most talkbackers' eyes. There is no inbetween.

  • Nordling is right. Prometheus is far more than just a haunted house in space. It's very subject matter is far more complicated than just a monster movie. It didn't open number one but was still one of the best openings for an R picture in a long time.

  • July 8, 2012, 8:43 p.m. CST

    Good "explanation" about PROMETHEUS:

    by Chris Moody Spoilers, of course.

  • July 8, 2012, 8:49 p.m. CST

    Alien is great in part due to "luck"

    by MrD

    Go back and look at some of the things Scott and O'Bannon wanted to do. An ending with the Alien touching itself, or the Alien being the one to give the "sign off" using Ripley's voice. So many ways this could have gone off the rails if the filmmakers were allowed to do ALL they wanted. And this is far from a perfect film - Ash as a robot is weird twist to toss in so late in the film with no forshadowing, or even hints that such androids exist in that universe. Or the Alien catching some Zs in the escape pod giving Ripley all the time in the world to slo-mo herself into a space suit (while wearing the tiniest panties ever). There are without question some B-movie bullshit that would fall apart IF you wanted to pick the film apart. But where Prometheus begs you to take it seriously, and so deserves such dissection, the beatiful desig and cinematography of the film suck you into that world, and we take it all without question. That's great filmmaking.

  • July 8, 2012, 9:03 p.m. CST

    RIP, Ernest Borgnine

    by Gary Makin

  • July 8, 2012, 9:04 p.m. CST

    by justmyluck

  • And I would have gone back for the cat. I went back into a house containing a raged-out, coked-up, knife-wielding step-father for my cat. Pretty sure I would do the same in the face of an Alien, also.

  • July 8, 2012, 9:15 p.m. CST

    Why Ripley went back for the cat...

    by phifty2

    We see Ripley gathering ration kits. We all know most ration kits contain peanut butter. We all know it's a long trip to earth. Cat+peanut butter+lonely, bored young woman... I think we can put this topic to rest.

  • July 8, 2012, 9:23 p.m. CST

    Shermdawg, from the mouth of Ratner himself...

    by D.Vader

    "Rgirvan44: Tom Rothman: good boss? "The best. He backed me 100%. The producers were questioning some of my ideas, and he listened to both sides and at the end of the day deferred to me. Which is why they're still on the franchise and I'm not - just joking. He really cares about X-Men and movies in general, and is a great boss to have when your back is against the wall." "

  • July 8, 2012, 9:24 p.m. CST

    Scott said it best...

    by AMchannelEpicwish@Youtube

    something along the lines..."Its a "B" film made with "A" craftsmanship." I find it to be a simple story, made and told well. don't think it has any great "ideas" and deeper meanings. Scott himself seems to do certain things in the film because "it looked good" to him. The oxygen bursts and flashing lights in the engine room. or dripping water. It's well acted and well made. Lets leave it at that.

  • But it happens so fast, you really have to slow it down to catch them.

  • July 8, 2012, 9:39 p.m. CST

    And once more, Netflix sucks donkey balls...

    by Raptor Jesus

    Just checked, they do NOT have the blu ray edition of Alien. Cheap-ass motherfuckers.

  • July 8, 2012, 9:48 p.m. CST

    I didn't see A L I E N until I was 14-15...

    by SA_Rhyno

    ...I was 8 when it was release but I remember the TEASER for it scared the shit out of me. The eerie music, the jet back screen with the A L I E N coming into the scene... When I did finally see it, it scared me so bad I wished I would have waited another 6-7 years. It is still one of the most organically frightening movies I have ever seen.

  • July 8, 2012, 9:50 p.m. CST

    Prometheus, the perfect turd.

    by SunTzu77

  • July 8, 2012, 10:06 p.m. CST

    Disagree Nordling on ending cocoon scene..

    by darthwaz1

    It works better in it's full deleted scene form for sure, but it adds a terrifying layer to the movie that the alien is going to use them to reproduce. Unlike any movie that preceded it, the monster wasn't only going to kill them, but use them as hosts. The 2nd movie took that one scene and made a whole movie around it.

  • July 8, 2012, 10:10 p.m. CST


    by revhdm

    Awesome articles to read! Really enjoyed them. Thanks!!!

  • July 8, 2012, 10:16 p.m. CST

    Production and creature design has never...

    by jimmy_009

    ..been topped to this day. I can't even imagine what seeing this in '79 must have been like. Just completely rethought the future, and it has yet to be topped. Perfect is right.

  • I mean he frickin' ordered Scott Summers death when Singer cast Marsden in Returns. He sided with his Oscar winning it girl instead of the guy helming the franchise. Ratner can say anything he wishes about X3, but at the end of the day all he ever was, was a last minute hired gun with very little input on a film that was already written and fucked beyond repair.

  • July 8, 2012, 10:23 p.m. CST


    by Lee harmon

    Was and still the best suspence / horror movie of all time.

  • July 8, 2012, 10:25 p.m. CST

    Rolled up magazine

    by tom_quinn

    The sequence when Ash tries to kill Ripley with the magazine is really interesting. Scott has alluded it to the fact that it is a type of rape scene - obviously more thematic than literal. He's actually using a rolled up porn mag, and you'll notice there are nude pin ups hanging behind them. There is a great 70's feminist overtone to Alien and that scene is probably the most on the nose, but adds a great dimension to the film. It's great because we're still talking about it now, trying to figure out what it means, versus Prometheus which is TELLING us it has big ideas, that are really not that big at all. Or even ideas. Or even well written. The only thing we'll be trying to figure out in 30 years will be how that script got greenlit.

  • July 8, 2012, 10:25 p.m. CST

    Who lhas not seen this movie

    by Lee harmon

    Who are you and where have you been for the last 30 years.

  • July 8, 2012, 10:37 p.m. CST

    The Alien is still THE most frightening movie monster ever.

    by Clavius

    End of story. I've seen plenty of sci-fi, horror etc, and there's been a lot of damn fine work done in the creation of beasties to scare the bejesus out of me. But for my money, they have yet to create anything so viscerally realistic and as utterly terrifying as Scott's Alien. The damn thing looks as if Ridley Scott travelled into the depths of Hell itself and asked Satan if he could kindly conjure up the nastiest creature at his disposal to him use for the duration of the shoot. And worse yet, Satan was glad to be rid of it if only for a short time. THAT'S how mother fucking scary the ALIEN still is to me. When I was a kid, not long after having seen the first ALIEN film, I vividly remember having this surreal nightmare about being trapped in a swimming pool with one of them and woke up the next morning in a pool of urine. Flash forward to 1987 and I'm watching ALIENS. I'm sitting there during the scene where poor Newt is up to her neck in that sewer and suddenly a Xenomorph pops up behind her. I nearly shit myself.

  • D.: so when does this happen? The only scenes I can say needed the "special edition" touches are the opening with the "invisible coffee mug" by the computer monitor (that mysteriously appears when the monitor activates) and when Ripley is approaching the Narcissus the second time (after she couldn't shut down the self-destruct sequence) there is a cool steady cam shot approaching the ladder well and you can see the camera tracks on the floor.

  • July 8, 2012, 10:40 p.m. CST

    Oh yeah.. one more

    by Monroville

    A REALLY big one: when the Nostromo is landing, you can see the hydraulic arm lowering the model down. Never understood why Fox or Ridley never thought about using CG to erase something that obvious.

  • July 8, 2012, 10:42 p.m. CST

    One thing I love about Ridley's Alien..

    by Aidil_Afham that motherfucker is slow and creepy. Not jumping and crawling on walls, but hiding and moving silently. That scene where its hanging by the chains still scares the hell outta me. And Lambert is more than a screaming victim actually. I love that conflict with Ripley, that slap she gave was real. And from what I watched in the bonus scene, the crew didn't anticipate the chest burster scene with the explosion of blood, so that shocked look was genuine, particularly with Veronica Cartwright's scream and slipping all over the blood. She's a pilot (I think) and the xenomorph is right out of her element, so understandably, she couldn't handle it.

  • I hate that little metal armature you can always see under the chest-burster, plus the obvious square shape of the device under Caine's shirt when he's flailing. I also hate that awkward jump-cut between the fake-Ian-Holm-decapitated-head and the real one. It never works for me. And I totally agree about the Director's Cut -- I like some of the shorter edits Ridley's done, but the restored signal sequence (with the less scary sound effects from the original) and the Dallas-Egg scene are crap. Sometimes I wish I could watch it for the first time all over again, but on a standard release print back in 1979.

  • But then again, I'm not a fucking asshole who wants every movie to revitalize their childhood memories for them. So that certainly helps.

  • July 8, 2012, 11:06 p.m. CST

    I never got the "unstoppable" gripe

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    It was just dangerous because they were space truckers with crappy weapons. Hell, Parker thought he could punch it out. Aliens doesn't lessen anything.

  • July 8, 2012, 11:08 p.m. CST

    Lovecraft nonsense again...

    by Chairman_Kaga

    "It’s no accident that the work of H. P. Lovecraft is hugely influential to the feel of ALIEN" Nordling mentioned this same hollow assertion in the Aliens column. "The one drawback to how the aliens are portrayed in ALIENS is that while in the first film the alien seems almost indestructible, one of Lovecraft’s Elder Gods brought to terrifying life, in ALIENS they are simply cannon fodder. " Lovecraft did not write about "Elder Gods" that is a concept created by Derleth, ignoring core elements of Lovecraft's writings, after Lovecraft's death while he set up Arkham House. If anything O'Bannon was barely influenced by Lovercraft in his original concepts for the alien and the pyramid. Hugely influential works on Alien are more like Forbidden Planet, The Thing from Another World, Planet of the Vampires, and most obviously It! The Terror from Beyond Space.

  • July 8, 2012, 11:15 p.m. CST

    @ justmyluck re: sexual imagery

    by kellyman1970

    Justmyluck, you are right about what the sexual imagery is in the film (obvious to those who look for it). Where you are wrong is in saying it serves no purpose. It does. It creates the visual environment that the (or a) general audiences subconscious is reacting to (regardless of the artist or inspiration). Although the films characters have no correlation or reaction to the "sexual imagery", the audience does. the question is to you sir, what is its purpose? What does it do to the viewer?

  • July 8, 2012, 11:26 p.m. CST

    The sexual imagery is obviously...

    by Chris Moody

    ...about the creation of life. Sperm just wants to get to an egg. Period. Why? How does it know what to do? It just does. As they said in JURASSIC PARK, "Life will make a way." The imagery was supposed to show how life fights to live and procreate (unless you are an abortionist or homosexual).

  • July 8, 2012, 11:40 p.m. CST

    "revitalize [my] childhood memories"

    by Swoomustdie

    I just wanted a good movie, which I didn't get. I didn't get a bad movie either, just an average sci-fi movie with some great ideas and even larger plot-holes that was summer fun and nothing more. If he makes a sequel will I see it? Absolutely. Just because he didn't get it this time, Scott's a guy with enough talent that he could crush it in the sequel.

  • July 9, 2012, midnight CST

    The Lovecraft influences and indestructibility

    by Monroville

    The Lovecraft elements come out of the basic themes that are in a lot of Lovecraft's works: the idea of what would a true extraterrestrial would be like? His point of view was: if aliens truly existed and had the capability of traveling to earth, they would be so alien that to see or hear them could possibly drive a human insane. His stories dealt with things 100s of 1000s of years old, and things that were slimy, grey and as non-human as possible (tentacles or fish related creatures, with malleable limbs). So what do we get in ALIEN? A derelict with no sharp angles with an appearance of decaying sexual organs (another phobia of Lovecraft was his fear of women, or particularly their sexual organs) containing a creature that is incomprehensible to man, and exists to rape humans for it's very existence. In fact, I would argue that the best Lovecraft movies out there are films that have nothing directly to do with him (ALIEN, THE THING, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE FOG). The other issue of indestructibility does come from the crew's predicament (acid blood keeps them from using their laser weapons [which are only seen in some of the deleted scenes], forcing them to use their wits to fight the Alien while having their arms tied behind their backs)... but... it seems a lot of people never realize that when Ripley fires the Narcissus' engines the Alien is still alive when it is ejected. ANYTHING should have been instantly vaporized by plasma, but it was still alive. So up until that point, maybe a gun could kill it... but afterwards? Who knows? To me, that was one of the points of the first film was the concept of something that could not be killed, regardless of how technologically developed we were. In regards to ALIENS, I've mentioned it before: I consider the Alien Queen to be a mutated version of the 1st film's creature due to the colonists being irradiated from the terraforming plant being so close. Mutated DNA from human host equals mutated Alien, which alters into the "Queen", which in turn produces inferior (and different looking and acting) Aliens which are weaker and more single minded (maybe even controlled) in their service to the Queen.

  • July 9, 2012, 12:08 a.m. CST

    Sexual Imagery.

    by Lacobus

    OF COURSE the sexual imagery has meaning. On a basic level, the facehugger 'impregnates' and then the chestbuster 'is giving birth', so it's a hideous corruption of how humans procreate, just as the aliens themselves are a hideous corruption of humans. On a deeper level, the whole of the Alien franchise is about gender politics, the differences of the sexes. In Alien, Ripley continually knows what to do but is overruled by men who think they know better. It's drawing a parralell between the differences between humans and aliens and the differences we have between the sexes in our own species. As well as being an amazing sci-fi AND horror film, and looking absolutely gourgeous, and the amazing acting/cast, and the blistering pace (i could go on) is why it's the greatest film ever made.

  • July 9, 2012, 12:15 a.m. CST

    O'Bannon + Giger + Lovecraft

    by justmyluck

  • July 9, 2012, 12:51 a.m. CST

    The magazine...

    by ames prather

    As I recall, didn't Ash try and shove a porno magazine down Ripley's throat? Talk about your sexual imagery. ??Pseudo?? Out.

  • July 9, 2012, 1:40 a.m. CST

    Aline vs Aliens

    by v3rlon

    I think that, perhaps Nordling is a little unfair in the comaprison between these two. Imagine if a monster got out where you work. You are locked in the building. You have no weapons save what you can improvise. How well do you fare? Now, suppose a team of trained soldiers come in with serious weaponry to take out the same monster. If the monster was so successful that it could wipe out the marines, it would have been too powerful for the first movie. Yes, Aliens becomes more of a war movie to Alien as a horror movie, but it was a good direction to take it, especially since a second horror movie would have been nothing more than a rehash of the first one. And of course the biggest monster in all of these movies is 'The Company.' There is a souless universe out there waiting to use us all as eggs and food, and it still isn't as bad as the people signing your paychecks waiting for a chance to feed you to the monsters so they can reap a percentage.

  • July 9, 2012, 1:43 a.m. CST

    Publicity Stills

    by Glenn

    My god, those things were always atrociously shot. Shows why the studios should really NOT be in charge of everything artistically inclined, including trailers. The best trailers I've seen were PT Anderson's, for all his films. I know there are directors who love leaving the PR up to the marketing minions, but the filmmakers are the closest to knowing what the films are about. Kubrick did it successfully. The campaign for "DRIVE" utterly failed. It's a miracle when they get it right without watering down the film's message and/or completely ruining the story.

  • July 9, 2012, 1:48 a.m. CST

    The worst thing about Prometheus to me.... (SPOILER)

    by TheyPeedOnYourFuckingRug

    ....was the 17 or 18 year-old kid right behind me who, right after the xenomorph popped out of the Engineer at the end of the movie, asked his friend "hey, wasn't that the thing from Predators vs. Aliens?" The very very worst thing was that this happened both times I saw the movie.

  • July 9, 2012, 1:50 a.m. CST

    Here's how to treat PROMETHEUS and ALIEN...

    by jazzdownunder

    ... the exact same way you treat the Burton/Keaton BATMAN in relation to the Nolan/Bale iteration. Or, if you prefer, the exact same way you treat GLADIATOR and ALIEN. That is, two different movies that just happen to be directed by the same guy. PROMETHEUS is **NOT** set in the same "universe" as ALIEN. It is merely set in the same Intellectual Property File and both are directed by Scott. Those are the only connections.

  • July 9, 2012, 1:54 a.m. CST

    The jump cut from the fake Ash head to the real one bothered me too

    by Crimson Dynamo

    hard to believe Ridley would have been satisfied with that

  • July 9, 2012, 1:55 a.m. CST

    Hey, Everybody:

    by Glenn

    Stop being so mean to each other. Makes me cry. Tissue's expensive.

  • July 9, 2012, 2:03 a.m. CST

    Red Letter Media Prometheus Links

    by Raskolnikov_was_framed

    If you watch their full review they both recommend it...anyway Prometheus will gain fans over time...I only saw it twice but it was infinitely better the second's been a month and I still think about it movie has affected me like this since I don't know when...I am looking forward to the bluray release just as much as the theatrical

  • It's just a poor backstory.

  • July 9, 2012, 4:33 a.m. CST

    Alien was good, but Cameron made it better.

    by Volllllume3

    We won't even bring Prometheus into this equation. Aliens is the shit.

  • July 9, 2012, 5 a.m. CST

    Alien / Aliens

    by NightArrows

    Alien, IMO, is pretty much perfect. Aliens, not so much. I love both films, but Alien is a much tighter film and that's because Cameron gets sloppy and there are too many beats to the end of Aliens . While I enjoyed Prometheus, Ridley's revisionism is like watching old, happy, home movies only to have your dad tell you that the neighbor in some of them was fucking your mother at the time. So in closing, Deckard is NOT a Replicant, Ridley you cunt, and that is that.

  • July 9, 2012, 5:25 a.m. CST

    re Alien

    by DocPazuzu

    There are very few movies I love so unreservedly as Alien. The rewatchability factor is off the charts despite knowing virtually every beat of the film by heart. In fact, it's enough to read articles like this and talkbacks like this to once again push Alien to the top of my viewing list despite a staggering amount of non-viewed films waiting to be watched.

  • July 9, 2012, 5:29 a.m. CST

    nightarrows wins the talkback

    by DocPazuzu

    "Ridley's revisionism is like watching old, happy, home movies only to have your dad tell you that the neighbor in some of them was fucking your mother at the time." That's the most brilliant summation of what's wrong with Prometheus that I have ever read. Kudos, sir, you have taken the glory from this field, even if you apparently liked the movie despite your comment. As far as I'm concerned, Prometheus tarnished the Alienverse more than all of the perceived faults of the sequels combined. It's an utter canon-fucker of a movie (even though I know d.vader will sternly disagree with this).

  • July 9, 2012, 6:12 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    You deleted my Prometheus post? Because it's an Alien talkback? WTF

  • July 9, 2012, 6:25 a.m. CST

    Guess not...

    by DocPazuzu

    My bad.

  • July 9, 2012, 6:26 a.m. CST

    Planet of the Vampires

    by mkultra55

    ...should be included in the movies that inspired Alien along with the already mentioned It! and The Thing. Distress signal from a desolate world, a derelict alien ship, a giant skeleton hunched over a control surface. The film then becomes a pretty good zombie movie. Great Mario Bava direction and beautiful art direction. Every Alien fan should see it.

  • 1. What was the engineer in the opening sequence doing? (and was that Earth?) 2. What is the black goo? (and why does it react differently with every victim?) 3. What did David say to the engineer 4. Insert fourth question (usually something about Weyland, or whether the ship/planet is the same as the one from ALIEN)

  • That being said, Alien is great...

  • July 9, 2012, 7:13 a.m. CST

    Uncanny resemblance

    by DocPazuzu

    All this talk of inspirations for Alien reminded me of one of the weirdest things. In 1978, Norwegian TV aired a three-part sci-fi miniseries called "Blindpassasjer" (The Stowaway). It's about the five-person crew aboard the science vessel Marco Polo on its way home to Earth after visiting a newly discovered planet called Rossum. The crew awaken from hypersleep and discover that an amorphous, synthetic being has stolen aboard and killed at least one person in the crew and taken over its body. The crew now have to find a way to destroy the creature before the Marco Polo is destroyed by a "space torpedo" that has been launched by authorities to prevent the threat from reaching Earth. Even though it came out a whole year before Alien and the creature is more reminiscent of The Thing, there are some startling similarities. The hypersleep capsules/chairs are arranged in a flower-petal design, the crew discover an ancient derelict spacecraft with a skeletal pilot, and the authority that sent them on their mission and is threatening to kill them all could just as well be Weyland-Yutani. There are some other, smaller details which stick out as well, such as the harshly grinding metal iris aperture in the Marco Polo garbage chute which resembles the ones in the air ducts in Alien and the score of the miniseries which at times almost shares certain cues with Goldsmith's music. The production values are on a slightly sub-Blake's 7 level, but it's actually pretty captivating and, like I said, eerily reminiscent of Alien despite predating the film by only a year. Here's the opening sequence and credits:

  • July 9, 2012, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Final reveal is the biggest problem for the film

    by Mark Jones

    When the alien is hanging out of the shuttle, it's clearly a "guy in a costume" and almost ruins the effect. Up until then, it looked so real and dangerous. The fake/real Ash cut looked obvious when he was switched on but I loved the big grin he has when Ripley pulls the plug on him.

  • July 9, 2012, 7:32 a.m. CST

    Prometheus and Alien / Aliens

    by NightArrows

    I enjoyed Prometheus as a singular entity, as a "prequel" or whatever Ridley wants to call it, I found it frustrating. I was MUCH more offended by Alien Resurrection than I was Prometheus, and my disdain for Alien 3 has diminished over the years to the point where I'm simply pissed off about Newt and Hicks and can sit through the rest of the movie and enjoy some of it's qualities. As for Aliens/Alien, I would disagree that Aliens is the one that's aged better. There is an immaturity to Aliens that becomes visible the older one gets. I adore the film, and all the horror and hopelessness, all the action and "holy fuck" moments. I especially love that we see the end result of the colony's struggle and ultimate demise, but we never SEE that struggle. I think that mystery as to exactly what happened is part of the big appeal to me. We see a quiet desolation and then the monsters that are responsible for that desolation come back out to feed again. That's part of the appeal of Carpenter's Thing that I love. The mystery of what happened at the Norwegian station and why I will never watch the remake/prequel because I want to keep that mystery intact. But the ending/endings of Aliens, well, as much as I loved the Power Loader / Alien Queen fight when I was younger, nowadays I'm almost of the mindset "enough is enough". And really, there is NO FUCKING WAY that Ripley holds on to that rail while the Queen, who must weigh a good couple tons, hangs off her ankle while the vacuum of space pulls at the both of them. That brings me out of the film instantly, every time I've ever seen it. It's too much, and it's all Cameron not trimming back when he should have. None of that diminishes my love of that movie, it just highlights how much more mature Alien is and that it is a superior film even if I place them on the same mantel, side by side. And I really need to see Planet of the Vampires...

  • The retconning of all the story elements of Alien made me nearly vomit during my midnight viewing of the premier of Prometheus. Space Jockeys are just space suits... mmmmmmkay. Fucking retarded beyond measure, and shameful for the original director of the series. The interview with Ridley where he admits that he's a sell-out was the last straw for me (as though Prometheus wasn't enough). I won't be seeing any more of his movies, and I hope he stays the FUCK away from "The Forever War" adaptation. I don't know if my little geek heart could take him wrecking that fantastic book.

  • July 9, 2012, 7:35 a.m. CST

    And in case I wasn't clear...

    by NightArrows

    Deckard IS NOT A REPLICANT. That would completely destroy one of the most beautiful endings in modern movie history. It's perfect as it is, and if Deckard is a Replicant, it's fucking pointless.

  • July 9, 2012, 7:42 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    Sadly, no, not that I'm aware of unless someone made fansubs for a ripped version online. For a long time the only way to see it was via a homemade DVD uploaded by some guy who had made it using VHS-recorded episodes from its run on Swedish TV in 1980 (with non-removable Swedish subs). The miniseries had garnered such a cult reputation over the years and fan demand finally got it released on DVD in Norway a few years ago. As far as I know, that's the best source for the miniseries, even if it has no subs.

  • July 9, 2012, 8:02 a.m. CST

    nightarrows the weight of the alien queen is irrelevant

    by Autodidact

    There is no gravity pulling on her. Oh wait, there is, beacuse they fall down into the pit as if under gravity. Shut up man!

  • July 9, 2012, 8:05 a.m. CST

    I'm of the opinion that ALIENS only enhances ALIEN and vice-versa

    by Autodidact

    Neither would be as good without the other.

  • It remains one of the best cinematic experiences of my life. I love almost everything about ALIEN and ALIENS.

  • Plus, I always thought the crew should have been a little bit larger in Alien than just 7 people...

  • July 9, 2012, 8:33 a.m. CST

    If Alien bores you...

    by DocPazuzu

    ...then you're a complete feeb.

  • July 9, 2012, 8:35 a.m. CST

    "tumorous" for the pedants

    by Autodidact

  • Like a garbage bag of chicken wing bones and puke that's been sitting in the sun for two days.

  • July 9, 2012, 9 a.m. CST

    Monroville, the flag, c-stand, and grip...

    by D.Vader

    It occurs during a scene after the self-destruct sequence has been activated. I can't remember if its before or after she drops the cat, but in the shot, Ripley is running through a room and the camera is following her from behind; its either a tracking shot or steadicam (can't remember). As Ripley reaches the end of the room, she turns left to run down a corridor and that's where the scene cuts. Just before she makes that turn at the end of the room, however, there's a blast of steam and a flash of light. I thought the flash of light looked funny, like it came from behind a large flap that was moving slightly, so I went back and watched it a few times and again in slow motion, and sure enough I could see that the "flap" was actually a flag on a c-stand that was blocking some light, and as either Ripley or the steam shot past it, it caused it to wobble. So, as I watched the sequence in slow motion again, I noticed a grip hiding out on the opposite side of the screen before Ripley makes her turn. Its a very clever hiding place, however. As Ripley is running through this room on the left side of frame, the right side of the frame is in mostly darkness. There is a moment, however, when one of those flashes of light bursts across the screen, and when it did, I saw the silhouette of a grip hiding in what looks like a hole or tunnel, a portal to another corridor on the ship perhaps. You can just make out that its the shape of a man crouched somewhat in that circular hole, the way Lex was in the drainpipe in Jurassic Park, resting on his haunches just a bit. Again, I couldn't tell you the exact timestamp as the blu-ray isn't sitting in my player anymore and I'm too lazy to get it out right now.

  • You're darn right I'll disagree with that DocPaz! Hyperbole! Hyperbole! =)

  • July 9, 2012, 9:16 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    If you only knew how much I love that world and how much mental effort I put into making all the alien sequels fit into said world in my mind you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss my loathing of Prometheus. Alien vs Predator: Rectum merely provoked rage in its abysmal ineptitude, whereas Prometheus genuinely depressed me. Over the past 25 years or so I've taken the bad along with the good in order to make things work for me when it comes to the Alienverse, but Prometheus swiftly wore me down to a quivering wreck, softly stammering "Please... make the hurting... go away..." Okay, so maybe that was hyperbole -- but you get my point, yes? ;)

  • July 9, 2012, 9:19 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    I agree about Holm. There was something ever so slightly off and wrong about his character. So subtle and hard to pinpoint but very much there. Brilliant. I do have to say that The Fass is a VERY close second. Although I detest Prometheus, his performance was absolutely stellar and his character by far the most interesting. The less said about Ryder's emo-droid the better.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:21 a.m. CST

    "The retconning of all the story elements of Alien"

    by D.Vader

    Prometheus did not do this. All it did was show you what the Space Jockey looked like. That is it. It has *nothing* to do with any of Alien's story elements.

  • That showed a flamethrower and extreme heat did nothing to it. Remember the Alien trying to go back into the ship thru the engines and Ripley lets it rip at full speed. This Alien was indestructable by all accounts compared to every other Alien we see in future films.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:26 a.m. CST

    d.vader You can stop speaking idiot.

    by IwatchMovies

    Just because it doesn't follow your fan-boy image of Alien you get your panties in a knot. Prometheus stands on its own as a better movie than 99% of the shit we get for movies.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:29 a.m. CST

    Iwatchmovies? Who are you and where did you come from?

    by D.Vader

    You can go sit with the rest of the children and join the conversation when you decide to act like a functioning adult. In other words, why don't you actually *read* what I wrote next time before you speak.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:30 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    I think it's me you want to direct that post to, not d.vader.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:33 a.m. CST

    DocPaz, I get where you're coming from. Sorta!

    by D.Vader

    I guess we just come from two different points of view, because for me, Prometheus has absolutely *no* bearing on ALIEN except to show us what the Space Jockey looks like, and that's it. It doesn't explain where Aliens come from, and it doesn't explain where that particular Jockey ship full of eggs came from either. But I understand this is one of your favorite movies of all time, so anything that suggests something different from what you've been used to for the past 25 years will be a bit scary and anathema.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:36 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    Here's where our opinions differ the most, I think. I find that a lot of the original film's eeriness and horror comes from the notion that the jockey is as alien and incomprehensible as the biomechanoid is. Outer space in Alien becomes the sinister forest of a dark fairy tale, with monsters and giants either hostile, ignorant or indifferent to us. Making the jockeys human was the single worst call in the movie since it not only kills a lot of the mystery of the universe, it also "boba fetts" it, making it smaller and more knowable -- thus less threatening even if the engineers obviously are hostile. That Prometheus also has tons of other structural problems is another matter.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:39 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    If it had been anything BUT humans it would have gone a long way towards making it palatable to me. I still would have been aghast at the numerous narrative snafus in Prometheus, but the universe would still retain a lot of the "alienness" from the original movie.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:40 a.m. CST

    Yeah, Doc

    by D.Vader

    That just doesn't bother me, but I see why it would you.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:41 a.m. CST

    Tarnished the Alienverse? = Speaking idiot.

    by IwatchMovies

    Prometheus stands on its own as a very entertaining movie. A good story with plenty future potential. Do you understand now?

  • July 9, 2012, 9:46 a.m. CST

    You still don't get it, IWatchMovies

    by D.Vader

    You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie... I wonder how long this will take.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:47 a.m. CST

    Sorry vader. At you docpazuzu.

    by IwatchMovies

    I had a too much wine post here in Germany.

  • It always seems like a good idea at the time, but then the next morning when I recheck my work I find I usually end up making a fool of myself and start apologizing =).

  • July 9, 2012, 9:50 a.m. CST

    For me Aliens relies more on...

    by NightArrows

    ...a morbid feeling of oppression and hopelessness. They all have weapons, but they really aren't prepared for what they're fighting. And not only that, there are forces from within working against them. It's Man being moved to a lower peg on the food chain. Alien however is built around terror. Thematically and in execution, the crew has nothing, and can do nothing against this creature but die or flee. The individual death scenes are brutal and scary and for me, hold up even better as an adult because context was missing when I would watch it as a kid.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Indestructable? An itsy bitsy spear gun took it out

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    And steam make it screech like a little girl. The whole point of the acid blood is that it needs a self defense mechanism because it's not nigh invulnable. I'm surprises Jonsey survived without getting acid burned after scraching the Alien's ass up when it got too close to his cage.

  • July 9, 2012, 10:06 a.m. CST

    And if you want inconsistent, look at Alien 3

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    Well established that aliens burst like pimples when you crush them when the transport ran over one in Aliens. Alien 3? Drop tens of tons of molten lead on one and guess what happens? That's right, Jason "they always get up" jump scare. Followed by the stupid spray it a water hose so that it instantly cools down and gets brittle with Bishop yelling "NOOOOOOOO!" in the background. Fucking horrible. I'm convinced the alien in the first film didn't burn up or whatever because it probably would have looked terrible with their budget and 1979 special effect level with the "it could still be out there floating" justification.

  • There were two goos. The canistered one that Holloway and the Jockey in the beginning consumed which breaks down the body, and also appears to mutate sperm. The black goo, which covers the canisters is a weaponization agent that mutates and reanimates. Since both it and the storm popped up at roughly the same time, one can assume they're part of an elaborate booby trap. Both goos obviously come from xenomorph DNA, and given the Jockeys wear a xenomorphic looking suits and have what appears to be a picture of a Queen in the mural in the "tomb", we can assume they didn't create them. They already existed, and the Jockeys.....some at least, worship them.

  • July 9, 2012, 10:46 a.m. CST

    As far as questions 1 & 3 go...

    by Shermdawg

    Ridley says it was NOT Earth, the pics released of the extended scenes shows elder Jockeys giving the Jockey the (cannistered) goo, and we see what the effects are once he drinks it. They're seeding a planet. And according to the guy that created the Jockey dialect for the film, as relayed by Movie Mike on the Hercules the Strong starring Ask Mr. K.E.R.N. radio broadcast, David said something along the lines of "This man is dying and seeks more life."

  • July 9, 2012, 10:53 a.m. CST

    Alien Sexual context explained here----

    by LoLWut Guy really knows how to break down a film and he is spot on. Give it a watch.

  • July 9, 2012, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Shermdawg, I believe there are two different goos too

    by D.Vader

    But not the two you differentiate between. The goo the Engineer drinks a million years in the past is one type of goo (assuming it is Earth, and Ridley did NOT say it *wasn't* Earth, just that it could be Earth or it could be another planet), and the goo from the canisters (that is the same inside and out). My belief is that yes, the goo comes from xenomorph DNA that has been weaponized by the Jockeys. The xenomorph relief proves the Aliens already exist (and the relief shows face-huggers latching on to humanoid figures) and are revered in some manner by the Engineers. The fact that the black goo seems to want to go toward developing a Xenomorph suggests to me that the Engineers have coded the DNA to evolve toward the Alien we know and love. Its intelligent design through multiple generations of mutation and evolution. Hence the reason why the mutated worms have acid blood.

  • July 9, 2012, 11:02 a.m. CST

    Parker and Lambert's Death Scene is horrific.

    by 5secondfuse

    The sense of doom before it even starts is unbelievable. The score is terrifying throughout and the scene itself is horrific. Nothing in todays cinema can come close to scenes like these even with all the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ they throw at them. The fact you don't actually see Lamberts fate you know what happens to her and that is pure horror.

  • Always liked the idea that ALIENS looked the way they evolved in large part on spaceships and around space colonies where the "ecology" was all vents, hoses, and grilles.

  • There would be no reason for the canisters to hold those ampoules if that was the case.

  • July 9, 2012, 11:09 a.m. CST


    by D.Vader

    The canisters started leaking. I thought that was obvious. Interesting take, though. Booty traps.


  • Are you referring to the black goo from the opening sequence as the "other"? Also, one thing really confused me: the black goo is shown leaking out of the jar containers. But when David takes a jar back to the Prometheus and opens it, the goo inside the jar is contained within some sealed, glass-like tubules. I guess maybe some of the jars were "set off" which means the glass breaks or dissolves on the inside and the goo seeps through the metal somehow? The indistinct nature of the goo does really bug me. Part of the appeal of ALIEN is the clearly understandable and horrifying life cycle that is established: Egg; facehugger; chestburster; adult Alien. Cameron extended this with the queen and that sort of filled in the gaps and made it more satisfying to some (and offensively ant-like to others). PROMETHEUS goes in the other direction with the central "other" element in that it seems to affect everyone and everything differently.

  • July 9, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST

    I love Alien...

    by veebeeyes

    but I've always been more fond of the first half. I thought that the sense of discovery was really creepy and disturbing and well done. Everything up to and including the part where the Alien gets Brett is perfect, in my opinion. The rest of the movie is still good, but it became less interesting for me after the Alien gets Brett.

  • July 9, 2012, 11:22 a.m. CST

    Answer to question 4.....It's not the same planet

    by SmokieGeezer

  • July 9, 2012, 11:58 a.m. CST


    by Morte_Bea_Arthur

    Maybe this was an obvious conclusion, but I haven't seen anyone mention it. Everyone seems to think that the Engineers changed their minds about seeding Earth. Maybe the whole point from the beginning was that they were breeding hosts for the xenomorphs. That puts a different spin on their motivations. Like the movie or not, Prometheus doesn't affects the older movies, although it is obviously connected. Even if I loathed Prometheus (which I don't), it wouldn't alter my feelings about Alien and Aliens. It's not Lucasian-level douchebaggery (although some of you obviously think it is).

  • July 9, 2012, 12:09 p.m. CST

    This review forgot to highlight something critical

    by gaygoonie

    The film constantly plays with audience expectations. The ship receives a distress signal - you later learn it's a warning. Sigourney is set up as a background character - she emerges heroine. The alien initially seems to be just the face hugger - then the chest burts. The alien seems to be small - then it gets bigger. Holm seems to be human - then he's an alien. The alien seems to be off the ship - then it's on. This is just good storytelling.

  • Sand storm showing up the same time? Coincidence? Nope. Smokie.

  • July 9, 2012, 12:46 p.m. CST


    by Shermdawg

    The goo the Jockey (and Holloway) drinks, is the goo inside the ampoules in the canisters. That's goo 1. Goo 2, is the "booby trap" weaponized black goo that oozes from the canisters.

  • July 9, 2012, 12:54 p.m. CST

    Prometheus is severly misunderstood.

    by Dan

  • I lost the first version. Here's an excerpt of the second version:

  • July 9, 2012, 1:21 p.m. CST

    I don't know how Lindelof gets work after the last 2 seasons of Lost...

    by Coughlins Laws

    Way to fuck up a great show and undo everything that made people fall in love with the show in the first place...

  • Prometheus just wasn't good. And I am NOT interested in any sequels. Is that redhead gonna be the only human character from now on?

  • July 9, 2012, 2:15 p.m. CST

    How does Aliens shrink the universe?

    by Screentext

  • July 9, 2012, 3 p.m. CST

    Why do people think the storm is part of a booby trap?

    by Chairman_Kaga

    What about that sequence indicates that the storm is an artificial function on the "Engineers" tech rather than a naturally occurring weather system on LV223?

  • July 9, 2012, 3:14 p.m. CST

    My review of the whole series

    by berserkrl

  • July 9, 2012, 3:47 p.m. CST

    Prometheus is severly misunderstood.

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    In terms of absolute stupidity and overally suckage, I think it was perfectly understood by a great many of us.

  • July 9, 2012, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Damn you, AICN. Get your QUOTATION MARK bug sorted out...

    by Mr. Nice Gaius


  • I'm going to repost my above comment, because I think it's a good one and relates to your comment: "That gives those ideas a much bigger stage, oddly enough – because they aren’t specifically addressed, that gives them room to play in the mind of the audience." This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It makes the world of a story feel bigger when the characters reference events that happened in the past or are happening elsewhere in this same world. In the first 'Star Wars'-- the universe you imagine while the characters sit in dusty little rooms is actually much more vast and spectacular than the one on display in subsequent films (think about the part when Luke says, "not unless you can alter time... or teleport me off this rock"--or creatures never shown, like the Wamprat; it's almost a running gag that we're teased with the endless possibilities of this galaxy). It's a fantastic device, and not only has it been completely forgotten in contemporary films, but its been misinterpreted by aging filmmakers as an invitation to go back and fill the gaps with uninspired caulk. It's bad enough when the same director makes this mistake, but I read years ago that James Cameron was considering a 'Forbidden Planet' prequel. Imagine a CG reveal of the mysterious Krell, or the crew of the Bellerophon being killed off by what we already know is a CG Id Monster. Needless to say this would be a grotesque, misguided, and perfectly likely development.

  • July 9, 2012, 4:06 p.m. CST

    gaygoonie: good call

    by chifforobe

    I'd also mention that I think we assume Tom Skerritt will be the heroic lead: he's scruffy, stoic, brave-- and he gets eaten without remorse. I love it!

  • I started feeling really queasy right at the end of the auto-doc abortion scene. Within a minute I had gotten up from my seat in a sweaty mess and was wandering around the theatre looking for somewhere to pass out. I decided to make a run for my car and dashed out of the theatre. Was almost surprised to make it to my car without vomiting. Once I sat in my car for five minutes I felt fine, and would have gone back in, but I would have pretty much only caught the end credits. I saw PROMETHEUS 2X before today and it was no problem for me to deal with that scene and finish the movie. But today I couldn't handle it. The last time this happened was IDENTITY in 2004, when the kid's mom gets hit by a car. Funnily enough, the last time before that was two attempts in a row to watch BLACKHAWK DOWN... both times I got overwhelmingly sickened by the battlefield surgery scene where they're trying to pull a guy's femoral artery down so that they can get enough slack to clamp it off. Two nights in a row, I walked out of the cinema right after that scene. I feel like kind of a failure. I was absolutely loving the movie until that point.

  • I am really curious to see what a director's cut of this would look like. There are some really odd scene transitions in the second half of the movie. I'm so annoyed with myself for not making it through today... I might honestly go back one more time before it leaves theatres on Friday.

  • I'm getting a bit queasy just picturing it as I type.

  • prometheus was the former. 2001 was the latter.

  • July 9, 2012, 5:10 p.m. CST

    The alien didn't survive being blasted by the plasma engines...

    by Autodidact

    .. why do people keep saying it survived? Because it wasn't shown breaking apart? It was 1979... how do you think that would have looked? It would have looked like shit... that's why the alien is not shown breaking apart from the hot plasma. Not because it's indestructible. You idiots!

  • July 9, 2012, 5:13 p.m. CST

    Alien is a very good film but I prefer Aliens

    by HamburgerEarmuffs

    Intensity over horror for me personally.

  • July 9, 2012, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Carlos Rambaldi gets no love?

    by Puñeta

    How about a shout out to one of the men that brought the Alien to life.

  • July 9, 2012, 5:36 p.m. CST

    Rambaldi's work on Alien

    by Chairman_Kaga

    It just evens the score from his horrendous work on Kong 76.

  • I'm all for nude women, but those panties defy all logic and feel really beneath the otherwise stellar quality of the movie.

  • July 9, 2012, 5:48 p.m. CST


    by Rebel Scumb

    I agree that season 4 is the last good one, it was hurt a bit by the writers strike so somethings had to be accelerated or cut out, but it does have a number of great episodes in it. I feel like whatever went wrong with LOST happened in the Summer between Seasons 4 and 5, feels like the writers changed their minds about a LOT of things they had set up until that point. I can watch seasons 1-4 and still very much feel like there is an overall plan at work, and everything seems to be moving (for the most part) in the same direction. For some reason the directing/production values/cinematography also feel a lot flatter/by the numbers in seasons 5 & 6, not sure why.

  • July 9, 2012, 6:05 p.m. CST

    Fleshmachine - Prometheus was the former?

    by irishraidersfan

    And that's it? Is it better than 2001? No. But then so little is. Prometheus was a brave but imperfect attempt at genuine modern sci-fi. What do you want, more Avengers? Give me a break...

  • July 9, 2012, 6:15 p.m. CST

    What do you want, more Avengers?

    by berserkrl

    Come on, who doesn't want to see ALIEN VS. HULK?

  • July 9, 2012, 6:39 p.m. CST

    On LOST...

    by D.Vader

    There's no difference between Season 4 and Season 5 that suggests the writers "changed their minds". Seasons 1-3 work as a whole, one half of the full series, one book, one trilogy, and Seasons 4-6 do the same. You can see plot points laid on in Season 4 that pop up later.

  • July 9, 2012, 6:40 p.m. CST

    Some of you don't know what the term "plot hole" really means

    by D.Vader

    Or the word "hack", those phrases get tossed around here so much without anything to back up such claims.

  • Alien is on HBO, Aliens is on Cinemax. Sorry, I'm an Alien guy... love 'em both though. And I enjoyed Prometheus a lot more than I thought I would having heard so much negativity, but I DO wish they didn't go on the assumption that there would be a sequel, because I highly doubt there will be now. Ridley ain't gettin' any younger... Also, it's shameless self-promotion, but it's kind of related since it's about aliens and alien abduction and we used practical effects for all the aliens in the film and Alien was probably one of the biggest influences on it. This is the trailer to my short film that is currently nearing completion. Please shout about it from the rooftops, tweet it, facebook it... whatever you gotta do, it will be much appreciated and if I can get a career out of it, my 8 week old daughter will appreciate it as well. Her college money was well spent, I think... jk... sort of. Enjoy!

  • July 9, 2012, 8:04 p.m. CST

    So why didn't Ash have a large tube for food to go down?

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    I noticed that last night. All the tubes in his neck are kinda skinny. Looks like a lazy special effect, not a functional robot. Unless food is vaporized in the back of his throat or whatever.

  • July 9, 2012, 8:08 p.m. CST

    So why didn't Ash have a large tube for food to go down?

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    I noticed that last night. All the tubes in his neck are kinda skinny. Looks like a lazy special effect, not a functional robot. Unless food is vaporized in the back of his throat or whatever.

  • July 9, 2012, 8:21 p.m. CST

    People defending the horribleness of the last seasons of LOST?

    by HamburgerEarmuffs


  • July 9, 2012, 8:23 p.m. CST

    People complaining about people who like LOST?

    by D.Vader


  • July 9, 2012, 8:30 p.m. CST

    Regarding LOST:

    by Chris Moody

    My only problem with LOST is how "rushed" the end of Season 6 felt. They probably needed two or three more one-hour episodes to adequately explain things without it feeling "rushed." Most of Season 6 was fantastic. The first half of the season was incredible. The Richard flashback episode was fantastic. My qualm is more along the mythology of the island. The flashback episode with Jacob and Smokey just felt a little "rushed" and didn't feel satisfying following nearly six years of lead up. I am sure that the writers wanted to leave a lot to the imagination of each viewer, but we needed something more concrete about how Esau fell into a pit and turned into Smokey. I got that part. But, we weren't told what MOTIVATED Smokey to be evil. Sure, he wanted to leave the island. However, why can't he be killed? Why can't he simply stop holding a grudge? So, we are left with a "game" that is played endlessly without any motivation for WHY it is played or what the ultimate outcome for the game would be. The story of the LOSTies was good...regardless of the unfulfilled story of the island. I think that the addition of 20-30 minutes to the Jacob/Smokey episode could have provided more of a motivation for these characters and would have explained just WHAT (or WHO) the island is. The only other issue that I had was with Desmond and why he was special. I wish that they would have explained that Desmond was special because part of his psyche was caught in the timelessness of Eternity...with his consciousness being more than one place at one time as a result of the implosion of the Hatch. However, I was satisfied with the end result with the characters and even their fate in Eternity. That was pretty cool.

  • July 9, 2012, 8:35 p.m. CST


    by WeylandYutani

    This series of articles was a joy to read. I hope you plan to dissect more film or TV series in this way. I don't agree with you on every point, but I appreciate the the hard work that went into these columns and the discourse that has resulted. Great work and thanks.

  • July 9, 2012, 8:35 p.m. CST

    @ sk229:

    by Chris Moody

    That looks VERY cool! I wish you the best with that!

  • July 9, 2012, 8:45 p.m. CST


    by D.Vader

    I wanted to see the scene where Jacob meets his dead brother for the first time and how they reacted to each other. As for why Smokey was evil and why he couldn't stop holding a grudge and why he couldn't be killed... I thought that was obvious. "So, we are left with a "game" that is played endlessly without any motivation for WHY it is played or what the ultimate outcome for the game would be. " Smokey wants Jacob dead so that he can leave the Island. Jacob wants Smokey defeated/dead so that he can no longer threaten the Island/the World.

  • July 9, 2012, 8:48 p.m. CST

    Also on Desmond

    by D.Vader

    I think that's a very valid interpretation that doesn't need an explanation so precise (and who could do it). I think we could all infer that.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:06 p.m. CST

    @ d. vader:

    by Chris Moody

    Actually, this is the question that I get asked the most in regard to LOST. People have asked, "What's the deal with that Desmond guy? How could his mind travel through time like that?" I explain that I think that he had a little more than a "near-death" experience when the Hatch imploded...and that part of his psyche was caught up into the timelessness of Eternity. That is how his mind could travel in the past, present, future and, well, Heaven simultaneously. At that point, most of those who asked questions are sufficed with such an explanation. I have just been asked that question so many times...and by fans who used to watch the show.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:27 p.m. CST

    @ wookie_blowjob:

    by Chris Moody

    Shut up. Thank you.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:36 p.m. CST

    Some major fucking idiots in here

    by jimmy_009

    They break into two categories: A)"Aliens is better than Alien." What a pointless and bullshit statement. It's like saying Einstein is better than Newton. They're both fucking great, for completely different reasons. They both validate each other, and a preference of one over the other is just that. A fucking preference -- not a truth. So shut up already. The second know-it-all class of twit is the "Prometheus ruins the canon" fucktards. Canon was already "ruined" long ago, for whatever "canon" is worth. The cast of Full House could star in Prometheus 2 and it still wouldn't tarnish Alien or Aliens in the slightest. What the fuck changed about the Alien story? Not a god damned thing. Same with Aliens. If you didn't like Prometheus enough that it somehow ruins the originals, you've got problems that go beyond movies. The same kind of over dramatic loser that thinks Lucas "raped" their childhood or that creators of entertainment "owe" them something.

  • July 9, 2012, 9:40 p.m. CST

    Ah well, chrrisssm

    by D.Vader

    RE: your questions about Desmond from fans of the show. Some people, ya know?

  • Alien³ has some good qualities that are unfortunately crapped on by the killing of Newt and Hicks. Still though, if I am in the right mood for the bleak but stylish Alien³ then I enjoy it for what is good in the film (cinematography, Sigourney, Charles S. Dutton, the crazy runner alien, Bishop as the devil-like company man at the end, the excellent score and sound design, and the foreboding environment of Fury 161). Prometheus would have been better as a brand new thing totally unrelated to the Alien canon. As for Alien and Aliens, while I still view them as equals in terms of the enjoyment I get watching them, the advantages of Alien are a slightly more creepy atmosphere and minimalism. Cameron's sequel has the more compelling story to me, as he was able to build on the first film in terms of Ripley's character. I like your assessment of the mystery and foreboding feel of the colony once Ripley and the marines get there. When they first go inside, the whole vibe feels a bit like the opening to Alien where the camera gracefully glides through the silent corridors of the Nostromo, as if the ship was abandoned. Ridley says in the bts stuff on the anthology that he wanted to give the impression of a futuristic version of a ghost ship like the Marie Celeste. As if the people just suddenly vanished from existence while onboard the ship. Aliens also has this feel in the first colony scenes with the marine patrol moving inside. Also, the fact that we don't see the colonists fighting the aliens feels a bit like the space jockey/derelict sequence in Alien. It sets our mind afire wondering what exactly happened. We know though that something bad and horrible happened to these people or to that elephantine being. That is so much more effective when it happens off camera and we can only sift through the aftermath or the bones of a fatal encounter with the aliens. Alien³ and Alien Resurrection didn't really have this type of foreboding feeling hanging over things in the early parts of the film. The less creepy buildup in those two films is partially why they never could reach the heights of terror and suspense that Alien and Aliens did. Prometheus had this in the early portions of the film, but did something fatal to the building of suspense and mystery. They spilled the beans early on as to who and what the space jockeys were. Then in the film's cluttered and muddled second half, way too much was going on. Zombie Fifield, Shaw's birth, waking up Weyland, going back to the pyramid, etc. It was all too much all over the place, where Alien was very focused and deliberate, which allowed it to squeeze the audience into this narrow mental corridor of anticipation and terror over this one really well realized and thought out monster, Giger's Alien. Prometheus had a bunch of more mundane beasties, which added up to not anything close to the power that the original biomechanoid creature in Alien had over the audience. The less is more philosophy of Alien really contrasts how much more effective it was in not only the suspense and terror aspects, but in the grand scale implied by the glimpses of the dead space jockey and his massive ship, as well as the monolithic aura of the faceless company bent on getting their hands on an alien specimen at any cost.

  • July 9, 2012, 10:16 p.m. CST

    two goos?

    by lv_426

    Why then did they make both goos black in Prometheus? That is extremely shoddy storytelling IMO. No, one type of goo doesn't need to be as obvious ad being white goo, but it makes sense that they would have it be a different color for clarity of purpose in the overall story. Maybe black goo and dark amber goo for example. Film is a visual medium and all that.

  • You should do another series. I'll just go ahead and cast my vote for one on the Terminator films. Or how about the Planet of the Apes films?

  • July 9, 2012, 11:31 p.m. CST

    No Return Viewings?

    by Glenn

    That's a shame. I'm one of those weird cats that doesn't get scared by horror movies. (Real world stuff gets me: holocaust, cancer, war, etc, scare the shit out of me in movies.) Why can't you rewatch just for the filmmaking? That's always hit my pleasure zones just fine, no matter how many times I've seen the film. Again, all o'ya, stop being so jerky and mean in the talkbacks. I can't emphasize enough how your Inhumanity to Unseen Man on the Internet, tears me up and makes me weep. Stop or I'll call my mommy, and she's fat enough to hurt all you meanies.

  • July 10, 2012, 12:38 a.m. CST


    by WeylandYutani

    Prometheus would have been better as a brand new thing totally unrelated to the Alien canon.

  • July 10, 2012, 12:43 a.m. CST

    Sorry... Lv426

    by WeylandYutani

    I made a post that starts with your great quote about Promethius and how it would have made a better film if it was stand alone, but somehow my post was cut off. |:( Anyway, I agree with you 100%. Solid observation on your part.

  • July 10, 2012, 2:46 a.m. CST


    by Glenn

    Feel free to write to me any day. Your putdown of the children on this topic (and now, any topic, really) proves you're an adult about such matters and I'd love to have a back-n-forth with you sometime. Good job. Email me for my addy. ;)

  • July 10, 2012, 4:32 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    You know, slick, when I first started reading your post I thought I was going to let you have it. By the time I got to the end of it, what with you more or less calling people who disliked Prometheus as, er, bad as those who critique Lucas, I realized that there was nothing more I could do to you that you haven't already taken care of. Hoist by one's own petard, as it were.

  • July 10, 2012, 4:36 a.m. CST

    Prometheus and Predators have the same thing in common

    by disfigurehead

    I have forgotten about them already. I will always remember Alien.

  • Watching PROMETHEUS in 2D there was almost always some colour on screen that didn't really come across in 3D... anything pale or really dark just doesn't read well in 3D even though PROMETHEUS had the "brightest" 3D I'd seen since TF3.

  • That was Ridley, he hired Lindelof to remove all Alien "symbology and tropes" from Prometheus. Also to spruce up Spaihts' original shitty dialogue and characters a bit, and give Theron's character more to do (like have nothing to do and die a pointless death).

  • July 10, 2012, 5:34 a.m. CST

    PS Has Chris Carter sued yet over the black oil?

    by Hardboiled Wonderland

  • July 10, 2012, 5:40 a.m. CST

    Spaceballs has permanently tainted the chestburster scene for me

    by tangcameo

    Every time I watch it now I expect it to don a straw boater before it runs off and hides.

  • July 10, 2012, 7:29 a.m. CST


    by NightArrows

    Great post! I think what I liked most about Alien3 was the feeling that Ripley was at the end of a marathon run. One way or another, things were going to end, and not necessarily for the better (and quite obviously so after she finds ol' Queenie inside her). She was up against the wall and you could feel that in her performance. She was fucking spent, and there was a certain resignation to her that wasn't present in the previous two films. And regarding the mystery in Aliens (and The Thing), I think when I was younger, I would have gone apeshit for a prequel showing exactly what went on during the fall of the colony. I can still remember when the footage of Newt's parents going out to the derelict ship hit the internet back when I was in college. We went fucking nuts for it. The older I get, the more I like to keep that mystery alive and while I think what they did show in that director's cut footage of the colony was just enough, I don't think I would ever want to see more...

  • July 10, 2012, 7:48 a.m. CST


    by Thunderbolt Ross

    That comic is great.

  • July 10, 2012, 7:58 a.m. CST

    I think what Prometheus has taught us

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    is Alien should never have been fleshed out. This probably goes for the other movies as well., not just Prometheus. Aliens worked but it can be argued at the expense of the creature's mystique. Alien is, it seems to me, set up to viscerally frighten the audience. The designs, etc don't really lend themselves to even a movie-science explanation. It's cliche for sure but sometimes it's just better not to know, and in the case of Alien, this is especially true. I mean did Giger design these things with some quasi-scientific background in mind? Fuck no! Look at the most notable thing about the alien - its head. It makes little to no sense on a functional level. But it's extremely effective as something inhuman, and more importantly, nightmarish sexual imagery. The space jockey is awesome bc from a earthly physical standpoint, it just doesn't add up. Had they gone the route of not retconning it into a dude, there's a 99% chance it would have been laughable in execution. Retconning it into a dude in a suit is also laughable from an intellectual standpoint but I guess at least it looks reasonable onscreen, even as it ruins the original idea.

  • Season 4 totally took the air out of all the top characters, especially John Locke. It spent 3 years setting up that Locke was going to be a special character and lead The Others and then showed that he was beyond nothing. It also made the promise that whatever was on the freighter would destroy every living thing on the island, then it turned out to be just 4 guys with machine guns that The Others took out rather easily. The entire show changed for the worse, starting with this season...

  • I've seen the original 1979 theatrical version of Alien on the big screen a couple of times, both of which were showings on a college campus theater. I've also seen the inferior "Director's Cut" on the big screen a couple of times. While I love watching Alien at home on DVD, I have to say that you have never truly seen the movie before unless you've watched it on a big theater screen with an audience. On the big screen, this movie is really something else. The alien spaceship scenes with the non-angular corridors and the eggs are mind-blowing on a theater screen. The chest-bursting scene is best watched with a theater audience reaction (and I say this as someone who usually prefers to see movies alone with no loud audience). Ridley Scott's Alien, like Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, is a movie that absolutely must be seen on the big screen at least once during your life. Alien always has a frequent place at home on my DVD player while I'm lying on the sofa, of course, but it's also proof positive that the movie theater experience can never truly be duplicated. Thanks for the outstanding article, Nordling! I've enjoyed your takes on the franchise.

  • July 10, 2012, 8:11 a.m. CST

    Thunderbolt Ross

    by DocPazuzu

    I agree. Not knowing if the jockey was benign or hostile was a big part of the mystery. I mean, was it merely a fellow victim of the Alien menace or were the jockeys in fact behind their existence? The ominous vastness of space seems even more sinister with the possibility that the jockeys' civilization is even more fucked up than we can possibly imagine and just as alien as the biomechanoids are. I always loved the idea of mankind's tentative first contact with alien life as being something implacably hostile and utterly beyond understanding. No matter how much the Prometheus defenders try to spin it, Scott severely diminished that mystery by making the first sign of intelligent alien life that we encounter... well, us. One could argue that midichlorians don't fuck up the later Star Wars chapters because nothing in the films counters their existence even if they aren't mentioned by name, but come on.... That's what Prometheus is -- a big, fat, quivering tub of canon-fucking midichlorians.

  • I can rewatch AVP:Requiem just for the few bits of violence and special effects. Predators is just too stupid and ugly for me to ever watch again. I've seen it once and I doubt if I'll ever rewatch.

  • July 10, 2012, 8:35 a.m. CST

    Midichlorians don't even bother me that much, per se

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    It doesn't really change anything. The Force still exists, is still mysterious - midichlorians are just there to facilitate the bond between humans and the Force. That being said, it's a wholly unnecessary addition to the movies and is handled very clumsily.

  • I figured the Alien had some kind of aura-vision.. the concept is mostly played with in the games and somewhat in the comics too.. there's nothing in the movies to really hint at it. Also possibly for some kind of ESP receiver thing for signals from the queen/hive mind.

  • July 10, 2012, 8:37 a.m. CST

    Bravo @gaygoonie... great point re the story

    by Brian Hopper

    Worth quoting what he said... 'The film constantly plays with audience expectations. The ship receives a distress signal - you later learn it's a warning. Sigourney is set up as a background character - she emerges heroine.' etc etc. I can't say enough good things about Alien's screenplay. Just incredibly smart writing. It pays attention to everything... big themes, small moments, character, subtext, thrills, ideas. Each of those 7 characters (or 9, if you include the alien and Nostromo/mother, which are also characters) makes an indelible impression. Few SF films (or horror films, or SF/horror hybrids) are even worthy of mention in the same paragraph as Alien.

  • July 10, 2012, 8:41 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    But surely midichlorians take a bit of the mystical out of the whole "the Force is strong in this one" even if it doesn't turn the Force itself into something that lends itself to scientific study. I hate that a blood count can tell who's more "prone" to the Force. It feels like shoehorning a bit of science into an area best left to fantasy. Lucas didn't NEED to go down that route at all and it wouldn't have changed the films. The same way that Scott could have told a hundred different stories in the Alienverse without even touching upon the jockeys. The idea that jockeys are human is just.... so.... wrong.

  • Saw it in '79 as a kid and it absolutely ranks in the top 5 filmgoing experiences for me. And I've seen it a few times since at revival showings and the reaction is the same: the film has a hypnotizing quality in its quiet scenes and an intensity that cast a spell over an audience.

  • July 10, 2012, 8:52 a.m. CST

    It's the accumulation of details that matters, too.

    by Brian Hopper

    Someone above mentioned the shot when they cut away Kane's helmet... the way the tail of the facehugger tightens around his throat as if to say, Don't even think about messing with me. And it's just so horrible. I can still remember the gasp in the audience in 1979 at that shot. Another big one and not always mentioned is in the chestburster scene. As terrible as the final moment of that is, almost more terrible is the lead up to it... Hurt's screaming and writhing. It is just awful to watch, even now. And worst of all: that last scream he gives as he arches his back, and then POP... and the bit of blood bursts from his chest (before the Alien comes out). It's all so clinically 'real,' you know? The details of that sequence add immeasurably to its verisimilitude. Not for a second does the audience doubt it's really happening.

  • July 10, 2012, 9:02 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    I'll add to that that moment of stillness just after the first blood splotch on kane's shirt when everybody, including Kane, just stops and it's like "WTF!?!" before Kane starts twitching again with that horrible, horrible, panicky gasping.... Just ghastly. It's a testament to the scene's effectiveness that the gore never feels exploitative as a similar scene in any number of modern torture porn movies would. It's very graphic, but the terror and confusion weighs much more heavily.

  • July 10, 2012, 9:23 a.m. CST


    by NightArrows

    I agree that with scenes of horror, less IS more. Take Scarface and the chainsaw scene, or Reservoir Dogs and the ear. One scene that truly disturbed me was at the end of The Strangers, a truly frustrating and stupid movie, but the horrific knife scene at the end sat with me for days... I remember watching Alien when I was a kid and that chestburster scene had me staying away from spaghetti for a longggg time (Kane was eating noodles at the time of his demise)...

  • July 10, 2012, 9:29 a.m. CST

    BAH! The Strangers

    by D.Vader

    How I despise that movie, despite a few scenes of good direction.

  • July 10, 2012, 9:35 a.m. CST

    Here's some alien fan-fiction for you

    by D.Vader

    That Alien that got blasted off the Nostromo in Alien... or the Queen that got ejected out of the airlock in Aliens... Let's see what happens after 50 or so years when one of those creatures ends up slamming into another spaceship that's just blissfully floating through the universe.

  • July 10, 2012, 9:37 a.m. CST

    @docpazuzu Yup, agree completely...

    by Brian Hopper

    the focus stays on the confusion and terror of the scene, rather than emphasizing (a la torture porn) the gore itself. The result is a vastly more horrific scene because of its emphasis on the human element and human reactions to what's going on.

  • July 10, 2012, 9:54 a.m. CST


    by Brian Hopper

    That's another detail I've always loved... when Dallas and Ripley are hunting around in the medical bay for the facehugger, and then it drops onto Ripley and she wipes it away from her in a panic like you would a spider, and when the facehugger hits the floor it gives a little squeak. That squeak just gets under my skin even thinking about it... it just makes it seem so real. Alien is filled with stuff like that. Like the sound of the chains and the dripping water before Brett is grabbed. Or the sound of Ash's garbled voice after his head's been knocked off. The fury of the storm that Dallas, Lambert and Kane are walking through, contrasted with the silence when the storm is gone. The whoosh of air when the door to the room with the cryosleep pods opens. Or even the little beep sound of the carriage returns when Mother's on-screen responses appear. Directors seem to have lost the art of effective sound design... the juxtaposition of noise and silence... the small details of a good soundscape. Anyway, clearly Alien has that stuff down cold.

  • Cameron's aliens were basically giant bugs, small brained things that acted entirely on instinct, unable to learn or and have sense of self. Scott's alien was much intelligent, sentient and sophisticated. It outsmarted the crew several times, and it knew that it need to get into the escape pod. It waited and watched. It toyed with it's victims. The alien in Scott's film wouldn't have been killed by being run over by a car because it wouldn't have been stupid enough to jump in front of the car in the first place. I don't think the Scott/Giger design was ever supposed to appear bug-like, it was supposed to seem bio-mechanical, more like a grotesque clone than a bug.

  • July 10, 2012, 10:28 a.m. CST

    I don't think any aiens jumped in front of the APC loader

    by Autodidact

    The one that is shown having its head run over was riding on top of the APC and was thrown to the ground in front of it when Ripley slammed into something. Then she jammed the accelerator and ran it over.

  • July 10, 2012, 10:39 a.m. CST

    I just saw that people actually liked at my old ALIEN comic...

    by ufoclub1977

    Thanks for the compliments. I need to make a website to put up all my childhood movie comics and drawings. Middle school was all about drawing more frames during class and showing them to my friends. I hungout with the other "artist" kids and sometimes we would get competitive. I was always lagging on drawing people. But I won at drawing creatures, gore, and of course Giger designed ALIEN. link to a bit of the comic:

  • July 10, 2012, 10:40 a.m. CST

    whoops I meant looked...

    by ufoclub1977

  • July 10, 2012, 10:45 a.m. CST

    Cameron's aliens weren't smart?

    by D.Vader

    Oh yeah, I guess crawling above the ceiling wasn't too strategic. And none of Cameron's Aliens ever "jumped" in front of a car.

  • July 10, 2012, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Ridley's Alien was smart?

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    I guess I messed its ploy of cleverly tricking the crew into blowing up the ship and all its eggs/chew toys + ticket to Earth. I also enjoyed how it wisely took a nap in the Shuttle while Ripley put on a spacesuit, loaded a spear gun, and then opened the airlock. It was pretty clever to wait in an airduct for Dallas to swing by for tea knowing all along it could trick their motion detectors into not seeing it (or maybe that was sketchy writing, nah... smart Alien strategy). The alien also probably should have known it could have skipped along like Red Riding Hood with Jonsey in the cat carrier and Ripley would have come right to it.

  • July 10, 2012, 12:12 p.m. CST

    A L I E N does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    Simply one of the best sci fi movies ever made. Personally for me I rate ALIEN higher even than CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and 2001. It has the same high level of class, elegance and cinematography of those other two movies but its far grittier, more real and of course more tense. All the cast are incredible too - and that includes the Alien itself. What an iconic creation. I watched the DC shortly before PROMETHEUS and while I still prefer the theatrical version it was such a pleasure watching the film again in blu ray and catching all the layers of detail. The best films are those with a really strong sense of place, that transport you the viewer, and ALIEN certainly achieves that.

  • July 10, 2012, 12:19 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    knuckleface, you have a valid point there. The Alien creature in Ridley's movie is a silent assassin - a hitman that takes the crew out one at a time. Whereas the Aliens in Camerons movie are like a mob of grunts - and yes, they do *seem* to die easier and act less intelligently. I agree with that. But I think that can be explained by the diversity of the alien creature itself. All the films have *hinted* that the creature takes on characteristics of its hosts and adapts in different ways. PROMETHEUS also runs heavily with the dna and birthing theme too. It may be that the xenos we see in ALIENS are more of a warrior caste (spawned to protect the queen) rather than the more careful and hitman-like creature we see in the first and third parts.

  • July 10, 2012, 12:27 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Whereas the Aliens in Camerons movie are like a mob of grunts - and yes, they do *seem* to die easier and act less intelligently.

  • July 10, 2012, 12:28 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Oh, damn you aicn for that last post - yeah I was just mentioning the sentry gun sequence from the extended edition of ALIENS as the strongest evidence of the above point.

  • July 10, 2012, 12:45 p.m. CST

    took a nap

    by DocPazuzu

    That's ludicrous. Does anyone actually think that's what the alien was doing? It was HIDING in the shuttle, you idiots. It could sense that Ripley REEAAAALLLY wanted to get to wherever she was going down that corridor and decided to ambush her there. I suppose the alien was taking an upside-down nap when it was awakened by Brett, right? Jesus, some of you people need helmets.

  • July 10, 2012, 1:19 p.m. CST

    I never believed the Alien was hiding in the shuttle

    by D.Vader

    I fully believed it just happened to be coincidence that the Alien got into the shuttlecraft. Maybe it was all of Ripley's movement, but its definitely NOT bc it knew she was blowing up the ship. However, I DO believe the Alien was resting, not just *hiding*. If it was just hiding, why stay in its place after Ripley bothers it? And if its not resting, why do we get the very obvious "yawn" from the creature? No, it was resting. It may have wanted to ambush Ripley, but it was resting there. I think it just didn't want to bother with her until she really started pissing it off by venting all that steam.

  • July 10, 2012, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Worlds Slowest Ambush vs. Napping Alien

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    Maybe it was a different facehugger that snuck onboard the ship and impregnated the ship's mascot sloth Speedy. It didn't "sense" she wanted to be there. It hid there and took a nap because the writers thought it would be cool for a last sequence. Even if it did "sense" Ripley's desire to go to a ship (right...), why not kill her as soon as she walked into the shuttle? Even if it was just enjoying the moment, it should have come out and killed Ripley while she was having her moment with Jonsey putting him in the chamber. Why didn't it? The Alien was.... A) Napping B) Nervously hiding because it doesn't like space travel and didn't have any Dramamine. C) Trusting the producers notes that waiting it better for dramatic effect. D) Digesting and just not that into killing Ripley. E) Scared of the cat and waiting for Ripley to safely put it away. F) REALLY tired G) Watching Prometheus on its iPhone H) Making a calculated attempt to strike at just the right moment when its prey couldn't get away. If it was H, it's a major FAIL because obviously it got blown out the airdock. Stupid Alien.

  • July 10, 2012, 1:38 p.m. CST

    Maybe the Alien learned the hiding trick from Jonsey

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    You can't see me, you can't see me.... you get the claw!!!! You can't see me, you can't see me, you can't see me.... what's that steam? More steam? It's cool, she can't see OUCH!!!! Oh she's going get it now! You messed with the wrong alien. Why isn't she looking at me and pressing buttons? OOOOOH, this is going to be so cool. I'm going to stand over her and drool a loogie on her head like in Big Daddy. I love Adam Sandler. Where did the air go? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Stupid Alien.

  • I thought I saw something that it tried to pull Lambert through a vent and she wouldn't fit. But the Alien seemed cool walking around the ship afterwards (I.E. Ripley almost walked right into it and then it started messing with Jonsey). Was the Alien just getting lazy? Seems like with only one victim left it should have just made a bee line for Ripley at that point. If it was hungry or making eggs and prefers live meat, seems like it should have just snagged the slower one and left the other since neither was a threat. That scene, the Alien definitely had its Michael Myers moment.

  • July 10, 2012, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Cameron's Aliens may or may not have been really smart.

    by FluffyUnbound

    It depends on how you interpret setting up their nest / fortress inside the fusion center (so humans couldn't use small arms against them) and the whole part where they cut the power. They seemed like a pretty tough opponent.

  • July 10, 2012, 1:59 p.m. CST

    A good movie... yes. A great movie...

    by Citizen Sane

    Absolutely not. I have never understood the unbridled worship of this movie. Cameron's Aliens if vastly superior. My crew and I saw it in the theater in its original release. I remember being very excited because Halloween and Phantasm scared the shit out of me the previous year. But I was bored shitless; and not because the shit had already been scared out of me either. Up through when the alien birthed itself through poor John Hurt's core, I remember to movie being amazing (except for the other character's unrealistic low key reaction to such a horrific death to a colleague). After that the movie becomes tedious as hell and makes no sense that the alien can grow so huge just from eating a cat. Which brings me to the movie's second major flaw. This oversight lead to confusion and I remember wondering if the full grown alien was supposed to be the same creature, or a second alien. That confusion completely pulled me out of the movie and almost ruined the experience for me. The third cardinal sin involved the ending: when the (at the time) hot, young Sigourney Weaver kept peeling layer after layer of jump suit off. We kept expecting to see (at least) her tits, but to no avail. - Absolutely a brutal tease. By then we couldn't give a shit about the stupid alien.

  • July 10, 2012, 2:02 p.m. CST

    You couldn't figure out it was the same Alien?

    by D.Vader

    "This oversight lead to confusion and I remember wondering if the full grown alien was supposed to be the same creature, or a second alien. That confusion completely pulled me out of the movie and almost ruined the experience for me. " Kane picks up its shed skin, the same way you find snakeskin and know its because something has grown. I think that was visual cue enough to realize its the same creature. ESPECIALLY since there's no evidence of their being another alien onboard.

  • July 10, 2012, 2:04 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Alien hungry? Do we ever see in any of the movies whether the Aliens eat people? I know it was implied in ALIEN - the presumption was that Brett and Dallas at least both got munched. But then the directors cut came out and showed them in eggs, uneaten. Or are the Aliens just killing to achieve total domination of their environment. Theyre such an awesome organism that they dont need food?

  • July 10, 2012, 2:09 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Alien doesnt eat the cat. Has a couple of opportunities to but doesn't fancy picking furballs out of its teeth all night long.

  • July 10, 2012, 2:13 p.m. CST

    Yeah I don't think we've ever seen an Alien eat in ANY movie

    by D.Vader

  • July 10, 2012, 2:20 p.m. CST

    Alien 3 the Alien is munching... just another reason that movie is awful

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    They show it chomping on a prisoner in the vent. Of course, the stupid Alien keeps dropping dead prisoners through vents to scare the other prisoners and amuse itself. The Alien 3 alien lacked motivation. Wasn't threatened, wasn't hungry, and apparently didn't want its species to survive because it keep killing all the potential hosts even after noticing Ripley had a bun in the over. The Lambert/Parker slaughter while scary, didn't fit everything we see in Alien and Aliens. It just kills them and leaves the corpses so that Ripley can be horrified by it. Makes no sense.

  • July 10, 2012, 2:21 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    vader, yep. Even in ALIEN 3 where the alien doesnt have any kind of cocoons or eggs to complicate things - the alien just kills its victims and leaves the bodies all fucked up but uneaten. In the DC of that one they even make a bit of a parallel between the alien and the character that is a serial killer.

  • July 10, 2012, 2:23 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    domi, the alien munches one of its victims in Alien 3? I vaguely remember that bit, but is it simply biting them to kill them or eating them I wonder!

  • Those items were the subject of a few conversions after watching the movie the first time before we lost interest. The biggest grip from most people that I knew then was that the Alien went from being a outer-space bilge rat to an eight foot monster so quickly. A lot of people (at the time) thought that there were two aliens on the ship, not one. I understood their confusion and would try yo explain and usually got (understandably) frustrated reactions: How can any creature grow so much without a substantial source of nutrition to consume and quickly metabolize or some kind of metamorphosis in order to create so much bio mass so quickly? The shed skin was found in the dark and without definitive exposition clarifying what he had found, obscuring that plot point too. Believe me, we were willing and ripe to be terrorized and entertained by that movie when it came out; but we weren't

  • Another prisoner stumbles on them. I can't remember if a scream brought him there (would imply the Alien was just making sure he was 100% dead and not just 99% dead) or if he just walking in on the Alien enjoying a snack. If the Alien just kills to kill when there's no Queen around (Alien/Alien3... sorta), really makes it a stupid movie boogyman like Jason or Myers (who at least have SOME motivation for the killing). What was cool about Alien, was other than Lambert and Parker you don't know what happened. All the audience knows is that the baby aliens use people as incubators. Which made that mystery especially creepy in Alien (what if the adults do something worse?). Aliens removes that mystery by explaining all they're doing is gathering victims for facehuggers, but I think it makes up for that by being a great action film. Aliens 3 made the alien a moronic killing machine.

  • July 10, 2012, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Weird, Citizen Sane

    by D.Vader

    Its never occurred to me that someone could have that confusion before.

  • The movie is Alien (singular). I'm not sure how much more clearly they could spell it out to you other than having a sequence where the Alien grew like Apache Chief in Superfriends.

  • July 10, 2012, 3:30 p.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    Your "stupidity" argument requires that the alien: 1) knew how a spaceship worked 2) knew what space was 3) knew that is was in a spaceship in space ...and still acted like it could do what it wanted. The reason the alien took its time with Ripley is because it knew she couldn't get away. It had her cornered. It was a hunter and hunters sometimes enjoying toying with their prey. Yawning and napping.... Jesus H. Christ...

  • Trying to guess the region that multiple people thought there were two Aliens.

  • July 10, 2012, 3:47 p.m. CST

    Come on DocPaz, THAT was the UNIVERSAL sign for "yawn"

    by D.Vader

    It fucking yawned! You've GOT to admit that. Maybe it was bored with the hunt and not napping, but that was STILL a yawn.

  • July 10, 2012, 3:53 p.m. CST


    by Domi'sInnerChild

    So it's gone from way more intelligent than the Aliens to simply a great hunter now. Don't lions sleep like 23 hours a day? The Alien was totally sleeping on the shuttle. It just had two big meals. It didn't even want to eat the cat as dessert. Then got pissed when Ripley bugged it and clawed at her to go away, "I'm sleeping". Seems much more likely it "sensed" it was time to go to sleep rather than "sense" that Ripley was planning an escape on the Shuttle. Mind reading Aliens... right. Stupid lazy Alien.

  • July 10, 2012, 4:12 p.m. CST

    You know what kinda bugged me, Ash never saw the alien

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    Just the facehugger and the chestburster. He made a lot of assumptions about how awesome it was (basically just that Parker said it was "HUGE" and he found some shredded skin). It could have been a giant orange kitten for all he knew.

  • July 10, 2012, 4:47 p.m. CST

    Theory about a Prometheus sequel:

    by Trenox

    We learn that the Space Jockey from Alien is infact the female protagonist from Prometheus in their suit...

  • July 10, 2012, 5:11 p.m. CST

    ALIENS' takes place 57 years after the events depicted in 'ALIEN

    by Chris Moody

    Why would we assume that the creature in ALIEN is the same creature in ALIENS?

  • Silly Space Jockeys. It seemed odd that the beacon stopped working or whatever before they started terraforming the planet. But if you assume the Company/Ash already knew what was there, then it doesn't really make sense that Ripley's appearance triggers the investigation of the derelict ship (unless they felt they needed to step things up in case Ripley's story gets traction and whatever government/rival Company entity could mess up their master plan). Or that they'd terraform the planet to begin with without investigating and finding the easier to transport eggs.

  • The Jockey on LV-426 had long since crashed by the time the events of Prometheus went down, not possible.

  • But then, maybe that's not really acting so much as a demonstration of Ridley Scott's skill in directing

  • July 10, 2012, 8 p.m. CST

    shermdawg- Time Travel. Remember your writer

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    I don't think he can resist.

  • July 10, 2012, 8:08 p.m. CST

    Alien behavior explanations

    by lv_426

    A L I E N -- Why did the alien kill Parker and Lambert, but then leave them there instead of cocooning them? (whether or not you buy the egg morph or queen theory as the proper canon is irrelevant, as the aliens cocoon people for both processes) The alien first seems to go for Lambert, but Parker intervenes. The alien then senses this threat from Parker, who is dealt with and killed because he had what looked like a big meathook for a weapon. We don't know if Lambert is then killed, as we don't see he being killed/molested/etc by the alien as it cuts to Ripley hearing the screams of pain and terror from another area of the ship. It is plausible that Lambert was badly wounded, but perhaps not totally dead. Remember, in the deleted cocoon scene, Brett is being used to as a host for the egg. Brett also had his head smashed in by the alien's inner jaws. So perhaps whether he is dead or not is irrelevant to this procedure. Also, if Lambert was still alive enough to be a host, then maybe the alien was going to use Parker to make the second egg. That way he'd have Brett (egg) and Dallas (host), and then Parker (egg) and Lambert (host). Did the alien know how many more humans were onboard? Who knows. We can assume the alien knew there were more people though, so perhaps it decided to come back for Parker and Lambert in a bit after it scoped out the area to make sure things were safe. Remember that the alien got both Brett and Dallas when they were separated from the larger group. It seems instinctually smart to make sure things are clear after having to deal with two enemies. The alien probably knew they were travelling in groups, so it wanted to be cautious about its hunting. This ties perfectly into the whole theory of the single alien using more of an assassin style sneaking method than the more military style method of the ones in the sequel. -- Why did the alien go into the shuttle and hide in the pipe structure in the wall? Simply because it was a snug place that offered both camouflage and security. Animals do this kind of thing. Dogs for instance like to find a snug place that they can just fit into (under a desk, in a corner) so that there is only one way in and out when approaching them. It offers them more security as they can't be ambushed from behind or from the side as easily. My dogs (Welsh Corgis) do this when they sleep. At night they'll go lay underneath a small desk or in a corner behind a big chair, both to feel secure while sleeping, but also I guess so they won't be disturbed from sleeping by pests like me staying up all night watching movies like Alien! I also like the theory that turd_has_risen_from_underneath_the_gravy posited... that the alien in Alien was getting ready to moult into the form we know from Cameron's Aliens. From domed head to ridged head form. With more claw like hands than the six-fingered hands of Giger's design, but overall pretty damn similar. So if you were a creature about to molt into a new form, you'd want a secure spot where it was hard for your enemy to get at you. The only way you could approach the alien in the shuttle would be directly to its face, as it had its head and mouth end pointing at the opening it crawled through into the pipe structure. Also, if the alien was getting ready to molt, when Ripley gets near it, perhaps the creature feels its space being violated, and throws its hand out to say, "back off." If the alien had seen Ripley as a threat right away, it would have obviously gotten up and killed her right then. It is only after she disturbs it with the steam that it feels threatened. ALIENS -- Why did the alien seem so sneaky and less willing to charge in like the warrior types in Cameron's Aliens? Simple, the alien in Alien was basically a young grunt that didn't know as much as the older ones in Aliens. Sure the lone alien had its killer instinct, but it hadn't had time to map out the Nostromo and get a proper feel for how best to move from one area to the other. It still did a pretty good job, but had the crew dilly dallied for too long, the alien might have explored some more and gotten a better feel for how best to ambush the rest of the crew. Contrast that with the ones in Aliens, who had not only the advantage of having a force of them all working in tandem, but had a lot of time to get the lay of the land. Once the marines showed up, the Hadley's Hope aliens had already set up a hive and had obviously explored the colony enough to know of the underground service tunnel between the atmosphere processor and the colony's main town area. Remember, they also cut the power later on. They aren't dumb, but they would still need some time to mess around and figure some things out. The alien in the first film was alive for a day or two. ALIEN³ -- Why did the runner alien in Alien³ munch on its victims? Why didn't it take them away and cocoon them, especially since Ripley had a queen embryo growing inside of her? I wish there was an explanation for this one, but sadly they didn't catch this plot hole. At least not in the film, but I do believe in one of the scripts, the runner alien was cocooning the prisoners in I believe that large elevator like shaft that we see early (the briefing scene that starts with "this is rumor control, here are the facts"). That would have been great to see, especially on that particular set, which if you look closely has some very Giger inspired shapes to it. Or how about an alien cocoon in the big tunnels with the giant fans shown earlier in the film? They really should have done this scene, as it would have added some needed visual variety to the latter half of the film. I suppose they ran out of money, or didn't have the time to do a cocoon so they skipped it to focus on Ripley and the plan to trap the alien in the lead mold. We can guess that the alien might have captured a few prisoners and taken them somewhere to cocoon them and we the audience nor the remaining prisoners and Ripley ever got to see where it was in the film due to the circumstances. Perhaps it was making a cocoon, as it could have taken Superintendent Andrews there since we never saw him actually die, but just getting pulled up into the air ducts.

  • as a fighting group against the colonists. Once the marines arrive, the aliens have already been through one round of battle with armed humans. That could be why they are so aggressive while the lone alien on the Nostromo was a bit more sneaky.

  • July 10, 2012, 10:22 p.m. CST

    Alien - 2 movies in one

    by IamZardoz

    Probably the third best sci fi flick ever right up to the point of the crew dumping Kanes body out the garbage chute; then comes the monster movie. I always loved how in the first (sci-fi) half it was the only space movie Ive ever seen where it shows how a spacecraft approaching a planet would orient itself to flying over the surface ("roll to port yaw...") and then the derelict. Totally alien. Unmade by humans. Then the SJ. Unexplained. Huge, ancient, scary and unexplained. Have to say I thought Tom Skerritt was great ("thats a bunch of horseshit, we can take off without that..") and Im one that thinks the egg morphing was absolutely more horrifying than the chestburster or the alien itself. Only bettered by Blade Runner and 2001. Ill put Prometheus in the very good but flawed category with Sunshine.

  • July 11, 2012, 12:05 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    The problem with you and domsinnerchild is that you can't seem to make up your minds as to whether the alien is simply an animal or something more than that. If you consider it an animal then everything it does on the ship is based on instinct with a mush lesser degree of intelligence. If, on the other hand, you consider it to be something altogether more sapient its actions become both more frightening and eerie. I don't consider that a "yawn" any more than I consider the alien's jaw extension at the end of Prometheus to be a "yawn". It's merely flexing its jaws. In the case of Alien (again, if you don't consider the alien simply a beast), it's demonstratively displaying its power to a helpless victim. And how does it being a "hunter" make it less intelligent? The fucking Predators are hunters and have achieved interstellar flight. Bad argument, dom.

  • July 11, 2012, 12:07 a.m. CST

    oh and dom...

    by DocPazuzu still haven't commented on the alien's "nap" that was disturbed by Brett.

  • July 11, 2012, 6:56 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    I would put Sunshine ahead of Prometheus. By a mile. Yes, it succumbs to eventhorizonism at the end and "cenobitizes" the antagonist, but up until that point it's captivating, thrilling and awe-inspiring. Also, the characters are all believable and act in logical ways given their situation. In Prometheus, none of the characters gel, and because of their flat out bizarre reactions to things, the story falls apart pretty much out of the gate. Danny Boyle learned more from Alien than Ridley Scott did, apparently.

  • July 11, 2012, 6:57 a.m. CST

    Oh and...

    by DocPazuzu

    ...I do agree that you can like a bad movie. Hell, a good portion of the films I utterly love are, objectively speaking, terrible movies. I have no problem accepting that.

  • July 11, 2012, 7:41 a.m. CST

    Parker and Lambert

    by Robbiemc9

    The Alien kills Parker because he tries to save Lambert. The Alien then kills Lambert and tries to pull her into the air shaft but she doesn't fit. Ripley finds Lambert bent in half in the opening to the air shaft. I think this detail is in the novel released. It freaks me out a little how many times I have watched this movie. More then any other. I know every beat and every bleep. It is a hypnotic disturbing beautiful masterpiece. I prefer the theatrical cut because I love the nuance of Ripley's fight with Dallas and the cocoon sequence doesn't feel in the right place (although I like the concept). The lighting and her hair seems to have contenquiry issues. This scene is also in the book as well as a minor additional moment where the alien stalks Dallas some more in the shafts and a great moment where Parker discovers it standing next to an airlock and nearly kills it by opening the lock. Ash saves it by setting off an alarm that scares it away at the last moment. Ripley runs to save Parker from depressurization. I think they intended to film this because it explains why Ripley's nose is bleeding prior to confronting Ash. I highly recommend reading the book. It is very well written and detailed.

  • July 11, 2012, 7:47 a.m. CST


    by Robbiemc9

    The only thing that bothers me however is the control room where they communicate with Mother. What is with all the pointless blinking Christmas lights?? Serves no point at all and looks silly. Sticks out like a sore thumb from the amazing design of the rest of the ship. Any fans want to offer reasons to help the suspension of my disbelief regarding the purpose of the Christmas lights? Always reminds me of that great cameo by William Shatner in Airplane 2 - blinking and beeping and flashing AND BLINKING AND BEEPING AND FLASHING AND BEEPING!!!! Lol - You would totally feel that after working on so much Si-fy.

  • July 11, 2012, 7:59 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    Not that they could have planned it at the time, but I like to think of them as the same as that stupid little blinking light at the front of your computer that tells you that the computer is working. Perhaps, given how advanced Mother is, thay simply need more lights along the banks to show she's got all her shit together. Perhaps if one starts glowing red or something they'll exactly where they need to look. Works for me. Mostly I just try to not think about that. If you really want to go crazy, try explaining why Mother needs to make noise every time a line is typed... ;)

  • July 11, 2012, 8 a.m. CST


    by DocPazuzu

    ...fucking hell, I need coffee...

  • July 11, 2012, 9:11 a.m. CST

    I hate the fact that the Space Jockey is just a space suit

    by SergeantStedenko

    Having the Jockeys be Humanoid is just more "Humans are the Center of the Universe. I will ignore Prometheus as Nordling suggests and continue to imagine that the Jockey is some weird race of giant crustaceans and the Aliens are their experiment gone terribly wrong or right. Nowhere in this Alien world of mine does Black Gumby Goo factor in.

  • July 11, 2012, 9:40 a.m. CST

    docpazuzu, you're the one who thinks the Alien was napping with Brett

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    I thought the Alien was working with Jonsey to get Brett for all the times he didn't feed him.

  • July 11, 2012, 9:48 a.m. CST

    lv_426, I like the dead/alive dead/alive theory

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    Makes sense that Parker was ticketed as an Egg and Lambert a host if theoretically the Alien can turn corpses into eggs (sort of a necrophillia thing). It follows the Parker comment that there wasn't any blood when it snagged Dallas. You know, since he got a blood bath from Parker. I always thought that was an odd line in the movie. Why wouldn't the Alien give Dallas a bite? If the Alien didn't bite Lambert and just screwed the pooch pulling her alive through the airvent, it follows my stupid inexperienced baby Alien theory too. Maybe it wasn't planning on killing Ripley in the shuttle because it was still stuck in "I need a host for Parker because I squished the ugly chick" mode.

  • July 11, 2012, 9:48 a.m. CST

    I mean Parker got a blood bath from Brett

    by Domi'sInnerChild

  • July 11, 2012, 10:05 a.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Another interesting indicator of the Alien's intellect is the infamous *box* sequence from outside the airlock. The scene was originally planned to have the Alien freakily folded up, as if to emulate the catbox, and presumably to ambush Ripley. The 1979 graphic novel tie-in Alien: The Illustrated Story shows it, you can see the comic panels here:

  • July 11, 2012, 10:14 a.m. CST

    The Nostromo

    by DoctorFloyd

    Just a little correction... While it's true that Ron Cobb did the original sketches of the Nostromo, he did not "build" it. That amazing job was left to Brian Johnson (Space:1999) and the rest of his VFX team.

  • July 11, 2012, 10:54 a.m. CST

    Is it just me..........

    by fat_rancor_keeper

    .....or did the scaling of the space-jockey/engineer seem off in Prometheus? They just seemed a lot smaller than they should have been in contrast to average human size and height? I feel like the corpse we saw in Alien was much larger.

  • July 11, 2012, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Really confused why sneaking up on people and hidding = intellect

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    So basically you're saying the Alien is as smart as every cat that jumps out of a cupboard in every horror movie ever made. I wasn't expecting the Alien to be solving equations in its spare time, but there's no where in Alien that is does anything smarter than any other movie monster. The writers basically did their scenes like, "<Insert Victim> walks into a room/junction, <Insert Victim> looks at <insert cart, equipment, vent>, Alien suddenly appears and gets them". Alien is a smart sci-fi movie. The Alien itself however doesn't really do anything above and beyond a typical movie monster formula attack. Bruce the Shark was toying with the crew for example and not just suddenly appearing and taking them out one by one (with a secret motive that is left to the imagination except in the director's cut)... and he was just a dumb fish.

  • July 12, 2012, 2 p.m. CST

    @ lv_426

    by reni

    lv, is there any truth about Parker and Ripley both surviving at the end. I read somewhere the filmmakers were undecided about Parker making it.

  • July 12, 2012, 3:07 p.m. CST

    It is simple...

    by Citizen Sane

    ... a creature changing from a 10 pound 'newborn' to a four-hundred pound behemoth without some sort of expository time-bridge or metamorphosis doesn't make sense and had never really been seen in movies back then. If something doesn't make sense, particularly in the context of any kind of storytelling, then it is naturally confusing. But not as confusing as domi'sinnerchild's pathetic rants.

  • July 12, 2012, 4:08 p.m. CST

    citizen sane is right, there were two Aliens

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    Totally the same plot as Scream. That's why the cat survived, the little one was inside controlling it and giving orders to the big one that snuck in through the hull breach. Seriously, you're the only person I've ever heard of that thought there were two aliens. Lots of people were wondering why it grew so fast. Simple answer is it ate something. Blue Whales can add 200lbs in 24 hours. They have acid for blood and in the first two films you never see them eat people. Maybe it absorbed the water or ate metal to add mass. It's a fucking movie, use your imagination for the stuff that happens off screen. Did you need an explanation of why they needed to drag a refinery across space instead of just the end product?

  • July 12, 2012, 8:17 p.m. CST


    by Sandy

    Well written and precise. Perfectly on target on every point. I 100% agree, especially on the effect the later films have on the creature and our perception of it. That and the continuity issues with them, ALL three of them, is why I like to think of the three of them as dreams of Ripley as she drifts silently through the void (she was after all a the novelisation indicates). It doesn't diminish my enjoyment of them and in fact I enjoy all of them more as a result of this perspective. Alien is not only in my top ten, it sits comfortably at #1 and has for over 30 years. The only film that's ever come close to toppling it is The Gospel of John (a wonderful, moving film) that now sits at the #2 slot. You hit it on the head with your assessment, something I've tried to do with regard to the film for years in response to those who would suggest it's "just a monster movie". Thanks for this, Nordling.

  • July 13, 2012, 7:04 a.m. CST

    alien biotech

    by krylite

    explanation of why it grew so big so fast. Giger's concept of the alien was organic but also party mechanical. the writers and Ridley stepped up the sci-fi concept of an super advanced predatory life form at least in physicality if not biased to civilized intellect. Predator was a well-made ripoff that grew into it's own franchise powered by Arnold's action reign in the latter 80's. While the Predator had all it's tools and weapons, the Alien has it all built in to itself. It's not far to assume the xenomorph has natural functions of advanced bio-nanotech perhaps digesting and processing materials at an efficiency of many multiple times of humans and creating advanced organic structures internally. Lots of "secrets' the Company was after. i.e. Bishop poking the "cow" guts , analyzing it. Kind of wished they expanded more on that and giving Henrikson more scenes.

  • July 13, 2012, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Nice article--but it's "Ron Cobb," not "Rob Cobb"

    by Plathismo

    Watched the blu-ray of 'Alien' a couple of weeks ago--first time I'd watched it all the way through in ages. After seeing it 10 zillion times, I can't say the movie frightens me anymore, but it continues to dazzle me with its brilliance and craftsmanship. The best horror film ever made, period.

  • July 13, 2012, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Good idea, autodidact.

    by frank

    That is my main biology problem with the xenomorph. Your explanation also fits since the aliens reproduce through alternation of generations like many plants.

  • Nap time, not hunting time. Also I thought it was just coincidence that it decided to nap on the escape shuttle.

  • July 14, 2012, 7:18 a.m. CST

    Jones the cat

    by Glenn

    I've always been a little confused, geographically, where the cat is...because I felt like she didn't go back for the cat, like everyone thinks, but that just after attempting to cancel the autodestruct sequence, she's heading very near where the cat is anyway and snatches it on her way to the Narcissus. My blu ray player is down, I can't watch the movie. Can someone set me straight on what actually happens and where? And on this plot hole, as some suggest it is, Ridley himself says "Would I go back for my dogs? You bet your ass I would." I don't think I'd go back for my dogs. I mean, I'd be putting them down in 5-10 years anyway, right? And I don't think Ridley, in the face of the most horrible ways to die (take your pick: evisceration from inside, being skullfucked literally, burnt to hell by acid blood, or fucking cocooned for an eternity and feeling your insides turning into spores and wtf else) -- I'm just putting this out there: Ridley Scott would run away flailing, all namby-pamby-like.

  • That would be fucking dope

  • July 15, 2012, 11:08 p.m. CST

    Nice article - but it's "Knob Gobbler" not "Rob Cobb"

    by Obi Wanna Cannoli

    Alien is a sci-fi classic along with Bladerunner but I hardly watch it if it is on cable. Horror plots wear after so many viewings. Aliens on the other hand I can watch any time on cable for the action. IMHO, two different style movies and both are great.

  • July 16, 2012, 12:11 a.m. CST

    Cartwright's appearance is crucial here.

    by DanteCubit

    First off, a comparison: I'm not scared of bugs. They irritate me, but that's about it. However, if I sit next to a girl I know who is petrified of the little fuckers, she sees one and starts to freak out and scream, her terror over seeing this bug increases my tension/irritation to levels it would not have been if I were alone with the damn bug. Therefore, while Cartwright *is* an audience surrogate to some extent, the real reason she is important is that her behavior makes us less stoic, less capable of getting a grip on our emotions, The more upset and jittery she gets, the more likely I am to be more jittery and tense as the movie progresses. I think for that reason alone, Cartwright's character is one of the most important in the film when it comes to ramping up the tension in the theater. No other characters' reactions compare. Like Hudson in "ALIENS" showed a cowardice in the face of fear, Cartwright's "Lambert" was a raw nerve meant to send some audience members over-the-edge. And I think she did a wonderful job at that.

  • July 16, 2012, 10:14 a.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Veronica Cartwright was in THE RIGHT STUFF too and as an actress she had the right stuff! No one should try and make out Cartwright was a weak link in the cast. She wasn't. There were no weak links in the cast at all - thats one of the reasons ALIEN is a classic.

  • July 16, 2012, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Man, Prometheus was DULL

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    Sadly, finally saw it today. With all the complains about Bevis & Butthead petting snakes, running from falling spaceships, Lo-pan, etc... I think the biggest problem was the movie just wasn't that interesting (seriously, NOTHING happened. The went to a planet, found a bomber base with black zombie/growth goo, and took off on an alien ship hoping for a sequel) and the action scenes weren't exactly thrilling (way too CGI and you didn't care about any of the characters dying). As bad as Alien 3 and 4 were, at least they weren't forgettable. Even Fassbender was better as Magneto than David.