UK Release date: 1st November 1979
Watched on DVD Sunday 3rd June 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
The tag line on the poster says ‘In Space No One Can Hear You Scream’ which promises the viewer a terrifying experience. Well, having seen it many times over the years, it’s no longer terrifying, but it still has a relentless aura about it that still gives me goose bumps. Needless to say I am a bit of a fan of Ridley Scott’s first foray into sci-fi/horror. There is probably no need for a plot summary, but there may still be a few waifs and strays out there who haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll make it brief and as spoiler-free as I can.
When towing vessel Nostromo brings its crew out of stasis it is not because they are home, as expected. It turns out an alien signal has been detected and they’ve been diverted to investigate. When they land on the planet they sustain some damage and while it’s being fixed by Brett and Parker; Dallas, the skipper, goes with Lambert and Kane to investigate the signal. The planet is very inhospitable and so the team is monitored by Science Officer, Ash. Meanwhile Ripley does some analysis on the signal and discovers it may not be a distress call, as first thought; she believes it’s a warning! The away team discover a crashed alien ship and go in to investigate. When they return Kane has something attached to his face… Something that could be very dangerous indeed… I had better leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Alien Division) will have me investigating crashed alien craft (again).
From the very first scene to the very last this film both looks and sounds quite menacing. The design and the music are all superb and the performances, although a little chaotic at times are all excellent. Of course the stand-out performance comes from, the quite young at the time, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. In a role she was to make her own she was a little raw, but you could see the quality there. Next up (for me) was Ian Holm as Ash; he played what must have been a difficult part very well. Yaphet Kotto as Parker and Harry Dean Stanton as Brett played the blue collar grunts very well, and also provided some much needed comic relief here and there. Tom Skerritt did ok as Dallas, although I felt it wasn’t a particularly demanding role. Veronica Cartwright did a decent job as Lambert and John Hurt, who has one of the most iconic scenes in sci-fi film history, played it with great aplomb. Finally a word for Jones the ship’s cat (uncredited)… Some great cat acting from that kitty.
The film has quite a slow pace that slowly builds to an almost frenetic conclusion. I must admit that having seen the follow-up ‘Aliens’ (1986), directed by James Cameron, I lost a little of the love I had for this one. You’ll be pleased to know I’ve grown up a bit since then and can now see the merits of both films. There is a certain quality to every scene in this film, whether it’s the sound design, the music or just the sets themselves, it looks and sounds quite brilliant. It’s creepy as hell and I believe Ridley Scott has learned the art of allowing the audience enough of a glimpse for them to make up the rest of the monster in their own minds. This is (of course) where all the best monsters lurk… It’s not perfect though, there are a few rough edges here and there, but even so well worth a look!... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My score: 8.9/10
IMDb Score: 8.5/10 (based on 285,345 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 83/100: (Based on 22 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 97/100 (based on 86 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 90/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 406,570 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Brett: This is the worst shit I've ever seen, man.
Parker: What you say? You got any biscuits over there?
Ripley: Here's some cornbread.
Parker: Cornbread. Yeah.
Lambert: I am cold.
Parker: Still with us, Brett?
Kane: Oh, I feel dead.
Parker: Anybody ever tell you you look dead, man?
Kane: The pit is completely enclosed. And it's full of leathery objects, like eggs or something.
Dallas: Something has attached itself to him. We have to get him to the infirmary right away.
Ripley: What kind of thing? I need a clear definition.
Dallas: An organism. Open the hatch.
Ripley: Wait a minute. If we let it in, the ship could be infected. You know the quarantine procedure. Twenty-four hours for decontamination.
Dallas: He could die in twenty-four hours. Open the hatch.
Ripley: Listen to me, if we break quarantine, we could all die.
Lambert: Look, could you open the god-damned hatch? We have to get him inside.
Ripley: No. I can't do that and if you were in my position, you'd do the same.
Dallas: Ripley, this is an order. Open that hatch right now, do you hear me?
Dallas: Ripley. This is an order. Do you hear me?
Ripley: Yes. I read you. The answer is negative.
Brett: Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Meaow. Here Jonesy.
Ash: Ripley, for God's sake, this is the first time that we've encountered a species like this. It has to go back. All sorts of tests have to be made.
Ripley: Ash, are you kidding? This thing bled acid. Who knows what it's gonna do when it's dead?
Ash: I think it's safe to assume it isn't a zombie.