Saturday, February 15, 2014

Movie Friday - Alien (Yeah, I know it's Saturday now...shut up.)

Everybody's dead, Dave. Everybody but Ripley and the cat.


Release Date: May 25, 1979
Studio: Brandywine Productions
Distribution: 20th Century Fox
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers:  Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett, David Giler (uncredited), Walter Hill (uncredited)
Alien Design: H. R. Giger    

Copyright Twentieth Century Fox
Left to Right:
Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Victoria Lambert,
Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Yaphet Kotto
Alien: Boladji Badejo in his sole film credit. Ah, the days before CGI, when monsters were people in suits or complicated puppets...or sometimes both.

Ash:  Ian Holm
Brett:  Harry Dean Stanton
Dallas: Tom Skerritt
Kane: John Hurt
Parker: Yaphet Kotto
Ripley:  Sigourney Weaver

Mother, voice of the computer: Helen Horton

Jonesy: a ginger tomcat 

I don’t remember when I first saw Alien. It wasn’t in 1979, that’s for sure. I was eight years old. It would’ve been five or six years later at least. I read the novelization of the movie by Alan Dean Foster first and I loved it. I think I was about thirteen when I read it, my step-dad was a member of the science fiction book club and it was in his collection. So I probably saw the movie between thirteen and sixteen years of age. In retrospect? This sort of explains a lot about myself to…myself.

When I saw the movie? Damn. I loved it. It was gory and creepy and science-y (I loved the sci fi movies that seemed more realistic…twenty minutes into the future and all that) and a woman was outsmarting a seriously dangerous alien! And…AND…she saved the cat! Yeah, she didn’t manage to save any of the people but really, they were too stupid to listen to her and be careful and the cat really couldn’t save itself, could it? Ripley used her brains.

Ripley used her brains. That’s sort of what it all comes down to.

Okay, NOW everybody else is dead.
Property Twentieth Century Fox.
Alien is in the top ten of greatest sci-fi movies on most of the lists I looked at...and when it wasn’t in the top ten its sequel, Aliens, was.  Other minds more patient and probing than mine have reviewed and dissected it at length on the internet, explaining precisely how and why it is so amazingly, awesomely, badass on every level. I won’t go into that myself, because I agree with most of their interpretations and explanations. I’ll give you the links so you can explore them yourself. I can still see new things in it today, or notice details that showed up in the later movies as homages. It’s classic. Sci’re doing it right.

I am an early model Star Wars and Star Trek fangirl but Alien is number one on the list of my favorite science fiction movies, with its sequel Aliens right behind it.  Would I have said that twenty years ago? Probably not. But I say it today, because at forty-two I understand a lot more about a lot more than I did at twenty-two. How do I explain it without going into pages of DEEP THOUGHTS? I can’t.

 The movie passes the Bechdel Test, passed by Bechdel herself, thank you.

It’s in my top five movies favorite movies of all genres.

Because Ripley uses her brains to defeat the monster and survive...and Ripley is a woman.  

General Info:

Alien (film) Wikipedia – I’m trying to limit my reliance on Wikipedia in my research, but damn, this is a pretty exhaustive entry with 119 source notes listed.
Alien (1979)  IMDB – I love IMDBs trivia, goofs, quotes.

Property of H. R. Giger

H. R. Geiger - Ow. Turn your sound down. Giger designed the alien and built the body.
Carlo Rambaldi -  Designed and built the head of the xenomorph. The jaw of the the head is now in the Smithsonian Institute. Or so says the Alien Wikipedia article, I could not find confirmation on the humongous Smithsonian website or anywhere else on the web.

Interesting Alien tidbits- Backstory on the Nostromo Crew:
Strange Shapes - Alien Series Blog: Nostromo Crew Profiles - allegedly from Ridley Scott’s character notes
Shadowlocked - Space Misfits: Nostromo Crew Backstories revealed – The Aliens Anthology blu ray set has some lovely extras it seems.

Reviews: - Alien Movie Review - by Kelly Parks
Cult Brittania – Alien: The Technically British Film Series – Hamish Crawford answers the question I never considered asking. “How British Is It?”

SFDebris: Alien - Chuck gets his snark on. My favorite video reviewer.

Top Sci Fi movie lists:
The Guardian: Film Blog
Popular Mechanics: The 100 Best Sci Fi movies of all time – see that link under the video box? It says View Thumbnails? Just do that,  it’s easier. Otherwise you’ll have to click next until you get to number twelve. I tried to link to the thumbnails directly but I couldn’t. Seriously Popular Mechanics, why ya gotta be like that? Top 25 Sci Fi Movies of All Time – IGN, your website is also extremely annoying. See to that, would you?
American Film Institute: Top Ten Sci Fi – See! See! THIS is how you do a list!
Science Channel Top 10 Sci Fi Movies – Its number three, that Avatar ad throws me off. Ish.
Rotten Tomatoes: Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy movies – Another easily readable list.
Parallel Universe: Fifty Greatest Science Fiction Movies of All Time

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