the Thinking Chicks Guide to Movies

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Alien (1979)

Reviewed on 2007 August 18

This is one of my favorite monster flicks. It has an old-school sci-fi movie feel blended with special effects that stand the test of time. It’s also good and scary.

The crew of the Nostromo is about to return from a space salvage mission, when they receive what seems like a distress signal from another planet. Already somewhat crabby from a lengthy tour in space, they decide to investigate, more from hope of more salvage than any real sense of heroics. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) scathingly assures the mercenary Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) they’ll get their shares, while Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) wants nothing more than to get out of there. Nonetheless, she and Kane (John Hurt) are the ones that brave the descent onto the planet. It ain’t salvage they find.

The first half of the movie is leisurely — saying it’s slow would be a negative connotation to me, and there’s nothing negative here. The Nostromo feels cold in every sense of the word. Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett wrote a great story, and Ridley Scott paced it perfectly. We get to know the characters and their rivalries with each other. By the time they make the decision to investigate the distress call you sense none of the crew members would be too heartbroken if they never worked together again. That’s part of what makes it so brilliant — imagine being menaced by something while light years away from anything, and wondering if the only person who could help would feed you to the thing if it meant their escape.

Four chocolate morsels. Mr. Shukti says it’s the only horror movie that ever spooked him.


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