Before writing this article, I discovered that today was Alien Day! What would be a better time to put out this article?
I’ve recently FINALLY watched these movies because of:
1. The Metroid connection that these movies have
2. The sad and untimely death of actor Bill Paxton, which got me to watch Alien and then Aliens (review forthcoming).
3. I’ve never been a horror movie fan (but I’m now converted)
For this review comparison, I chose the theatrical cut of Alien.
Alien is the 1979 Ridley Scott film with a lot of actors that I know from other places before I watched this. Sigourney Weaver I knew from any and every movie with a good enough sense of humor to include her (WALL-E as “Computer” and Paul as “The Big Guy”), Harry Dean Stanton I knew from Big Love, the show that got me into adult programming, as “Roman Grant” (and The Avengers, in a cameo, as “Security Guard”), and John Hurt I knew from The Black Cauldron as “The Horned King”. The rest I had only heard of in passing or not at all.
Alien is about a crew of a spaceship finally going back home. They intercept a distress signal and one of the crew members gets infected by an alien life-form that grows over the course of the film. The crew then gets picked off one by one as they come face to face with the titular creature, and eventually it’s up to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) to stop it.
The pacing in this film is absolutely perfect. Every half-hour, expect a turn of events to happen, and then go quiet for about 25 minutes. It kept me on the edge of my seat, so to speak. The film is like a heart monitor or a roller coaster, always ramping up to a climax.
The climax is actually the most Metroid-y (is that a word? It is now.) thing I’ve seen (or is Metroid the most Alien-y thing I’ve seen? I digress). The entire station is set to self-destruct (a common occurrence in the Metroid series), she’s at odds with the computer called Mother (Metroid’s main villain is Mother Brian) the main character’s name is Ripley (similar to Ridley, whose name is shared with the director Scott and another series antagonist (a Space Pirate Robot Dragon, how cool is that?!), and she uses an extreme-temperature weapon to harm the creatures she’s hunting (flamethrower versus Ice Beam). Aside from having to save something (her cat; saving things comes in later games), this is textbook NES Metroid, aside from the awesome self-destruct countdown music. There is no music, only quiet.
Alien is a wonderful film. It grips the viewer with a sense of unease and dread and it doesn’t let go. The cast is impeccable and the effects really hold up even today. Also, as a footnote, up until this film was released, audiences were used to all of the main cast dying in horror movies, but imagine their surprise when a main character, let alone a woman, survived against all odds and lived to see another movie. She was a survivor, just like Samus, whose home was laid waste to by Ridley.
Samus and Ripley, survivors and alien-killers.