Alien: A Sci-fi genre legend


I was inspired over this past weekend when I finally got the last piece of my Halloween costume in the mail to write this article. I plan on being Kane from “Alien” this year, so I needed a chest-burster. This shopping around for a chest-burster led me to the desire to watch “Alien,” which inadvertently led me to writing this column.

Created by visionary director, and one of my personal heroes Ridley Scott, “Alien” not only redefined the Sci-fi genre, it also gave birth to a new genre completely. Sci-fi Horror.

As discussed in a previous article, I am a Sci-fi freak. Aliens, spaceships, and distant planets really rock my socks, but add in some scary moments, blood, and a smart, resourceful, attractive leading lady, and you’ve got my heart forever. That’s exactly what “Alien” has, and in my heart is exactly where “Alien” landed after my first viewing.

Starring such Hollywood legends as Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerit, Veronica Cartwright, and Harry Dean Stanton, “Alien” was pressed for brilliancy the moment the casting call was sent out. Despite the fact that all these actors work great together on screen, the memorable part of this movie is each individuals acting ability when they’re alone. “Alien,” much like my last review of “The Terminal,” is a giant box episode. The whole story revolves around a limited number of people in a limited space, with limited resources and options.

These limitations make every decision the characters make crucial, and puts a strain on the creative process. At least that’s what would happen with most movies. Most storytellers would arrive at the problem that you can’t very well go around killing everyone in the first 15 minutes, and similarly, you can’t have all of them stay alive until the very end. “Alien’s” exceptional spacing of character death, and the order in which the deaths occur is an incredibly integral part to “Alien’s” dynamic, and is a great example of a story with limited source material turning out great.

OK, now that the technical mumbo-jumbo has been said, let’s move on to discuss my favorite part of any Sci-fi movie, and what we all know is the real reason to watch this movie. You know what I’m going to say. The alien! I mean, come on, the movie is called “Alien” after all; there’s bound to be a good alien right? Wrong. Wrong in the sense that this isn’t just a good alien, this is the best alien ever to grace the cinematic screen.

There is no debate here.

The Xenomorph, and all its incantations (the Xenomorph’s life stages go from face hugger, to chest-burster, to Xenomorph) are the stuff of Sci-fi legends. It’s big, it’s ugly, it’s terrifying, it’s an ALIEN!

But now you’re asking what makes the Xenomorph so legendary? The scare factor of course. Albeit most aliens are scary, I get it, but what I’m describing is the sheer horror or the Xenomorph. Why are most aliens scary? They’re way more advanced then humans, they want to destroy/ take over the earth, and have absolutely no regard for human existence. Sure that’s frightening and all, but the Xenomorph is scary on an even more real, and primal level. It’s not more advanced then us, it doesn’t have any crazy aspirations to take over earth, heck, the thing doesn’t even speak. All it has is a natural instinct to kill everything in its path in the most vicious manner possible, and that my friends, is what makes it so scary.

“Alien” legitimized Sci-fi horror as a genre. Despite the subject matter, the movie feels real. Not once will you step back and say, “That’s far fetched,”  or “That couldn’t happen.” It all feels real, and like many of the other movies I’ve ever reviewed, a sense of realism is one of the most important things you could have in a movie. The more believable the story, the more willing the audience is to follow.

“Alien” is a classic, and is one of my favorite movies ever (I have a somewhat long list of favorites as I’m sure you’ve realized by now, but “Alien” has the distinct honor to be one of the few movies I have bought a movie poster for), I couldn’t say enough in this article to give justice to how I feel about it, this may just be another case where you have to take my word for it, and give it a shot.

So, have you seen Alien? Do you think the Xenomorph is the most legendary Alien in movie history?