SPECIAL ORDER 937:
INSURE RETURN OF ORGANISM FOR ANALYSIS
ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS SECONDARY
Today we set the Wayback Machine for 1979, and the release of a modestly budgeted, almost B-level film sent without much fanfare to movie screens, where it then proceeded to scare the shit out of everybody.
I was closing in on my 12th birthday when the original Alien was released 40 years ago today. My uncle took me to see it…almost certainly, I’m sure, over the objections of his sister (aka, my mother), and while it did indeed scare the hell out of me, I also remember just thinking how cool this movie looked, sounded, and felt.
Of course, since I was 11 (almost 12!) at the time, I really didn’t understand why any of that shit was the way it was. It required many more viewings over the proceeding years for me to grasp and appreciate just how put-together this flick really is. When you think about it, Alien really isn’t much more than a low-budget monster movie, but damn is this a great film.
Every frame is a thing of beauty. Every syllable of dialogue and even facial expression, delivered by solid, dependable actors in a film which doesn’t really have a lot of talking to begin with, is there for the sole purpose not of showcasing the performer but instead to drive the story forward. Every note of Jerry Goldsmith’s haunting and (at times) rousing musical score is pitch perfect. And yes, the Alien as designed by famed artist H.R. Giger, scares the shit out of you.
Endlessly imitated and flat-out ripped off in the years immediately following its release, Alien set a new benchmark for science fiction and horror films which continues to inspire filmmakers to this day. 40 years, three sequels–including one of the best sequels to any movie ever, James Cameron’s Aliens–two spinoff movies and two kinda-sorta prequels later, the original Alien is still my favorite of the bunch.