Alien (1979)

A magnum opus of biological horror and sci-fi expedition with an Odysseic score, Promethean world-building, pitch-black omen tone, parenthood/sex metaphysics, groundbreaking blends of genres, and the best movie-monster ever created. 9.8/10.

Plot Synopsis: Set aboard spacecraft Nostromo, Alien follows a group of space explorers who come across a mysterious transmission from a nearby planet on their way back to Earth. They investigate it, only to find a horrific surprise in an extraterrestrial ship with thousands of eggs carrying alien organisms called Xenomorphs that hunt humans. Who will survive?

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

The Greatest Movie Monster Ever

A Magnum Opus Of Biological Terror & Sci-Fi Expedition That Blended New Genres And Changed The Rules Of Films Set In The Stars

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

May 25, 1979. A lavish theater on the corner of Hollywood Blvd is lined up around the block. Popcorn is popped, ushers in full regalia, and a nervous sophomore director by the name of Ridley Scott anxiously awaits the reception of his first foray into the space-set genre. Showtime commences – an eerie, slow-stirring unveil of esoterica starts to unfurl with letters evolving like life-forms on a primordial celestial-star.. and sci-fi is never the same. Even 40 years after its release, 1979’s Alien is still one of the All-Time greatest sci-fi, horror, and overall films to ever shock the world. The Xenomorph has gained icon status as perhaps the definitive movie monster (rivaled only by King Kong), the vision parlayed into a 6-film franchise with both prequels and sequels including arguably the best-ever in Aliens, and Scott one of film history’s most famed directors. The picture that first got me into the starry allure of science-fiction cinema and film criticism as a field, it’s my honor to have attended to such a massive 40th Anniversary event re-release and analyze why it’s still one of the most game-changing films ever made: A magnum opus of biological horror & sci-fi expedition with an Odysseic score, Promethean world-building, pitch-black omen tone, parenthood/sex metaphysical themes, groundbreaking genre blends, & the greatest movie monster ever created.

The Original Feminist Blockbuster

Magnificent Performances Led By A Career-Making Sigourney Weaver Lead – A First For Gender In A Big Event Movie Of This Level

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The magnificent Sci-Fi/Horror blend & atmospherics. What is Scott’s greatest triumph in Alien is the fusion of genres. The film begins clearly Sci-Fi with chillingly-cinematographed shots of the sheer vastness and nothingness of space – bolstered by amalgamation of symbols into the letters of the film’s title paralleling the evolving atmospherics and effectively-paced slow-burn. We’re soothed into a sense of false-security so thick it feels practically emulsified or sedative-like – before things take a startling turn when a strange distress signal from a seemingly-barren planet interrupts the Nostromo’s slog home, and they meet a creature not even God can save them from. The juxtaposition of absolutely brutal, bludgeoning horror as we learn the biological exegesis of such a sinister lifeform perfectly designed for maximum eco-systemic carnage taking horror to a new location: the isolated, silence-set blackness of space wherein no one can even hear your screams – was absolutely game-changing for the genre. Truly inspiring millions of imitators, ripoffs, and challengers since, the setting exploits our deepest engrained xenophobic fears of the unknown and what lurks outside our singular planet’s gravitational pull.

The World-Building & Cinematography

Perhaps The Best Science-Fiction Backdrop & Atmospherics Ever – w/ An Odysseic Score & Poetic Vanlint Cinematography

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The Promethean world-building, Odysseic score, & cinematography. 1979’s Alien is starkly beautiful, bleak, poetic world-building visually – millennia ahead of its time. From barren midnight-blue planets with strange advanced civilizational spacecraft remnants without a single soul or trace to misty humidified egg chambers we don’t know what’s inside to the Nostromo itself, the scale and set design is absolutely masterful. It is one of the most cinematically gorgeous and expansive, transportive Sci-Fi films to this day – incomprehensible considering the genre boom of interest it helped fuel wherein even mega-behemoth franchises with exponentially-more resources and the wizardry of modern technology still can’t even hold a candle to it. The composition of shots in inventively-filmed Vanlint cinematography is old-world majestic – working symbiotically with a legendary score by Jerry Goldsmith to infuse bone-chilling dread into every frame. Rife with Odysseic themes in an orchestral motif with futuristic synthy tremors spanning the full gamut of emotions from cinematic wonder to cascading suspense to ghastly horror, Alien’s score is one of the most haunting and evocative of All-Time – as a testament to why late ’70’s was the golden age of cinema orchestration with movie-divinity including Star Wars: Ep. IV, Superman, Halloween, AND Alien all releasing within three years of each other.

The Life Cycle

The Brilliant Scientific Exposition Of A Biologically-Perfected Organism & Parasite Designed To Kill Its Host After Depletion

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The characters and human tale. Feeling part of this journey means you better get to know your crewmates, and luckily for you: Alien’s is not your typical Sci-Fi wherein clichéd imbeciles you cannot believe made it on the ship, let alone came from scientific backgrounds, were chosen for such a crucial mission. The crew is masterfully balanced and hold each their own both charismatically and credentially, given immaculate characterization so we get to know each one. From the strong female lead by Sigourney Weaver that stands as one of the greatest women’s lead performances of All-Time + arguably the most important ever showing cinema blockbusters of this magnitude can be led by females too to macho captain Tom Skerrit’s Dallas to science “expert” with shady motives Ian Holms’ Ash to Yaphet Kotto’s money-grubbing Parker to Veronica Cartwright’s scaredy-cat Lambert to Henry Dean Staton’s humorous Brett – the canvas of characters displayed before us not even the focus of this sci-fi/horror tale is remarkably fleshed-out. From betrayal to sex to greed to cowardice to complicity in murder to capitalistic profit-reaping, human flaws are eminent between the lines, causing just as much havoc as the titular visitor from another planet for an amusingly-black comedy reflection on human nature with surprisingly-Biblical bases for a strong personal foundation anchoring all the space-set existentialism beset by the main attraction: The Xenomorph.

The Characters & Human Tale

A Crew That Merits Their Esteemed Positions – Yet Are Turned Against One Another In A Darwinist Survival Game

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The Xenomorph. The behemoth pop culture-phenomenon masked in all-black with striking intimidation factor and phallic undertones in design, the Xenomorph is quite simply the greatest movie monster *ever* created. As a former-Biologist, the creatural design is absolutely stunning and quite likely: the perfect hunter organism. Eggs reacting to nearby-movement against a mist security system, sprouting up Facehuggers latching onto a host and symbiotically implanting a seed for drain of resources, hijack, and eventual discard of the host’s body once it gives birth to the ultimate killing machine it wanted – complete with acid-for-blood, titanic stature with camouflage capabilities, a retractable mouth-blade, and sharp tail for cobra-like striking if all that wasn’t enough – it’s absolutely BRILLIANT. Not only is it a masterpiece of Biological design the world’s top zoologists must have been consulted in to delivishly concoct: it hits humans especially hard exploiting some of our biggest fears in its clear parenthood and sex metaphysical thematics.

The Chestburster Scene

A Masterpiece Gore Scene That Messed People Up For Life – & Is Rife With Childbirth/Sex Metaphysical Themes

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Evolutionarily engrained deep in our psyches is fear of development, childbirth, sexual deviance/consequences, parenthood, and the unknown, all of which Alien mixes into one brilliant skull-smacking cocktail by way of its absolutely twisted Chestburster scene amongst the most famous, disturbing, and gory sequences in cinematic history – it will mess you up for life. This nascent, fledgling millipedic screamer evolves into the most horrifying creature imaginable to exemplify in blood-curdling glory what dangers might lurk outside the peace & comfort of the normality of our lives and Biblicism-foundational society (must have reached a 404 Error there). The technological/CGI wizardry to bring such a complex and intricate creature’s morphology and life cycle to screen is one of the greatest cinematic achievements ever – both in Bolaji Badejo’s imposing 7-foot presence and the insane craftsmanship by all technicians involved to be able to even pull off such a dark fantasy with the comparatively-archaic resources & technology available at its late-70’s time. The results are worth the blood, sweat, and tears people had to put in by hand back when there was no technology to help them – for the biggest quantum leap in biological-cinema & creature CGI since 1933’s stop-motion animated King Kong.

The Xenomorph

The Greatest Movie Moster Ever: A Night-Black, Phallic-Designed, Acid-For-Blood, 6’7 Cinematic Apex Predator For The Ages

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

There are phallic and reproductive structure elements throughout the design of the Xenomorph’s life cycle – from testacle-looking eggs with vaginal-appearing openings as well as female reproductive shares erupting facehuggers onto a face like a sperm going to a new egg and gestation inside the human host turning the human into a makeshift-womb and then a baby xenomorph with a phallic-reminiscent headpiece that’s awfully skin-colored in yellowish hue turning into the full-fledged behemoth with retractable mini-head. The only conceivable flaw in this masterful canvas is that the Ash reveal could’ve been a bit better-handled. The decision to sneak a corporate-mole on the ship lurking beneath the service – with a company override of safety protocols on Muthr too by the sadistic Weylani corporation wanting to bring back any alienic organism for weaponization & profitization at the disposability of its crew’s lives – is absolute *genius* of Old Testament evil & wild shock-factor when we learn of this betrayal later on. However, the reveal itself is handled slightly-goofily – spinning out of control, leaking milk, and dialogue a bit uncharacteristically & discordantly overblown in stark mismatch to the rest of the film tonally. This is an extreme nitpick almost ludicrous to even mention or give consideration in score, but is something that bugs me holding it back from pure perfection – & the only conceivable flaw I can find even after 20+ viewings (and counting).

Conclusion

One Of The Best Sci-Fi & Horror Films

A Tale Steeped In Xenomorphic, Silent Space-Set Screams With Sex/Childbirth Metaphysics & Epic Genre-Hybridization

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Overall, Alien is a beautifully crafted tale of suspense, horror, and science-fiction that earns its status in the pantheon of Sci-Fi and moviemaking history. The chestburster scene alone will mess you up for life, but it manages to weave a narrative full of wonder, existential curiosity, and spectacular performances around it. One of the most influential & scariest movies ever made, the Xenomorph personifies humanity’s fears of the unknown lurking out there in the vast primordial atmospheric nothingness of space – where the film’s slogan rings true: No One Can Hear You Scream. A magnum opus of biological horror & sci-fi expedition with an Odysseic score, Promethean world-building, pitch-black omen tone, parenthood/sex metaphysical themes, groundbreaking genre blends, & best movie monster ever created, Alien is one of the greatest films of All-Time.

Official CLC Score: 9.8/10