I checked out the trailer for the new Alien: Isolation, thinking it would probably look as bad as the terrible failure that is the Aliens: Colonial Marines game, but was pleasantly surprised. Now, I’m not much of a gamer, but I think it’s really, totally awesome that the Alien: Isolation game looks incredibly like the original 1979 movie directed by Ridley Scott, and I couldn’t help but revisit the masterpiece that got me properly engaged into the world of cinema.

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‘In space no one can hear you scream’

It’s basically a haunted house movie in space. It could have been like many other science fiction films which are very white and sterilised looking. But it’s not. The Nostromo, the ship, is dark and grimy and grungy. It’s an industrial ship, and the people on it are not perfect and futuristic looking beings. They are real people who are sick of each other and just want to get paid. They’re human, and we can relate, which is probably why what happens to them is even more shocking than it could have been.

Most people know the basic plot, a crew gets pulled out of hyper sleep because the ship has detected a strange distress signal, and go down to the planet only for one of them to come back up with a horrible, hand-like creature attached to his face, and the creature which then erupts from his chest proceeds to stalk and kill the rest of the crew. The Chestburster scene is, in my opinion, one of the most iconic scenes in science fiction history. It was still quite new back in 1979 for a horror film to contain a lot of gore, and Alien really took advantage of this by having a strange, pinkish creature with teeth burst dramatically through a struggling John Hurt. Blood goes everywhere. It’s gross. The reaction are fantastic, and you really feel the shock and horror that the crew of the Nostromo feel. That’s probably because the reactions are mostly genuine. The cast of the film weren’t entirely sure what was actually going to happen in the scene, and so they were just as unsuspecting as we were as the audience. We especially feel for Veronica Cartwright who is covered in blood and screaming in terror.

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Eating chinese whilst watching this movie is not recommended.

Throughout the rest of the film the other crew members are picked off one by one, and the slow-paced buildup really helps the growing suspense as we know that something is coming, we just don’t know when. The thing that really distinguishes this film from it’s action-packed and endlessly quoted sequel is that the crew really don’t have anything to protect themselves with other than flame throwers which don’t really do much other than, at most, scare the alien off. Didn’t really help Dallas though.

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The original female action hero

So we end up with one crew member left, the original female action hero, Ellen freaking Ripley. She is the main character of the entire Alien franchise, and a revolutionary. Up until now, younger female characters were the victims, not the survivors, but Ripley really broke the mould. She didn’t scream, she didn’t cry, she got on with it and made it all the way to the end. Originally, Ripley was supposed to be a male character, although Scott decided to start auditioning women, then the incredible and tall Sigourney Weaver stepped in and stole the role. The Alien films simply wouldn’t be the same without Ripley, and she is my all-time favourite movie character ever. In fact, had the rest of the crew members followed Ripley’d decision to not allow Kane with the creepy Facehugger on board, they’d all still be alive. I guess that’s karma for you. Not only that, but Ripley even makes a point of saving the ship’s cat, Jonesy, which makes us root for her even more.

Ripley has a lot of tension with other ship mates, even getting slapped by Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) in one scene. Sigourney Weaver didn’t realise she’d actually get slapped, so she looks really upset by it. The tension is real, the cast had a lot of strains in their relationships which is really reflected in the acting.

Other than Ripley, the other thing that defines the Alien Franchise is the… uh… alien. The Xenomorph. It wasn’t a blog blobby thing or something that just looked like a man with a bit of makeup on, this terrifying creature was designed by the surrealist swiss artist HR Giger. My God is this guy creepy. His stuff is even worse, and it is one of his bizarre and frightening paintings that inspired the famous Xenomorph. He even went through and designed the other stages of the alien for the movie, coming up with the Facehugger and the Chestburster. The fully grown is both… well… vaginal and phallic. It’s a very sexual looking creature, which really goes with some of the interpretations of the movie. It has been described as a ‘rape’ movie, only it is the male, Kane, who is raped by the Facehugger and forced into a horrible and violent form of child birth. He is violated and then subjected to a strange and painful delivery to the Chestburster. Even Ash who, spoiler alert, is a robot, describes it as ‘Kane’s son’. He’s a robot, as far as he’s concerned Kane gave birth to it. But it also reflects the male fear of female pregnancy and reproduction.

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Grrrrrrr…

Imagery of birth is not only seen in the Chestburster scene, but the aptly named ship’s computer, MU-TH-ER, or just ‘Mother’ wakes the crew up from comforting hyper sleep in a similar way that, I suppose, babies emerge (albeit rather more painfully) from a mother’s womb. Either way, there’s a bunch of imagery and different themes in this film that really just adds to a basic plot line to create one of the greatest films of all time.

Verdict: Without a doubt, 5/5.

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