Alien is a science-fiction horror movie that was directed by Ridely Scott in 1979. Being an inspiration for many future movies of similiar content, "Nostromo's eight passenger" has it's own dark style and mood, which can scare a viewer in many different ways.
Everything starts on a space-ship called Nostromo, coming back from Thedus to Earth hauling a refinery and twenty million tons of mineral ore. Its crew, consisting of seven people, is being awaken long before the landing with an unknown signal from nearby planetoid being the reason of it.
Problems starts when Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt) discovers a chamber filled with eggs in an abandoned alien spaceship, and one of newborn 'space-babies' called by the movie makers "facehugger" attaches to his face.
"There's something different about the mood right from the start."
Alien starts slowly. The audience is introduced to the surrounding space, the whole ship, specific chambers. The whole process of the crew awakening is almost letargic, as if the movie makers wanted the viewers to feel the sleepiness. Such mood lasts quite long, and even when the action begins speeding up, there are moments of almost boring suspence. Movie critics and reviewers used to call this feature of Alien a flaw, but little did they think about how this slow pace is making the audience nervous. Knowing from the start that something is going to attack the crew, waiting for it in silence, and finally knowing it's appeared, must be the best-thought-out way of creating the atmosphere. Moreover, the Alien's image is rather blurry and not precise as it's not fully shown during the whole movie. People can only imagine his whole appearance, knowing how details and parts of its body look like.
"Alien shouldn’t be as good as it is (...). It follows the conventions of the horror genre and doesn’t have anything compelling or fascinating. The reason why Alien works is because the look of the film is crafted and captured like a serious sci-fi picture. "
(Blake Ewing, 2009)
With Hans Rudolf "Ruedi" Giger, a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor, and set designer, as a maker of the world and its elements, Alien couldn't turn out looking fake. Every element of this world has been precisely constructed, in the beginning with scrap metal parts or ordinary trash. Some elements of it, for example Alien's body evolution steps, have been made with use of farm animals products, like chicken eggs or cow's stomach. The crew's reaction for the scene which sees the 'baby-alien' bursting out of Kane's chest was completely natural. They were not expecting fake blood and such drama, and probably that's why the whole moment and emotions look real. The same goes for the whole set and surroundings. They seem very true-to-life and the viewer can almost feel like they're inside the space-ship, wandering around something existing.
"The first time we get a good look at the alien, as it bursts from the chest of poor Kane (John Hurt). It is unmistakably phallic in shape, and the critic Tim Dirks mentions its "open, dripping vaginal mouth."
Ebert quotes Tim Dirks in his review mentioning elements of Alien reminding of sexual organs. There's a whole theory around these movie details, consisiting of philosophical support and many thesis. It is said to be aiming on the male part of the audience, making it suffer psychicially, knowing that every element is constructed in a way which should strike man's mind and leave a mark on it. Scene with the "facehugger" is supposed to be a revange on males for all cruel rape movies in which vulnerable women were being attacked.
O'Bannon, the screenplay writer, later described the sexual imagery in Alien as intentional: "(...) I'm going to attack them (the audience) sexually. And I'm not going to go after the women in the audience, I'm going to attack the men. I am going to put in every image I can think of to make the men in the audience cross their legs. Homosexual oral rape, birth. The thing lays its eggs down your throat, the whole number."
With the movie filled with sexual tension, horror, suspence and drama, Alien couldn't be a disaster. Even starting as a B-Movie, it made its place in the canon of science-fiction and horror genre, well known, remembered and rewatched throughout the ages.
* Cavagna Carlo, 1999, online source: http://www.aboutfilm.com/movies/a/alien.htm
* Blake Ewing James, 2009, online source: http://cinemasights.com/?p=358
* Ebert Roger, 2003, online source: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20031026/REVIEWS08/310260301/1023
* Poster: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m87vtoDt0v1r1gn83o1_400.jpg
* Still1: http://www.allmoviephoto.com/photo/1979_alien_012.html
* Still2: http://deathtothemovies.com/the-cinefiles-project