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Alien (1979)

tomatometer

97

Average Rating: 8.8/10
Reviews Counted: 91
Fresh: 88 | Rotten: 3

A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.

85

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 3

A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.

audience

94

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 450,283

My Rating

Movie Info

"In space, no one can hear you scream." A close encounter of the third kind becomes a Jaws-style nightmare when an alien invades a spacecraft in Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror classic. On the way home from a mission for the Company, the Nostromo's crew is woken up from hibernation by the ship's Mother computer to answer a distress signal from a nearby planet. Capt. Dallas's (Tom Skerritt) rescue team discovers a bizarre pod field, but things get even stranger when a face-hugging creature bursts

R,

Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Dan O'Bannon

Jan 6, 2004

20th Century Fox - Official Site External Icon

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Cast

Latest News on Alien

June 2, 2014:
Sigourney Weaver Is Up for More Alien
"There's more story to tell."
May 13, 2014:
H. R. Giger: 1940-2014
H.R. Giger, the Swiss painter who designed the iconic creature from Alien, died Monday in a Zürich...

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All Critics (91) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (88) | Rotten (3) | DVD (44)

The most startling thing watching Alien again is its pacing. For the first 45 minutes, little happens. It's all slow, exquisite build-up, which makes the second half seem all the more horrific.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is depressing to watch an expensive, crafty movie that never soars beyond its cold desire to score the big bucks.

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comments (46)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The limited strengths of its staple sci-fi horrors always derived from either the offhand organic/ Freudian resonances of its design or the purely (brilliantly) manipulative editing and pacing of its above-average shock quota.

August 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An old-fashioned scary movie set in a highly realistic sci-fi future, made all the more believable by expert technical craftmanship.

June 4, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An empty-headed horror movie with nothing to recommend it beyond the disco-inspired art direction and some handsome, if gimmicky, cinematography.

Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The limited strengths of its staple sci-fi horrors always derived from either the offhand organic/ Freudian resonances of its design or the purely (brilliantly) manipulative editing and pacing of its above-average shock quota.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This revolutionary "haunted house in space" thrill-ride is the classic business, stunning you with shock after shock, even when the fascinating monster is exposed in all its hideous glory.

October 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

If you want cinematic kicks, Ridley Scott's massively successful Alien will give you them in profusion.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Look as hard as you like, you won't spot a single flaw, even though the film's had 24 years to date.

October 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A perfect roller coaster blend of horror and science fiction. Sigourney Weaver was an amazing discovery.

June 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

In a century of sci-fi/horror hybrids, few if any movies do such a good job at reaching the absolute highest peaks of both halves of that equation as this one.

June 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

...a seminal feminist action flick.

May 31, 2012 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm | Comments (3)
LarsenOnFilm

Alien has power, elicits terror, and the acid blood scars your consciousness.

May 2, 2012 Full Review Source: 2UE That Movie Show
2UE That Movie Show

It remains a benchmark of extra-terrestrial horror, and gave us a bona fide A-list star in the shape of Sigourney Weaver.

June 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

My favorite film of all time is one of the finest blu-rays in my collection.

January 9, 2011 Full Review Source: FEARnet | Comments (2)
FEARnet

The monster itself is still one of the flat-out scariest ever designed for the movies.

November 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Ridley Scott's Alien is nothing short of a masterpiece. Technically brilliant, tense, horrifying and visually breathtaking, there's not a moment in this B-monster movie that doesn't excel well beyond the usual genre trappings.

October 30, 2010 Full Review Source: IGN DVD
IGN DVD

Dated but still extremely scary. Not for younger kids.

September 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comments (9)
Common Sense Media

Science fiction horror doesn't get any better than this.

July 15, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

It's a chilling, slow-paced, space horror movie using the same formula as the B-films of the 1950s.

June 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comment (1)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Alien proved that material derided as B-movie fodder could be handled with finesse and glossy production values, without diminishing the thrills or polishing over the hard-edged horror.

March 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinefantastique
Cinefantastique

Better than most of today's big budget sci-fi/horror films.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

It certainly doesn't look like a 24-year-old movie.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review | Comment (1)
Sacramento News & Review

Audience Reviews for Alien

A classic.
December 25, 2013
Raajay

Super Reviewer

It's a rare thing for horror films to get much critical praise and respect, but once in a while that changes. This was especially true in the 1970s thanks to films like The Exorcist, Jaws, Halloween, and, this little entry from 1979: Alien.

It's a simple, even generic, but ultimately brilliant title. It works as both a noun and adjective, and really leaves things wide open in terms of what's going to happen.

The plot is rather simple: a group of workers aboard a commercial towing vessel headed back home have their journey interrupted by a mysterious transmission from a nearby planetoid. They stop to investigate, only to end up bringing an extraterrestrial threat back on board their craft.

The film is basically like a slasher movie in space, and essentially established the modern notions of the 'space horror' subgenre. It's a rehashing of old ideas and concepts, but it's done so well that it feels totally fresh and new.

What I really like about this is how it is firmly both sci-fi and horror. It blends the two quite well, and is a landmark entry in both realms. It's a slow burner, w emphasis mainly on mood, tone, atmosphere, and generating tension and suspense over a strong plot or actions and events. That might seem boring to some, but I rather enjoy its hypnotic qualities, as they draw you in, ramp things up to a high level, then finally release in bursts of scares.

I think it's worse it to sit through the first half because, even though not much really happens, it only makes the second half (especially the final act) that much more thrilling and rewarding.

From a technical perspective, this film is a real marvel, and its influence can be seen in a lot of avenues from films to video games like the Metroid series. There's expert use of matte paintings, practical effects, models, and real ingenuity versus reliance on CGI, and it's cool how this won an Oscar for visual effects.

The cinematography is dark, moody, and really adds a level of dread to the claustrophobic environs of the ship. I really dig the art direction and set design. The use of shadows, steam, and flashing lights also add to the creepy atmosphere, and make things quite intense and disorienting. I tend to overlook the importance of sound design in movies for some reason, but here, I can't help but get drawn in by all the hissing from steam, dripping corridors, and beeps and boops from the computers. Yeah, some of the technology seems a bit dated, but I think it has a nice, surreal charm to it. The ship also has a rugged, lived in look to it that makes things seem more authentic and believable. And then there's the alien: simply put: the creature designs by H.R. Giger are creative, intense, original, and some of the scariest and most unique ever conceived.

In a lot of films like this, the cast are made up of a bunch of unrealistic stereotypes that often seem out of place, but here the crew is just a group of working class blue collar folks, with the youngest being 29. I think this adds both to the realism, and makes things quite relatable. The cast have good chemistry with one another, and it all feels organic instead of forced.

The acting is also fine. It's nothing spectacular, but it does get the job done. I mean, since they're just regular folks, its fitting that they're performances are not all that remarkable. I do have to give special praise though, first to Ian Holm for being terrifically creepy, and to Sigourney Weaver who, as the youngest and least experienced of the cast, had a big hurdle to jump through, and succeeded, becoming a star as a result.

Jerry Goldsmith's score is compelling, and the heart beat like thumping during key scenes is a real nice touch. Ridley Scott provides some superb, subtle directing, showing a real flare for building tension and mood. I like how not a whole lot of exposition is given, leaving the viewer to fill in the gaps. I do think that at times things could be perhaps slightly tightened in the pacing department, and the damn cat that is a part of the crew is a tad annoying, though cute, but overall, I don't have any major issues with this one.

I recognize that this won't appeal to all audiences, as it is a deliberately paced and executed affair, but at the same time, due to how well a lot of this is done, and because of its legacy, I think it is one that everyone needs to see. It holds up remarkably well, and is a pretty memorable experience, so of course it is a must see. I prefer the theatrical cut, but the 'director's cut' has a few nice added moments, though the overall pacing is thrown off a tad.
November 7, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

'Alien' has aged remarkably well as a science fiction film, but not so much as a horror film. Beautiful and atmospheric, yet its formula (a group picked off one at a time) has been recycled so many times since that the movie no longer feels fresh and instead feels slow and predictable. This isn't the film's fault -- it's the genre -- but I had trouble remaining engaged throughout nonetheless.
August 7, 2013
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

The crew of commercial towing vehicle Nostromo investigate a signal from an unexplored planet and unleash a hostile organism. Once again, Ridley Scott creates a totally believable future environment and another classic of modern cinema. Scott uses suspense and atmosphere to gain the desired effect and it is an object lesson to gore-obsessed horror directors everywhere; less is definitely more. Considering the "alien" is essentially a stunt man in a rubber suit, Scott's use of lighting and sparse screen time for the creature makes it far more terrifying than a hundred CGI monsters. Giger's designs are more akin to sculpted works of art than mere special effects and the crew feel like real people having real conversations, who just happen to also be on a spaceship; even the obviously now antiquated technology has a functionality about it so it still does not look out of place. Scott also employs an element of sexuality to the attacks on the crew, creating a sense of anxiety on many levels; the victims are not only attacked, but violated in various ways. Sigourney Weaver's Ripley is also one of the first "action heroines", always ready to take charge and deal with the situations she finds herself in rather than running around screaming, and Scott also pioneers the now familiar "first person camera" viewpoint making the film a bit of a ground breaker. The DVD also features some interesting deleted scenes, particularly the cocoon scene that is expanded upon so effectively by James Cameron in the sequel Aliens. Yet another reason why Scott is one of the most respected directors working today.
December 28, 2012
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

    1. Parker: I ain't drawing no straws, I'm for killing that goddamn thing right now.
    – Submitted by Robert K (3 months ago)
    1. Ellen Ripley: Final report, the commercial star-ship Nostromo. Third officer reporting. The other members of the crew?Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash, and Captain Dallas?are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier within six weeks. With a little luck the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.
    – Submitted by Keanu V (15 months ago)
    1. Ash: I can't lie to you about your chances, but you have my sympathies.
    – Submitted by gage l (15 months ago)
    1. Ellen Ripley: We will and then we will blow it the fuck out into space!
    – Submitted by Ty R (18 months ago)
    1. Parker: Get out of the room!
    – Submitted by Nate P (20 months ago)
    1. Ellen Ripley: This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.
    – Submitted by Jack R (21 months ago)
View all quotes (25)

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