Dallas (Alien. 1979. Directed by Ridley Scott/ Screenplay by Dan O'Bannon)
I remember when the film 'Alien' first came out. It was 1979, and my mother wouldn't let me go to the theater to see it. After the first week it played, I endured all of the group jokes about the little Alien popping out of the chest of poor Kane, and I kept quiet during the movie discussions so my fellow high-schoolers wouldn't know how 'uncool' I was. Mind you, with my thrift store attire and mouth full of braces, it wasn't like I had any type of reputation to keep. I just didn't want it to get worse. (I was naive to think it could have gotten worse.)
When the film was released, it was like every Monday at school after the latest Saturday Night Live only tripled, maybe quadrupled, in effect because I loved horror and I could have cared less about SNL. (I know, I know...sacrilege. Spare me. I watched the re-runs years later and finally got the Gumby jokes...) The first of the series of films I actually saw on screen was Aliens. It wasn't until the early 90's that I saw Alien.
Viewing this movie again was timely, since the release of Prometheus is scheduled in June 2012. I watched the trailer for the new movie, and I have admit I'm really exited. There is not one movie in the Alien series that has ever disappointed me and I'm expecting a lot from the newest endeavor.
From the moment I saw the Alien monsters, I adored them. Each gargantuan spine-tingling beast was the epitome of what I feared most. Larger than ordinary earthlings, spider-like limbs, a face fitted with several layers of bone-crushing teeth, bloody acid running through the circulatory system AND they were wet and slimy...what wasn't to love and fear about these creatures?
If you want a story breakdown, you can read the play by play on Wikipedia. I do recommend reading it, because there's some fun info-tidbits there like the fact that Alien was Sigourney Weaver's first leading role, and that the Alien was actually played by a 7'2" Nigerian design student named Bolaji Badejo. I had no idea.
One of the things I noticed while growing up in the 70's and 80's, was that there were very few strong female roles in modern film. Ripley was one of the first big-screen female heros that resonated with me. She wasn't wearing high-heals, she didn't try to be sexy...she was pure stone ovaries, determined to win against the odds.
What this film doesn't really bring out, but which is highlighted in later films, is the fact that the human 'monster' exists among our species. It is, in many ways, much more horrifying. At least when you see the Alien, what you see is what you get. When you look at a human, you never know. The monster Alien used camouflage to 'hide' it's presence. Among humans, our flesh IS our camouflage, and we never know where the enemy hides until it's too late.