Annlyel explores the ultimate Halloween creature feature: Ridley Scott’s Alien
It’s October and that means it’s scary-movie time on tv channel AMC. AMC’s Fear Fest is a month-long campaign that features tons of classic horror films over the span of this month’s four weeks. October is the only time of the year that I truly feel the desire to watch scary movies (I’m a HUGE scaredy-cat) and so the other night I decided to watch one of the scariest, if not the scariest, science-fiction film of all time: Alien.
Let me give you a quick rundown on how I was introduced to the horrifying alien in Alien. Mortal Combat X, that’s how. One of the characters you could play on that game was the Alien and I loved him. But, thanks to that game, when I eventually did watch the actual movie I was able to somewhat handle it because I knew what the creature looked like. The movie, however, is still utterly terrifying.
With my viewing of it the other night it was only my third time watching the film and, after not having seen it in over a year, I forgot just how truly disturbing this movie is. So, on that note, these are the three things that reminded me why Alien is a horror classic.
1. Ridley Scott’s Directorial Vision
Directors who direct horror films are some of the greatest minds behind visually enticing and scaring the living daylights out of you. The way they use the camera to keep you on your toes is genius and even though I despise the suspense it is brilliant.
One of the scenes that are burned into my memory because of its psychedelic visuals is when Ripley, the last surviving member of the Nostromo, is trying to escape the ship after she sets it on self-destruct. She’s covered in sweat, her expression is the epitome of horror, and the hallway is a disturbing array of amber and blue blinking lights that turn that section of the film into a visually erotic display of art. Ripley turns a corner and she sees it, the Alien, waiting for her. The camera presses close to her face, relaying to us the sheer horror on her face as backs away slowly, the blinking lights providing the moment with a sort of slow-motion effect that is riveting to the eye.
This effect is done once more in the film and it is terrifyingly brilliant. Ridley Scott is easily one of the greatest directors in our time and this movie proves time and time again why.
2. The Horror
The thing that makes Alien such a wonderful movie is its storytelling brilliance. Yes, Alien feels and is crafted like a horror movie but it isn’t, in essence, a horror film. It’s a simple story that’s been told many times before; humans’ first contact with aliens. That doesn’t sound that scary does it? No, because it isn’t meant to be.
Alien wasn’t made to be a horror film. It was just horrifying. Horror movies these days aren’t good because they are designed to make you want to jump or scream and that means the moments and situations are usually absurd and nonsensible. Alien isn’t like that. The writers were just trying to tell a story about a group of humans (and a robot) who came into contact with a very vicious extra-terrestrial.
But yes, it is terrifying on so many different levels. I mean, the part when the alien bursts out of John Hurt’s stomach are on another level of disturbing imagery. The movie was made in 1979 and I still can’t figure out how they brought that horrific moment to life in such a realistic way. *shudder*
Sigourney Weaver is an icon for a REASON! Her role as Ripley in this movie is utter perfection. I love Ripley because she isn’t the typical “strong” woman that you see in films. Yes, she’s a leader and yes she’s the most sensible of all of the characters but she’s still as vulnerable as anyone would be in the situation that she was in. One of the moments in the film that sticks out to me is when she becomes the new leader of the crew and she goes to Mother to find out what’s going on. As she types in commands that reveal the true nature of the mission that her crew was unknowingly set on she begins to tremble and cry as she realizes the direness of the situation.
At that moment her emotions are so realistic because I feel the same way; terrified, upset, stunned. It reveals her vulnerability in a comprehensible way because no one would face the things she was facing with a steely disposition. That’s just not realistic.
When Ripley eventually defeats the xenomorph it’s not only a relieving conclusion for her but for everyone who’s watching the movie as well. The alien is dead, truly and utterly dead, and it allows us all to sigh a breath of relief as we watch it float away in space.
Alien is one of those movies that is memorable because it’s so flawlessly crafted from beginning to end. If you’ve never seen the movie you have no idea what you’re in for. It starts slowly and then gradually builds until you’re watching the film in wide-eyed horror. I was so riveted that I think I only blinked about three times during the whole film. And that’s the truth.
If you have a friend that’s never seen Alien before I advise you to show them this movie during this October. But make sure to warn them. This film can be highly volatile in its disturbing imagery.
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