Alien begins with the Nostromo, a cargo ship returning to Earth carrying 20,000,000 tons of mineral ore. The ship’s crew resides in deep sleep chambers in order to make the long journey home. However, after the ship’s computer awakens them, they realize they are only halfway back to Earth. The seven crew members are: Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt); Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt); Navigation Officer Lambert (Veronica Cartwright); Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver); Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm); and the two ship engineers, Parker (Yophet Kotto) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton).
Captain Dallas soon learns why they have been awakened. The Nostromo’s computer, named Mother, has picked up a distress transmission from an unknown planet. Engineers Parker and Brett don’t think they should investigate this distress signal. However, Science Officer Ash says that their employers have written in their contracts that all distress calls must be investigated.
When Navigation Officer Lambert discovers the origin of the distress call, Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane, and Lambert go to investigate. The planet is a horrible place with constant storms making their journey difficult. Soon, they discover a crashed space ship and the body of its pilot, who apparently died long ago. They notice that the bones inside the dead pilot’s chest look like they exploded from inside. Kane wonders throughout the ship and discovers a large chamber covered in a mist. He trips and falls over the edge and lands on a floor below. He notifies Dallas that there are hundreds of cylinder shaped things that look like eggs. Kane sees one of the eggs open. He peers closer and something jumps out.
Dallas and Lambert return to the Nostromo with Kane, who has something attached to his face. Officer Ripley refuses to let them inside the ship, stating that they need to be quarantined because they could infect others. Dallas and Lambert scream to Ripley to open the hatch and let them enter with Kane, but she adamantly refuses. Ash suddenly opens the hatch and Kane is taken to the sick bay. After removing Kane’s helmet, they see the alien life form is hugging his face with its tail tightly wrapped around his neck. Ash tries to get the alien off Kane’s face. He even cuts one of the alien’s appendages only to discover that its blood is an acid so powerful that it drips through the floor of the ship making holes. Ash concludes that trying to remove the alien will kill Kane. Hours later, the alien appears to be dead and off Kane’s face. He seems to be fully recovered.
However, while eating a meal with the crew, Kane suddenly goes into convulsions. When the alien implanted in Kane by the facehugger burst from his chest, I nearly jumped out of my theater seat. This is one of the most famous science fiction movie scenes in history. The rest of the movie is incredibly tense as one by one the crew members are forced to confront one of the scariest, most terrifying aliens in the history of cinema. From that shocking scene, the cleverly-written Alien moves speedily to its surprise ending (indeed, it’s my favorite science fiction movie ending).
Ridley Scott, who helmed Alien, has been nominated for three Academy Awards as Best Director for Thelma and Louise (1991), Gladiator (2000), and Black Hawk Down (2001). Alien won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1979. I think Scott deserved to win an Oscar for best director for Blade Runner (1982), which is an outstanding science fiction movie too and very original for the time it was made.
Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett wrote the screenplay. H. R. Giger is famous for the Alien art work used in the films. Jerry Goldsmith wrote the music, which (needlessly to say) is on my iPod.
This is one of my all time favorite science fiction movies. I watch science fiction films all the time and enjoy them!! Alien and Aliens are awesome films to me because my older son and I watched them over and over. My son even has action figures of the Alien creatures. I love science fiction movies so much that my husband is taking me to see Piranha in 3D this week-end. Yes, my husband truly loves me that much!! I know it will be cheesy, have terrible acting, and poor special effects compared to Alien, but I am a true sci-fi movie fan, and I will love it anyway.
By the way, there is a cool ride at Disney World called the Great Movie Ride. You are in a movable seat that goes from one movie set to another. One park of the ride is a scene from Alien. My older son and I were so excited about the Alien scene that we went on the ride twelve times. It is one of my favorite things to do at Disney World. Check out this link: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/hollywood-studios/attractions/great-movie-ride/