Sci-Fan Review


Kian Pfannenstiel, Writer

This year is the 40th anniversary of the film Alien.

Alien came out in 1979 and was hugely successful both from the fans and the critics (see Rotten Tomatoes). The story follows Sigourney Weaver (that is the actress’s name, not the character, the character is Ripley) as she makes an attempt to survive an encounter with an alien whose mind and body is bent toward the sole purpose of ending all life it encounters. The alien, henceforth X, can survive temperatures far more extreme than a human can in either direction, hot or cold, it’s blood is highly acidic so that it is dangerous to hurt, and it is so fast and efficient at killing that it can almost never be killed prior to its successful killing of its attempted killer? Lost? It isn’t that hard, try to keep up.

Alien revolutionized sci-fi horror in a way that hadn’t been done before. Presenting aliens in a terrifying light, but not in the manner of invasions or enslavement of the human race was something that sci-fi hadn’t done so much anymore. Having a single alien monster instead of a force of them with a clearly communicated goal, which was the norm (see War of the WorldsDoctor Who’s Daleks and Cybermen, and basically any others as well) created a kind of fear that sci-fi had never seen before.

In 1979, it was also a revolutionary movie in a social aspect; Alien had two women in the lead cast, one in the lead role, Sigourney Weaver playing Ellen Ripley, and a black man in the cast as a major character (which means they had him as a character at all, considering there were only lead characters in the movie), Yaphet Kotto’s Parker. According to Sigourney, when interviewed on James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, she never believed she could be the lead role in a sci-fi growing up, and later she was the one who led this film (as previously established). Equally big deal, the black character is just as competent . As a matter of fact, Parker, the black crew member survives longer than most of the rest of the crew and is treated, much akin to Uhuru on Star Trek, as a complete equal. While this wasn’t a time so severely racist as, say, the thirties, it was a big step, socially speaking, to have a competent and equal black character in a movie (or, at least so says James Cameron in said story of sci-fi. I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t actually know).

To me it was a better general sci-fi, but it is definitely supposed to be horror. Whether you like horror or not, this film is phenomenal and I highly recommend it and its sequels to anyone.