31 days of horror movies: Alien

Each day throughout October, we’re taking a look at horror movies that have stood out from the pack. We’ll observe classic movies alongside more recent entries into the horror canon. We call it 31 Days of Horror Movies. Today, we look at a benchmark of space horror: Alien (1979)

In space, no one can hear you scream, whether you’re stuck on a spaceship with a murderous extraterrestrial being or, as in Ridley Scott‘s most recent film, on Mars.

After receiving distress call from a planetoid, the ship wakes the crew from stasis to check out the source of the issue. One exploratory diversion and a face-hugger later, the crew of the Nostromo has a major threat carousing through its halls and ducts.

From top to bottom, Alien is spectacular. The HR Giger design provides backdrop and threat for this ill-fated journey back to Earth. The script is spot on, and the notion that the alien has corrosive blood, meaning the crew can’t hunt it with conventional weapons lest the plasma wreak havoc on the ship’s guts, is inspired. The movie is also packed with iconic moments and imagery, not least of all that shocking, stunning chest-burster scene.

Most importantly, it introduced us to Ripley, a Mount Rushmore figure of horror. Sigourney Weaver plays her with fierce intelligence and determination, and her survival instincts are second to none. She’s a spectacular horror heroine and this cemented Weaver’s place as one of our finest genre stars.

Alieis an absolute masterpiece of horror. It’s one of those movies that’s so overwhelmingly influential it’s worth revisiting every year or two to trace back some of the DNA it injected into more recent horror movies. Essential viewing.