Alien Parent Guide
In space, no one can hear you scream.
Parent Movie Review
A large commercial tug, the Nostromo, was on the long journey back to Earth when the crew was woken from stasis almost ten months early- the ship had detected signs of extraterrestrial life on a planet near the Nostromo’s course. Despite Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) best efforts, a specimen is brought onto the ship in breach of quarantine regulations. Now she will have to struggle, not only with the dangerous alien roaming the ship, but with Ash (Ian Holm), the odd science officer, and with the company itself.
There are a million reasons that this is regarded as one of the classic sci-fi films of the last century, but I’ll limit this to two broad categories: First, its success as a horror film, and second, it’s success as a sci-fi flick.
As a horror movie, Alien works through claustrophobia, darkness, and mystery. The titular alien has very little actual screen time, and between appearances, morphs into four different forms. Whether the ominously throbbing egg at the beginning or the slick black monster at the end, it is precisely the uncertainty surrounding the antagonist that makes it so terrifying. The audience imagines the creature lurking in every niche and crevice of the Nostromo’s dark, haunted corridors.
As a piece of science fiction, the film succeeds for very different reasons- namely, all of the beautiful details it shows you. The rugged design of the Nostromo works brilliantly, making the ship feel not only functional but industrial, overbuilt, and excessively lived in. Nothing is new or shiny. Every piece of the ship, whether you understand it or not, seems to have a function which it has served thousands of times. That grittiness grounds the whole atmosphere, making it feel far more real. The corporate menace which looms in the background also lends authenticity, and puts the characters in another bind: even if they escape or kill the alien, what will the consequences be to their lives and livelihood when they return to Earth?
This is obviously unsuitable as family entertainment, and audiences should be aware of the content they’re getting into here. Profanity is the most common issue, but violence is the more grotesque. The alien, in spite of its limited screen time, manages to wreak a good amount of carnage. The iconic scene of an alien bursting out of John Hurt’s chest certainly wins an award for realism, but that’s unlikely to endear it to squeamish audiences. In fairness, the production team hadn’t told the cast specifically what was going to happen, and one of the actors collapsed and went into minor hysterics.
This is a staple of its genre, but audiences with sensitive tastes for violence and profanity, or who aren’t much into flashing lights should give it a miss. For adult fans, there’s a lot to enjoy in watching the hapless crew slowly get picked off by a 6’10 stunt actor wearing a latex bodysuit, a headpiece with 900 moving parts, and covered in gel to look slimy and drool-y. Although when I put it that way, it sounds a little less appetizing. Thankfully, in space, no one can hear you gag when you read that description.Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release May 24, 1979. Updated August 20, 2020
Watch the trailer for Alien
Rating & Content Info
Why is Alien rated R? Alien is rated R by the MPAA sci-fi violence/gore and language.
Violence: A large alien corpse is shown. An individual is attacked by a smaller alien, and later has an alien burst through their chest. Two individuals are shown being bitten to death. A scuffle breaks out in which two individuals throw one another around a bit, and ends when one of them is struck repeatedly in the head with a hard object. An android is decapitated. An alien is harpooned and burned by engine exhaust.
Sexual Content: Most characters are shown in their underwear in a non-sexual fashion.
Profanity: Frequent use of moderate profanity and terms of deity, as well as four uses of a sexual expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Several characters are shown smoking cigarettes.
Page last updated August 20, 2020
The most recent home video release of Alien movie is January 5, 2004. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture released the same year as Alien and shows exactly what happens when a movie’s reach exceeds its grasp.
Star Wars: A New Hope, on the other hand, came out two years before, and shows a radically different approach to science fiction but with the same incredible model-making and set design.
Blade Runner presents a similar tone, although remains on Earth, and addresses the complex questions surrounding androids and humanity.