As part of my journey to experience/revisit some of the horror genre’s most influential movies, I decided to start by binge-watching the entire Alien franchise. I’m going to start ff with my thoughts on each one, rank them up against each other and then share the massive amount of behind the scenes information I found in the xenomorphic corners of the internet.

movie-poster-recreation-52953fe575c29Alien [1979]

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, Tom Skerritt as Dallas, Veronica Cartwright as Lambert, and a slew of other folks whom are important and lovely but I don’t feel like listing. (That’s what IMDB is for anyway, right?)

Synopsis: In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and attaches itself to one of the crew, causing him to fall into a coma.

My Experience:

This movie I had seen a grand total of 1 time before watching this yesterday. And that one viewing had been so far in the past that I didn’t remember most of the plot. I remembered the big bullet points, This the face hugger and the chest burster, but not much else. So, coming with a fairly fresh pair of eyes, I was beyond delighted. The effects were spectacular. The suspense that was built up during the movie was skin-tingling. And I particularly enjoyed the claustrophobic feeling the sets gave to the film. You felt like you were trapped in space with a vicious monster, and that was so much fun. This movie was and still is a memorable, well written and well crafted movie. It did manage to jump-scare me all the way through, but I feel like I’m a little desensitized to the slower paced suspense that Alien was using as it’s main scare tactic, so I missed out on experiencing the intended terror of this film. I’m slapping an unsurprising 5 out of 5 blood spattered stars onto this movie.

Aliens-1986-PosterAliens [1986]

Director:James Cameron

Starring: Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, Carrie Henn as Rebecca ‘Newt’  Jorden, Micheal Biehn as Hicks, Paul Reiser as Burke, and (my personal favorite) Lance Henriksen as Bishop.

Synopsis: After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt(Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.

My Experience:

Believe it or not, I had never actually watched this movie before. I’d seen clips, I knew  sound samples and lines as if I’d watched it a million times, but, I hadn’t. It is so weird watching a movie that feels so familiar and yet so alien at the same time. I really enjoyed this movie a lot. I loved the snake-like movement they gave the xenomorphs as they unfurled from their hiding places and I love how much more action-packed this movie felt, compared to the first one. The characters beyond Ripley were well written and developed enough that I really came to care about what remained of the group about halfway through. Newt, the little girl, I have nothing but love for. She was actually way less annoying than some of the marines were. (And less of a wimp.) Again, the special effects and the creature design blew me away. I understand, from personal experience, that practical effects require more creativity and planning to film than computer graphics, but man, you can’t argue with the results. This film looked as polished today as it must have when it first came out. 5 out of 5 blood spattered stars.

p14014_p_v7_aaAlien 3 [1992]

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley,  Charles S. Dutton as Dillon, Charles Dance as Clemens, Paul McGann as Golic, and others…

Synopsis: Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the only survivor when she crash lands on Fiorina 161, a bleak wasteland inhabited by former inmates of the planet’s maximum security prison. Once again, Ripley must face skepticism and the alien as it hunts down the prisoners and guards. Without weapons or modern technology of any kind, Ripley leads the men into battle against the terrifying creature.

My Experience:

I had never seen this movie before in my life. And I probably would have been fine if I never got around to it. Although, the lover of SyFy movie production design in me actually quite liked this movie. The world was really cool! Boilers and grime and pipes bizarrely full to bursting with bugs? Yep, love it. But I’ll have to stop my love-affair with this movie there, because it was obviously coasting on the laurels of it’s predecessors and got lost in its concept. “Hey! What if we kill off all of those characters you fell in love with during Aliens and just start over fresh in a world where you feel generally disinterested in the cast and have spindly looking xenomorphs run around and chomp on all these bad guys?!” “Yeah! That’s a movie we should make!” *FacePalm* No guys, the reason why the first two movies were scary was because you actually wanted the characters to survive. *sigh* The other reason this movie didn’t really work for me was they strayed away from the pillar of their franchise- the practical effects. I think everything was still puppeted, but the wide shots of awkwardly “scurrying” xenomorphs left a lot to be desired. They felt more like spiders on dislocated legs than the slithering powerful things of the past two movies. They also seems to kind of skim over the whole bullet wounds = sprays of deadly acid blood in this movie. It was really disappointing. The ending kind of worked for me because you might as well toss everything into an endless chasm of fire after all that anyway. 1 out of 5 blood spattered stars.

res10Alien Resurrection [1997]

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Writer: Joss Whedon

Starring: Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley,  Winona Rider as Annalee Call, Ron Perlman as Johner, and others…

Synopsis: Two hundred years have passed since Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) died on Fiorina 161. Aboard the medical research vessel USM Auriga, a team of scientists clone Ripley from her extracted DNA and removes the alien Queen embryo which was growing inside her at the time of her death.

My Experience:

Now, this is the movie I grew up with. I watched this one multiple times and totally loved it, so nostalgia is going to hevily influence my feelings about this movie. First off, the production design and the the world creation was right back up to ‘Alien’ level effort. I belived the world they created and I loved that the corporate greed came back in full force as a motivating factor. One of the things I realized while watching this movie that Alien 3 was missing was the, “spot the android” game. Come one! One and 2 made good use of their synthetics!  I was really glad to see the return of that plot point in this movie. You know what else I was glad to see come back? The oozing dripping slime coating of the xenomorphs, and the fact that they actually made great use of the acid blood in this movie! It was brilliant. Especially that part when the creatures escape from their cages. It was also really refreshing to see Ripley behaving as clone #8  instead of her usual heroic self. It added a layer of uncertainty to the way the story played out. I love this movie. It is one of my favorites, even though I now have a better understanding of how it fits into cinematic history, I still love it. 5 out of 5 blood spattered stars.

Behind the Scenes:

Ok, now for all of the behind the scenes goodness I could scrounge up without actually pirating the featurettes from my DVD collection.

Here’s a particularly cool article about “Behind the Scenes Awesomeness” from The Film Connorseuor

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