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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Alien': Ridley Scott's Seminal Sci-Fi Horror Tale of an Endoparasitoid's Breach of a Deep Space Vessel

Movie poster for Alien (1979)

Alien (1979) is a potent and terrifying science fiction-horror film set in the year 2122 aboard a commercial cargo vessel, The Nostromo, returning to Earth with a seven-member crew in suspended animation. The ship's computer, Mother, subsequently detects a distress signal emanating from a nearby moon and awakens the crew to investigate, according to company policy.

Touching down on the surface of LV-426, Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), executive officer Kane (John Hurt) and chief navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) discover a derelict alien spaceship containing hundreds of large egg-like capsules in its hull. Upon closer examination, Kane is attacked by a parasitoid that penetrates his helmet and enshrouds his head, setting off a desperate scramble to return to The Nostromo for emergency medical treatment. Warrant officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) resists the team's entry however, citing strict quarantine protocol, yet science officer Ash (Ian Holm) mysteriously overrides her decision—a violation that has catastrophic consequences for all on board.

Directed by a young Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator), Alien is an exceedingly well-textured and immersive depiction of interplanetary suspense. Weaver carries the show as the strong-willed Ripley, who emerges as the storyline's hero in this refreshingly feminist take on genre storytelling. With major assists from cinematographer Derek Vanlint, production designer Michael Seymour and visual designer H.R. Giger, Scott delivers a gritty, atmospheric and genuinely spine-chilling thrill ride—a now-iconic landmark in the realm of speculative fiction.


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