If I had to gravitate towards any geekly genre out there, it would be Science Fiction. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that my Aunts and Uncle are big Trekkies as well as big fans of Star Wars. They would rent the VHS tapes of Star Wars from the library and sit me down to watch them. As time went on I got into Michael Crichton, Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, and many others. Before all that, in-between going to Toshi Station to pick up power converters and the world of I, Robot, I discovered Ridley Scott‘s Alien.
I wasn’t even born at the time it was released, but at a very young age, I happened upon the film. I think it was one of those late night marathons on USA, when they’d show old horror films that were edited for television. Edited or not, the film scared the crap out of me; and intrigued me even more. A group of explorers go out on a voyage of discovery, happen upon an egg that springs forth a face hugging beasts, it gestates inside the body cavity of the guy and then bursts out of the his chest. Finally, it grows bigger and kills everyone until it meets it’s match against a skinny woman with big hair. It was perfect! Everything a growing child needs. It was unfortunate that I didn’t get to see that xenomorph again until after the second film, Aliens, came out.
If Alien was a wake-up call for what science fiction and horror could be, Aliens was a cold shower mixed with a sucker punch to the face as to what science fiction and action could do to my young adult self. James Cameron created a masterpiece that will remain one of the greatest films of my lifetime. At such a young age, there was no reason for me to see that film and I thank the fact that my mom rarely paid attention to what I was watching when she wasn’t around.
By the time the third film, Alien 3 came out, I had to rent it from our local video store, Poppy’s, and though the story wasn’t as close to being as good as the previous films, I still loved it. The ‘dog alien’ was pretty creepy, and the direction of that film is pretty fantastic. It had a lot of weird camera angles and shots that made you feel isolated. I also really appreciate the fact that they pay homages to Aliens with Newt and Bishop coming back for cameos.
Possibly a little known fact, David Fincher (Fight Club, Gone Girl) directed Alien 3. The director has been one of my favorites, since that time; but he refuses to acknowledge it in interviews. I’m not sure why he doesn’t care for it, given he was a first time director, I can think of a lot of worse movies than that one.
We had to wait another five years for another Alien film, which was far too long in my opinion. In that time, I received the Alien Trilogy on VHS, and to this day, it remains one of my favorite Christmas presents of all time. Though my mom often didn’t want to know what I was watching in my room, she must have picked up on the fact that I had become an Alien fanatic. When I opened up the present, I had to leave the room because I had started crying. True Story! I couldn’t believe that she had paid attention enough to get me something I had always truly wanted. I’m not sure if she is happy or slightly miffed by the decision she made that day. Sorry mom!
Alien Resurrection was a thing of true weirdness. It’s a pretty cool story that’s written by Joss Whedon and it’s directed masterfully by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, City of Lost Children). With two powerhouses of cinema like that duo, you wouldn’t expect it to be bad; but it’s not that great. Two words: Alien Sex. I’m not sure what the hell was going on with Ripley making love in an orgy of aliens, but the result of that weird hybrid human/alien thing is just horrifying and unnecessary.
I’ll throw in the Aliens vs Predator films and Prometheus here at the end, because they ARE Alien films, in their own way. The AVP movies are good. Well, the first one is. Taking pieces from the AVP comics from Dark Horse and the Steve Perry books, the story takes the setting to Antarctica, that was their first mistake. Predators hate the cold and it doesn’t add to the plot.
The second is that they made the Aliens better than Predators. Um, hello people! Predators would win every day of the week against a bunch of aliens. The cool thing with that film is that it expands on the Weyland-Yutani mythology and has Lance Henrickson as Mr. Weyland, who will serve as the inspiration for Bishop’s visage. It also has an Alien Queen fight a Predator. Those two things make the movie worthwhile. Requiem? Well, let’s just say that I’ve seen it once in the theatre and that’s all I needed.
Prometheus on the other hand, well I can honestly say that I love the film. While the original idea of it being an Alien prequel makes more sense to me than what it ended up happening, I still have a lot of fun with that film. I think that if Damon Lindelof (Lost, Tomorrowland) was not allowed to touch that script and it was made with the original by Jonathan Spaihts (Doctor Strange), we could have had a film that was succinct and tied into the mythology perfectly. Instead, we have a film that has a ton more questions than answers and garners at least two more films to explain them all. Having Ridley Scott return to direct the film and the use of practical effects makes the film a masterpiece in my opinion, I just wish it tied up more loose ends than it created.
The Alien series will always remain as some of my top films of all time. If I had to rank them, Aliens would be at the top of the list. I love ALL of the characters, well, I’m not a huge Gorman fan; but I love to hate him. The special effects and directing remain unprecedented, as many James Cameron films do. That many Aliens have yet to show up on screen like that film, and until we get the most insane Aliens vs Predator movie of all time, which I doubt they ever will. I hope on the 35th Anniversary of the original film that you will take a look at it again and have your heart fill up with a chestburster like mine does every time I watch it!
Make sure to participate in our Aliens 35th Giveaway contest with NECA and Funko by participating HERE.