The year had to have been 1987 or 1988 the first time I saw ALIENS. I do know it was on HBO the first time I saw it. It scared the crap out of me. Looking at the film now as an adult, it's just a bad ass action movie in space with some spooky atmosphere. But when I was a kid it was the most intense movie I had ever seen. When the Colonial Marines first encounter the Aliens, it was like watching a living nightmare.
It wouldn't be until the early nineties that I finally watched ALIEN. With ALIEN 3 being released in 1992, the early nineties me and my friends were all about the Alien movies.
My best friend at the time had all the films on VHS. Not only that but he had comics, toys, novelizations, and he even had a ALIENS role playing game. When I told him I had never seen ALIEN he didn't act all that surprised. Knowing my tastes at the time he warned me that the film is a little slow and not action packed as the sequel. We watched it anyway and he was right, I was bored and fell asleep. I was such an amateur back then. It wouldn't be until 1999, the 20th anniversary of ALIEN that I would watch the film again. This was also the year that film was really becoming important to me. Along with ALIEN, I was blown away by other science fiction masterpieces such as 2001: A SPACE ODDESY and BLADE RUNNER.
With ALIEN I love how it's science fiction horror. You have the “space truckers” going to other systems mining for minerals. The blue collar aspect of these characters brings a sort of realness to it all that I really really love. The production design still to this day resonates a believability that 200 years from now this is what space travel could look like.
Not only is ALIEN a gorgeous science fiction film it's also a great slasher flick in space. There is a reason the movie's tag line is “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream”. Fans should already know that director Ridley Scott was influenced by the horror film THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE when making ALIEN. And by golly there is a reason I watch ALIEN every year right around Halloween. The final act gets by blood pumping every time!
When it comes to these films as a quadrilogy, ALIENS is my favorite. But I like to think of ALIEN as a stand alone “haunted house/slasher flick” movie. The first hour being the “haunted house” when they explore the crashed spacecraft on LV-426. The mystery of the fossilized Space Jockey I still find fascinating and creepy as all get out. And of course the face hugger scene is still a classic.
The second half of the film is pretty much a slasher film in space. A cat and mouse game with finding the alien. To some this is when the film gets kinda predictable but I still find it pretty scary. When the crew split up to capture the creature and blow it out of the air lock, they have no idea just how big the sucker has grown. They are expecting to catch something no bigger than a cat when they go hunting for it the first time. So watching the movie with that in mind is still a scary thing.
The other day I watched a video review of ALIEN and it got me thinking about the possibility of the movie having an anti war message somewhere between the lines? My speculation has something to do with Weyland-Yutani wanting the creature for a weapon. I may dig into that when I blog about PROMETHEUS which I've been dying to do since last year.