Let’s play a guessing game. See if you can guess what age I was when I allowed this movie to scare the poop out of me. Here are some initial hints:
- The movie was made in 1979, you can know there wasn’t a chance I saw it in the theatre–I was only 7 years old.
- I was twelve or thirteen when my family first got a VCR and we stayed away from R-rated movies.
Ok, so there are a few years you can shave off. The movie certainly did make an impression on me. Like most people, it was the look of this alien that really stayed with me. But there was so much more at work that made this movie so eminent. Apparently there was a “reader” (someone producers hire to read the script and summarize it) who described the movie by saying, “It’s like Jaws, but in space.” What a great way to describe the experience of watching this movie. Just like the shark, you eagerly await the sighting of the beast. Your brain doesn’t want to but wants to. There is also significant build-up to seeing the alien, just like in Jaws.
- Another hint: in 1992 a friend of mine in college saw Alien 3, but I didn’t. In fact, I hadn’t seen any yet.
As David pointed out, this movie was a sci-fi/horror combo, and a perfect one at that. So, it was definitely influential in its unique form as well in its unique measures for making the picture. I’m always impressed when a movie can take something as outlandish as aliens and make it seem so real. The film’s director, Ridley Scott used some pretty creative measures to acquire this. Strange things like oysters, sheep’s kidneys and shredded condoms were used to make different alien forms look organic and authentic. The inside of the ship, Nostromo, was made up largely from pieces collected from an “airplane graveyard.” It is this realness that brings out the fear in us so well. And what a tagline: In space, no one can hear you scream.”
- Next clue: I had reached my full potential in baldness by the time I watched it, which will eliminate my college years and first five years after. Please do not draw conclusions on the cause of said baldness neither referencing Joy nor my kids. That just wouldn’t be… It was my kids.
There is one more quality to this movie that truly puts it on the top shelf of great sci-fi movies, and that is the protagonist, played by Sigourney Weaver. Initially this role was intended for a man. This wasn’t the last time Weaver pulled this impressive stunt either. According to IMDb she has taken the part in a movie originally planned for a man at least three times. She is perfect for the role of Ripley displaying heroic acts of inventiveness, courage, acumen, and inner strength in the face of horrific circumstances with just the right amount of vulnerability to make her relatable. With Jaws, even though Richard Dreyfus stars in it, mostly you hear people talk about the shark. Today people still talk about Weaver as Ridley every bit as much as they talk about the hideous alien.
Congratulations Alien, this is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best actress: Sigourney Weaver. When it comes to actresses, definitely one of the greats.
Best actor: Sylvester Stallone.
Best quote: “I think we make a real sharp couple of coconuts — I’m dumb, you’re shy, whaddya think, huh?” (Rocky Balboa in Rocky). Sorry, The Sting. I did enjoy the movie, particularly the ending, but all I ever think of when you are brought up is that when you were about to receive your award for best picture a streaker ran out on stage at the Oscars.
- Last clue: While watching this I was in the midst of a new business venture. So that’s the biggest clue yet. And if your guess was 41 (my current age), then you would be right.
I’m not sending you popcorn, though.