By Jeff Shannon
A landmark of science fiction and horror, Alien arrived in 1979
between Star Wars and The
Empire Strikes Back as a stylishly malevolent alternative to
George Lucas's space fantasy. Partially inspired by 1958's It! The
Terror from Beyond Space, this instant classic set a tone of its own,
offering richly detailed sets, ominous atmosphere, relentless suspense,
and a flawless ensemble cast as the crew of the space freighter Nostromo,
who fall prey to a vicious creature (designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger)
that had gestated inside one of the ill-fated crew members. In a
star-making role, Sigourney Weaver excels as sole survivor Ripley,
becoming the screen's most popular heroine in a lucrative movie franchise.
To measure the film's success, one need only recall the many images that
have been burned into our collective psyche, including the "facehugger,"
the "chestburster," and Ripley's climactic encounter with the
full-grown monster. Impeccably directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is
one of the cinema's most unforgettable nightmares.
Alien received an Academy Award
for Special Visual Effects (H.R. Giger, Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson,
Nick Allder, Denys Ayling). Alien also received an Academy
Awards nomination for Art Direction/Set Decoration (Michael Seymour -
Art Direction, Les Dilley - Art Direction, Roger Christian - Art
Direction, Ian Whittaker - Set Decoration).