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Alien was released 44 years ago today (twitter.com/atrightmovies)
201 points by tosh 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 201 comments

Alien is great because it's realistic expectations about space travel is such a stark contrast to the swashbuckling romanticism of popular space operas like Star Wars and Star Trek.

Space is bleak and enormous. There is no technology that will shrink it which means travel will take decades at a minimum and the most palatable way for humans to travel in that environment is in some kind of stasis. And it's going to require massive space ships that are going to be funded by huge multinational corporations. They will enforce their will through AI that have absolutely no empathy for the humans on board.

Depressing, but I think it's the most realistic portrayal of space travel in sci fi and the amazing art design reinforces that feeling of bleakness throughout the film.

> And it's going to require massive space ships that are going to be funded by huge multinational corporations.

Everything up to here is fine. But this one (and consequently the next), why do you think that?

Why would corporations finance interstellar travel anyway? There's no profit in that.

(Personally, I still think the most palatable way to travel in that environment is to make your ship so damn good that you don't even care if it's getting anywhere.)

You mean aside from exploration with the idea of discovering something new that can be turned into a profit?


That's exactly what the Nostromo was: a shipping container. They were hauling goods from one planet to another for some (profitable) reason.

What we know now, however, is that a great deal of that could likely be automated / not require a crew. But even then: the Nostromo was massive with what could amount to a skeleton crew (half a dozen?). Container ships even today have more than that on them.

Of course with the synthetics (or "artificial persons" as the more sympathetic Bishop from the sequel preferred to be called) what counts as "automation" in the Alien universe?

> Why would corporations finance interstellar travel anyway? There's no profit in that.

If they won't, then nobody will. The most you'll get is a few state-prestige projects which fly around a tiny handful of people at most before they get bored and move on. This is probably the most realistic outcome but it doesn't make for much of a sci-fi story so it's better to take some liberties and assume that commercial exploitation of space flight might somehow be possible. Once you've accepted the possibility of space commerce for the sake of the story, you can pull publicly funded space travel into your story as well if you wish.

You could also use war as a justification, but the viability of the sort of interstellar war that involves spaceships of people flying around (rather than the use of long-range weapons of mass extermination) likely suggests the viability of interstellar trade or at least resource exploitation.

The real answer to the Fermi paradox. No intelligent species has yet figured out a way to commercialize interstellar travel.

>If they won't, then nobody will.

Churches? To spread the good news to alien worlds?

> Why would corporations finance interstellar travel anyway? There's no profit in that.

Resources? Should we find planets with lots of them but a surrounding environment that is hostile to human life, there would be enough demand for mining and automated manufacturing with cargo ships going back and forth. The industry would likely love being permitted to pollute those planets at will since there would be no biosphere that could be harmed.

Well I do not know if it's going to be profitable but at least the foundation of interstellar trades have already been studied: there's a published paper on it by Krugman (https://www.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/interstellar.pdf)

Even in the future we have weak unions and crappy workplace safety enforcement.

Alien lifeform - Check Dangerous - Check Ability to eat through spacesuit dome - Check

Sorry dude, we going to need to quarantine your ass.

Instead, all but one of the crew gets killed, the entire shipment is lost, and the spaceship itself is destroyed.

> Instead, all but one of the crew gets killed, the entire shipment is lost, and the spaceship itself is destroyed.

They don't have insurance in the future?

yes but they also have Carter J. Burke's

"You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them f^*!ing each other over for a goddamn percentage."

> Carter J. Burke's

Amazing that 'Bullshit Jobs' still exist in the future


No need to be so bleak. Your post makes for good scifi but if you look at spaceflight today it's largest proponent is a benevolent individual that exudes empathy, not a soulless company. He is competing with another extremely empathic and very human individual whose company goes to great care in making sure it's software is hyper aware of individuals at his distribution warehouses demonstrating he too cares about the individual. In Alien the AI (or in the case of Alien Ash the android) ultimately fails the crew because it had secret programming to force it to take action based on hidden motivations, but we would never force AI to have guard rails or generate results based on secret/agenda driven requirements in it's programming. We've known since 2001 A Space Odyssey not to do that and it's a very recurring theme we have thought about and is like the one basic agreement we should never do with AI. Maybe in 2000 years we'll forget and do something crazy with AI but for now we are good.

Spaceflight is in good compassionate hands. AI is in good hands and will never be told to lie/manipulate. Gene editing is not another genie being let out of the bottle. Alien really doesn't have a message relevant to today's realities.

This a great news! I always suspected all was well with the world.

I still think that if they commanded the energy to move a massive interstellar freighter, they could have afforded to run a few more light bulbs in the corridors.

I first saw this movie in the late 80's soon after my roommate and I had just graduated from nautical school. Everything about Nostromo, down to the personalities of the crew, reminded us of an oceangoing ship. Ridley Scott got the atmosphere perfect.

I've spent some time as a civie on a Royal Navy warship. If anything, that was more cluttered than Nostromo (every bulkhead seemed covered with stuff). But it was a lot brighter!

A horror film is supposed to be dark. Otherwise you'll see the horror is just a guy in a rubber suit.

By removing every third light bulb they saved anywhere from $40000 to $500000!

Yeah, only ST:TNG really got that right.

And hire a plumber.

Is it realistic to expend what should be a tremendous amount of energy to put a massive cargo space vessel in (presumably) an orbit around a planet? And then expend energy again to escape and head back? Memory fades, so most likely better explanation.

Maybe we just wrap planet Earth in more tech so that it becomes a ship and we can steer the entire planet, maintaining a climate with tech. Risky, but once we have more planets settled we will be able to experiment with this.

Liu Cixin - Wandering Earth

...Is a book I have not read, but the author is also the author of my favorite non-parody Scifi series (Remebrance of the Earths Past / Three Body Problem).

There's no reason to have humans involved at all. The natural explorers of space are robots. For decades they have done all the real science in space anyway.

Alien still holds up in almost every way. Unlike many films of the era, the story and writing feel solid, the use of practical effects means that most of them hold up very well (only the scene with the android feeling quite dated), and the world building and atmosphere are still stunning.

Watched in not too long ago with my older one, aged 15. Means he grew up with Marvel and DC movies. I never saw him as glued to a film before, onoy thing that came close was Terminator 1&2 and Aliens.

Tells a lot about good story telling, because by now the overall arc of Alien is not much of a surprise anymore, cinematography, design, music and sound. Absolutely one of the great films of all times, and proof good scifi doesn't need a ton of CGI.

Aliens is one of the rare cases where the sequel is just as good and if not better than the first, and not just a cash grab.

Bill Paxton in Aliens was pure gold!

Aliens and Terminator 2 revealed something about sequels I think.

The first movie in each case is horror, the monster is invincible and the hero is super weak, just trying to survive. By the end, the main character has survived and is now a certified badass. There’s no way to make a horror movie sequel without resetting the main character’s development. So instead, they made action movies, which was the perfect decision.

This is also why there couldn’t be a good third movie, there’s nowhere natural to go after action.

Maybe one could slip a disaster movie in between the horror and the action…

> This is also why there couldn’t be a good third movie, there’s nowhere natural to go after action.

I felt the third Alien film actually made a pretty good punt at this; it's not a perfect film without its issues, but I rather like it. The "female lands on abandoned prison planet with a bunch of violent criminals" setting was a good direction to go in after the first two films. It would have been better if they had focused more on the prisoners and such and less on the xenomorph running after Ripley (especially in the second half). In spite of the problems, I still like it more than Cameron's Aliens (which was certainly not a bad film, but also suffered from some issues IMO).

A problem with "big franchises" type of movies is that studio people with seemingly no sense of what makes movie great get involved and make things hard for people who want to do anything different that could make a sequel work. "People paid for aliens chasing Ripley in the previously films, so we must have more of that!" I have no problems they're focused on their investment and money, but it never seizes to amaze me how poorly these people sometimes seem to understand their market.

Evil Dead went on the same journey, more or less.

It did, but I would argue that Army of Darkness is just as great as Evil Dead 2, and substantially better than the first Evil Dead, so we at least got three classic movies instead of two.

Though, I guess you could argue that Evil Dead 2 is much more of a "comedy slapstick remake" of the first one than a sequel.

And Army of Darkness is a comedy slapstick action movie. Right up there with UHF. Fantastic film!

Oh it's definitely a great movie, arguably better than Evil Dead 2, but I will say that a part of me wished they had kind of pretended to take themselves seriously more.

Let me explain: part of why I like Evil Dead 2 so much is because it does a great job of walking the line between "horror" and "comedy". At some parts it's pretty goofy, but always in a way that kind of feels like it could plausibly be in a regular horror movie. Stuff like the moose head laughing, or Ash cutting off his hand and replacing it with a chainsaw are silly, and even slapsticky, but still kind of works in the tone of a "regular" horror movie.

Army of Darkness on the other hand is basically a just a comedy. It has no pretense of being anything else, and there's nothing wrong with that at all, but a part of me wonders what it would have been like if they had kind of kept the goofiness into "potentially plausible in an action movie" territory.

Army of Darkness seems to subvert the trend in two ways.

There’s a strong parody element to the series, Ash is basically an idiot so it isn’t that annoying/unexpected to have him redo some character development. Oh he learned nothing in the previous movies? That scans.

It also manages to continue raising the stakes by shifting to a new genre. In this case, a sort of weird… fantasy/sword-and-sorcery/post-apocalyptic(?) universe. It confronts the protagonist with a new type of challenge so it doesn’t feel like a re-do.

> I guess you could argue that Evil Dead 2 is much more of a "comedy slapstick remake" of the first one than a sequel.

I really can't imagine what else one might argue.

I had a friend swear up and down that it's a sequel, not a remake. His argument was that instead of a group of friends it was just a couple, so it's a different story, but both have Bruce Campbell as Ash, so it's the same universe.

I didn't agree with him.

"It's too different to be a remake" seems tenuous, but not absurd. I'd probably call it a "reimagining" or something then, though. Sequel implies shared continuity which it obviously lacks.

At least they have the option to lean more toward the comedy.

Wow that's a fascinating perspective, thanks for posting! I'm looking forward to using this to make people think I'm smarter than I really am.

Just to be clear, I didn’t invent the idea that Terminator is a horror movie in disguise, there’s lots of discussion floating around out there on the internet. Cameron was apparently very influenced by slasher movies.

>This is also why there couldn’t be a good third movie, there’s nowhere natural to go after action.

Rom-Com? Heist movie?

If someone could figure out the next step, that would be great. So many good series died on their third entry.

Heist might make sense.

The trajectory could be something like survive -> kick ass -> pulled back in at a disadvantage? Maybe.

The obvious disadvantage would be that they are now too old to kick ass. But that means you have to wait a decade or two before making the 3rd movie.

Plus it would require the audience to grapple the idea that people lose some of their capabilities as they age, which might be too uncomfortable. And it seems like it might be a bad idea for the main actor’s career, might get typecast into “aging action star.”

And Tremors 2, we went through a bunch of this era of movies awhile back and all the sequels were better.

And that’s why James Cameron makes the big bucks.

This is why I'm really excited about Titanic II - Zombie Sub

Will they meet the creatures from the Abyss in this pic?

Who else did you think really sank the Titanic?

I agree, though it does kind of feel like we're in the minority on this.

I thought Ripley's character was substantially more developed in Aliens than Alien. In Alien, most of the humans exists to be victims (or potential victims) of the monster. In Alien (at least in the directors cut), we have Ripley coming to terms with the fact that she outlived her daughter, developing a maternal bond with Newt, and fundamentally just growing as a character.

A part of me hates Alien 3 so much that I just pretend it doesn't exist.

> A part of me hates Alien 3 so much that I just pretend it doesn't exist.

Agreed. Though I still count it as part of the original Alien trilogy. It felt like the story was a poor mix of the preceding two. The setting was confusing - a desolate forgotten prison colony that were miners or metal workers - a mill of some form? Worst one of the three BUT I will watch it any day compared to the next three turds which become more and more painful to watch. It was boring.

Resurection was forgettable - I dont remember much save for Ripley is bought back from the dead, captive aliens escape from their inescapable pens (tired trope), Film finishes with Ripley fighting a hybrid human-alien on the space ship made from her DNA (it has a ma ma moment) and must have been made of boogers as it gets sucked out a little hole by a modest pressure differential. Basically another boring remake of Aliens.

Then there is Prometheus and Genesis. I can't even begin to explain the seething hatred I have for these two - genesis being beyond infuriating. Basically the plots of both films are moved along by all the characters being awful at the jobs they are experts in or completely oblivious. But, hey at least the visuals were "breathtaking" or at least that's what the critics said... I wish these two steaming piles never existed.

I hate 3 largely because it felt like killing Newt really shouldn't have been on the table.

The last act of Aliens was all about saving Newt, sort of a redemption story for Ripley. Sort of the mantra of "the Aliens could kill all these people but I will be damned if I let them take this child". By saving Newt, Ripley wins the only battle that actually matters in the movie.

I feel like having it so that Newt is killed five minutes after Aliens ends really cheapens it. Ripley isn't redeemed, the Aliens did win the only battle that mattered .

Prometheus was pretty horrendous. Every character in there is a moron and we're supposed to be rooting for them.

I choose to believe Prometheus and Covenant are actually parodies. They're actually pretty funny if you watch them with that in mind.

"We're on an alien planet with an unknown biosphere so let me angrily take off my helmet because it's slightly uncomfortable; oh noes I've been infected with some alien virus; how could this possibly have happened?!?! Absolutely no way this could have been prevented in any way whatsoever!"

Also interesting satire/social commentary on COVID masking and such if you think about it.

Covenant - right, I somehow thought it was Genesis - well it kinda was but god was it dumb. We watched them both back to back the day after watching Resurrection. drunk and high and riffed on them mst3k style so it wasn't bad watching them but when I saw it was in fact Scott I was furious that he accepted those lazy scripts. Wikipedia says two more films are TBA, another Prequal and "Untitled Alien film" for Hulu. God help us.

Covenant was even slightly better than Prometheus. At least the drpid was a nice adition, experimenting like an obsessed crazy scientistbtrying to re-create the xenomorphs. And ending up with his own human colony to continue experimentation was nice, new touch.

Prometheus was, as you said, a combination of incompetence (in film) and some steange views on evolution and the source of life (out of film). Especially the latter rubbed me in the wrong way, because it was just unnecessary for the plot. And hell, that the planet was literally a neighbor of LV-426, really? Just why?

Heck, I liked AvP and AvP 2 better, at peast the last one could have easily been set in space, with the smallntown being some unsuspecting colony in the Amercan Arm or so. And Predators woupd be such a nice explanation why you find Xenomorphs all over the place, once the Engineers went extinct.

Oh, and the black goo. Still no idea what that was good for anyway. Create or destroy life? And if so, why? It did serve as the basis for a really well written RPG adventure, Chariot of Gods. One I'd love to see as a movie actually. Or Destroyer Of Worlds, also a good basis for a script.

Thinking of it, one thing I like about good RPGs is the world building. While movies canbget away with whatever they want, consistency be damned, RPGs, the good ones, need some consistent and good bavkgrpund universe to work. And Alien has, with its RPG, a good basis for that. Pretty sure so, that none of that will be used for the future films.

Dave Feloni and Jon Fabreaubdidba great job in bringing in the good elements of the Star Wars EU, now Legends, into the new canon with Rebels, Mandalorian and Boba Fett. Heck, we get Thrawn's return at the same time (9 ABY) than in the orginal Zahn novels. When you know the old Westend Games stuff, d6, on Tatooine, you see similarities as well.

Edit: The story of Alien:Isolation isn't too bad neither, I have yet to play the game so. Personally, I like the aspect of how different the reactions to those Xenomorphs are. Some want to exploit them, some want to destroy them, some want to bread them. Most don't care about the loss of life involved. A nice view on modern capitalism. Because nobody asked the Xenomorphs how they feelnabout being exploited, they might as well just be happy hibernating in their hive, tending ever so often after their eggs. Plus, it is humans spreading them, Xenomorphs have yet build and pilot space ships.

I'm one of apparently 8 people who connected with Alien 3. Haven't seen it since high school (on its original release), but I found that it expanded the universe into a mystical aspect (which was reinforced by a comic book at the time where there a religion had sprouted up on Earth that worshipped Aliens). And I loved Fincher's visuals.

I wonder if I'd still enjoy it if I watched it again now, though.

We could have had Gibson's Alien 3. With a lead-in to a hive-Earth movie.

Instead, we got a "no guns" and trashing everything that was great about the second movie. I have a difficult time reconciling it with the fact that it's a Fincher movie.

I never really got over the fact that they killed Newt in the first five minutes of the movie. To me it sort of negated the entire third act of Aliens, which was all about saving Newt and somewhat of a redemption story for Ripley.

To be fair to Fincher, didn't he want to take his name off of it because he problems with the script?

The way I see it, new movies don't modify old movies. The third movie cannot nullify the ending of the second movie because it cannot modify the second movie in any way.

How could it be any other way? Because "canon"? It's a senseless concept. Suppose I buy the full rights to all Alien intellectual property, and then commission a prequel story in which Ripley cruelly murders a dog for no reason. Does this ruin the first movie, by making it into a story about a heroic dog murderer? No, I didn't change the first story at all. Owning the IP doesn't make me into a time traveler who can retroactively modify the meaning of art created in the past. Even if I were the original creator and not just somebody who has the IP rights, I cannot travel into the past and modify the meaning of things already published.

I don't really think I agree.

Fundamentally memories aren't really immutable; I feel like Alien 3 actively made Aliens worse because now it means that the last third of Aliens was kind of pointless. This is canon, and moreover by the time I watched these movies I was a teenager (~2006 or so), and so it was well-entrenched into the canon.

> The way I see it, new movies don't modify old movies

Star Wars 7 showed that the celebration at the end of 6 was premature. The Empire is still out there and is still a match for whatever government exists. Luke, Leia, and Han haven't won. The misery continues for another 40 years.

Star Wars 8 explained nothing.

Star Wars 9 "somehow Palpatine returned".

Fuck Disney and fuck everyone they hired.

Defending Disney, the Palpatine-returns-with-better-and-more-weapons-than-before plot comes from Dark Horse comics. At least we didn't have Stackpole writing the scripts, JJ Abrams alone was bad enough. No idea what happened to Episode 8 so, Knifes Out and Glass Onion are great films with great plots and writing.

I thought they killed off all the extended universe so they could write their own stories. (What marvelous stories those turned out to be.) But now you're telling me they used one anyway? Good God.

> Suppose I buy the full rights to all Alien intellectual property, and then commission a prequel story

you just summed up Star Wars 1-3, only without having to buy the rights issues. so, yes, "prequels" and "canon" can harm the existing movies, or at least how people feel about them.

> you just summed up Star Wars 1-3, only without having to buy the rights issues. so, yes, "prequels" and "canon" can harm the existing movies, or at least how people feel about them.

I know a lot of people feel that way, but it seems like self-inflicted harm to me. In the 90s I thoroughly wore out VHS copies of IV, V and VI. I came out and I thought it was a dull stinker (except podracing.) I really didn't like it, but it didn't change how I felt about the earlier movies which I continued to enjoy. They continued to be exactly the same movies they were before, it was just the new one that wasn't good. Midiclorians cannot devalue the original movies because they objectively weren't in the original movies. If you choose to believe they're now in the original movies, retroactively, because the IP holder says so decades later, how is that not a self-inflicted wound? When I hear these kind of complaints about later movies ruining earlier movies, all I can think is "stop hitting yourself".

At the time I recall a lot of drama around Fincher taking it on ("mtv music video director takes on alien project"). Also there is the case of how did the egg get on the sulaco, which isn't clear.

I agree with you and others on the disappointment of Alien 3, but I recently listened to the Audible of Gibson's Alien 3 and was underwhelmed, it seemed like a bog-standard actioner.

Aliens also passes the Bechdel test [0]. Ripley and Newt (both named female characters) have conservations about subjects other than men and romance.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel_test

The Director's Cut of Aliens is also a brilliant example of how sometimes less is more.

The added opening scene on the planet completely ruins the tension of the first part of the movie.

I never thought aboutbit, bit you are right. The other scenes, the one with the automated turrets, and especially the one where Rioley learns of her daugjter's death, are great.

What the first scene shows so, is that Hadley's Hope was a nice and striving colony. So one could make the case that it served a purpose.

i didn't think that opening scene was a negative as a scene in general, but the GP did specify as the opening. so maybe it does have a negative affect being the opening scene, but possibly could work as a flashback if you're not opposed to the flashback device in general

Yeah I think it could have worked if they used it way later in the movie, after the aliens have been discovered, but as the opening shot it completely ruins the mystery and tension the movie tries to build.

That said I don't think it would have added much over all, so unlike the other scenes I'd say just drop it.

There's a story that when Cameron pitched it, he wrote one word on the board and the studio was sold: $Alien$.

James Cameron doesn't do what James Cameron does for James Cameron. James Cameron does what James Cameron does because James Cameron is James Cameron.

His role as Chet in Weird Science was gold. Almost the same whiny character!

Try "Rear Window" (1954) next.

> Alien still holds up in almost every way.

I very reluctantly disagree. I'm in my mid-30s (born 1988), and I watched Alien for the first time about a year ago. I have to say on the whole, I didn't like it. I think it's a victim of being just on the cusp of being "too old" for modern tastes. Like much other media of its era & older, it's paced too slowly. Too many long panning cuts, too much staring at a wall, too much space between dialog, too little action. I ended up staring at my phone for the 2nd half of the movie, wishing it would be over already.

There are some other films of a similar timeframe that do hold up. I thought Jaws, released 4 years before Alien, was paced absolutely excellently, and I'd call it one of my favorite films. But Alien feels more like older media in its pacing, and it suffers for it today. I absolutely do not deny it is an excellent film "for its time." Obviously the special effects, acting, set design, and music are all wonderful and hold up on their own, and it's undeniably a very important film historically & culturally. But much like Citizen Kane or original Trek, I think it's just a bit too slow for a general audience in the 2020s. The sequels feel better today.

I suspect this is just a matter of style. Current style somewhat favours fast-paced action and pacing. But one can easily find counter-examples.

There are contemporary productions that are absolutely plodding -- the recent miniseries The English [1] is full of over-long shots of oblique plaintive faces looking out over the prairies. I was twiddling my thumbs at times. Admittedly, it is a contemporary Western, which is prone to that style, and it's a deliberate effect. The same kind of tension-building as in Alien, really. It's not to everyone's taste.

And there are older films that feel very fast-paced and, well, modern -- I recently watched an old Japanese yakuza film, Battles Without Honour and Humanity [2], released in 1973 now 50 years ago, and it opens with a scene cut every 20 seconds or so, just action, action, action and it never lets up. Felt like watching something released a few years ago.

Tastes come and go, but no style ever fully goes away.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_English_(TV_series)

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_Without_Honor_and_Huma...

> I ended up staring at my phone for the 2nd half of the movie

I think this says more about you than about the film.

I think this is a commentary on what modern technology has done to us. I loved the original star wars trilogy as a kid, but revisiting them now... Man do they drag on.

I hate that so much of our media has become this constant mess of distraction with constant flashy lights and a million cuts, but I think a lot of it has to do with competing with our pocket pacifiers for our attention. If you dare slow down for a moment to let your audience feel the weight of what's happening, half of them will be on there phones in seconds.

What's funny is, it's exactly those fast-cut-30-minute-final-action-scene-CG-shit-flying-everywhere movies that I find improved by being able to tune out and look at one's phone, in home viewing. Most of the Marvel movies are better at home where you can check out for multi-minute stretches to scroll the Interwebs, for instance.

Good movies become worse if you're distracted by your phone during them, and are also usually much more sedate.

Question of taste of course! I for one immensely enjoy the slow pace and tense rhythm of it all.

The "for its time" is 100% subjective, and some young (18-20) people I know (very well I must say: children and nephews, etc) also enjoyed it very much. Asked to watch the sequel on our next "cinema night". Also all were flabbergasted at seeing an "empowered woman character" from "literally like 50 years ago". Came as a little bit of a shock for them. :o)

And ... I would kindly argue the opposite: today's productions are a blur of action, cgi vomit, sometimes almost non-sensical kaleidoscope of seemingly unrelated scenes and topics. I believe they reflect "their time": <tongueincheek>I want it all, I want it now and delivered to my door please. I will let Alexa answer the doorbell for me</tongueincheek>.

> Also all were flabbergasted at seeing an "empowered woman character" from "literally like 50 years ago". Came as a little bit of a shock for them. :o)

The interesting thing there is that the story and dialog was written for a male character and then swapped to a woman for commercial reach reasons. They'd didn't really change the dialog when they did that change though.

Had it Ripley been originally written as a woman I'm not sure her character would have been as empowered and I'm also not sure the movie would be the masterpiece that it is.

I re-watched Star Wars for the first time in a while (I watched it surely more than 100 times as a kid, but hadn't in a long time).

Leia is a straight-up badass the entire movie. She's the only competent one in the main 3 (Obi Wan's a contender if you expand it to 4, but he dies, spoiler alert). The other two are bumbling idiots until the very end, and don't go through half as rough a time as she does.

Then we open Empire and she's perfectly cool under fire while being the #1 person in charge of commanding a fighting retreat against an overwhelming, mechanized force, and has to be dragged away to finally leave her post as the structure is collapsing around her.

The whole thing is played like it's ordinary, no awkward asides to make sure we understand that this is a WOMAN being STRONG. 1977 and 1980 release dates.

Like... holy shit.

> The whole thing is played like it's ordinary, no awkward asides to make sure we understand that this is a WOMAN being STRONG. 1977 and 1980 release dates.

This is a big problem I have with modern movies; they're unable or unwilling to simply show, they need to show and tell. It doesn't matter the theme, even wholly unpolitical themes are far too often explicitly laid out, multiple times, with blunt dialogue exposition to the audience who are presumed to only be half-watching the movie.

A modern movie can't just have a bank robber kill another bank robber. They need the killer to say "hehehe, this way I get a larger cut of the profit!" Does that really need to be said? Why can't a movie just show it but not have the character explain his motivations outloud to an empty room? Because modern movies are made to spoonfeed disinterested dimwits with short attention spans. Movies are catering to people who aren't even paying attention, because in test audiences there are always a few people who keep muttering questions "what's going on? what did they just say? why is this happening?" And the worst part is, these sort of people are still confused even when the movie explicitly explains everything to them.

This is a big problem I have with modern movies; they're unable or unwilling to simply show, they need to show and tell. It doesn't matter the theme, even wholly unpolitical themes are far too often explicitly laid out, multiple times, with blunt dialogue exposition to the audience who are presumed to only be half-watching the movie.

The smart writing (and smart audiences) have all moved to TV. The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, True Detective, Better Call Saul. These are the shows that respect their audience's intelligence.

The movie business has turned into Disneyland with guns.

It seems you missed a lot of recent awful shows. What the GP describes is very present in TV.

> Movies are catering to people who aren't even paying attention, because in test audiences there are always a few people who keep muttering questions "what's going on? what did they just say? why is this happening?" And the worst part is, these sort of people are still confused even when the movie explicitly explains everything to them.

I've got a few relatives I simply can't watch movies with because it's like this the whole movie. It's like they can't remember anything that happened over 2-5 minutes ago. "Who's that character?" "Where are they?" "Now who's that?" "Is that the cousin or the uncle?" "What are they doing now?" "I don't understand." OF COURSE you don't understand! You've been on Instagram the whole movie! They come out of a standard brain-off romcom and they don't really know what it was about, except that the ending was sweet and romantic and they liked it. Put something like Inception or Tenet in front of them, and they're going to just sit there totally befuddled.

Also, often times that’s the whole point of the movie that we don’t know yet who is that character! Like, can’t you accept that as an unknown and work the story from there?!

Plenty are still made well... they're just not usually blockbusters that get a ton of advertising.

As I heard it, they wrote the script without concern for the gender of the actors, and they picked actors for the parts based on auditions. Although commercial reach reasons would also fit.

SPOILER ALERT: At the end of the day, it still fits the meme:

"Alien is a movie where nobody listens to the smart woman, and then they all die except for the smart woman and her cat."

If her character was really empowered, maybe they'd listen to her?


well I personally don't give a flying flamingo about man/woman in the lead role of that film. It's just great. What I found telling is the reaction of young people today after realising "waitaminute, this isn't 100% like twitter and tiktok tell us it was... Maybe I need to do a little bit of research and <del>listen to the old man<del> (nah!)"


That sounds like an awesome trick to write tough female chracters without having your tainted brain trick you into sterotypes. Just random all genders up after writing.

I'm in the same age bracket as you, and I love the pacing of Alien and original Star Trek. I don't mind long panning cuts or ponderous establishing shots; it's like sustaining a note in music. Come to think of it, I also like downtempo electronic music, for example. In both media, taking their time to me equals feeling something deeply. And sometimes, giving space to think.

This can sometimes require more effort to pay attention so you actually do have thoughts on the material in those moments (and other times it comes easily), but that is its own reward afterward in a Type II fun sort of way, and it's generally the works that prompted you to have your own thought commentary that stick with you.

I'm not always in the mood for entertainment that requires me to do a little work for it, but slipping into this is a habit you can train (e.g. by visiting art galleries, and maybe watch some YouTube videos interpreting paintings beforehand to teach yourself a method - Nerdwriter1 is very modern and accessible), and it's ultimately very rewarding imho.

This is to say, I don't think it's the age of the piece. It's more likely taste (maybe you just didn't like it that much and/or it didn't have that much to offer you personally, which is fine, it's just a movie), mood, consumption habits, etc.

I'm a bit of a film buff and I agree with you on the slow pace of older films being a problem. I'm not opposed to a slow film (Skinamarink has a glacial pace and is amazing), but I many films from the 70's will simply waste my time. When a character hears a noise and is about to go outside, I don't need to watch him put on his shoes. I especially don't need to watch him do up his laces. Before anyone argues realism, the screenwriter could write the scene where the character was already wearing his shoes. I've spent far too much of my life watching people in shag haircuts tying their shoes.

The further you go back in time, the worse it becomes. Watching films from the fifties, there's a recurring theme of

  1) Protagonist decides he needs to speak to the president
  2) Protagonist grabs his coat and goes outside
  3) Protagonist drives to the airport
  4) Protagonist boards a plane
  5) Stock footage of an airplane taking off
  6) Stock footage of an airplane in flight
  7) Stock footage of an airplane landing
  8) Protagonist disembarks
  9) Protagonist hails a taxi
  10) Protagonist enters taxi
  11) Protagonist asks driver to take them to the President
Today, steps two through eleven would be replaced with an establishing shot of the white house. Some better directors managed to squeeze a bit of character development into one of these scenes, but most of them were just a perfunctory explanation of how travel works. It's just padding out the film like a student who procrastinated on a term paper.

Slow pans and long takes are important tools for a good director to heighten the mood and shouldn't be stricken from the cinematic vocabulary. The unfortunate truth is that most directors are merely average and when the mood is boredom, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging them to amplify it.


It only had step 11.

Modern tastes have less tolerance for slower pacing.

I grew up watching movies with slower paces (born 1980), but some of those I also have issues watching unless I'm in the right frame of mind. I think in part it's just we've gotten used to information overload, and thus expect the faster pacing.

That said... What I really like about the original is that it has that classic look and feel of 70's sci-fi. The white paneling and bright lights on the space ships, the grainy film, red and orange stripes on things, etc.

I really think it’s just the right frame of mind. I can easily forget why I opened some app on my phone, but yet I thoroughly enjoyed Alien, as well as 12 angry men. But these are not movies you just pop in and half-ass over, they require real concentration — people just often unwilling to commit their attention to one thing, not incapable.

Slow pacing can be considered an essential part of the story. It certainly aids with building tension and fits in with a space mining crew that would be sat around with nothing to do for long periods of time.

Maybe part of the problem is that due to its success, a lot of the designs and themes have been copied elsewhere, so it's less captivating. Back in the day, there was nothing like those Giger sets, so people were quite happy to see a slow descent into an alien spaceship.

Good call-out on Jaws. I, for one, also thought Alien to be a bit sluggish in just telling the story - and I was a teen when I saw it! In other words, I was used to movies of the time. It was a typical horror movie device at the time - go slow to build suspense. No. What builds suspense is Ripley racing to the escape pod with, presumably, the alien hot on her trail. What doesn't build suspense is jump scares brought on by a cat. I found that annoying - even at the time of release 44 years ago.

Jaws, OTOH, FANTASTIC movie! I saw that in a HUGE screen theater that had a balcony. The scene where the head suddenly appeared in the hull sent popcorn raining down in the main auditorium! One of my most memorable movie experiences! That reminds me, I saw a lot of great movies in that theater!

It's because Alien is a suspenseful horror movie, not an action movie. Aliens might be a better fit for you if you need it punched up.

I think it's a deeper phenomenon than taste. I find a lot of modern films (the latest Star Wars trilogy for example) nauseatingly fast-paced. I literally get vertigo and motion sickness from the rapidity and relentlessness of the cuts. Lots of people seem to devour these films, however... Then on the bus ride home I peek over someone's shoulder and see why:

They're swiping Tiktok videos even faster than that!

It's incredibly disturbing to me. I'm reminded of drug addicts clawing at the drywall of their dilapidated apartments, fiending for their next fix. We've used all of this wonderful semiconductor technology to turn millions of people into digital junkies. And our culture is deteriorating right along with it!

Your comment reminds me of the classic example: Taken 3 where they used 15 cuts in 6 seconds[1] to show Liam Neeson jumping over a fence. You can barely hold people's attention for 400 milliseconds.

1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCKhktcbfQM

I was born in 1987 and don't think it is too slow at all.

Just don't pull your phone out while watching a movie and take some time experiencing the slowness. It might feel boring or torturous at first, but give it some time and you will begin to see the value in focus.

Sure the average audience of today has no attention span and needs constant flashy-action, but that doesn't mean you have to be a part of that.

Interesting. I'd put this more down to taste but you might be right.

I tend to prefer films like this and I think there are plenty of "modern" examples. I do find some older films too slow paced, but I think its only when it's coupled with weaker writing and atmosphere building. In Alien I find the pacing works for the content and I assume it was a conscious decision, and that's why I think it holds up. But I'm not an expert on this stuff so I could be quite wrong here.

I don't think you are wrong there. There is always a lot of subjectivity with things like this. Many people would never ever consider picking up a phone while watching any movie, while for others even absolutely exciting movies like Escape from NY feel boring. It's about taste, not about the film being old, and I'm sure it was exactly the same when it was released.

I agree with you (born 1977). Saw Alien sometime in 80s

Alien would be a solo but forgotten masterpiece like Man Hunter until James Cameron made Aliens.

“Mother” is kept mysterious in Alien, relying too much on 1970s zeitgeist of technology. I kept expecting a Dream Scene which were all the rage in 1960s/70s.

Good contrast with Jaws, I would also add Blues Brothers from the same period. Excitement possible even in those days.

Probably best to keep away from my favourite 70s sci-fi then: Tarkovsky’s Stalker. There’s real beauty / bravery in multi-minute lingering shots, but when a single zoom-out-and-in shot is long enough for a rain shower to start up and finish before the shot concludes, while the characters sit looking morose and not saying anything, then it’s probably not for you.

I was also thinking Tarkovsky’s Stalker while reading the parent comment - a great accompaniment to a nap on a lazy afternoon. Nice atmosphere, but did anything happen in that movie?

Alien was actually good though.

I hope you put your phone down for the meal scene with Kane. Lol imagine glancing at it and thinking, oh boring they're just eating... time to check Twitter, and looking away.

> Too many long panning cuts, too much staring at a wall, too much space between dialog, too little action.

What do you think of 2001 A Space Odyssey?

> What do you think of 2001 A Space Odyssey?

Exactly. If "modern tastes" can't appreciate this film, I feel that's more a sign of an ADHD epidemic.

> too slow for a general audience in the 2020s

I think that says a lot about the latest generations and the boom in children hyperactivity disorders.

That's what I see with my son too (I'm 44, he's now 14). I tried to watch some of the older movies (not alien just yet), and it's all just too slow-paced/boring for him. These movies have a huge and slow buildup, and by that time they already lost the younger generations.

Todays movies and series really go fast into the action, and grab you from start to finish.

I was hoping by the time he gets a little older, he can appreciate the slower pace a bit more, but your comment gives me less hope ;).

Anyway, the 'classics' such as Godfather and Casablanca are also too boring for me :D.

> Too many long panning cuts, too much staring at a wall, too much space between dialog, too little action.

You might as well have described Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, modern universally lauded productions.

That long buildup with that immense tension throughout is exactly why that film is so good - you may have just not been in a correct mood for the movie.

I definitely do not like the choices made for the director's cut. I don't know if it's actually any longer than the theatrical cut, but it feels like a lot more emphasis was placed on wandering around with occasional cuts to the cat. It was annoying.

I do actually think the theatrical cut is still pretty entertaining. That said, I did like Aliens better.

Have you tried watching at 1.25x in these circumstances? I find it helps when exercising or otherwise stressed.

1.25x is too much imo, but 1.1x to 1.2x really helps when you're feeling "a faster tempo".

insert steve carell god please no meme

I was thinking Tommy Lee Jones looking over his newspaper.

Yeah, I should definitely be more like him.

I watched it, maybe for the first time all the way through, a couple years ago when it was in theaters as a Fathom Event. It might be a bit slow in some places, but it's not slow like Star Trek 1. I saw that one in a theater recently as well and yawnfest.

I didn't like Star Trek TMP when it was released in theaters because it was slow, but have come to appreciate it over the years. There are some really beautiful shots, and the story has some depth that the later more action-y movies are just missing. Not my favorite by any stretch, but certainly watchable in the right mood.

And without it, we wouldn't have gotten Wrath of Khan.

Like much other media of its era & older, it's paced too slowly.

Any example of fast paced current era movie that you like?

Not the OP, but as an older guy, I'll throw in "Everything Everywhere All At Once". Very fast paced with incredible concepts being thrown in seemingly at random. When you reach the infamous rock scene, it feels like it's the first time in the movie you've had time to draw a breath. Also very confusing emotionally as you'll be laughing one minute and snivelling the next.

Not the OP but I could not watch the recent Elvis biopic by Baz Luhrman because it was the most frenetic, ADHD fast-cut movie I have ever seen. It was beautiful looking but felt like it was made for a generation of people that couldn't stand still.

You must despise 2001 then.

The beauty of Alien's story, to me, is the justified skepticism of their corporate overlords.

It creates such a terrific and engaging world while making it totally relatable and realistic.

I don't know why that isn't a common motif across all media. Even the later movies in the Alien universe seem to shy away from it now. My only thought is that the management at studios feels it's a bit too on the nose.

> Alien still holds up in almost every way.

I was in high school when Alien was released and I couldn’t agree more.

Great storytelling while actually having a realistic take on what space travel would probably look like in the not too distant future.

And the corporate angle resonates more today (with me at least) than it did then.

Back then the movie industry could tell good stories. Nowadays they just approach storytelling from weird angles and hope it hit something. Probably because all good stories have been told already.

I feel like there are plenty of decent movies being made in modern times, and plenty of bad movies from the 70's. We only remember the good stuff from the 70's and forget most of the bad.

For example, in regards to sci-fi, it's not super recent but I thought Arrival [1] was actually really good. It told a solid story in a somewhat unique way.

I also think a few episodes of Black Mirror have done a pretty decent job with some of their stories.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrival_%28film%29

The 2010s in sci-fi gaves us:

- Dredd

- Melancholia (may not qualify for some sci-fi fans, I suppose, and I can understand why—it's so very allegorical)

- High Life

- Under the Skin

- Annihilation

- Ex Machina

- Edge of Tomorrow

- Looper

- Blade Runner 2049

- Sorry to Bother You

- Arrival

- Mad Max: Fury Road

- The Last Jedi (I know lots of people hated it—I think it's the only more-or-less good Star Wars movie since the original trilogy, and was shocked at the broadly-negative reaction, having come out of the theater thinking "finally, we got a good one, even if it did play the ending way too safe; everyone's going to be so happy!". We're not gonna change each other's minds in HN comments. Agree to disagree.)

And that's just the ones I've seen and thought were somewhere between good and great. And that I could remember or quickly find a reminder of with a quick search. I hear very good things about the new Planet of the Apes series (like, "each entry is better than the last" good) but have only seen the first one. Lots of people liked Rogue One, Snowpiercer, Ad Astra, and Interstellar (I didn't, or at least didn't think they were notably good, but hey, lots of people did). Godzilla, Pacific Rim, and Kong were OK romps. Heard good things about Upgrade and Attack the Block, but haven't seen them. The Martian was OK (some loved it). Inception was alright (again, lots of others like it way more than I do).

How many really good sci-fi movies did the 70s produce? The 80s? I think we're doing fine.

> Melancholia (may not qualify for some sci-fi fans,

how about there is no fictitious science in that movie?

The science being made-up isn't a feature of every credible definition of what sci-fi is. Some would perhaps admit Melancholia, others would definitely not. IMO the stronger argument for its falling outside sci-fi is that the scientific elements are basically all metaphorical—it's not actually about what would happen under those circumstances. The other planet and the impending, unavoidable doom are all externalizations of internal states of mind, and manifestations of a shared and very real and certain doom we all face. It's depression's weight realized, given physical form where all can see it.

[EDIT] I mean, then again, that's almost as true of Annihilation... which is why it's hard to nail these things down with certainty.

i love melancholia and i wouldn't even remotely consider it as science fiction ... lol

Season six of Black Mirror due out next month!

I think the movie industry can still tell good stories, I just think that many movies don't optimise for this and instead optimise for revenue (across cinemas, streaming, merch, TV, etc).

There have been some amazing films in recent years with plenty of effort put into their craft. Villenueve's Dune and Arrival come to mind in Sci-Fi, things like Everything Everywhere All At Once, Knives Out, these are all films that I think have been made with a deep appreciation for the craft, without trying to appeal too widely and lose their depth. I guess you could argue that some of these are telling from "weird angles", but I'm not sure I'd agree, and even if so I think those differences bring significant value rather than being gimmicks.

Kind of ironic that the Writers Guild is on strike... "Hey guys, I get your plight on the strike - but how about you go write something that isnt a big Ego-Dick-Swinging-Contest-Amongst-Producers"

You never see the stuff they write that nobody funds. Blame the people writing the checks for what gets produced, not the writers.

Direct this complaint at producers, not writers.

Thats who this was directed at ; leech producures and the hoops writers have to jump through.

A story about a monster on a flying sewer.

I saw it when it was released and 10-15 years ago on DVD. While I know what is coming, the big reveal scene around the dinner table still makes me jump.

One of the reasons that scene works is that the only actor that knew what was coming was John Hurt. Everyone one else there was just as surprised as the audience!

I re-watched recently and man, that movie is even more epic to me than when I saw Star Wars in the theatres the day it came out...

And, Sigourney Weaver is an insanely beautiful woman...

One of my favorite movies not just because it's scifi horror, but because of the excellent worldbuilding. Nothing is really spoonfed to us as an audience; everything just takes place in a universe, where we have to put together the world from the clues we see in the movie (logos, symbols, tech, etc.).

As an example of what I mean, this was a pretty good blog post that touches on the semiotic standards aboard the Nostromo: https://crewsproject.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/aliens-standar...

The audience never directly interacts with this standard in any way, but it adds so much depth to the world and makes for a much richer experience.

Thanks for that! I remember reading something on the subject years ago and scrolled through comments hoping someone would dig it up! Kudos!

(But there was another, similar article, much longer, with the actual frames from the movie, going through symbols one by one… I thought I had it bookmarked…)

It's unfortunate that they basically ruined the universe with the sequels after the 2nd movie. The first two are still top movies.

AVP 1 is actually one of my guiltiest pleasures :) -- it scratches a lot of my scifi-horror itches (mysterious originator civilization that was seeded with ideas like architecture and religion by aliens, big group of humans with weapons being hunted down one by one, weird maze-like house of horrors, isolated setting)

I first watched it when it came out and I was in the fourth grade, so I definitely have a lot of nostalgic value attached to it. I try and watch it at least once a year!

I didn't see it mentioned here but if you watch the documentary on Alejandro Jodorowsky attempting to make Dune - the collection of folks he brought together (for a project that didn't happen) ended up being key folks in making Alien. Talk about bringing the right talent together

That said - love Alien and will occasionally rewatch it. It's "space trucker" environment with low tech interiors really took on a different approach compared to other works in scifi. It's tranquil scenes and score are also pretty unique. Even the trailer feels a bit ahead of it's time when compared to trailers today.

I'll forever remember the garbage setup I first saw Alien on: an old MacBook and its internal speakers, in a not-dark-enough room with friends. The seating was clearly uncomfortable, too. But how perfect that afternoon was. I was blown away for two hours, mouth wide open. For that reason I fear to re-watch it at all, fearing that 10 y-o experience would be tarnished a bit.

The sequels really are worth it, imo, with each director adding its own ideas and set design, photography, special effect etc... Please Hollywood do not destroy that franchise like LOTR, SW, Harry Potter etc with garbage reboots.

I had a similar experience in front of The Thing, but was in the theater this time.

I have re-watched Alien easily 10 times, and to me it never gets old. It's my favorite movie, which is weird because in general I don't really like horrors. Sci-fi and drama though is good.

To anyone who loves Alien, I highly recommend checking out "It! The Terror from Beyond Space" (1958). Despite a cheesy name, it's a surprisingly really well made movie with decent acting, writing, and directing. It also has the same basic premise as Alien, and came out more than two decades before!

I'm not saying Alien "ripped it off", but it is fun to watch sort of a proto-Alien.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%21_The_Terror_from_Beyond_S...

Magic film, still the best of the series and one of the greatest films of a strong era.

The second was ace too but the shock and grit of the original I think gives it a special place.

watched it for the 5th time a few months ago. result guaranteed: scared the bejesus out of me :)

Great cast, great characters. And a franchise which: 1) is one of the greatest scifi franchises around (bar the couple of alien/predator anomalies) 2) is hopefully not going to be purchased and ravaged by Disney.

> is hopefully not going to be purchased and ravaged by Disney.

Sorry to tell ya, but Disney got a hold of Alien in the Fox purchase. [1]

Is an "Alien cinematic universe" coming? [2] Ugh.

[1] https://bloody-disgusting.com/movie/3551687/now-officially-o...

[2] https://screenrant.com/alien-5-movie-updates-disney-fix-fran...

Could it be worse than Alien vs Predator ?

Yes it can get worse.

Pray they don't alter it any further. [1]

[1] https://i.imgur.com/vpRy9NQ.png

I had nightmares for months.

What a great film :-)

I read somewhere that they knew they had something great when they had people breaking down and running away from test screenings.

We are used to realistic special effects now. Imagine how intense it was in '79.

Oh yes. Walking up at night, scared, thinking there was something in the room. Childhood (well, teenage) memories I'll treasure to the end,

Humans are strange :-)

Still one of my favorites. Slowly builds up the story, small group of characters where you really get the sense that you know what they're like and their motivations. Mystery and suspense, and a unique Giger aesthetic to top it all off.

I enjoy reading film geek analyses of films I love. Of course you always encounter some farfetched interpretations (often political) but in general it's a great way to see the films in a new light.





Easily top 2 sci-fi for me. I'm not sure if it's my age (born in 84) but I prefer almost all the late 70s and 80s, early 90s sci-fi movies over newer stuff.

Predator, Thing, Total Recall, Alien, Aliens, Terminator, Original Star Wars, all in my top sci-fi films.

My parents went to go see it. When the movie was over, my dad realized he still had an entire bag of uneaten popcorn.

Seems like a good time to suggest checking out Alien Isolation for anyone who didn't play it yet - the developers paid incredibly close attention to detail accurately recreating the same feeling as the film - they scanned original props for textures, and every computer display in the game was designed, put on VHS, and then rescanned off an old display playing said VHS. The Alien's AI is also excellent - it's not a perfect game, but it's a really good one, and the stuff it succeeds the most at is pretty unique in the medium.

I absolutely love the immersive background audio and sound FX in the game. It's fantastic listening on headphones.

Also the alien spacecraft set was made with lots of animal bones. But where HR Giger used old, dry bones for his sculptures, for the set they went to the local slaughterhouse and collected fresh bones. Those bones were still full of bone marrow which started to rot and stink. Apparently something similar happened on the set of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Alien has aged increadibly well, much better than Star Wars with its grotesques creatures that look too obviously like a man in a suit.

Obligatory reference to great website Typeset In The Future [0], with an analysis of fonts used in various movies:

"The five minutes to destruction are typographically uninteresting."

[0]: https://typesetinthefuture.com/2014/12/01/alien/

I remember reading this piece a while ago; excellently written. Thanks for sharing it again and stimulating my nostalgia!

A super personal anecdote: my dad took my mom to see Alien on a date and realized that because she could sit through that - she was the one. They were married soon after.

Sci Fi horror is pretty close to the polar opposite of my mom’s comfort zone, so I guess watching Alien was a test.

Man I first watched the movie back in 1989/1990, when I was 7/8, in a very dark bedroom of my father's friend, while they are talking outside.

The movie scares me the shit off. I had months of bad sleeps. But hey that was really a good experience that I never had later.

I read George R.R. Martin's novella "Nightflyers" when my dad bought me a great anthology (Years Best SF #10). It mentions in there that there are remarkable coincidental similarities between the novella and "Alien". Both scared the crap outta me at the time!

I highly recommend "Nightflyers" (and pretty much every story in that anthology):


Saw this at the Big Newport theater when I was 10. Scared me so much I had to pretend to go the restroom just to get a breather. A genuine classic that almost didn't happen. CinemaTyler on youtube has a series of behind the scenes videos on the challenge of making of Alien that are worth watching.


Of course its release date would be sometime around now, because I remember seeing it at the theater at the end of my freshman school year. Most popular sci-fi of the time seemed to be hopeful about the cool things that technology and space travel can bring. In Aliens, someone asked, "what if there's some mean shit out there, and it ravages your entire crew?". In space, no one can hear you scream.

They re-cut Alien in the early 2000s to increase the pace of the movie, and it's so so much better. I watched the 1970s version and I had to admit it was very plodding, which was the case for movies back then. But the re-cut makes it extremely good in my opinion! I suggest rewatching it to everyone!

Nice trivia. One thing I don't understand, is they say the crew didn't know about the chestburster, but they had to have John setup under the table, with a fake torso. In the setup pic you can see he doesn't even have legs. Surely they could tell something was going to happen?

When I saw the headline, I assumed this post was about the Debian Linux Alien and not the movie, but then I realized that Linux is about 10 years younger than 44.


R.I.P. Dan O'Bannon. Dark Star is another one of my favorites. I think Dan kept that film-school vibe when he penned Alien.

Unlike a lot of others, I am not as big a fan of Aliens. The characters are a bit too corny.

Highly recommend the Heavy Spoilers breakdown of Alien


How sad is it that my first thought was that this was about the rpm-to-deb converter...

I recommend also watching the movie "The thing" (1982).

Still a great movie.

Love the soundtrack.

Much like the Terminator, only needed one sequel.

Thankfully the Alien, Predator, and Terminator franchises all stopped at one sequel.

What's that? What are you talking about? I can't hear you LA LA LA CANT HEAR YOU

Thankfully they never made a sequel to Highlander.

The TV series was pretty good, from what I can recall – been a very long time since I watched it though.

Heeeeere we are

Quit making me feel old /s


Because movies and movie titles often get remade/reused over the years, the more typical formatting clue is to put the movie release year in parentheses after the title (which might be italicized)

“Alien (1979) was released 44 years ago today”

What do gen z assume it is?

An alien, that was released 44 years ago today.

Did it survive? Did it feed on people? Was it captured for nefarious purposes, and are there still more out there?

Not everyone is a stupid as you.

That's what they said at the start of the sequel.

Lol. Gen-z must be terrified all the time. They are always so confused.

Titles should be italicized, at the least. Laziness and/or ignorance are common traits for internet posts :/

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