When something that might be a distress call is received by the commercial
space craft Nostormo, due to air-&-space regulations the crew is committed
to help, so the ship's computer wakes them - a small group of seven - up from
their deep-freeze-sleep prematurely.
But after they have made a bumpy planet from which the call is coming from,
the survey team only finds a weitrd alien ship the crew of which - apparently
much larger in size than humans - proves to be dead already - & for a long
time too. but the survey team also discovers some alien eggs, & one of the
eggs hatches ... right onto the helmet of crewmember Kane (John Hurt), &
soon penetrating the helmet's hull.
When the survey team returns to the Nostromo, officer in command Ripley
(Sigourney Weavers) refuses to let them in due to quarantine regulations ...
but science officer Ash (Ian Holm) overrrides her command & opens the hatch
for them ...
At sickbay they find Kane's face totally covered by some kind of
extraterrestrial facehugger that somehow sustains Kane's rudimentary life
functions though, but when they try to cut it off, they find it's blood is
highly acidic, endangering even the ship's hull.
Weirdly enoguh, on the next day the facehugger has fallen off all by itself,
with Kane still alive, & relieved the crew make a take-off. However, when
Kane has his breakfast that day, his stomach bursts open, & out comes a
tiny alien that soon heads off to god knows where ...
The crew are immediately convinced that the alien is - if tiny - totally
malevolent & decide to hunt it down, which isn't easy since the Nostromo is
rather big & they are down to 6 crewmembers now ... & then there's also
the ship's cat, which is further facilitating the hunt, so one of the crew,
Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) is senbt to catch the cat ... but of course he
instead crosses paths with the alien, which, now grown to man-size, makes no
fuzz & kills him ...
The crew have now come to the conclusion that the alien is moving about the
ship in the airshafts, so the ship's captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt) volunteers
to climb in there himself & kill it with his trusted flamethrower ... but
in the end he of course gets it himself instead.
In the absence of the captain, Ripley is the commandeering officer again,
& by asking the ship's computer Mother the right questions, she soon
comes up with some quite unsettling facts: that the Nostromo's mother company
has in fact not sent them on a commercial mission but on a mission to secure
the alien - the ultimate soldier -, cost it what may (& what may includes
the lives of the crew). & to secure the success of the mission they have
sent a cyborg with the Nostromo's crew - & the cyborg turns out to be
science officer Ash ... whom the others, Ripley, strongman Parker (Yaphet
Kotto) & Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) immediately destroy - but not before
he tells them the alien is indestructible.
So that seems to lieave them with just one more chance ... to abandon ship
in a shuttle & blow up the Nostromo for good .
The detonators are soon set, but while making their way to the shuttle, the
alien matches to catch up with both Parker & Lambert, & of course kills
them. Only Ripley - with the ship's cat - can make it to the shuttle & make
a take-off just seconds before the Nostromo goes up in smoke.
Bzut when undressing for her deep freeze hibernation, she has to realize the
alien has sneaked aboard the shuttle, too.
In desperation, Ripley jumps into the next spacesuit, buckles up & opens
the hatch ... & the alien is sucked into outer space ...
Alien was not only highly successful in its time, it is also regarded
as one of the key sci-fi-horror films ... & rightly so: The film
proves to be a masterpiece in both action & suspense, boasting superior
direction which is very much helped by great claustrophobic set-designs put to
good use, & of course H.R.Giger's groundbreaking creature designs ...
On a plot-level however, Alien has remarkabbly little to offer, it's
merely a slasher-movie (a genre that was extremely popular back then)
transposed into outer space, with elements from It!
The Terror from Beyond Space, Terrore
nello Spazio/Planet of the
Vampires & Dan O'Bannon's own script Dark Star thrown in for
good measure, as well as
portions of the Doctor
Who-tale The Ark in Space, & the stomach bursting scene was
obviously lifted from David Cronenberg's Shivers
which curiously enough doesn't hurt the movie at all since all this elements
are blended imaginatively instead of being a mere rip-off.
Curiously enough, director Ridley Scott never again rose to such artistic
heights, & while some of his movies are at least relatively decent (Blade
Runner), others are simply the pits (Legend, Hannibal, Gladiator).