Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
United Kingdom/USA, 1979. Brandywine Productions, Twentieth Century-Fox Productions. Story by Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon. Cinematography by Derek Vanlint. Produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. Production Design by Michael Seymour. Costume Design by John Mollo. Film Editing by David Crowther, Terry Rawlings, Peter Weatherley. Academy Awards 1979. Golden Globe Awards 1979.
In space, no one can hear you scream, but since most movie theatres are situated on the planet Earth, feel free to shriek your heart out. Some of the special effects in this milestone sci-fi adventure don’t hold up against the improved technology of later sequels, but it stays in the game thanks to director Ridley Scott’s wise choice to concentrate on character development and unseen terror. A crew of outer space miners respond to a emergency call from a barren planet while on their voyage back home to Earth, and stop to take a look at what might be causing it. While scouting their eventual destination, one crew member is attacked by a mysterious spider-like object that puts him into a deep coma while embedding an alien embryo inside him. The creature’s birth in the spaceship becomes a thrill ride of gory chases as the monster grows to giant proportions and threatens to wipe out the ship’s human element altogether. Of course, this isn’t necessarily feasible with Sigourney Weaver on board; though she was making her principal role debut, Weaver was instantly recognizable as a skillful combination of brain and brawn, and made history in the movies by being the first female to head a film franchise. Scott’s vision of space as a crowded, dirty junk pile would influence a whole generation of filmmakers who weren’t necessarily sold on the clean, crisp lines of the Star Wars films.