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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Part of my Prometheus experience this past weekend included my first viewing of 1979’s Alien. That’s right. I hadn’t seen it before. I wasn’t avoiding it or anything like that. I just never had gotten around to it for some reason. My buddy Will, who is a huge Alien franchise fan, made sure to sit me down watch this film classic after we left the theater.
Honestly, what can be said about Alien that hasn’t been said a billion times already? It’s a good movie. It gives the viewer a solid sense of dread as the Nostromo’s crew is picked off one-by-one. The world director Ridley Scott creates feels lived in and believable. I particularly liked how natural the characters play off each other. It adds to the sense of realism the film is striving for.
I also love how you never fully see the titular Alien. This was clearly a case of budget issues, but it was a smart move on Scott to keep the viewers literally in the dark about this evil creature. It allows us to really fill in the gaps ourselves, and to add to that sense of terror the film provides.
That said, honestly, I didn’t find the film all that scary. However, I don’t slight the film for that. It is a product of a different time, and things in horror films have evolved. What was scary once won’t be again. For example, I have a deep fondness for the Universal horror films of the 1930s and ‘40s. Films like Frankenstein and Dracula were terrifying when first released. Today, not so much. Alien falls into this category due to me first watching it 30+ years after the fact.
Not everything works for me. The pacing at the beginning is horribly slow. I don’t mind slow burns, but everything up to the point where John Hurt gets face-hugged just drags at a snail’s pace. However, from there on, the movie zips along at a frenzied pace. Also, I don’t quite understand Scott’s over-use of the dissolve effect when the crew is waking up from stasis. Maybe it is to promote the dream-like state they were in. I don’t know. In the end, these are minor quibbles.
I can see why this movie is a classic and how so many people were completely psyched for the recent Prometheus. I guess I should now sit down and watch Aliens (I haven’t seen that one either).