The freighter Nostromo is quietly travelling from a distant planet back to earth, when the crew of seven are diverted by a distress signal. They find what looks like a crashed ship, and when investigating they discover a scary life form that, against all reason, they bring onto the Nostromo. It quickly escapes, grows and then starts picking off the crew members once by one as the survivors struggle to find a way to stop it. We've got the bullheaded commander (Skerritt), his prickly first officer (Weaver), a medical man (Holm), two worker bees (Cartwright and Hurt) and two grunts (Kotto and Stanton).
Forget the sequels (each is from a different genre), this is a pure horror movie. Scott and O'Bannon carefully establish the atmosphere on the ship before anything starts happening, then they begin slowly building a sense of dread before full-scale terror takes over. Scott keeps a grip on us masterfully, establishing the threat in each scene to keep us right with the characters--terrified. Even the red herrings (namely Jones the cat) catch us off guard every time. And the reinserted footage is so organic that we can't quite remember if we've seen it before--there are a couple of extra bits, but it's mostly a few extra seconds here and there that intriguingly and subtly alter the scenes. Watching this makes you wonder if suspense filmmakers have learned anything over the last quarter century! I don't think I've been as scared watching a film as I was during this ... and I'd seen it before! Do not buy the DVD; see this on a big screen with a cinema full of people who are just as frightened as you are. Absolutely brilliant.
dir Ridley Scott|
scr Dan O'Bannon
with Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright
release US 25.May.79
director's cut US/UK 31.Oct.03
In space no one can hear you scream: Hurt causes chaos at dinner above; Weaver as Ripley below.
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