Alien
5 out of 5 starsSHADOWS MUST SEE MUST-SEE
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Nearly 25 years later, Ridley Scott is back with a director's cut of his sci-fi horror masterpiece, which he's only slightly tinkered with, adding 5 minutes of previously cut footage ... and cutting the whole film down by 5 minutes so it maintains its original running time. Restored to a pristine print with digital sound, seeing it on a big screen reminds us what an underrated classic this is. The only thing that dates it is the youth of the cast members; the production design stands up against anything out there now, and even the 24-year-old computer screens look retro-chic! And most importantly, it still has the power to scare the life out of us.

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.

cert 15 themes, strong violence, suspense 16.Sep.03

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
Fox
79-03/UK 1h57

In space no one can hear you scream: Hurt causes chaos at dinner above; Weaver as Ripley below.
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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