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<It’s been awhile since I did a write-up for one of The Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race column.  Since October means Horror-Ween around these parts, it’s only natural that one of the movies featured for Horror-Ween would be cross-pollinated with The Greatest column.  Last year, the original Friday the 13th managed to fall under both categories.  This year, it’s Alien’s turn.>

 

I always go back and forth as to which Alien movie is better, Alien or Aliens.  Usually, whichever movie I saw last ends up being the victor on account of it still being fresh in my head.  Since I’m still jazzed from just watching Alien, I’m going to say it’s better than Aliens.  Of course, that opinion might change tomorrow when I watch and review Aliens.

 

If you were to ask me when I was ten years old which movie was better I would’ve said Aliens because it was more action packed.  But now that I’m older, I appreciate what director Ridley Scott does with the first half of Alien.  He creates all kinds of atmosphere and nearly every single frame of the film is just oozing with dread.  From the opening scenes of the ship powering up to the discovery of the Space Jockey to the Alien egg opening, Scott expertly sets the mood.  Then after the seminal chestburster scene, the flick becomes Ten Little Astronauts.

 

And that’s what I like about Alien; it’s basically Friday the 13th in space.  This movie solely exists to scare the shit out of you, and it still remains just as effective today as when it was first released.  And like Friday the 13th (another fellow Greatest Movie in the History of the Human Race); it follows all of the conventions of the slasher movie to a tee.  There’s the gratuitous false scare involving a cat (two actually), there’s our supposed lead actor getting the shaft early on, and of course there’s The Final Girl who goes toe to toe with the killer during the last reel. 

 

At one point in the film, the android Ash says that he admires the Alien’s “purity”.  Likewise, I admire the film’s purity.  It’s devoted to giving you nothing but scares.  There’s no plot or character development whatsoever; just some gruesomely effective suspense sequences and shocking gory moments.

 

What’s remarkable about Alien is that the characters are sketched rather quickly, but the acting is so great that we barely notice.  Even Sigourney Weaver, who was highly praised for her work here, isn’t given much to do besides be The Final Girl.  In Aliens, Ripley was a fully developed character that was beautifully realized and acted by Weaver.  Here, she’s nothing more than an Adrienne King clone. 

 

Let me put it to you this way, at the end of Aliens, she braves certain death to save a little girl.  In this movie, she braves almost certain death to save her cat.  I think that sums it up right there.

 

And it goes right back to what I was talking about before:  Purity.  We never really learn anything about the characters other than what we NEED to know.  All we know about Ripley is that A) She sometimes questions authority B) She’s stupid enough to put herself into jeopardy to rescue a dumb cat C) She’s willing to strip down to her undies while facing off against a monster.  All stellar qualifications for a Final Girl if you ask me.

 

No matter how “pure” and streamlined the film is, there still some subtext to be found.  Alien is basically a statement about the exploitation of the working man.  All of the characters are essentially space truckers working for the mysterious “Company”.  These guys bitch constantly about not getting bonuses or overtime, just like your average union workers would.  They are especially ticked off that their voyage home has been diverted just so they can bring this Alien onboard.  The Company’s solution:  Let the Alien eat everyone up; presumably so they won’t have to shell out any money for overtime.  Yes, the Alien does all of the killing but The Company is the real enemy.  And like the Alien, the Company is a malevolent, faceless entity that thrives on the misery and consumption of others.  

 

I wouldn’t want to work for The Company, I know that.  I mean talk about an impersonal workplace; everyone refers to each other by their last name.  Christ, they even call the cat by it’s last name, Jones!

 

Not only is Alien the finest extraterrestrial slasher movie ever made.  Not only does it represent the pinnacle of blue collar horror.  It also happens to be one of The Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race.

 

Alien is the Numero Uno movie on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1979.

 

EDIT:  The Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race Column was started back in June 2009, which means that my reviews for other Greatest Movies that were written before then never got to be spotlighted.  To make up for some of the reviews I didn’t write over the summer, I’ve gone back and put Road House, Troll 2, Tango and Cash, The Karate Kid 3, and Cobra under the Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race banner.  I’m sure you’ll agree that these are truly some of the Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race.


<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  Aliens>

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