Revamped ‘Alien’ promises more fun

‘In space no one can hear you scream.” So goes the tagline for “Alien,” one of the quintessential horror films to come out in the last 30 years. Now “Alien” is being re-released into theaters in an all new directors cut.

Most students at the University were not even born when “Alien” terrified people in theaters in 1979. Now with a newly restored print from original negatives, enhance surround sound and footage taken out of the original release because the movie was “too scary.”

“Alien” was one of the first movies to star a woman in an action role. Also, it is credited as one of the most intelligent and horrific science fiction movies ever to be released. It brought credibility and a sense of realism to science fiction that people did not expect after the space opera style of “Star Wars,” which had become a sensation just two years earlier.

“Alien” was made by a then unknown British director named Ridley Scott who previously had only one small feature film to his credit. Full of middle-aged character actors and an unknown leading actress with a modest budget of $11 million dollars, the film went on to gross 10 times that worldwide.

One of the surprises of “Alien” is that you don’t really see a lot of the horrific creature. The film takes place on a ship, the Nostromo, that is very claustrophobic and full of deep dark passageways where things could be lurking, ready to strike at any moment. It is this fear of the unknown and anticipation of seeing the alien that is most frightening.

The film is faulted for having a very slow beginning, but that is really one of its strengths. Instead of just throwing you instantly into the action and barraging you with shocks, it methodically builds towards its terrifying third act.

It was the slow build up and leisurely elegance that Scott used that made “Alien” so successful. Like “Jaws,” “Alien” is even more terrifying the less you see it.

The stages the alien goes through — facehugger, chestburster and finally the full alien creature — have become famous in movie history but even after 20 years they still feel fresh. When the alien egg opens the audience knows what to expect but they still squirm in their seats when it leaps out at one of the crewmen.

There is also the infamous chestbursting scene, which is still as bloody and horrific as ever. However, the real treat is after stringing the audience along and putting them at the edge of their seats the movie really delivers. Seeing that first glimpse of the alien in all its glory definitely does not disappoint.

The film holds up even in today’s market of gory slasher flicks like the new “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Freddy vs. Jason” because it finds new ways to scare the audience. Instead of just having the alien slice and dice people throughout the film, it lets the crew wander around the ship, searching for the monster, not knowing what corner they will meet it at.

In fact, this film has a scene that is the single most terrifying moment I’ve ever witnessed in a movie. The crew has decided they will try and trap the alien by closing off the air ducts it is traveling through. When the captain of the ship knows the alien is closing in but does not know where, and then.. well I don’t want to ruin the moment, but I am sure if I saw this on the big screen I would make a fool of myself by jumping so far out of my seat. This slow build up makes the audience sit at the edge of their seat until the showdown between Sigourney Weaver and the alien creature that is killed her entire crew. After all the anticipation it is definitely worth the wait. The same can be said, of course, for finally being able to see one of the all-time horror classics seen on the bid screen where it belongs.


* The front (face) part of the alien costume’s head is made from a cast of a real human skull.

* Many of the non-English versions of the film’s title translate as something similar to “Alien: The 8th Passenger.”

* An early draft of the script had a male Ripley.

* Conceptual artist H.R. Giger’s designs were changed several times because of their blatant sexuality.

*Yaphet Kotto, one of the stars of “Alien,” was offered the role of Lando Calrissian in “The Empire Strikes Back,” but turned it down because he didn’t want to do two sci-fi films in a row.