Alien is quite possibly one of the best sci-fi films all-time, and it is certainly a classic in many respects. If you like sci-fi then you’ve seen Alien. Ridley Scott is the one who directed this and a number of other quality films. The success of this film led to three sequels and two prequels (Alien versus Predator, and Alien versus Predator: Requiem). The leading role of this film was played by Sigourney Weaver who also is the only original cast member to be in the subsequent sequels. This film has been recognized not only by the National Film Registry as culturally significant but also has been recognized by the American Film Institute in their list of the 100 best thrillers as number six and Ellen Ripley comes a number eight on their top 100 heroes and villains list.

In many regards this film strictly sci-fi, yet in other ways it conforms to horror as well. I think that many times science fiction and horror mesh very well together, and they are often intermingled in films of the like. Both science-fiction and horror have certain elements and conventions that are unique to each and yet there still can be some overlap. I mentioned earlier that this film is sci-fi which it is for the most part, but it also has aspects of horror film. This mixing of the two genres that work so well together is probably one of the reasons why this film was so successful and has become a classic.

As far as the conventional science-fiction film genre goes, this film conforms in many ways. First of all, with regard to its settings, this film is set in the distant future in a time when humans are able to traverse the galaxy. The characters in question do so in a mining ship called Nostromo, which is carrying a large shipment of mineral ore and is immense in size. Also, they visit and alien ship on an alien planet. The seven characters also conform to sci-fi as they are either engineers, officers, a navigator, a scientist, or the captain of the intergalactic vessel. These types of characters are somewhat stereo typical of sci-fi especially, however, scientists, navigators, and engineers. The most obvious conflict in this film is the one between the alien and the crew, which is every bit as psychological as physical. There are, however, conflicts of different sorts in this film especially between the company that owns the ship and employs its crew and the crew themselves.

As we find out in the movie, Ash the science officer turns out to be an android carrying out the wishes of the company, which to the detriment of the crew cares only about the aliens’ safe return. This leads to a physical conflict between Ash and our main character Ripley when she becomes the captain of the ship and accesses the main computer finding out the companies intent. There also seems to be some internal conflict among the crew between the engineers, officers, and the scientist as they all have their differing points of view and opinions. The final conflict is between the last two remaining characters, Ripley and the alien. This final dual occurs on the shuttle after the death of all the other crew and the explosion of the ship, as Ripley expels the alien into space and vaporizes it in the engines.

After the final conflict, the game of cat and mouse came to an end with the quite apparent death of the alien. This allows Ripley to finally breathe easy. The theme of this film could be seen as quite simply the battle between good and evil. The good being the crew minus Ash, and the evil being the alien, Ash, and the company that they worked for. The values affirmed in this film are that of good triumphing over evil. Also, both the alien and the company represented apparently unemotional entities concerned solely for their survival. The alien being basically the perfect biological survivor, and the company was being a great survivor by way of their bottom line and their prospects. By counteracting the priorities of the company and by destroying the alien Ripley reaffirms our value that life is not merely about survival, but there is also much more to life. The conventions of the sci-fi film are usually that of the aforementioned good versus evil theme, but also that of science gone astray or awry in some way or another either directly or indirectly. In the case of this film, it is not necessarily science that has gone awry it is the intentions of the alien being and the company that owns the vessel and employs the crew including their android scientist Ash that have the evil intent or the lack of any type of moral compass. Finally, in most sci-fi is it is a convention that in the end good triumphs over evil in some respect.

This film also incorporates some of the horror genre conventions. As I said earlier, there is some overlap in the sci-fi and horror genre. For example, being on a spaceship in the expansive void of space especially with only seven crewmembers can give us quite the secluded and caged in feel adding to the thrill of the horror aspect. Then there is the dark, bleak, and apparently lifeless planet which was home to a long deceased alien ship and crew that seemed more like a tomb than a ship, for good reason. The alien itself while definitely paying homage to the sci-fi convention also, in this case especially, is a part of the horror convention as well with its intimidating, dark, and predatory appearance. For instance, we have the face hugger that latches onto someone’s face sticks it to down their throat laying an egg inside of them, which will subsequently hatch and burst through the chest of the individual in a violent manner as the larval form of the alien. If the thought of that doesn’t horrify someone then I don’t know what will.

This film also follows the extremely stereo typical horror film with respects to the how the characters die. In classic repose this film finds an excuse almost every single time with the exception of once to separate and isolate each character to have them killed by the chief antagonist, which in this case is the alien. Plus, this entire film was shot in a very dark and dirty environment even the technologically advanced ship seemed to be quite poorly lit most of the time and had a quite worn and tattered look to it lending to the feeling of despair.

I thoroughly enjoy this film every time I see it. This was really one of the first popular movies of its kind that was a horror set in space. That ironically enough came out soon after Star Wars’ big success in 1977. Perhaps it was riding in the wake of the established success of Star Wars as certain types of films seem to come out in a series whether it’s space-based sci-fi movies, westerns, quirky comedies, or gangster films. Either way these films set the standard model for which many other space-based sci-fi’s were molded. Dan O’Bannon who wrote the screenplay for this film has also written the screenplay for and played a part in a number of other good sci-fi films such as Star Wars, Total Recall, Screamers, and Lifeforce, which the latter two were also very much a mix of sci-fi and horror. Alien I’m sure will satisfy sci-fi fans for many years into the future to come as it has since its inception.