Special Features
Alien...40 Years of Terror

By William Henry Pratt


      The year 1979 saw the release of a whole host of horror movies
with a great deal of them in the vampire sub-genre. However one film
came along and truly made a lasting mark that is still felt today.  That
little movie was "Alien" and its impact and its ability to scare the hell
of us is as powerful today as it was forty years ago upon its release.
The movie was under the direction of Ridley Scott, with screenplay
by Dan O'Bannon from his story with Ronald Shusett. The film starring
Tom Skerrtt and Sigourney Weaver, told the simple story of the crew
of the Nostromo after they discover a wrecked ship on an alien planet.
When one of the members of the landing party is attacked by some
spider like creature that crawls out from an egg, jumps upon him to
burst right through his space helmet and attaches itself to the victim’s
face. He is brought back to the Nostromo and after a study, it is dis-
covered that the creature has blood that could burn through steel. But
just when they figure the thing can't be removed, the little monster falls off on its own and dies. All seems
well until at dinner, as everyone on board the ship is about to eat, the man who was attacked starts to
convulse and to the horror of his friends, a creature bursts from his chest and runs off in the bowels of the
ship.

      What follows is nothing less than one of the
greatest horror movies ever made and featuring
maybe the most frightening monster ever created.
The beast itself when fully gown is a 7-10 foot
terror unlike anything ever seen before in a horror
movie......or anywhere in fact. A creature of utter
nightmarish proportions as it runs amok killing off
the members of the Nostromo one by one. The
monster in question was the idea of artist H. R.
Giger who was brought to the attention to the film’s director when the film’s writer O'Bannon showed a
copy of one of Giger's art books. Wanting something truly fresh and never seen before, Scott brought in
the artist to dream up the look of the alien creature. The beast unlike anything ever seen was a monster of
monsters as one of the most iconic creatures in all of movie history. The moment you see it you know this
is from "Alien."

      Within the creature costume, the 7 foot 10 inch, Bolaji
Badejo, a man who was cast as the alien because of not
only his great height but also his very slim frame making the
creature slender and tall. While the monster suit looked
stunning, the director decided not to show too much of the
monster thinking that less is more and the lack of seeing too
much of the creature made it all the more scary.  And that is
true in most cases, but however, the creature suit looked so
damn good that seeing more of it would have just made it
more scary......if you ask me. After all, in the Alien films that
followed, it’s proven that the creature design is so well done that seeing more of it would or could have
never hurt the 1979 classic. Although we do see the creature, his 7 foot 10 height can’t be fully seen....but
okay, I like to see monsters, so shoot me.

      "Alien" was such a hit upon its release in May of 1979, that it won the
Academy Award for best visual effects for that year plus three Saturn
Awards for best Science Fiction movie. It also won a Hugo Award and in
2002 "Alien" was called one of the greatest films ever made and added to
the Library of Congress for preservation. And remember that this is a
horror movie....something that is rarely done for a genre film but that's how
big its impact was. Not too often is a horror or sci/fi movie made that gains
critical acclaim and big box office sales such as it did upon its release into
theaters. Like the film itself, even its TV ads were spooky with only the
tagline "In Space....No One Can Hear You Scream", and then when leaks
of what the monster looked like really scared the hell out of people. This
writer sadly didn't get to see the film in theaters, but remembers the TV
spots for it and when I did see it about a year later on TV, the creature
itself blew me away.

      In the years that followed the ‘79 release of "Alien",
other writers and film directors carried on and even add-
ed to the myth of this creature like the 1986 master-
piece "Aliens" picking up where "Alien" left off and add-
ing to the myth, the Alien Queen. Even the cross-over
films with the Predators brought this beautiful design
and yet horrifying creature into new storylines as the
two movie monsters do battle to the death. Even Ridley
Scott himself would return to the Alien franchise with two prequel movies with "Prometheus" in 2012 and
"Alien Covenant" 2017. With each movie that followed, new myths were forged as with the Queens, that
the Aliens were used in hunts by Predators and that they were created by humans in Covenant. Each film
brought the story of this amazing monster forward and gave the world a truly great monster for horror and
science fiction fans alike.

      Thanks to this one movie in 1979 so...so much has come from it from movies, books, comic books
and even Halloween costumes all showcasing the Alien. If you are the one person on Earth who has
never...ever seen this horror and sci/fi classic, I would say hang your head low and rent "Alien."
For article about Alien . . .  
40 Years of Terror,
click
here