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One small step for man, and one giant step toward cinematic perfection. Alien is ripe with spine tingling terror, fingernail biting suspense, and pulse pounding thrills. And yet, it's descent into dramatic territory is what makes it truly stand out from other extraterrestrial monster movies. This is lightyears away from the alien movies of yesterday, because this time you don't watch it just to see the antagonists get devoured by the monster, you actually root for them to make it out alive. I know, it sounds strange, but these people - although their working on a giant spaceship in the deep vacuum of space - are very relatable, and you want to see them survive. Essentially, there just truckers transporting a mineral across the galaxy. When you break it down to the bare statistics, it's not very far-fetched after all.
As for the alien itself, designed with grotesque gusto by H.R. Giger, to put it simple: you've never seen anything like this on screen. Erase all those bad imitators out of your head, because at the time this beast was something else. In this instance, the less you see the better. You only see flashes and portions of it's body, but it plays with your mind, and makes you question what you've just seen. Sure, this has been done a hundred times now, and the image of the titular creature is burned into everyones' mind nowadays, but I bet at the time of it's release, it must have made an impact.
This film contains one of my favorite scenes in all of cinema - the chestbuster scene. The life cycle regarding the alien is so inept and fleshed out, you'd actually believe it was a real species. From egg, to a spider-like face hugger, to a snake like creature that nestles in your intestines and eventually bursts out your chest, to the full grown monstrosity - the aline is the nastiest, yet most beautiful movie monster.
Everything from the creepy atmosphere, to the unsettling score, to the fantastically designed gothic inspired space ship interiors - this is one good looking movie. Add a superb sceenplay by Dan O'Bannon, and excellent direction by Ridely Scott, and you got one modern classic that stood the test of time and remains a must-see.