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Halloween Week 2009: Ana’s Movie Marathon – Alien/Aliens

Disclaimer: Halloween is totally a Thea thing when she hijacks the blog and makes me watch and read all sorts of stuff that are way outside my comfort zone (I am SO NOT a horror/Halloween fan). Last year, it was The Evil Dead movies, which, wouldn’t you know, I ended up loving. This year, I was given another list of movies that I had to watch, one for ach day of the week. Ana’s Halloween Marathon is now an official part of our annual Halloween celebration. Let the torture fun begins! Also: there will be spoilers!

Ana’s Halloween TV/Movie Marathon: Day 3 – Alien/Aliens

Why These movies: Today is Sci-fi Horror day in our Halloween Week special and when Thea found out that I had never watched any of the Alien movies franchise, she added it to my Halloween Marathon list.

Trivia: I consider myself a movie buff. At the age of 12 when my parents first bought a VCR, I discovered this world of movies available to me at the video store. I went completely mental and started to rent all sorts of movies but gravitated towards old black and white Hollywood movies, the Epics, the French, comedies and dramas and completely avoided Horror and Scifi (unless there is “Star” in its title). To this date, I have yet to watch Blade Runner, something that I need to remedy and soon.

The Viewing Party:

I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to watch these movies. I know how important they are (Alien is in the AFI top 100 best science fiction movies) and how much they figure in the cultural background of our times: there are toys, games, video games, novels and several movies. Every time there is a television especial about “best movie moments”, “best 80s movies” and “best movie hero/heroine”, it is a sure thing that at least one of the Alien movies will figure in that. Heck, even though I never watched the movies before now, I knew quite a lot about them from hearsay and from those specials. I knew who Ripley is, what the Alien looks like and what is a “John Hurt Moment”. I also knew how much Thea loves them.

So, under the weight of those heavy expectations I bought the first two movies and started to watch them. And I can honestly say that I totally get it how this has such a lasting effect. I will not do my usual viewing marathon thing in which I write as I go along, mostly because I tried to do that and the notes I have consist of:

“oh noes”
“no, John Hurt, don’t do that”
“listen to Ripley”
“listen to Ripley”
“what a moron”
“no, you idiot”
“Listen to Ripley you idiots!”
“I love Ripley!”
“Ripley forever!!!”


“I can’t believe it!”

And also

“Ripley rules!”

Not very helpful. So instead, I will just list the reasons why I loved the movies.

1) The special effects.

Colour me completely surprised. Since the first movie is from 1979 and the second one from1986, I was expecting them to be dated and well, lame. No such thing. I actually turned to Dear Partner and said: sometimes, I hate GCI. Why can’t more movies be like these ones? The spaceships look real enough, I love all light effects (like inside the computer room).and above all the creature, Alien itself is a thing of beauty: the epitome of what “alien” truly means ie “different”.

2) The story and how it unfolds.

From the opening sequence of Alien when the commercial spaceship’s lights turn on, the crew awakening to find out that they are not on their way home as they expected and instead are responding to a (presumed) SOS signal. It is a slow set-up in which things fall into place little by little. There is the requisite look at the daily life of the crew, the introduction to the characters (and a chance to see who is the one with the Level-head, the one that is careless, the one that is a moron, the one that is a hero and so on and so forth) and to the spaceship layout (one word: BIG. In other words: a lot of room for an Alien to HIDE); I just loved this slow progress into the story and its sense of impending doom. Like, when John Hurt slips when he is investigating the eggs inside the derelict alien ship they found and then decides it is a clever thing to poke the eggs. OF COURSE, something bad happens there. But never mind, because Ripley, the main character played by the awesome Sigourney Weaver KNOWS that they should put John Hurt in quarantine but do they listen to her? NOOOO.

Of course, things escalate to a point of no return as the tension and the horror build up and build up as the ONE Alien wipes out every single character. I guess it should come as no surprise that only one person survives. It did astonish me though and it was a HUGE A-ha! Moment when I realised that everything was on purpose: the trip, the capturing of the Alien and that Ash, aka the character I hated the most was actually an android. This is brilliant storytelling right there.

And then Aliens, beings and it is even more dramatic. I did not expect to find out that Ripley had been sleeping for 57 years and woke up to the fact that her daughter died a mere two years before. The drama, even though this is a sci-fi horror , it is very , very human. As human as it can, as Ripley suffers from horrible nightmares and decides to confront her fears by going back to that godforsaken planet. There, she finds a lost girl, the only survivors of a colony that is being used as incubators for the horrible Aliens and in the girl, Newt, the possibility of being there for her when she could not be there for her own daughter. The maternal instinct is I think, what drives both Ripley and the Queen Alien and the showdown between the two of them in the end, both female , both kick ass, is the stuff that great movies are made of.

3) The fact that we, as a race, are utter morons

I keep saying this to Thea but it bears repeating. Most Horror movies would not be possible if it wasn’t for the idiot character that pissed off the alien/ghost/demon or awaken the Evil Force or went traipsing in the abandoned/derelict/isolated building/house/cemetery/wood.

In both Alien and Aliens s a lot of things could have been avoided if people would only listen to Ripley, aka the Voice of Reason. If protocol had been followed, if precautions have been taken. In Aliens it is even worse as these people set out to a possibly alien-infested world with only a handful of marines and a limited amount of ammunition. Come on now.

The fact that these two movies manage to engage despite these obvious contrivances (especially in movie two. Movie one has a perfectly reasonable excuse in the A-HA moment)

4) The horror!

Oh yes. How positively horrific these movies are. Of the pulsating, increasingly gross variety, the kind that grabs one by the throat as one watches one by one, the characters being taken, chased like rabbits by a violent, horrible, threatening, motherfreaking ugly, nearly indestructible, unstoppable predator.

But the scenes that are the most horrific to me, were these ones: when we still didn’t know what the frak was happening, what the creatures were: this one at the beginning of Alien when John Hurt’s helmet was removed to reveal this the Facehugger:

And then the infamous John Hurt Moment , when the Chestburster er, burst out of his chest:

I think though that above all, the most terrifying thing that happened in the movie did not happen because of the Alien. It came with the utterly frustrating and outrageous realisation that this is all because some ambitious plan from a faceless The Company. It came when Ripley read that computer message that says that all crew was expendable, as long as one of the creatures was taken alive. Oh, the humanity.

5) Ripley

Dudes, words can not describe how much I love this character. How much I love that she, SHE alone saves herself and in Aliens saves three other people (ok two people and a robot) AND kills the Queen Alien. How ,in the face of adversity, she keeps her cool, how she is capable of making all the hard decisions when the other moronic male characters are frozen by their fear. She’s got pretty cool lines and pretty cool weapons. Plus the awesome kick-assness that makes her being the one carrying people to their safety, going back to save the child when there is almost no chance of survival because it is the right thing to do. This is a character that deserves respect and admiration and she gets both from me.

Get away from her, you bitch!

These are my reasons for loving Alien and Aliens – what about you? Like? Dislike?

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  • KMont
    October 28, 2009 at 6:31 am


    Aliens more so than the first, but MAN.

    I love the Corp! A day in the corp is like a day on the farm! Every day a parade, every meal a banquet! (I know I’m not getting it all right, but my memory is made of Swiss; it’s the enthusiasm that counts. 😉 )

    OH SARG!!! Why did you have to *beeeeep* (removed to prevent spoilers)

    And then Hudson!

    “We’re in some real pretty shit now man!”

    When Hudson says to the Hispanic lady marine: “Vasquez, you ever been mistaken for a man?” And she says, “No, have you?” Then she and Drake high five and she’s toting that huge ass gun that kicks ASS. And she tops it off with some chin-ups. Sweeeeeeet.

    And oh Draaaaake! Why did you have to di-beeeeeeeeep!!!!!!!

    And then Hicks!

    *drool* I have such a thing for Michael Biehn (whose last name I can never spell right without first looking up – hey, it’s love, not freaking movie school). And then he hands Ripley that tracking/watch thingie and it’s like – *sniffle* HELLO scifi futuristic wedding band!

    GOD! I LOVE THESE MOVIES! We watched several of them just last week. Me wants to again now. Right now.

  • KMont
    October 28, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Oh yeah, the aliens were pretty cool too. 😉

  • Karen Mahoney
    October 28, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Gaaah!!!! Best. Review. Ever. 🙂

    I love these movies SO MUCH.

    I <3 Ripley SO FREAKING MUCH!!

    And, okay, I also <3 Hicks a little bit… Heh.


  • Ana
    October 28, 2009 at 7:25 am

    You girls are awesome! am I the last woman on the planet to watch these movies?

    I loved Aliens more than Alien definitely and of course, Hicks *love*

  • Gadget Sleuth
    October 28, 2009 at 7:45 am

    The 2nd film was a much better “experience” than the first, but both are good in their own way.

  • Tracie Yule
    October 28, 2009 at 7:55 am

    These are one of my all time favorite movies. I love Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, She’s amazing. My husband hasn’t seen these movies and I was thinking one of these days I should force him 🙂

  • Gerd Duerner
    October 28, 2009 at 7:58 am

    I love “Alien”, the whole series of movies; even the first AvP spin-off is fun to watch IMO, one has just to accept that it ain’t canon but simply a mere movie comic.
    But I love especially the first as it scared me almost to death as a child, and the FX still amaze me. It’s been made so simple when you watch the making-off, that’s pure movie making brilliance there!

    I also enjoyed the trilogy of books written by S. D. Perry after the Dark Horse comic series if memory serves.

  • Adrienne
    October 28, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Aliens…ah the memories. It’s a go to movie on a Saturday afternoon when there is nothing on (or I’m to lazy to go to the book store)and I know that movie verbatim. If you really take a look at the series, it changed the face of science fiction movies. Between Aliens and Terminator (another James C movie) it upped the bar of what really sci-fi needed to be. The 2nd Aliens didn’t have to much gore, too much blood and guts…it was scary on it’s on because you knew at any second one of those creatures could come in, take you away, and you would be alive for the whole thing…I’m really glad you like both movies

  • Diana Peterfreund
    October 28, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I love Aliens! It’s one of my favorite movies! Everything you said. Also, Michael Biehn. Swoon.

    The scariest moment for e is when Ripley and Newt are hiding under the cot in the lab.

    I actually saw Aliens before I saw Alien so the android thing was spoiled for me, but I love Alien, too. I love that it’s basically a haunted house movie, but the only haunted house movie that makes sense — they CAN’T leave — and not because of some $20k bet or anything. They really really can’t leave.

    THe Alien box set includes this amazing documentary about the artistic design of alien and the making of hte film and how everything kind of came together to be this extraordinary creation. It also goes on at length about the creation of the character of Ripley — originally written to be a MALE character, and then they were like, hey, this could be a girl, and cast Sigourney, who was Yale-trained but had kind of been playing second fiddle to Streep ever since school.

  • Karenmc
    October 28, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I live in the Portland, OR suburb where Dark Horse Comics is located. Whenever I get Chinese takeout, I can look at an original of the human size Alien in a store front window that’s part of the Dark Horse headquarters. It is very, very cool.

    In Aliens, there’s a moment before the final Ripley/Alien Mother battle, in which Sigourney Weaver cocks her head and gives the A-M a look that says, “We’re both doing the same thing. We understand what’s at stake. And I’m going to beat you.” It’s a wonderful moment in a great, great movie.

  • Meljean
    October 28, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    LOVE THESE MOVIES. Aliens has a slight edge (I saw it first, and also I just love it more) but I watch them at least twice a year without fail.

    Ripley … oh, god, Ripley. Watching her kick ass and take charge makes my heart go pitter patter every single time.

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