Originally entitled 'Star Beast', the film Alien follows the hideous escapade of the crew of the spaceship Nostromo. After landing on an alien planet, one of the team is attacked by a mysterious and monstrous entity which has attatched itself to his face. After some time, and after a hazardous experiment in which a medical crew tried to remove the creature only to find it has acidic blood, it falls off, dead. Soon after, the infected crew-member dies in a bloody display as another monster bursts from his chest cavity and slithers away. After much deliberation, it is decided to hunt he fiendish creature, but to the crews horror, it has grown into an adult in less than a few hours. The alien Xenomorph then proceeds to kill the crew as they try to hunt it, save for Ellen Ripley, who triumphantly sends the monster out of the hacth into the void.
Alien is widely recognized as one of the greatest horror/sci-fi films ever made, and rightly so. It is an atmospheric, wel acted, well directed, well written film with a creature which, in my opinion, is the most frightening movie-monster ever made.
Why? Well, it combines everything that makes humans feel uncomfortable:
a misshapen head with only a huge mouth,
spidery fingers with claws,
and it acts more like an insect than anything.
The Alien Xenomoprh combines elements of monkey, reptile and insect, with its monkey-like outline, reptilian appearance and insect-like behaviour. The creature looks familiar in outline, yet acts nothing like anything any human has ever witnessed. It feels nothing, seems unstoppable, it's silent, can kill without effort and this all morphs, along with a hideous appearance, into the perfect monster. It doesn't speak; it only hisses and screeches cacodemoniacally. H.R. Giger has indeed created the perfect creature.
But as for the film, it's still amazing. The Alien is bewilderingly hideous, the characters are understandable and human with real feelings and fears and the setting is great. The whole thing has influenced countless sci-fi and horror films, and the monster has even been unsuccessfully ripped off. Every space-bound horror film, from Event Horizon to Sunshine has benefitted and has been inspired in some minute, unknowable way by Alien.
The film has spawned sequels, of which the 2nd film, the action packed yet uninspiredly titled 'Aliens', is the best, but lacks the horror of the original. It seems to familiarize the Xenomorphs, making them somewhat more like insects than they should have been. Also, the presence of swarms takes away the feeling of terror that only one is capable of annihilating an entire space-ship crew.
But seriously, I reccomend Alien with all of my heart and soul, if not just for the amazinglky horrific monster alone! Buy it, you need to own it.