Jack’s Bad Movies: Alien (1979)

IMDB’s description: 

The crew of a commercial spacecraft encounters a deadly lifeform after investigating a mysterious transmission of unknown origin.

Hoo boy, another Ridley Scott “masterpiece.” If there is one thing an audience loves it is long slow things moving through space. The onboard computer, which looks like it is running CP/M, wakes up the crew on the spaceship Nostromo. The opening title card says there are seven crewmembers. That sounds like a lot of people so I doubt I’ll be able to keep track of them all. 

The one person I do recognize is that talentless Sigourney Weaver (playing someone named Ripley). So they land on this planet and then three of the crewmen go to explore the mysterious signal. They climb into an alien ship. Meanwhile back on the main ship the computer known as ‘Mother’ thinks the signal is actually a warning and not an SOS. I don’t know how it could know one way or another, since it is an alien transmission, but whatever. One of the search party wanders into a room full of cocoons. He approaches one and it starts to open. Does he treat this situation with the paranoid caution it deserves? No he does not, a crab leaps out and busts through his spacesuit helmet. The other two carry him back to the ship. 

With the captain and the other two guys off the ship Ripley decides to try and stage a mutiny and won’t let them back in. Fortunately for her the science officer Ash is a man of principle and opens the airlock. They bring the wounded searcher into the ship. The science officer then attempts to remove the head crab (a shameless ripoff of Half-Life) but it has acid for blood and doing so would kill the crewmember. Staying true to his Hippocratic oath he refuses to do anything to harm the patient. Ripley complains to him about her failed mutiny, but he is too committed to life and the law to listen to her. 

The next thing we know the crab has died and has fallen off the guy. Ash then performs an autopsy and discovers copyright infringement. They take off from the planet and decide to resume their trip home. The ship is basically a glorified space tow truck, but as far as I know they aren’t towing anything. Seems a long way to go for nothing. 

The sick guy wakes up. He doesn’t remember anything and they decide to have a meal before going back into statis for the voyage home. The milk must have gone bad or something, because suddenly he is convulsing and turns over. A creature emerges from his torso. The creature is ugly, admittedly, but if I’ve learned anything from King Kong, man is the real monster. The beast scurries off and hides somewhere. The crew unceremoniously dumps the dead guy out of the airlock. 

After coming up with a terrible plan to try and trap the loose alien, the captain goes to accuse the science officer of letting the guy die on purpose. Everyone is trying to make Ash out to be the bad guy, but he keeps saying all the right things. I have the utmost confidence in him. 

Now they start looking for for the alien. They have a cattle prod and a net. So I’m sure that will work out. The makeshift motion sensor detects something, but it ends up being a cat. They send a guy to get the cat, but the alien has now become a 7 foot high professional basketball player. It promptly kills the guy. Regrouping the team now thinks they need to amp up their weapons and improvise a couple of flamethrowers. 

The captain climbs into a narrow tunnel to find the alien, and it he does. The captain dies. Ripley is now in command and wants answers. Broken record that she is, she wants to confront the science officer (the one hero of this whole movie). She goes behind his back and asks the computer to plant some false evidence against him. The science officer shows up and tries to defend himself, but ultimately Ripley’s mutiny is successful and they decapitate him. The hero is dead. It turns out he was a robot and had milk for blood. Maybe that is what the first guy accidentally drank that killed him. 

Ripley, no longer content with her successful mutiny, now seeks to destroy the ship and escape in the lifeboat. While she is pussyfooting around trying to catch the cat (pun intended) she allows the other two people to die. I’m starting to think this whole time she has been in league with the alien. She then gets on the shuttle and tries to double cross the alien by leaving it behind in the doomed ship, but the alien is too smart. Alone in the shuttle with the alien, her true character is revealed as she jettisons her partner in crime out of the airlock. Even the cold dead of space is nothing compared to Ripley’s heart. 


One thought on “Jack’s Bad Movies: Alien (1979)

  1. I think you are overlooking that Ripley shares the name of Australian anarchist Julian Ripley, accused of unsuccessfully blowing up the Department of Labour and National Service in 1971.

    Trapped in her own figurative penal colony, Ripley’s joyless role in the company is to be rejected by both the manual laborers she supervises and the management she serves; eventually, even the mechanisms of the Nostromo and her cat taunt and defy her. Her only escape from this angst-ridden existence is to do what Julian Ripley never could: Blow everything up, and hope Jonesy is not an agent of the state.

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