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Alien (1979) | History of Horror

Andy Moser

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Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

It’s been 38 years since the release of Ridley Scott’s horror classic Alien in 1979. It was the birth of a frightful franchise that is still churning out movies to an incredibly staunch fan base.

The series has had its rough patches, that’s for sure (especially if you count those two ungodly Alien vs. Predator films), but the original Alien was truly a special movie that has earned its place among cinema, and indeed, horror greatness.

If you have yet to see it, it goes like this: a crew aboard a deep space commercial ship, the Nostromo, receive a mysterious distress signal. They investigate the call for help and stumble across an unimaginable horror that viciously hunts them down one-by-one aboard the ship (and in graphic fashion).

It’s terrifying in the most unsettling of ways thanks to Scott’s ability to build tension and suspense, as well as its disturbing symbolism.

It’s no accident that the alien resembles a particular part of the male anatomy. As many have argued, Alien is an allegory for sexual violence. It’s a theme that gets under a society’s skin, and it instills a terrible dread, especially in the subconscious of a certain amount of the film’s male viewers—those who mistakenly feel that men are unaffected by acts of sexual violence.

Image result for alien 1979 gif

Men are not immune to the gruesome attacks happening on screen. Kane (John Hurt) is the primary victim. He’s impregnated by a smaller alien lifeform (known as a facehugger). It’s his chest the creature comes bursting out of in one of the film’s most infamous scenes. It’s absolutely horrid, and it’s the avenue by which the alien is able to come into being.

Every member of the crew is ultimately powerless to stop the fearsome phallus that systematically stalks them aboard the Nostromo. Well…every member except one.

Sigourney Weaver is legendary in her role as Ellen Ripley, and Alien is widely credited as being one of the very first films to portray a strong, female action protagonist. It’s a daring work—thematically innovative, iconic, and terrifying. And as such, it’ll likely live forever as a timeless horror/sci-fi masterpiece.


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Alien (1979) | History of Horror