Alien (1979)

USA/UK, 1978
116m (UK, Germany), 117m (USA)
35mm, 70mm, Panavisions, Eastmancolor
Dolby, 70mm 6-Track (70mm prints)
English

An Anglo-American science fiction/horror film directed by Ridley Scott, the first in a long running franchise which eventually crossed over with the Predator franchise. The design work by Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger proved hugely influential and was copied by many subsequent films. Production started on 3 July 1978.

Plot Summary

The crew of a freighter are woken from hypersleep to investigate a distress signal coming from a remote, forbidding planet. When the exploration team return, they bring with them a parasitic alien that grows at an alarming rate and begins picking off the crew one by one…

Credits

Crew
Directed by: Ridley Scott
© by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
A Brandywine-Ronald Shusett production a Ridley Scott film. Made by Twentieth Century-Fox Productions Limited. Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Executive Producer: Ronald Shusett
Produced by: Gordon Carroll, David Giler and Walter Hill
Associate Producer: Ivor Powell
Screenplay by: Dan O'Bannon, David Giler [uncredited], Walter Hill [uncredited]
Story by: Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett
Director of Photography: Derek Vanlint
Film Editor: Terry Rawlings
Editor: Peter Weatherley
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Production Sound Mixer: Derrick Leather
Costume Design: John Mollo
Make-up Supervisor: Tommy Manderson
Hairdresser: Sarah Monzani
‘Alien' Head Effects Created by: Carlo Rambaldi
Special Effects Supervisors: Brian Johnson, Nick Allder
Floor Effects Supervisor: Allan Bryce
Small Alien Co-designed and Made by: Roger Dicken
Production Designer: Michael Seymour
Made at: Shepperton Studio Centre, England and Bray Studios, Windsor, England

Cast
Tom Skerritt (Dallas)
Sigourney Weaver (Ripley)
Veronica Cartwright (Lambert)
Harry Dean Stanton (Brett)
John Hurt (Kane)
Ian Holm (Ash)
Yaphet Kotto as Parker
Bolaji Bodajo (‘alien')
Helen Horton (voice of ‘Mother')
Eddie Powell (the alien)
Percy Edwards (alien vocals)
Jones the Cat (Jones)

Sequels
Aliens (1986)
Alien³ (1992)
Alien Resurrection (1997)
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
AVPR: vs Predator – Requiem (2007)

See Also
Alien 2 sulla Terra (1980)
Alien Evolution (2001)
The Arrival (1996)
Blade Runner (1982)
Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984)
A Close Shave (1995)
Contamination (1980)
The Creature Wasn't Nice (1983)
Creepozoids (1987)
Danger Mouse (1981-1992)
Dark Star (1974)
Death Machine (1994)
Event Horizon (1997)
Evolution (2001)
The Faculty (1998)
Forbidden World (1982)
Galaxina (1980)
Galaxy of Terror (1981)
Hollywood Halloween (1997)
Inseminoid (1980)
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)
Lily C.A.T. (1987)
Men in White (1998)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996)
Ninja Mission 2000 (1999)
Nowhere (1997)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Puppet Masters (1994)
Queen of Blood (1966)
The Relic (1997)
Scared to Death (1980)
Scream 2 (1997)
Severed Ties (1992)
Shiryo no wana (1988)
So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993)
Spaceballs (1987)
Species (1995)
Species 2 (1998)
Terrore nello spazio (1965)
There's Nothing Out There (1990)
Titan Find (1984)
Toy Story (1995)
Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1995)
Urusei Yatsura 2: Byûtifuru dorîmâ (1984)
Wacko (1981)
Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)
Yuan Zhen-Xia yu Wei Si-Li (1986)

Extracts Included In
Bride of Monster Mania (2000)
My Science Fiction Life (2006)
Precious Images (1986)
Terror in the Aisles (1984)
Tomorrow's Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction: Space (2014)

Alternative Titles

Alien – Das Unheimliche Wesen aus Einer Fremden Welt – Germany
Alien – De Achste Passagier – Netherlands
Star Beast – early title

Production Notes

Pre-production
The genesis of Alien lies in a particularly difficult period in the life of scriptwriter Dan O'Bannon. In the aftermath of of the collapse of Alejandro Jodorowsky's attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's Dune, which O'Bannon had been working on as a visual effects consultant, the writer found himself unemployed and homeless, sleeping on the couch of his friend Ronald Shusett. O'Bannon had returned from France, where the ill-fated production had been based, with barely any of his belongings and just a bleak looking future ahead. Desperate to get back into work, and mindful of the then-current science fiction boom triggered by Star Wars (1977) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), O'Bannon dusted down a script he'd had lying around for a while entitled Starbeast. The script, which in turn had been based on another of O'Bannon's unmade projects, Memory, had been written in 1972 and Memory itself would turn up in its original form – featuring a B-17 bomber infiltrated by a vicious gremlin like creature – in the animated anthology Heavy Metal (1981).

Together with Shusett, O'Bannon began hawking the script – which he rewrote in just three months and retitled Alien – around various studios, but to no avail: According to Walter Hill, one of Alien‘s producers: “The O'Bannon-Shusett script was, in any kind of literary sense, remarkably unsophisticated. It had not even B-picture merit. That was it's problem. Nobody could take it seriously. It wasn't a professional job. It was poorly written. It had a ‘Jesus, gadzooks' quality and no real differentiation in characters. But there was no question in my mind that they wanted to do a science fiction version of Jaws.” 1Cinefantastique vol.9 no.1 (Autumn 1979) p.16

In O'Bannon's script, the starship Snark and its crew (Captain Chaz Standard, Executive Officer Martin Roby, Navigator Dell Broussard, Communications Officer Sandy Melkonis, Mining Engineer Cleave Hunter and Engine Tech Jay Faust) land on a hostile planet in answer to a distress signal where find an apparently crashed alien ship near a huge pyramid. Exploring the pyramid, they discover it to be full of alien eggs, one of which hatches, releasing an alien parasite which infects one of the crew. Back on the Snark, the creature gestates inside the crewman, erupts through his chest and evolves into a larger, more sophisticated creature described in the script as “a six-foot monstrosity stands in the opening. Ghastly beyond imagination, squamous, covered with tentacles, it hops down like an over-sized bird and grabs Melkonis in razor-sharp tentacles” Attempts by the crew to gas the creature fail and it makes short work of the crew, leaving the survivors no choice but to activate the ship's self-destruct mechanism.

The bizarre, parasitic nature of the alien came about after O'Bannon read about the ichneumonid, or spider wasp, which reproduces by laying its eggs inside the abdomen of spiders, eggs which then hatch and the young wasps eat their way out of their hosts. The nightmarish image haunted Dan O'Bannon and he thought it suitably macabre for the creature he had dreamed up.

Clearly the bare bones of of O'Bannon's script were remarkably similar to what would later be seen on the screen. Sadly, bare bones is all he had. According to producer David Giler: “”The O'Bannon script was a bone skeleton of a story. Really terrible. Just awful. You couldn't give it away, It was amateurishly written, although the central idea was sound. Basically it was a pastiche of Fifties movies. Walter Hill and I rewrote it completely. If we had shot the original O'Bannon script, we would have had a remake of It! The Terror Beyond Space!” 2Cinefantastique vol.9 no.1 (Autumn 1979) p.18

Despite the vogue for screen SF, O'Bannon was having no luck in selling his script so turned to Walter Hill for help after being introduced to him by a mutual friend writer/director Mark Haggard. Hill, though dismissive of the meat on O'Bannon's script, was interested enough in the skeleton of the story to take a further interest in it after the script was passed to him through his office window by Haggard who was passing one afternoon.

Hill had recently formed his own production company, Brandywine (not to be confused with an early, 1960s company of the same name), with his old friend and fellow scriptwriter David Giler and producer Gordon Carroll, and was looking for the ideal production to launch the company. Hill saw the potential in the O'Bannon script and asked Giler to help him rework it. Despite O'Bannon's subsequent claims that the pair only made a superficial pass over the script, Giler and Hill have maintained that they did an awful lot more than that (“nothing is left of O'Bannon's draft” Giler told Cinefantastique vol.9 no.1 (Autumn 1979), changing the characters from dull, 1950s issue scientists into working class types, two of who were women. They also made structural and character changes to some of the ideas that were always present in O'Bannon's script.

One of the chief problems with O'Bannon's draft was that there was very little action – the characters tended to stand around talking and analysing the problem rather than trying to tackle it head-on. Hill's first solo poss over the script  – written in just a couple of days – fleshed out some sub-texts that would be retained in the finished draft, chiefly the idea that the alien had been brought aboard the ship at the behest of the company that employed the crew of the ship, later renamed Nostromo after the novel by Joseph Conrad. At one point, Hill had the ship's computer, Mother, being responsible for allowing the alien intro the ship and feature a 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) style scene in which one of his new characters, Ripley, deactivated the computer.

In Autumn 1978, Hill brought in Giler to help him refine what he'd already done on the script, the final draft of which was submitted in June 1978. This version was credited to Walter Hill and David Giler, with the sub-credits “based on screenplay by Dan O'Bannon, story by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett.” But the powerful Writers Guild of America had problems with the nature of the collaborative effort and ruled that Hill and Giler were not the film's writers but rather “production executives.” Under WGA rules, to be credited as a film's writer, one needs to be able to show that one has written 33% of the filmed material. Because of their collaborative efforts and due to the fact that they were reworking an original script by O'Bannon, the Guild ruled that they hadn't contributed enough and O'Bannon was awarded sole script credit for the film.

Armed with a finished script and a handful of production designs commissioned by O'Bannon from artist Ron Cobb, Brandywine took Alien to Twentieth Century Fox who had initiated the SF movie boom with Star Wars and were able to secure a deal that would give them an $8 million budget.

With funding secured from Twentieth Century Fox, the most immediate task for the Brandywine team was to fill out the cast and crew. Initially, it was announced that Walter Hill was going to be in the chair, but he declined the job – at the time, it was claimed in several reports that there was a scheduling clash with his work on The Warriors (1978), though David Giler later told Cinefantastique that this wasn't the case: “Science fiction really isn't Walter's bag. He has no interest in science fiction. Never has.” 3Cinefantastique vol.9 no.1 (Autumn 1979) p.20. He'd also apparently committed himself to a western, The Last Gun, which never got made but which at the time meant that he wouldn't be able to make Alien and which he was rather more attracted to.

Brandywine approached several directors, none of who seemed interested, until they contacted a young British director, Ridley Scott. At this point, Scott was a veteran of British TV and commercials, but only had one feature film under his belt, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's The Duellists (1977). Scott was brought on board by Sandy Lieberson, then one of the key players at Fox, who saw past Scott's lack of either experience of or interest in science fiction, believing that he would be able to bring something special to the film. Scott was impressed by what he read, excited by the design possibilities, and wanted to sign up straight away. But at the time he was caught in the quagmire of Tristan and Isolde, a major project for Paramount that had become bogged down in pre-production. Paramount let him go and the Tristan project remained unfilmed. Scott would be one of the executive producers, along with his brother Tony, on Kevin Reynolds' Tristan + Isolde in 2006 but this version has little to do with the version that Scott was planning – it doesn't use the script that Scott commissioned from Gerald Vaughan-Hughes for example.

With the Tristan project now dead, Scott was free to take on Alien which he himself claimed had been turned down “by about six directors” 4Ridley Scott: A Critical Filmography by William B. Parrill p.36. To prepare himself for the film, Scott – at O'Bannon's advice – arranged to see The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) as an example of what was then at the cutting edge of big screen horror. He also repeatedly screened The Exorcist (1973), a film he admired greatly.

Suitably inspired, Scott spent three weeks storyboarding the film, then began to gather his cast and crew around him. Behind the camera, he was joined by director of photography Derek Vanlint, who had worked with Scott before on many of his TV commercials but whose forays onto the big screen have been very few and far between. Other former colleagues included editor Terry Rawlings (sound editor on The Duellists) and associate producer Ivor Powell, also from The Duellists.

The cast of Alien was a mix of dependable British character actors, vaguely familiar Americans and relative newcomer Sigourney Weaver. The decision was made early on to avoid big names to heighten the audience's uncertainty as to who might be killed next. Veronica Cartwright, who SF fans recognised from her role in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), had originally been cast as Ripley but was switched over to Lambert when Sigourney Weaver so impressed the producers. The cast needed to be able to improvise as Scott was determined to allow his cast a certain leeway when it came to filming, encouraging them to ad-lib much of their dialogue.

For Scott the most important members of the crew would be those involved with the creation of the film's many and varied designs. Ron Cobb, who had done some early designs for O'Bannon, was kept on and O'Bannon himself was credited as “visual design consultant,” though he seems to have little input other than to create some computer screen graphics. Chris Foss, whose sleek, gigantic spaceships had graced many a 1970s UK science fiction novel, was also brought in to assist with conceptual designs. Between them, Cobb and Foss created many of the iconic images we're now so familiar with from the film, including the Nostromo, the desolate alien planetoid and the hardware, though some of their rejected designs hint at a much stranger and possibly even darker film.

To turn these designs into sets, Scott called in production designer Michael Seymour, another old colleague from the TV commercials days. It fell to Seymour to convert the often elaborate design sketches into something useable and he and his team decamped for Shepperton Studios in Middlesex to create the interiors of the two ships, the Nostromo and its escape vessel the narcissus, the alien landscape and the interior of the derelict alien spaceship.

The latter had been designed by the Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, who had been brought into the project by O'Bannon. The pair had worked together on Jodorowsky's doomed Dune and O'Bannon had remembered how struck he'd been by the disturbing “biomechanical” and highly sexualised imagery. To convince Scott that Giger was the man for the job, he showed his copy pf the artist's book Necronomicon and the director was equally impressed: “I was never so sure about anything in my life as when I saw Giger's book,” he later said. “I took one look at it and almost fell off the desk and said ‘That's it!'”

Giger signed up and moved from his home in Switzerland to a pub in Shepperton Village where he laboured long and hard creating the crashed spaceship and its fossilised alien pilot, known around the set as ‘the space jockey.' He was also responsible for designing the four elements of the alien seen during its complex life-cycle – the egg, the facehugger, the chestburster and the fully grown creature. The latter was perhaps the easiest for Giger as much of the work had already been done – below are two of the images from Necronomicon that so enraptured Scott when he first saw them and which would later be transformed into the ‘adult' alien.

Seymour, Giger and Scott worried at length about how the creature would look on screen, Scott in particular expressing concern that it shouldn't look like a man in a suit. They briefly considered creating the alien using stop-motion animation but decided that it would be too costly and instead opted for a sophisticated suit which would be kept in the shadows for as long as possible. This meant hiring another cast member, adding 6ft 10in, 26 year old Nigerian graphic arts student Bolaji Badejo. The production team had put out a casting call for a very tall, very thin actor but had turned up no-one suitable – they'd auditioned several basketball players and Peter Mayhew, Chewbacca from the Star Wars films. The call had reached the desk of agent Peter Archer, but he had no-one he could send to the production – until he bumped into Badejo in a West End pub. He persuaded the student to go along to Shepperton and try out, and Scott was convinced. Badejo signed up in May 1978 and joined the rest of the cast on the set in August alongside an uncredited Eddie Powell who would wear the suit during stunt sequences.

The aliens themselves were created by Les Dilley, Roger Christian and Roger Dicken who between them, made the facehugger, the chestburster, the full size alien suit, and also molded and cast the surface of the alien planetoid while Italian effects wizard Carlo Rambaldi oversaw the construction of the amazingly detailed alien head. Dicken's original plans for the chestburster was to have it claw its way out Kane's body with its hands. Some attempts were made to make the adult alien creature translucent, but the results were disappointing and the idea was quickly dropped.

Production
Filming began on Alien on 3 July 1978 and was set to last until 21 October, though in November and December, 17 additional days of pick-ups and reshoots were done. Thanks to Scott's pre-planning everything went according to plan and the film was brought in on time and on budget, much to everyone's relief. Veronica Cartwright had cause to remember the shoot however – when it came time to film the chestburster sequence, Scott only gave a brief outline of what the cast could expect to ensure that their reactions would be more believable. What Cartwright hadn't bargained for was getting hit in the face by a spray of blood!

The special effects teams – headed by Brian Johnson and Nick Allder – now geared up for the film's many optical effects and miniature shots – including the impressive creation of a four foot long replica of the Nostromo. The basic model of the ship was built from wood and plastic and was embellished with hundreds of small parts taken from commercially available plastic model kits bought from a nearby hobby shop. Altogether, three Nostromos were built, a 12in version seen in long-shots, the 48in version used for the landing, and a massive seven ton rig used for shots of the ship at rest on the planetoid surface.

Post-production
Scott turned his attentions to post production. As the film was being edited and the effects were being created, he called on the services of Jerry Goldsmith to create the soundtrack – though Scott had originally toyed with the idea of using Japanese electronic musician Isao Tomita whose version of The Planets was played at full volume on the set to help motivate Sigourney Weaver during her climactic encounter with the alien aboard the Narcissus.

What Goldsmith came up with is a genuinely unnerving atonal dirge, perfectly in keeping with the grim visuals. But as the score was being matched to the film, Scott rejected much of Goldsmith's work, fleshing out the soundtrack with cues taken from classical music (extracts from Howard Hanson Second Symphony and Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik) alongside cues taken from Goldsmith's own score for Freud (1962). Scott also re-arranged several of the pieces and it was many years before the full score was made available on CD for Goldsmith's legion of fans.

After a year of pre-production, filming and post-production, Alien was almost ready for release. By December 1978, Scott was able to arrange screenings of his rough cut which seem to do the trick – audiences were suitably shocked and horrified at all the right moments, but Scott felt that the tension could be better maintained by tightening the film. To help keep things moving, he made  several cuts to the film, many of which were minor character moments, but which also included the soon to be infamous “cocoon” sequence in which a terrified Ripley, now the last survivor of the Nostromo, finds Dallas still barely alive and cocooned by the alien. The other key cut was to the alien's assault on Lambert.

Release
With a final cut now ready, the film was given its world premiere at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on 25 May 1979 – Brian Johnson recalls seeing several people fleeing the cinema as the terror unfolded! Reaction once the film went on general release was no less impressive – Fox's $8 million investment was amply rewarded with a $60 million haul at the box office, an Academy Award nomination for best art direction and an Oscar for best visual effects. Generally critics were kind, though some were skeptical, wondering how the man who made period art-piece could “lower” himself to make the world's most expensive B-movie. But they were in the minority – Fox had another SF blockbuster on their hands, the first film in a new franchise that would kick off in 1986 with James Cameron's Aliens (1986).

In the immediate aftermath, there were a few discontented rumblings from the producers of It! The Terror From Beyond Space who felt that Alien was just a little too close to their film for comfort. Instead, the producers had to settle out of court with the science fiction writer A.E. van Vogt who noted many similarities between Alien and his 1939 short story Discord in Scarlet, which had been fixed-up as part of the 1950 novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle.

For years, poorly duped copies of “composite” versions of Alien circulated on the fan network, made up from the laserdisc release which included for the first time the scenes that Scott had removed prior to the film's release. In October 2003, those dupes became redundant when the “Director's Cut” of the film was released in a digitally spruced up edition. In 1979, David Giler had told Cinefantastique that the removed scenes would not be restored: “I runs the way we like it. Sure, the extra footage would fill in some blanks for those who read the novel. But it would, we believe, interfere with the pacing of the thing.” Clearly in the intervening 24 years, someone had a change of heart and the excised footage was restored so that fans could see the original cut for the first time on the big screen.

Ridley Scott has often talked about returning to the franchise that made his name and as recently as October 2003, it was being suggested that he might come back for Alien 5 if he could kill off Ripley: “About six months ago Sigourney Weaver said to me ‘I'd like there to be a fifth film because I'd like to make a clean exit. You virtually created me back then, don't you want to kill me?'” he told Munich newspaper tz in October 2003. “Since then I've been thinking about it. But first of all you need a good story. I can't work without a good script.” He did eventually return to the franchise with Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017).

Press

1979
Time 4 April 1979
Alien may prove to be Hollywood's most efficient money making machine of the summer. Technically slick and commercially single-minded, this film attempts to crossbreed the scare tactics of Jaws with the sci-fi hardware of Star Wars. The result is a cinematic bastard, and a pretty mean bastard at that. Alien contains a couple of genuine jolts, a barrage of convincing special effects and enough gore to gross out children of all ages. What is missing is wit, imagination and the vaguest hint of human feeling. […] Unlike Jaws, Alien does not use stylistic cunning to excite the audience; it just shovels on the mayhem. Unlike Star Wars, Alien has no affection for past movies of its genre; it just rips them off. Stripped of its futuristic setting and pretensions, this film is an old time B monster picture. Alien might just as well be about a huge scorpion loose in a haunted house, circa 1953. While the murder sequences are executed with all the realism money can currently buy, the innocence that ignited vintage horror films is missing. Alien‘s steely, literal-minded approach to violence more often recalls last summer's joyless Jaws 2. […] The toothy alien is no fun: his ever changing appearance summons up everyone's worst fantasies about shellfish, and his sole aim is to devour each of the crew members. […] Since the movie's generally good actors (among them Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton, Sigourney Weaver) all play equally bland technicians, it is hard to make an emotional investment in the alien's pecking order. Indeed, the film's characters are so lifeless that one begins to wonder whether they might not be parodies of space-age bureaucrats. If so, the satire is far too flat to be its own reward. The bloodletting scenes aside, director Ridley Scott (The Duellists) settles for mere competence or even less. […] Scott knows how to push the buttons that make the audience squirm, but he achieves nothing that could not be accomplished equally well by sending electric shocks through a theater's seats. This same manipulative technique was apparent in another recent hit, Alan Parker's blood lusting Midnight Express, and it is no surprise that the directors of both films got their training in TV commercials. Scott and Parker know too well that if you sell consumers a shiny package, few will question the value of the product inside – from an illustrated review by Frank Rich

Evening Standard 29 May 1979
By far and away the hottest film to emerge from the bowels of Hollywood last week was […] a science fiction horror movie that makes 2001 look like a romance and the Exorcist resemble a children's matinee. – from a review by Emma Soames

Starburst no.14 (vol.2 no.2 1979) pp.4-8
Alien is a very annoying film, because on the one level it is a masterpiece and on another it's a botched job. Or to put it another way – as a science fiction film it's seriously flawed but as a horror film it works perfectly. […] [T]he excellent cast is wasted because, as usual in this type of film, there isn't much for them to do except react the film's real stars – the sets and the special effects. And when they do get to say something the “B” movie script gives them lines like: “Let's get outta here… this place gives me the creeps.” In reality you could put the world's worst actors in Alien and the result would be much the same because the characters are not required to be anything more than one-dimensional figures. […] But where Alien most reveals its “B” film origins is in the plot which is so full of holes it completely collapses once you start thinking about it. […] [B]ut it is as a pure horror film that one should really examine it, and as a pure horror film it is almost a complete success. Like all the best horror movies it creates the atmosphere of the personal nightmare […] Director Ridley Scott and editor Terry Rawlings handle the buildup of tension and suspense with impeccable skill, pacing the shock effects at a steadily increasing rate. – from an illustrated review by John Brosnan

2003
Total Film no.83 (December 2003) p.100
Unlike today's slashers, Alien‘s not afraid of a steady build-up. We float silently around a huge, empty spaceship, Scott masterfully conjuring the mood: even without its extra-terrestrial threat, the Nostromo is an unsettling place, a gigantic haunted house drifting through the harshest environment known to man. Then there's the Brit helmer's use of science-fiction trimmings to crank up the tension, from the shaky, helmet-mounted cameras to the bleeping motion-tracking device that monitors Dallas' (Tom Skerritt) switch from hunter to hunted. All tricks, it should be noted, copied by James Cameron (to different effect) in Aliens. Look as hard as you like, you won't spot a single flaw, even though the film's had 24 years to date. The Atari-level computer graphics and the then-popular sci-fi trick of covering every panel in flashing lights lend a realistic, retro-techno feel; and while the alien is finally revealed to be a bloke in a suit, it has a menacing physical presence that so many of today's pristine CG-beasties lack. – from an illustrated review by Dan Jolin

References

Periodicals

  • American Cinematographer vol.85 no.4 (April 2004) pp.18-19, 22 – illustrated DVD review (by Kenneth Sweeney)
  • Broadcast no.1169 (2 August 1982) p.30 – article
  • Daily Variety 21 April 1978 p.10 – credits (Film production chart)
  • Empire no.192 (June 2005) pp.144-147 – illustrated article (C.V. Ridley Scott by Ian Nathan)
  • Empire no.199 (January 2006) pp.220-223 – illustrated article (At Home/DVD Club: Ridley Scott by Rob Fraser)
  • Empire no.201 (March 2006) pp.77-88, 90-101 – illustrated article (201 Greatest movies of all time)
  • Empire no.209 (November 2006) pp.165-174 – illustrated article/advertisement (The essence of greatness)
  • Empire no.230 (August 2008) pp.84-86, 88 – illustrated article (Title recall by Andrew Osmond & Richard Morrison)
  • Empire no.231 (September 2008) pp.97-101; 113-123 – illustrated article (Science? Fiction! by William Thomas); illustrated article (10 years of DVD by Simon Crook, Nick De Semlyen & James Dyer)
  • Fantastic Films no.10 (November 1979) pp.7-17 – illustrated interview with Dan O'Bannon (Dan O'Bannon on Alien: Alien screenplay writer speaks his mind by Ed Sunden II)
  • Film Comment August 1979 pp.28-32 – review (by Robin Wood)
  • Film Score Monthly vol.10 no.3 (May 2005) pp.24-30 – illustrated article (Pet Sounds by Kyle Renick)
  • Films and Filming vol.26 no.1 (October 1979) pp.31-32 – illustrated credits, review (by Derek Elley)
  • Films in Review vol.xxx no.7 (August/September 1979) pp.419; 436 – review (The sound track by Page Cook); review (by Jeffrey Wells)
  • Films in Review vol.36 no.12 (December 1985) p.601 – article
  • Interzone no.27 (January/February 1989) p.27 – review (by J.G. Ballard)
  • The Listener vol.108 no.2772 (5 August 1982) p.34 – note (Video Family: Time Bandits New Waves by John Peel)
  • Movie Maker vol.17 no.4 (April 1983) pp.212-213 – review
  • Music Sound and the Moving Image vol.2 n.1 (April 2008) pp.3-25 – illustrated article (Corporeality, musical heartbeats, and cinematic emotion by Ben Winters)
  • New Musical Express 15 September 1979 pp.48-50 – illustrated article (Silver screen space special: In space no one can hear you throw up by Angus MacKinnon)
  • Newsweek 28 May 1979 pp.101-103 – review (by Jack Kroll)
  • Screen International no.226 (2-9 February 1980) p.18 – note (‘Alien' attacks Eady listings)
  • Screen International no.253 (9-16 August 1980) p.28 – note (Fox films on Phillips disc)
  • Starburst no.349 (May 2007) pp.68-71 – illustrated article (The Starburst vaults)
  • Starburst no.350 (June 2007) pp.68-76 – illustrated article (30 defining moments)
  • Time 4 April 1979 – illustrated review (by Frank Rich)
  • Total Film no.83 (December 2003) pp.81-86; 100 – illustrated article (Flashback: The story behind Alien by Kevin Hartley); illustrated review (by Dan Jolin)
  • TV Times vol.104 no.39 (17 September 1981) p.26 – review
  • TV Times vol.108 no.28 (10 July 1982) p.55 – credits
  • Variety 23 May 1979 – review (by Har)
  • Video Watchdog no.1 (1990) pp.6-7 – illustrated note (Wanna buy a good, used Narcisaurus?)

Newspapers

  • Daily Mirror 11 June 1979 – illustrated articles (EXCLUSIVE: the first glimpse of the terror that is gripping America; How a monster called ‘thing' is taking over the world! by Peter Donnelly, Bryan Rimmer and Paul Connew)
  • Daily Mirror 12 June 1979 – illustrated articles (Beauties of the beast; Cutting a big slice of the action; Drive crazy at the drive-in by Peter Donnelly, Bryan Rimmer and Paul Connew)
  • Daily Mirror 13 June 1979 – illustrated articles (Face to face with the alien; The space ship that was built out of scrap; Drive crazy at the drive-in by Peter Donnelly, Bryan Rimmer and Paul Connew)
  • Evening Standard 29 May 1979 – review (by Emma Soames)
  • New York Times 25 May 1979 pC19 review (by Vincent, Canby)

Books

  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.333 – illustrated credits, review
  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed). p.346 – illustrated credits, review
  • BFI Screen Guides: 100 Science Fiction Films by Barry Keith Grant pp.7-8 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Culture and Philosophy of Ridley Scott pp. 133-144 (What's Wrong With Building Replicants? Artificial Intelligence in Blade Runner, Alien and Prometheus by Greg Littman); 193-200 (Techno-Totalitarianism in Alien by Dan Dinello); 203-218 (Through Space, Over a Cliff and Into a Trench: The Shifting Feminist Ideologies of Alien, Thelma & Louise, and G.I. Jane by Aviva Dove-Viebahn); 261-274 (Virginity in Alien: The Essence of Ripley's Survival by Sydney Palmer)
  • The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film by Barry Keith Grant (ed.) pp.181-199 – essay (Genre, Gender, and the Aliens Trilogy by Thomas Doherty)
  • The Encyclopedia of Epic Films by Constantine Santas, James M. Wilson, Maria Colavito, Djoymi Baker pp.13-16
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.268, 286, 289, 290, 299
  • Escape Velocity by Bradley Schauer pp.189, 189, 190-91, 193-94
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.154, 383
  • Film review 1980-81 by F. Maurice Speed (ed.) p.120 – credits, review
  • The Films of Ridley Scott by Richard A. Schwartz pp.15-34
  • Heroes, and Values: Science Fiction Films of the 1970s by Michael Berman and Rohit Dalvi (eds.) pp.29-40 – article (The nature of the female hero in Alien by Jan Marijaq)
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis pp.3-4 – credits
  • Horror Films by Subgenre: A Viewer's Guide by Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay pp.7-8 – credits
  • Horror Films of the 1970s by John Kenneth Muir pp.580-585 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.74-75 – illustrated credits, review
  • Introduction to Japanese Horror Film by Colette Balmain pp.5, 160
  • The Liverpool Companion to World Science Fiction Film by Sonja Fritsche (ed.) pp.89-103 – article (Invaders, Launchpads, and Hybrids: The Importance of Transmediality in British Science Fiction Film in the 1950s by Derek Johnston)
  • Looking for a New England: Action, Time, Vision: Music, Film and TV 1975-1986 by Simon Matthews pp.89, 103
  • The Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H.P. Lovecraft by Andrew Migliore and John Strysik p.32 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies: An A-Z Guide to Over Sixty Years of Blood and Guts by Peter Normanton pp.48-50
  • Nuclear Movies: A Filmography by Mick Broderick p.86 – note
  • The Pocket Essential Ridley Scott by Brian J. Robb pp.23-31
  • Ridley Scott by Paul M. Sammon pp.49-62 -illustrated chapter; 135-136 – credits, reprinted Variety review
  • Ridley Scott Interviews by Laurence F. Knapp and Andrea F. Kulas pp.xxii (credits); 11-31 (Alien from the Inside Out: Part II by James Delson); 42-55 (Directing Alien and Blade Runner: An Interview With Ridley Scott by Danny Peary)
  • Ridley Scott: A Critical Filmography by William B. Parrill pp.36-42 – illustrated chapter; 161 – credits, reprinted Variety review
  • Ridley Scott: A Retrospective by Ian Nathan pp.24-43 – illustrated chapter; 234 – credits
  • Ridley Scott: Promethean by Brian J. Robb pp.24-41
  • The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook by Alan Frank pp.10-11 – illustrated credits, review
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and Remakes: An Illustrated Filmography, with Plot Synopses and Critical Commentary by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester pp.23-24 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Science Fiction Films of the Seventies by Craig W. Anderson pp.216-224 – credits, article
  • Science(ish) by Rick Edwards & Dr Michael Brooks pp.231-255 – article
  • Screen World vol.31 (1980) by John Willis p.39 – illustrated credits
  • Terror Tracks: Music, Sound and Horror Cinema by Philip Hayward (ed) pp.188, 198
  • Trick Cinematography by R.M. Hayes pp.236-238 – credits, review
  • The Vampire in Science Fiction Film and Literature by Paul Meehan pp.48, 173, 174, 195, 197, 201
  • Variety Science-Fiction Movies by Julian Brown (ed.) pp.9-10  – illustrated credits, review
  • Virgin Film: Ridley Scott by James Clarke pp.6, 8, 10, 24, 26, 28-53, 67, 74, 76, 81, 86, 90, 91, 104, 124, 125. 135, 140, 170, 176, 180, 191, 196, 202, 213, 217, 224-226, 233, 235, 239, 247, 248
  • The World of Fantasy Films by Richard Myers p.121

Other Sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide July 2017 p.27 – illustrated listing
  • BFI Southbank Guide March 2019 pp.9; 12 – illustrated listings (by Justin Johnson)