In 1979, director Ridley Scott and writer Dan O'Bannon changed the face of horror and science fiction forever with their paranoia-driven isolationist masterpiece Alien. Almost 40 years later, films still attempt to capture the magic of the film, including Scott himself as he directed the latest installment in the franchise, Alien: Covenant, set to be released May 17.
In the almost 40 years of the Alien legacy, there have been numerous films that attempted to expand upon the mythology of the titular monsters, as well as explore one of cinema's greatest badasses, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). Some of these films have found success, but others, not so much. The film's mythos hasn't been limited to theatrical productions, as we've seen the monsters explored in video games, comic books, and more.
From facehuggers and space jockeys to robots and alien queens, let's look back at the ups and downs of the Alien franchise! Which film was your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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7) Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
Hoping to make up for the flaws of the previous installment, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem took two of the biggest extra-terrestrial icons of all time and pit them against one another in The Rocky Mountains. "Requiem" means a "mass for the dead," so the film's title is apt, seeing as it was the nail in the coffin of seeing big screen battles for the crossover conflicts. Possibly in hopes of recreating the terror lurking in the darkness of the original film, Requiem was so poorly lit, you could barely tell what was happening in most scenes. The film's plot was contrived and none of the characters were interesting, so the whole film just felt like a slapped together cash grab that might as well have been titled "Hey, We're Doing Another One of These, But Now on Earth!"prevnext
6) AVP: Alien vs. Predator
Combining the Alien films with the Predator films and including Lance Henriksen into it seemed like a surefire success, didn't it? Well, considering all previous installments in either franchise were R-rated, this PG-13 installment featured watered down violence, characters, and CGI effects. Sure, the film did the best it could at figuring out how to combine the franchise, what with the Predator species intentionally hatching the Alien species to create a tribal training grounds, but the film mostly flopped. Despite the film itself ultimately being a failure, it did give us an all-time great tagline with, "Whoever wins, we lose." Sadly, that tagline was also accurate in regards to the movie's success.prevnext
5) Alien 3
When the director of a film completely disowns the finished product, it's tough to judge that film accurately. David Fincher ran into so many issues with his vision of the third film in the Alien series that he has since turned his back on the product, but thanks to Fight Club, Se7en, and The Social Network, has more than managed to establish himself as one of the greatest directors of the last 20 years. One of the opening scenes of Alien 3 basically says, "Remember those two interesting characters that gave Ripley a more dynamic character? Well, forget about them." as it's revealed that they were killed between the last film and this one. The film has plenty of strengths, what with Ripley finally being impregnated, a reveal of the original Bishop, and set in a prison colony, it's most tolerable while never really being that great.prevnext
4) Alien: Resurrection
Considering the fate of Ripley in the previous film, Resurrection already had the cards stacked against it. Far from being outer space horror, this installment aimed to recreate the action and adventure of Aliens, while also injecting more humor and campiness than had been seen in any of the other films. There are many laughably silly scenes in the film, but it's hard to complain about it when we get to see Ron Perlman, a laboratory full of horribly mutated Ripley clones, and Winona Ryder as an android. Oh, and a massive alien/human hybrid whose entire body gets sucked out of a window like you were emptying a Capri Sun.prevnext
Prometheus is a fascinating entry into the Alien mythos as, when Ridley Scott came onboard to helm the project, he actively began trying to distance this prequel from having any connection to the original film. The final film ends up being 90% of mostly original content that doesn't have a direct connection to other installments and the familiar elements fell pretty shoehorned into the final product. The film isn't without its flaws, notably virtually every character and their motivations are underdeveloped, but the opening sequence alone is ambitious in a way that the franchise had rarely seen. Michael Fassbender makes for a fantastic android and the visuals in the film stand out as some of the series' strongest, but it's hard to make a case that Prometheus is that great of a film. Also, many people note that one sequence features a ship toppling to the ground that could be easily escaped had one character ran to the left or the right instead of a straight line, but no one complains about how Dr. Grant and Timmy could have done the same when a car came crashing down through a tree in Jurassic Park, so your point is invalid.prevnext
James Cameron's action adventure epic might have lacked in true horror, but made up for it in ammunition and charismatic characters. There's no shortage of aliens of acidic blood in this militarized take on Alien's concept as Ripley heads to a mining colony to offer her expertise on the extra-terrestrials. Michael Biehn's Hicks gives Ripley a love interest while the abandoned Newt, played by 10-year-old Carrie Henn, allowed Ripley to show her more maternal side. Add to that a squad of charismatic soldiers and a villainous Paul Reiser, Aliens helped set the bar for what can be done in the realm of science fiction action films.prevnext
Deciding that Alien is superior to Aliens is an incredibly tough decision, as they are both masterpieces that explore different angles of what makes the movies so compelling. However, since Alien came first and introduced the characters and creatures, it gets to take the top spot. Featuring a dynamic cast, a believable interpretation of life in outer space, and a vessel fool of dread, the effectiveness of Alien cannot be overstated. With so many sequels released in subsequent years, it feels like we know everything there is to understand about the creatures, but with the original film, the fear of the unknown permeates every moment. Whether it be the discovery of the "Space Jockeys," the surprise of the chest-bursting scene, or the unknown location of the creatures on the ship, Alien proves that what you don't see and understand is infinitely more terrifying than the physical threat in front of you.prev