Alien

dir. Ridley Scott

Series - Retrospective

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A space freighter unwittingly takes on a most unwelcome passenger — a gut-busting alien parasite that quickly grows into an enormous, sharp-toothed, acid-bleeding beast — in Ridley Scott's immensely influential sci-fi horror film.

Ordered to investigate a distress signal emanating from a seemingly uninhabited planet, the crew of the space freighter Nostromo inadvertently picks up a most unwelcome passenger: a gut-busting alien parasite that quickly grows into an enormous, sharp-toothed, acid-bleeding beast. As the crew members are slowly whittled down, the ship's tough warrant officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) soon finds herself having to face down the fearsome, canoe-headed creature all by her lonesome. A canny combination of two previously disreputable genres-science fiction and horror-that had been successfully mainstreamed in the 1970s due to the success of such films as Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Exorcist and Jaws, Alien was a smash hit and became a ubiquitous influence on both the genre and culture at large. Spawning ongoing sequels, prequels and crossovers, as well as a multimedia mini-empire of books, comics, and toys, the film has also been seized upon and endlessly analyzed by academia, and was inducted into the US' National Film Registry in 2002 as a "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" work.