Alien Movie Universe

The cultural impact of Alien
Scified2024-05-24 07:05:58
Written by Chris938 Reads0 Comments2024-05-24 07:05:58

Since releasing in movie theatres in 1979, Alien has been a cultural phenomenon. A series that has transcended the big screen, television, and pop culture, Ridley Scott’s classic has seen more than seven different adaptations and countless spinoffs. It was a release that was really ahead of its time and as well as critical acclaim in the form of awards, this story of extra-terrestrial life was something of a watershed moment for Hollywood altogether.


Aside from the fantastic performances of  Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, and Sigourney Weaver, Alien broke boundaries for countless different reasons when it came to filmmaking. Scott paved the way for a new generation of directors, with some of the best in the business drawing inspiration from his desolate tale of human survival and alien invasion.

Throughout this article, we explore just what a massive impact the Alien series has had on modern filmmaking and how it managed to break ground beyond the 1980s. Read on to find out more.


The Sci-fi series


There were just a handful of great science fiction movies before the release of Alien in 1979 and perhaps the film was the first to combine sci-fi elements with horror and suspense that had only previously been seen in thrillers. The concept of extraterrestrial life has fascinated humanity for centuries. 


The search for intelligent life beyond Earth has always had movie-goers on the edge of their seat and through Alien, directors were almost given a blueprint for their imaginative depictions of alien beings, technology, and their interactions with humans. Scott laid the foundations for what the canon description of an alien should be and created some of the cliches we now see in the best sci-fi movies.


Cult following


Alien was one of the most popular films of the decade upon its release and quickly garnered a massive following, especially as it was something that no one had really seen at a theatre before. Almost a decade later, John McTiernan would create Predator in 1987, and alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger the series drew a lot of comparisons to Aien, eventually leading to a collaboration in 2004, Alien vs Predator.


As expected, merchandising was through the roof, with the original Alien characters selling on shop floors for the best part of fifty years now. Alongside graphic novels, comic books, video games and even slot games, the series was a phenomenon, with gamblers who effectively use a no deposit casino bonus able to access some of the classic Aliens slot games online today.


Several different cult-like events invite the best of Alien’s fan base and you only need to look at Comic-Con to see how popular the series remains today.


Use of special effects


While most Hollywood blockbusters these days incorporate CGI and effects in their movies, Alien’s were well ahead of its time. The movies did rely heavily on these effects, but they set the benchmark in how to deliver effects, animation, and puppetry at a time when films didn’t have the same big budgets as we see today. 


The suits in Alien were truly a sight to behold. Bolaji Badejo portrayed the xenomorph in a full-body suit. The suit’s biomechanical design, elongated head, and articulated tail made it both terrifying and memorable, while the Xenomorph's face was mechanical, and hydraulic levers were used to control it, one of which would open the mouth and thrust the Xenomorpph's tongue out of its mouth.


Other miniature models and physical items used for a variety of shot. Notoriously alien embryos were actually Scott's hands in latex gloves, moving within the shadowy plexiglass egg.


Editing choices


Scott also made post-production a huge importance when finishing the movie. There had to be tension and an intense soundtrack in order to make the shots look atmospheric. The film’s visual style, influenced by Swiss artist H.R. Giger’s biomechanical art, was unlike anything seen before. Giger’s designs blended organic and mechanical elements, creating a hauntingly beautiful yet unsettling world. 


When this was combined with a range of dark, shadowy environments, there was always bound to be added to the suspense. A great deal of credit should also go to Alien’s first Cinematographer, Derek Vanlints, whose lighting choices set the tone for a film that would go on to win a range of Grammys and Hugo Awards. 



Overall, Alien has stood the test of time and is widely regarded as one of the first true Hollywood Blockbusters. It provided a clear blueprint on how to make a great sci-fi movie and demonstrated pre-CGI effects at their peak. 

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