Alien Movie Universe

The Grimace of Horror - What Makes the Alien So Terrifying?
Scified2022-02-21 06:58:38
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The movie Alien is still one of the best sci-fi movies in cinematography history. It was an instant success and has stood the test of time. It is considered one of the best films ever made by critics and audiences alike. The storyline revolves around a crew's mission on a spacecraft that ends with them being under attack by a strange alien creature that is threatening their lives.  This film explores how humans react when they come into contact with something utterly unknown but familiar at the same time-something from "beyond". And this sense of familiarity might actually be what drives so many people to continue watching it over and over again. Let's take a look at what makes the Alien so terrifying.

The Alien Itself

The appearance of the alien is one of the most unsettling things about it. It's not just a mindless monster that's out to kill you; it has a clear agenda and is relentless in pursuing it. The elongated head, the razor-sharp teeth and claws, and the slimy skin all contribute to the overall sense of dread that it evokes. It's a grimace of horror. Add to that the fact that it's virtually invisible until it's too late, and you have a creature that is truly terrifying.

The Tension

What makes Alien so captivating is the tension that it builds up throughout the film. The audience is constantly wondering what is going to happen next and trying to figure out the identity of the alien. The movie reflects human nature in that we are always trying to explore new frontiers, but at the same time, we are afraid of the unknown. This is shown in the scene where the Nostromo lands on a planet when they receive a warning from the ship's computer. Despite thinking that maybe it might be some kind of warning, they decide to go down anyway and explore the planet--and this is where the alien first makes an appearance.

The tension keeps people watching, as they try to figure out the identity of the alien. In fact, the movie is so popular that it was expanded into a franchise with various books and games being made after its release.

The Alien Games

The Alien games are considered one of the scariest ones to play. You can find a whole genre on Youtube dedicated to playing Alien: Isolation. The player becomes Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley is in the search of the missing mother. The game is extremely dark and has a grim atmosphere. But the scariest thing is obviously, the alien. It is a fair reflection of the Alien from the original movie, and just like the original, it can sense when the player is moving. This game was certainly a cause of some heart attacks as the chance that Amanda will make it out alive is almost as low as winning the jackpot on online slots.


Alien is one of the scariest movies ever made. The tension in this movie was so palpable, that it's been replicated time and time again by other films or TV shows to create a sense of horror for audiences. Alien has also spawned many sequels which have continued to be successful because they stay true to this original thriller premise. What makes the alien on-screen so terrifying? A mix of what we know about science fiction and our own deepest fears, which are then magnified through cinema magic.

The Alien franchise is taking a dramatic turn at 20th Century Studios, now owned by Disney. Currently there are two major Alien projects in development - a new Alien TV series by Noah Hawley and a new, stand-alone Alien movie being directed by Fede Alvarez. Both of which will be taking the franchise in a new direction - moving away from the Alien prequel direction Ridley Scott set out to pursue back in 2012.

If you're a fan of Alien / Prometheus and would like to discuss Alien: Covenant and its upcoming sequel with other like-minded fans, be sure to join in our Alien: Covenant forum! Ranked the #1 Prometheus forum back in 2012 and reigning as the web's top Alien: Covenant fan site, it's a great place to discuss the upcoming Prometheus sequels, dissect details from every trailer and engage with other fans just like you.

Written by ChrisPublished on 2022-02-21 06:58:38

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5 Fan responses to The Grimace of Horror - What Makes the Alien So Terrifying?


DeaconMember10416 XPMar-01-2022 1:28 AM

Certainly what made ALIEN so Special was a Number of Factors, these Applied more if you watched it for the First Time in 1979-1989

*We had NEVER seen any ALIEN Lifeform Quite like the Xenomorph, and its Life-Cycle, the First Time you see its kinda Unique (Especially if you saw it in the 80's or at Release.

*The Face Hugger was a Jump-Scare Moment but Nasty but the Chest Buster Scene was Graphic and Bloody for the First Time you ever saw it.

But the MOST effective Reason why it was a HORROR was due to how you DONT see the Xenomorph much until its TOO LATE... the keeping it to the Shadows is what WORKED and Especially on a Confined Ship.

But Bigger than that was that you had a Handful of Humans who had to DEAL with this Deadly Alien Life-Form and they HAD NO MEANS to Really Defend themselves... so when combined with the Claustrophobic Environment and Darkness and HOW WELL the Characters were made for a TENSE Movie and its that sense of TENSION that made the Movie Stand Out.

ALIEN 3 was similar.... for similar Reasons....

The other Movies including the AVP Movies where NOT SO MUCH.... well NOT at all really for the Following Reasons.

*The Humans were better Experienced/Equipped to Deal with the Xenomorph (or there was another Aspect to deal with them.. i.e Predators).

*We had seen the Xenomorph over and over and so the Shock/Horror Value had worn out (does not apply so much to ALIENS).

So what i am saying is if we look at say a LION they are Dangerous, a Typical Human would NOT go and Survive a Attack with a LION if they was Unarmed and say the LION had intended to KILL.

Lets say you have a LION that has Rabies... thats going to be Scary to Deal with!

Now Imagine you have a Handful of Humans who have LOCKED themselves in a Super Market/Shopping Mall to Escape but the LION or say a PAIR get inside and the Humans have NO ESCAPE for some Reason (Exits become Blocked) and well the Humans have NO weapons...

This would make for a Scary and Tense Survival Encounter.. the Lions with their Superior Speed and Power and Senses (Smell) could HUNT the Humans... imagine being Stalked/Hunted through the Aisles of a Super Market!

Now Imagine if its NIGHT and the LIGHTS FAIL!  Another Advantage to the LIONS and well if this was a Movie then the Dark Scenes will add to the Tension.

Now lets CHANGE the Plot a Little... a Small Platoon of say 5 Military Guys Turn up with all sorts of Guns, Stun Grenades, Night Vision Googles.... then it becomes LESS SCARY as its less TENSE..

Now if the Setting was in the OPEN... outside with Military Types and in the DAY then it would be LESS of a Horror as the Humans would Dispatch the LION with Ease.. compared to the First Scenario.

So THIS is what made ALIEN be so much more of a Horror than the other Movies (Alien 3 a Exception to a Degree).

ALIENS had some Aspect of this due to some of the Dark Areas and Confined Areas... but a Marines vs Xenomorphs in a OPEN SPACE would not be Horrific well only as FAR as say a Star Ship Troopers is.

AVP could have been more Horror than ALIENS and ALIEN R etc if say the Predators were taken out of the Equation... the Traps and Confines of the  Pyramid would make a Tense Survival for the Humans.


DeaconMember10416 XPMar-01-2022 1:40 AM

The Main Reason is that with ALIEN and IF this was the FIRST of the Series you saw.... then it was our FIRST encounter with the Cosmic Horror.

The Xenomorph is a KILLING MACHINE... once you have seen the Gruesome Life-Cycle a number of Times then after you have seen Xenomorphs over and over then they BECOME something thats NOT that Scary!

Unless you are Easily Scared and Especially by Gore.

i have said the Xenomorph is kinda like a Friday the 13th in Space.... you see JASON was a Killing Machine.. you could NOT try and Reason with him.... he was a Silent Killing Machine.... like the Xenomorph.

Yes Aesthetically the Xenomorph is more Horrific, and YES you have the Brutal Life Cycle... but JASON can KILL you in a all Manner of Ways.... the Xenomorph is Teeth, Claws and Tail.

What i am saying is that JASON was Scary.. but after a Number of Movies then HE LOSES that Horror!  It then becomes a Case of having Great Characters we CARE about who we FEAR for their Lives to PULL OFF a Friday 13th Movie and some of the had FAILED with this and they was well... NOT GOOD...  The Same thing can Happen with the Xenomorph and we ONLY have to go look at AVPR as a Example.

I just DONT think you will EVER go and Replicate the Effect that ALIEN had.... Unless say you watched ALIEN 3 First...

So EVEN if we get a NEW MOVIE/TV SHOW that tries to BRING the Horror of ALIEN... it will ONLY work... IF this New Project is the ONLY one you have seen...  If you watch the others Prior then you would become Accustomed to the Xenomorph and it would NOT be that Scary anymore.


FacehuggerMember457 XPMar-01-2022 11:29 AM

Speaking of shadows, one of the creepiest (and perfectly executed) shots is where the alien creeps up behind Lambert as she's unloading bottles of coolant, and you see its other-worldly silhouette projected onto her. Utterly scary, since you can see the beast's deadly intention unfolding before your eyes. And, yet, you still truly don't know what it looks like.

A few moments later we see it in its full glory as it dispatches Parker and then slowly advances on the stricken Lambert.

Perfectly done.


NeomorphMember1691 XPMar-05-2022 3:43 AM

Fear of the unknown is probably a big reason why it works, or worked. The more you know about it the less terrifying it gets, unfortunately by giving it a background the prequels made it a disservice. Maybe Alien Covenant made the lore worse by implying that David made it. It makes it less alien than to make the Engineers responsible.  

You could say that Alien R and the AVP's made the monsters less scary, but the prequels are official (AR can be seen as a joke, maybe), that's worse even though they're better as movies. Perhaps you could bring back the terror of the Xenomorph in some way and undo the problems of the prequels, but I'm not sure how.


PraetorianMember4251 XPJan-14-2024 7:26 PM

I mean if you want to recapture the horror of the first film then that ship had sailed.

Alien is like any monster horror movie franchise, you can't be wowed twice if you watched it multiple times. Prime examples Godzilla and Jurassic Park.

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Alien: Covenant is a sequel to 2012's Prometheus as well as a prequel to 1979's ALIEN. Alien fans looking to know more about Alien: Covenant should check back often. is an information resource for film enthusiasts looking to learn more about the upcoming blockbuster Alien: Covenant. Providing the latest official and accurate information on Alien: Covenant, this website contains links to every set video, viral video, commercial, trailer, poster, movie still and screenshot available. This site is an extension of the Alien & Predator Fandom on Scified - a central hub for fans of Alien and Prometheus looking to stay up-to-date on the latest news. Images used are property of their respective owners. Alien: Covenant, Prometheus and its associated names, logos and images are property of 20th Century Fox and are in no way owned by Scified and its related entities. This is a fan-created website for the purpose of informing and exciting fans for Alien: Covenant's release. If you have any questions about this site, its content or the Scified Network in general, feel free to contact Scified directly.

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