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Alien: 25 years of cultural phenomenon

Alien: 25 years of cultural phenomenon

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Did you know that America is being invaded by aliens right now?

No need to start looking for the "grays" hanging around with Leonardo DiCaprio. I'm talking about those charming, slimy, chest-bursting, acid-blood xenomorphs from the 1979 classic suspense - horror movie Alien.

America will have a new Alien movie on the silver screens this year. Alien vs. Predator is being release nationwide on August 13 for a huge face-hugging thrill. And if you want a great chest-bursting dose of excitement, Alien: The Director's Cut is now on DVD in the Alien Quadrilogy set.

But, what is the legacy of the Alien movie? If you look at the last 25 years of American pop culture you'll find all sorts of interesting Alien references, rip-offs, and otherwise xenomorphic fun.

Video Game Madness

I remember playing the PC game Doom in 1992 with my friends, you know, back then when Doom was free . There were all sorts of cool add-ins you could get for the game, like Aliens Doom. It was great because you played a marine hell-bent on killing everything in your path.

Some enterprising computer dork got Alien sound effects and graphics to create a new Doom game where you got to hunt down aliens. The sound effects alone where so creepy. Your character would come around a corner and you'd be attacked by an alien. Great stuff!


In 1989 the guys at Dark Horse Comics got the idea to take the greatest prey, the Aliens and put them head to head with the greatest hunter the movies has ever know, the Predator, from the 1987 feature movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Dark Horse Comics series featured the Aliens and the Predators in an epic battle for the "greatest-bad-guy-who-you-don't-really-want-to-see-win" title because no matter who won the fight, you knew that a lot of comic book people were going to die horrible deaths.

So around 1999 Sierra Games, along with Fox Interactive, released a 3D first person perspective game called Aliens vs. Predator for the PC to many games delight. It wasn't until Aliens vs. Predator 2 that the game really took off for many hard-core PC gaming fans. The game was "hailed as 2001's 'Action Game of the Year' and 'Multiplayer Game of the Year' by Computer Gaming World...", which of course created a good amount of interest in going to the next step, a feature movie.

It was the success of these comics, the popular video PC game, and an American public longing for another new Alien movie, which created the momentum for Alien vs. Predator movie.

So what about the original movies? They are now all available on DVD for you to check out before heading to the multiplex. Here's a recap for you:

Alien (1979 original)

Alien was a landmark film for the time because it fed the American public's need for very scary slasher - suspense - horror movies like Halloween (1978) and the sci-fi genre of Star Wars (1977).

Alien featured the great directing skill of Ridley Scott who duplicated a slasher movie-like suspense for heart pumping scariness of the movie.

Basically it goes something like this: the crew of the cargo vessel Nostromo set down on a barren planet to investigate a mysterious signal on company orders. In the process, the crew discovers a huge field alien eggs waiting for someone to show up. Kane, one of the crew members gets attacked by the face-hugger alien, which implants a baby alien without so much as a kiss or a drink first.

But that's just the beginning because while trying to remove the face-hugger, the Science Officer Ash and Captain Dallas discover the acid blood problem and decide to leave the crew member alone rather than kill him or leave Kane with a huge reconstructive surgery bill.

I don't want to spoil the ending, but the rest of the movie features a sexually repressed artificial person, how NOT to track down an alien in space, and how to get rid of a horrible date who just won't leave your date-escape pod.

Sigourney Weaver was the true jewel in Alien because she played the kick-ass character of Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley who shows the alien she's not interested in a long term relationship and kicks it out an airlock.

Aliens (1986) or "Did IQs drop sharply while I was away?"

James Cameron's juggernaut war movie represented a departure from the original movie because of instead of being an "escape the one boogieman" movie like Alien, Cameron pulled out the ammo and blew from stuff up with hundreds of Aliens. (Okay, it was really just six guys in suits, but you'd never know it by the great editing done for the movie.)

This movie was a great kick-ass movie for Ripley to really get even with the aliens for the death of her crewmates during the first movie. Aliens was a hugely explosive movie riding on James Cameron's Terminator success. Cameron's Alien movie used some extremely cutting edge special effects and won two Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects Editing in 1986.

Here's the low-down on Aliens, after killing the first alien, Ripley is lost in space (mainly because she won't stop and ask for directions) for 57 years in her escape-pod. After being rescued she is "coxed" into returning to that original planet, which has been colonized twenty years earlier, with a group of high-tech space Marines. The Marines are quickly overpowered by the aliens and seriously get their ass kicked by the hordes of aliens.

The best part of the movie is the emotional connection Ripley makes with a young girl name Newt, who Ripley and the Marines discover is the only survivor of the 150+ colonists in the planet. Newt is taken by the Aliens for a quickie back at the alien HQ, Ripley suits up in all her majesty for some final pay-back against the aliens and, of course, to rescue Newt.

The final twenty minutes of the movie involves Ripley battling the new Queen alien on board the ship.

Alien 3 (1992)
Alien 3, much like Aliens, didn't use the same look or feel, but presented another fascinating change for the Alien franchise. I mostly liked this movie, mostly.

Far from the macho gun slinging version of Aliens, Alien 3 was an attempt at getting back to original movie creepy surroundings for the movie.

After a freak chance that the Queen Alien from Aliens laid a couple eggs on the ship, the alien face-huggers try attacking Newt in cryo-sleep, setting off a fire, but not after impregnating Ripley with another queen egg. The ship's computer detects the fire, and ejects the 3 ½ survivors into space.

Ripley and her friends crash land on a prison planet with a couple dozen prisoners who have found God in a remote part of the universe. (And I mean, "found God" like they have new faith, not like Star Trek 5 "found God" where's it's just an alien pretending.)

Here's Ripley trapped on a "double-y chromosome" colony for the most violent criminal offenders in the known universe. Men who are rapists, murders, and sex offenders, and haven't seen a woman in years, and here comes Ripley with all her feminine wiles. Right. I think the prisoners would have enjoyed each others company more.

The most redeeming moment in this movie: They kill the alien in a completely different, not to mention painful, way.

Now I loved Fight Club (1999) by director David Fincher, but Alien 3 wasn't all that frightening because it wasn't anything we haven't seen before. It was more like the prisoners trying to herd an alien cow, and Ripley having a horrible case of alien indigestion.

We won't even get into Alien: Resurrection.

"Game over, man. Game over."

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