Friday, October 9, 2015

Top 20 Horror Movies - #17) Alien (1979)

One of the things that I'm doing this month as I celebrate Halloween here in the Land of Way is taking the time to rank my Top 20 Horror Movies and my Top 20 Horror Novels.

I want to be clear that I'm basing these choices on my own humble opinion.  I'm not trying to rank these movies in accordance with their place in pop culture, but I'm offering up my take on the best horror films that I have ever watched and enjoyed.  There are some familiar candidates that I consider to be great pictures that didn't make the cut because there wasn't room, and there are some films that are widely regarded as great pictures that didn't make the cut because I feel that they are overrated.  There are also a few instances where it was difficult to determine whether or not a movie belonged to the horror genre (I said "no" to Aliens but "yes" to Jaws), and it may also be worth noting that this is largely a modern list (as long as you're okay with my classification of modern as anything after 1960) that only features one lonely creature from the so-called "Classic Monsters" films produced by Universal Studios.

Thus far, the list includes:

#20) The Fly (1986) 
#19) The Howling (1981)
#18) Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Now, we turn our attention to space as I unveil the next movie on my list.

Top 20 Horror Movies - #17) Alien (1979)

First off, I want to say that I do believe that Alien is a stellar horror film.  Secondly, I will acknowledge that I think that this film's sequel, Aliens, is a much better picture.  However, Alien made my list and Aliens will not.  Why?  Well, Alien is a horror film, but I think Aliens is a bit more like Predator.  Is it a science fiction movie?  Is it an action movie?  I'm not sure, but despite the presence of some horrifying content, Aliens just doesn't feel like a horror movie to me.  Alien, on the other hand, is most certainly worthy of a spot on this list.  It's not a thrill ride with guns blazing, it's a subdued tale of terror that relies more on escalating tension and big scares than escalating machismo and big explosions.  The mood and the sets are incredible, the effects are totally convincing, and the cast is superb.  Sigourney Weaver's work here made her a star, and she is backed by talented performers like Tom Skerrit, John Hurt, and Yaphet Kotto, among others.  There isn't a wealth of gore, but the scene where the alien bursts out of John Hurt's chest is one of the most disturbing sequences that the horror genre has ever produced.  The design work by H. R. Giger is one of the picture's biggest assets and Ridley Scott's direction is splendid.  Alien is bolstered by one of Jerry Goldsmith's finest scores and the sceenplay from Dan O-Bannon is terrific.  In short, Alien is a gripping horror film that fires on all cylinders thanks to the presence and the efforts of a first-rate cast and crew.  It remains the best horror film set in space (though Event Horizon is pretty damn scary too) and I am pleased to include it on my list.

In addition to being a great flick, Alien also boasts one of the most
gut-wrenching scenes in the history of horror movies.

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