Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Alien : The Director's Cut.

"In space no one can hear you scream"

Undisputedly one of the greatest masterpiece of sci fi horror genre, Alien (1979), directed by eventual uber director, Sir Ridley Scott, set a new standard in terms of suspense and fear of the unknown. Based on a script written by Dan O' Bannon with Ronald Shusett, the story begin in year 2122 AD with a crew of seven "space truckers" on board of commercial towing vehicle Nostromo bringing a massive refinery processing 20 million tonnes of mineral ores back to Solomons, a mining colony on Earth from Thedus (located on the Outer Veil sector). Approximately halfway through the journey, the onboard AI known as Mother, interrupted the crew stasis due to receiving a transmission of unknown origin, presumely an SOS. The crew's captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), briefed them about the transmisson and based on the terms and conditions of the company (Weyland-Yutani) of which they are contracted for, any signal intercepted would have to be investigated or their shares would be forfeited. They proceed to the source of the transmission which is traced to a planetoid (Archeron or LV-426, a moon orbiting an unnamed gaseous ring planet) roughly about 1200km in radius located at ζ2 Reticuli (one of the binary star system located about 39 light years away from Earth). The rough weather on the planetoid causes Nostromo to breakdown during landing. Whlist awaiting Chief Engineer Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Enginering Technician Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) to repair the ship, Dallas, Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt) and a reluctant Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) decides to walk to the source of the transmission, closely monitor by Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm) and Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as they go along their journey. They eventually come across a derelict spaceship and proceeded to enter inside. At this point, their cameras seem to be disrupted and Ash as well as Ripley could not see or hear audibly what is happening. Within they encounter a hugh dead alien "pilot"(the space jockey). Dallas mused that the alien must have been dead a long time as it seems fossilised. Dallas also observed the body and curiously its "ribs" seemed to have been blown from inside out. Meanwhile Ripley began to re-interprete the SOS and suspected that it may be a warning instead. However, when conveying this to Ash, he brush off the discussion. Back at the derelict ship, Kane sees an opening on the floor and proceeds inside. Within he comes across a massive holding bay which houses numerous egg like objects. The eggs are covered with a protective layer of blue mist which reacts with a humming sound when broken through. Kane walks precariously along a narrow ramp separating the eggs but slips and fell through the mist. Face to face with one of the eggs, he curiously reaches out for it where he observes a small leathery object within. As his hand goes near, a hiss occurs (as well as droplets of moisture seem to drip upside down) and the top of the egg steadily peels open. Kane peek inside and suddenly the small leathery object (facehugger) ejects out at an incredible speed and force. The impact broke through Kane's helmet and attaches itself to his face. Back at Nostromo, Ripley refuses to allow all three to re-enter the ship due to quarantine procedure but the main hatch door is manually override by Ash, much to Ripley surprise. Immediately, Dallas and Ash proceeds to check on Kane. Trying to detach it, the tail of the object tightens like a noose, threatening to crush Kane's neck. They then try to cut through its finger like legs but it spills out pure concerntrated molecular acid which subsequently burnt through three levels of the hull. Ash suggested to wait and see as any further attempt would probably kill Kane. Meanwhile Parker and Brett announces that Nostromo is 90% restored and would be able to takeoff, much to crew relieve. Back in space to continue their journey back home, Ash informed Dallas, follows by Ripley that the object has detached itself from Kane. After awhile, Kane awakens but could not remember anything. Having a meal before the stasis, the crew chats happily amongst one another when they are interrupted by Kane who appears to be choking. As it appears to be getting more and more dire, Kane goes into a fit and began to convulse violently, as well as gurgling from within. As the crew tries to restrain him, a blood patch suddenly appears on his shirt. Then, in one of the most horrific scene in cinematic history, Kane's chest tears apart as a small snake like creature (chestburster) explodes through. The creature gives one horrific shrek at the crew before quickly slitters away whilst Kane convulse in the background before passing on, covers in a sea of blood. The crew decides to capture the creature and dispose it. Brett comes up with a cattle prod like device whilst Ash manages to cobble together a range sensor machine. Divided into two teams, they begin to search for the creature but Jonesy, Ripley's cat causes false alarm thus Brett is assigned to capture it. Inside the landing gear room, Brett corners Jonesy but from the back, a massive creature descends from the ceiling via the air vent system and kills a horrified Brett by using its jaw to punch through his skull. Parker and Ripley arrive too late but manage to glimpse the creature as it hauls a screaming in pain Brett away into the air vents. With everyone at wits end, Ash suggested to use fire to force the creature out from the air vents and into the airlock in order to eject it out into space. Armed with a flamethower, Dallas volunteers to go into the air vents to flush the creature out into the airlock. However, the range sensor device does not function properly, resulting in Dallas being ambush by the creature. They could not find his body nor traces of blood. With the absence of Dallas, Ripley resumes the first in command. Being suspicious of Ash from the beginning of the incident, Ripley goes to seek Mother for solution directly. She manages to log into a company directive meant for science officer only. The confidential directive is to ultimately preserve any alien lifeform they would come across, even at the expense of the crew lives. Suddenly Ash appears beside her and tries to explain but Ripley would not have any of it. As Ripley goes to seek out Parker and Lambert to reveal the shocking information, Ash stands in her way and began to violently slam her against the wall. He seems to be sweating "milk". Then he attempts some form of sexual assault by stuffing a magazine into her mouth. Parker and Lambert arrive and tries to stop Ash but are overpowered instead. Lambert then uses a fire extinguisher and slams it hard onto Ash's head, decapitating him. It then turns out that Ash is an android. Still functioning, Ash attempts to attack Lambert but is finally stopped by Parker who has to use a electric prod to short circuit him. With Ripley, they then interrogate Ash by reconnecting only his head. It turns out Ash has been protecting the creature all along from the beginning which confirms Ripley suspicion. Ash also admires the creature calling it the perfect organism whose act is devoid of any morals or feelings. Finally Ash sarcastically told them that they have his sympathy as it would be impossible to kill the creature and their chances of surviving the ordeal would be zero. Having enough of it, Parker then torches Ash. Clinging on any threads of hope, the three decides to take their chances on board the life boat Narcissus which could only support one crew member but not before destroying Nostromo by making it self detonates. As Ripley goes to manually override Mother, Parker and Lambert are confronted by the creature in the supplies room where both are violently killed. Seeing their bodies, Ripley attempts to abort the self destruct sequence to buy time but to no avail. Running through the corridors now fill with vapours as Nostromo begins countdown, Ripley comes across the body of Brett and a barely alive Dallas in the landing gear level. Both are stuck to the walls in sitting position, cover in glutanious substance. The entire surroundings look almost unrecognisable. Brett's body already changes into an egg-like form whilst Dallas pleads with Ripley to kill him of which she did by torching the entire place down. Ripley then took Jonesy and proceeds to Narcissus in time to reach a safe distance as Nostromo explodes. Unfortunately for Ripley, the creature is also onboard. Changing into her space suit, Ripley opens the shuttle door and then shoots it with a grappling gun out of Narcissus but the creature goes into one of the engines. Ripley activates the engines jet and blast off the creature. Finally, Ripley goes into stasis after logging a report of the entire incidents, clinging on a glimmer of hope that she would be eventually found.
The movie is a box office hit and won numerous accolades and awards. It would also spins off three sequels and two crossovers with Predator as of date. By engaging Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger and uses his designs, the movie captures the "alien" aspect perfectly. His works are applied on the planet surface, the creature, the larvae and eggs, as well as the derelict spaceship and its pilot. Majority contains certain level of erotism, probably due to Giger's influence. The creature's head look like male genital. The entrance into the derelict spaceship is very much vagina like. Within, the walls seem to look like ribcage. For the non-alien aspect, Rob Cobb designs an excellent interior of Nostromo, very claustrophobic and fills with iconography and given it a certain degree of realism. Scott also ensures that the Nostromo's interior looks worn and covers with grime to give it a used feel. The visual beats the CGI effect anytime. Jerry Goldsmith made the soundtrack and although heavily edited by Scott, it manages to capture the flow of the storyline which heighten the suspense and fear. In terms of the storyline, there are numerous edits to it which I think worth mentioning. Dallas originally has a relationship with Ripley and they have a love scene on board. In another, Ripley is sitting in Ash's Blister when a tapping noise occur and is caused by the body of Kane floating around there. Lambert originally suppose to meet her demise violently within the air lock by being sucked into vaccum through a hole cause by the creature's acidic blood with a diameter of one inch but the visual effect at the time has not reach that stage yet. This is where Parker suppose to have spotted the creature entering the air lock and Ripley shut the door on his cue but only manages to cut off its tail and leaves Lambert trap within. Also, a lot of speculation occurs as how Lambert actually died. The movie shows only her naked lower torso covers in blood, dangling midway with a broken toe. Her bloodcurdling scream could be heard through Ripley's intercom as the creature attacks her. Some fans say that she is sexually assaulted by the creature whilst some say the creature strips her clothes off in an attempt to pull her into the air vent. The part where its tail slowly creeps in between her feet is actually shot for Dallas. Also, Lambert wears cowboy boots, not sneakers. Finally, Scott wants Ripley to die in the end by having the creature ripping off her head and then mimics her voice into the final log entry onboard Narcissus. The producer vetoed this violent ending and thus Ripley would survive her ordeal and destined to battle one of moviedom most memorable monsters for the next three sequels spanning several centuries. In the first movie, one could not see the creature very clearly which is intentional in order to raise the fear of the unknown. The creature life cycle (inpired by insects, in particular the spider Ichimoid) is more disturbing prior to the first sequel made by James Cameron in 1986 which introduces the Alien Queen. The alien would capture hosts either alive or otherwise to be metamorphosised into eggs. After implanting the embryo within the chest cavity of the host, the larvae known as facehugger would cease to function. Very quickly, after bursting out from the host, it would molt and developes into a full size adult. Initially the biomechanical adult would look transparent and becomes darker as it goes on. The adult would possess part of the physical trait of its host, such as a human like skull on the front, bipedal but walks in a crablike manner. It would then proceeds to capture host to repeat the cycle. The creature is also said to be able contort itself into tightest space in order to hide or ambush its prey. The derelict spaceship and its sole dead occupant is said to be a bomber-carrier, intend to drop the eggs onto targeted planet as a sort of biological weapon of mass destruction.

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