Featured: Why ‘Alien’ and ‘Aliens’ were so so revolutionary
Throughout the years many a films come along and revolutionize the way we see a genre. Each genre has a specific film and we all view these films differently but one thing that we all can agree on is that they changed the course of said genre. Now whether you believe that the course was changed for better or for worse is your own opinion, but something changed nonetheless. Action films had Die Hard, adventure films had Indiana Jones, period pieces had Amadeus, the list goes on and on. Sometimes we are lucky enough to not only receive one film that revolutionizes a genre, but multiple. The perfect example of this is with the Alien franchise, which completely changed how we see both science fiction and horror films.
Now you may screaming at your computer screen or whatever device you’re using to read this but hear me out. Both the science fiction and horror genres have had quite a few masterpieces. Films that will stand the test of time so how can the Alien films even be allowed to be put in this category? How does Alien stack up against Star Wars and The Exorcist? I think we all can agree that both Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens are both incredible pieces of work. The franchise definitely begins to slip in the latter films, but these first two installments had enough momentum to change the history of cinema forever. Now with that said, lets dive in.
It is always a constant battle between these two films. Almost like Star Wars VS Star Trek, Alien VS Aliens, which film is better, which will stand the test of time? Well to tell the truth, both films will stand the test of time. And to be completely fair the films do not even deserve to be compared to one another. They are two completely separate bodies of work that both deserve an immense amount of praise. Each one of them have fantastic qualities about them that deserve to be recognized but we shouldn’t be asking ourselves which is better, but why both are so revolutionary. So lets begin with Alien.
Alien was released in 1979 and boy did it take the world by storm when it first released. Directed by Ridley Scott who only had one other feature film under his belt at the time, the world was blown away when they saw the talent Scott possessed. Creating an immersive and terrifying universe within this film, it is clear that Ridley Scott had found something special with this film. Alien was just something totally unheard of and unique at the time. A science fiction horror movie was just otherworldly to the general audience and critics, but Alien found its way into peoples hearts quickly creating a cult following. Despite Alien seeming grand in scale, it is a relatively small film. Through the dutch and unnatural camera angles to the quick, jarring editing style, Alien masters a sort of claustrophobic feeling. Creating an uncomfortable and terrifying feeling within the space station, Alien seamlessly combines horror and science fiction.
Now in 1986 when a sequel to the smash hit was announced, audiences and critics alike lost their minds yet again. Aliens is directed by James Cameron who at the time already had a smash hit film with The Terminator. Aliens strays away from the horror and suspense elements that Ridley Scott mastered with the first film and instead went in more of an action oriented direction. The film was over the top, set in a much larger scale and was just overall in your face the entire runtime. Cameron did bring some of the suspense elements over in a few scenes, but overall Aliens was meant to be more of a blockbuster hit.
The Alien franchise has revolutionized science fiction and horror because each film took the genre’s in a different direction and tried something new with each installment. With the directors taking risk, whether that be for better or for worse, it is without a doubt that the Alien franchise will go down as one of the most successful and enjoyable movie franchises in history.
Hear our Alien Retropective discussion on Episode 221 of the InSession Film Podcast, coming soon.