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The Double Feature: Alien/Aliens

Film #1: Alien

Year
1979

Starring
Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto

Directed by
Ridley Scott

Tagline
In space no one can hear you scream.

Synopsis

The crew of the starfighter Nostromo is awakened from hypersleep to investigate a mysterious transmission of unknown origins. Tracking the call to a primordial world, the search team discovers an alien ship, unaware of the dangers that lie within.

Film #2: Aliens

Year
1986

Starring
Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, William Hope, and Bill Paxton

Directed by
James Cameron

Tagline
This time it’s war.

Synopsis

A moon colonized by humans has gone dark and all attempts to communicate with the colony have failed. A team of hardened space marines embark on a rescue mission, unprepared for the terrors that await them.

The Double Feature

The Alien franchise is my favorite film series and the original movie is my favorite of the bunch. It’s probably one of the things I’m most geeky about and there’s plenty of evidence to confirm this already on the site and my personal Twitter account. Without question, it is one of those tentpole films that I watched as a child that solidified my love for cinema and the horror genre.
While the original film was a haunted house meant to scare and make you feel uncomfortable, the sequel is a rollercoaster ride meant to thrill and get the heart racing. Aliens is an action horror thriller that expands not just the lore of the original film, but the character of Ripley as well. It also delivers an eclectic cast of characters(fan favorites Newt and Hicks) and introduces us to the galactic bad-asses known as the colonial marines.
What I find most fascinating about is how my outlook on these two films has changed from childhood to adulthood, if I may rightly be called an adult. Most fans of the series have a favorite between these films, though both are highly regarded in horror and sci-fi circles. If you had asked me which was my favorite as a teenager, I would have said James Cameron’s Aliens. I think, in a way, this speaks volumes as to where I was in my personal life as a younger man. I was impulsive and less emotionally unstable, so the intense thrills the sequel provided was much more alluring than the slower, more methodical pacing of the original. The hard-hitting action just appealed more to the testosterone-fueled version of myself.
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As I’ve aged, the more subtle nuances and themes of the original has pushed it as my personal favorite movie of all time. Its effects have aged gracefully and though it could be argued that certain tools it utilizes to scare its audience have since become cliche, it is because of the tremendous cultural impact the film has that these things became cliche. Greatness is often imitated and a plethora of films in both the horror or sci-fi genre have paid tribute in their own ways.
Watching these two films back to back, one can really gain an appreciation for what each does for the franchise. Making a sequel to one of the greatest horror movies ever made is no easy feat and yet James Cameron made it look deceivingly easy. His unique take on the Alien mythos has led it to become a juggernaut of a franchise across all media. It’s because of his movie that there will always be an audience rediscovering these films and the empire of spin-off films, comics, books, artwork, and video games. It also dialed up the volume on female action heroines, cementing Ellen Ripley as The Baddest Bitch in cinema and paving the way for our current action heroines.
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Which of these two films is your favorite? Why? Is anyone else riding the hype train with me for Alien: Covenant? Let me know in the comments below.

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mattdoylemedia
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I was similar in that I preferred Aliens as a young teen. As I grew older though, the original ahs simply appealed more. So, out of the two i’d pick Alien as my favourite. In terms of the original trilogy, Alien 3 comes second for me with Aliens coming in third (it just feels too action heavy now comapred to the toehr two and I prefer the underdog/bleak feel of 1 and 3). Definitely excited for Covenant though, though I likely won’t get to see it in the cinema.

thehorrorjd0127
Guest

#3 gets a lot more hate than it really should from the fan community. Def have to make a post about 3 & 4 sometime in the near future.

mattdoylemedia
Guest

Absolutely. 4 was an odd one for me. Some of the concepts (such as the xenomorphs problem solving and swimming) were really good, the cast was good, but it somehow fell flat.

Karandi
Guest

I’m definitely an Aliens fan but I love both of these films and Aliens wouldn’t be half so great without the horror elements carried over from Alien. It makes the monsters in the second film terrifying even within the action setting because we already have that pre-knowledge of just how terrifying they are. Anyway, watching the two films back to back is the best option anyway.

thehorrorjd0127
Guest

I usually don’t watch the movies back to back. I’ve watched them so much that I can put them on while I’m working without really getting lost with what’s happening on screen. Now that the franchise is seeing a resurgence, now seems like the right time to watch them back to back.

Jade
Guest

Awesome double feature! I 100% agree with your description of the two as a haunted house vs thrill ride. Both are brilliant, of course. I have an Alien movie marathon planned, but no time to get to it, sadly. Someday. I’m seeing Alien: Covenant in theatres tomorrow though! Super excited. 😊

Seltzer Xakion
Guest
Seltzer Xakion

My personal favorite is Alens the sequel primarily due to the tons of merchandise and memorabilia it provided the world plus some of cinemas classic lines of “Game over man! Game over!” Or “Nuke it from space its the only way to be sure.” Many of which are still being parodied today in games and comics alike. Though I will say both movies have extended/Directors cuts which add immense amounts to the movies that is primarily in the details. I will say I’m not to excited for Alien: Covenant mainly because I am disappointed in Prometheus and Aliens Resurrection. I… Read more »