The plot of Alien is relatively simple: The crew of a towering 800 foot long commercial towing ship, the Nostromo, are tasked with investigating what appears to be a distress signal from an alien planet. The crew investigates this but, unbeknownst to them, bring an extremely dangerous alien life form onto their ship. One by one they are picked off…

Scott, aided by his special effects team, headed by Brian Johnson and Nick Allder, and many others who deserve to be mentioned but can’t be, creates in the confined space of his main set a sweaty little world on its own that responds ideally to his obsessive close-ups and restless, magnifying style. Hurt has said that it was more a matter of reacting than acting, and one can well understand what he means. His own performance makes one miss it when it’s gone. And that of Sigourney Weaver, as one of the two women astronauts, is also consistently watchable (with a bigger slice of the cake). Derek Malcolm

Tom Skerritt … Dallas

Sigourney Weaver … Ripley

Veronica Cartwright … Lambert

Harry Dean Stanton … Brett

John Hurt … Kane

Ian Holm … Ash

Yaphet Kotto … Parker

Bolaji Badejo … Alien

From the beginning Alien is otherworldly in its subject matter, set and striking visuals. The derelict alien ship which is investigated is as large as a building. Its vaulted insides are just as towering. The uniform rows of hibernating eggs, covered by an ominous coloured fog make for terrifying viewing. One can only imagine what the 1979 audience must have felt, before the SAW series of ‘films’ desensitised the public to horror.
However, the crew stayed small (seven, plus cat), the alien stayed medium-sized (no bigger than the man who played him, supple Masai tribesman Bolaji Badejo) and the story stayed simple: ship lands on planet in response to an SOS that turns out to be a warning; alien infects one of the crew; alien kills the rest of the crew one by one. It’s Ten Little Indians in space. Empire
Alien is a triumphant film in many regards, from its sensational design aspect, plot and the acting itself. The late great Sir Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins, no less) is a phenomenon as the sociopathic, robotic follower of procedure, calm even in the face of his screaming colleagues. Sigourney Weaver as Ripley is of course a marvel as the jaded bad-ass survivor against all odds, increasingly bedraggled  with every passing minute of the film. John Hurt’s role may be one of the most compelling but is unfortunately too brief, however superb its denouement.
To describe Alien as a triumph chiefly in terms of its look is not to underplay its dramatic strengths, it’s just that ordinary filmgoers tend to nod off if you pay tribute to designers (art directors Roger Christian and Les Dilley, production designer Michael Seymour, FX team Brian Johnson, Nick Allder, Carlo Rambali… wake up!) Empire
And talk about an ending! Alien for me scores 10s across the board. Even now some 42 years later, it packs a punch.