Retro Review: Aliens

Filed under: , by: Jimmy the Greek


Every so often I get the urge to watch a movie that I first watched when girls had cooties... the make believe kind. Most are from an era before teenage malcontents decided to take a gun to school to earn self respect through gunfire. These are typically R rated, viewed for the first time on televisions in startling 480i. Televisions that were generations behind the V-chip or the fascist approach parents take nowadays toward the viewing habits of their children. These gems unknowingly traumatized me when I was a child and made me the semi-schizophrenic adult I am today. Such is the case with Aliens.

For some reason I got a real itch for this movie after not seeing it for more than a decade and viewing it for the first time when I was 7. Considering Aliens: Colonial Marines is just around the corner I think that is enough to merit a review of the derivative material.

I'm not sure how socially acceptable it is for me to say, but I think Sigourney Weaver is a handsome woman. If I got a piece of that action, I would be perfectly comfortable letting her be the man. I'm also a fan of James Cameron, and recently reading the story of how he pitched Aliens made me like him all the more.

Do you want to hear about it? Of course you do, Twentieth Century Fox wasn't in the mood to make Alien 2 after the lukewarm outing of Ridley Scott's Alien, but James Cameron had an idea and wouldn't take "no" for an answer. He went to the pitch meeting with no materials. He walked up the the chalk board in the conference room and wrote "Alien" and turned around. He turned back toward the chalkboard and wrote "Aliens" and turned back toward his audience. Finally he turned back to the chalkboard and put a line through the 's' making "Alien$." He was given a $18 million budget and the rest is history.


The main plot is an extension from Alien. In Alien, a commercial towing crew goes to the planet LV-426 tracking an unidentifiable signal. During the search, one of the crew gets a nasty spider with acid for blood latched onto his face. Shortly after he's taken back on board it falls off. An alien with a mouth for a tongue and a phallic shaped skull leaps out of his chest and scampers away. It grows and then kills the the crew. In a nerve wrenching climax Sigourney Weaver, aka Ellen Ripley, tries to blow it up on the mother ship but fails and has to kick it out the window of her escape pod like an unwanted child. She then goes into hibernation.

She gets awoken roughly 57 years after Alien. The planet is now inhabited by terraformers and suddenly and unexpectedly all contact is lost. If you've played any modern first person shooter you know the general premise of this movie. Hard assed trash talking space marines go to another planet to kill dangerous aliens with their penises, er, I mean huge futuristic machine guns. You find out a little more about the alien society. It's not limited to killing people, they also kidnap people to be used as incubators for more aliens and they have a hierarchy similar to an insects, complete with a queen and worker aliens.

The sole survivor of the alien infestation is a little girl named Newt. You get to see a young Lance Henricksen and Bill Paxton. A Bill Paxton before he became "that guy" in so many other movies.


There's blood, cursing, gun fire, and acts of heroism. The special effects are phenomenal, even by today's standards. There are some genuinely frightening moments and, hey, it's science fiction. I love science fiction. This movie solidified James Cameron as a household name aside from his work on the Terminator franchise. This also inspired several space horror movie clones and countless video games using the same hard assed space marines.


Of course I liked the movie. Otherwise I wouldn't have wasted my time writing such a lengthy review. I can pick a few nits and they are summed up like this: Alien Versus Predator and Alien Versus Predator: Requiem.

Those movies are a couple of not so subtle nor spectacular editions to the horror porn genre. I understand the genre's place in cinema, everybody deserves to have their fetishes on display, but at least the writers could regurgitate some semblance of a story. Here's how they both go: people get infected with aliens, predators kill aliens, the end. There, I summed up both movies in one sentence. Save yourself the money to buy/rent the DVD and certainly don't waste your time if they show up on a movie channel. Unless they play to your fetish, then happy whacking.

Final Thoughts

Not many 80's movies have aged well. This movie has aged nicely. It's the Cindy Crawford of 80's. Still kind of old but still well worth it. It also has a "sign of the times" in that every character smokes. The heroes are chain smokers and the not so heroes are not so much smokers. You can tell this is from the era before the only villains smoke rule.