Alien (1979 franchise)

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Artist H.R. Giger with Alien, 1979

Summary

"In space, no one can hear you scream." The Alien franchise is a science-fiction horror film franchise centered on a film series that depicts Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her battles with an extraterrestrial lifeform, commonly referred to as "the Alien" or "Xenomorph".

  • Alien (1979 film)
  • Aliens (1986 film)
  • Alien 3 (1992 film)
  • Alien: Resurrection (1997 film)
  • Prometheus (2012 film)
  • Alien: Covenant (2017 film)
  • Alien 2: On Earth (1980 "unofficial sequel")
  • ...plus cross-overs with the Predator (1986 franchise), numerous comic books and video games, etc....


Details


Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: R (Violence, Profanity, Brief Nudity, Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • Ss___ (One and a Half Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

The series as a whole is only arguably "Lovecraftian", based largely on the weird atmosphere of the first film and Giger's bizarre biomechanical aliens and sets. The first film has sometimes been called a "haunted house or slasher film - IN SPACE!", and Stephen King has described the alien creatures as "Lovecraft's Elder Gods" in a Lovecraftian story in which humans come to the Elder Gods, rather than the other way around. The weird, bleak, dreamlike atmosphere of the first film, combined with Giger's striking alien and set designs, would make Alien the most "Lovecraftian" film of the series (one and a half Tentacles, perhaps two), and hints of alien cultists appearing in a couple of the later sequels might similarly push those sequels toward two Tentacles, but in general the sequels would rate lower on the scale.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Review Links:

  • Dan Dalton, Buzzfeed: "The Original "Alien" Concept Art Is Terrifying"
  • User:Ywhateley: The series is only arguably "Lovecraftian", based largely on the weird atmosphere of the first film and Giger's bizarre biomechanical aliens and sets. I find the first two films in the series, and maybe the (poorly-rated, and perhaps unfairly-maligned) prequel Prometheus, to be the most interesting films in the series: the first film has sometimes been called a "haunted house or slasher film - IN SPACE!", while Aliens is more of a war movie - IN SPACE!, and the prequel is a sci-fi retelling of the Prometheus myth (IN SPACE!) in which a rogue "titan" brings the "gift of fire" to humans, to the horror of the "gods". The franchise as a whole is probably not particularly kid-friendly, between fairly scary monsters, violence and gore, and mild brief nudity, language, and adult themes.


Synopsis

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

ALIEN: On its return to Earth, the commercial starship Nostromo is diverted to a desolate planetoid after receiving a cryptic signal from a derelict alien spacecraft. While exploring the alien ship, one of the Nostromo's crewmen discovers the remains of the ship's pilot and also a large chamber that contains thousands of egg-like objects. One of the eggs releases a creature that attaches itself to his face and renders him unconscious. The others break quarantine to bring him back aboard the ship. The parasite dies and the crewman wakes up, seemingly fine. Soon afterwards, an alien organism bursts from his chest and grows extremely rapidly into a terrifying eight-foot (equivalent 2.5 meters) tall creature that starts killing off the crew.

ALIENS: After 57 years in hypersleep, the sole survivor of the Nostromo, LT Ellen Ripley, awakens aboard a medical space station orbiting Earth. Her story of the Alien terror she encountered is disbelieved and she learns that the planetoid from the first film (now designated as LV-426) is now home to a terraforming colony. When contact with the colony is lost, Ripley accompanies a squad of high-tech Elite Colonial Marines aboard the spaceship Sulaco to investigate. Once there, they discover the colonists have been wiped out after they had found the derelict alien ship (and its deadly cargo) from the first film.

SUBSEQUENT FILMS: Other sequels involve either Ripley's dealings with the scheming Weylan-Yutani Company and its attempts to weaponize the alien Xenomorphs at the expense of Ripley and other "disposable" victims, or conflicts involving the title aliens from the Predator franchise, which enjoyed hunting both humans and alien Xenomorphs since early epochs of Earth history.

PREQUEL: Some thirty years before the events of Alien, scientists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map among the remnants of several ancient Earth cultures. Seeking the origins of humanity, they journey aboard the spaceship Prometheus and arrive on a distant world in the Zeta-Reticuli system, the same region of space in which the planetoid from Alien is found. There they discover the remains of an advanced civilization (the same race as the dead pilot from the derelict ship in Alien) who were developing horrific biological weapons which could cause the extinction of the human race.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • A compendium of images by Swiss artist H. R. Giger published in 1977 was given to director Ridley Scott during the pre-production of the film Alien, who then hired Giger to produce artwork and conceptual designs for the film; Giger's book was named after Lovecraft's Necronomicon.
  • Alien has many striking similarities to earlier sci-fi/horror films, Planet of the Vampires (1965 film) and IT! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958 film)
  • Aliens has some striking similarities to earlier sci-fi/horror works, the giant ant monster film THEM! (1954) and Heinlein's space-warrior novel Starship Troopers (later adapted satirically into a 1997 film franchise of the same name).
  • In a discarded early draft of the script for Alien, the title creature kills off the entire crew of the Nostromo including Ripley, then goes to the ship's cockpit, easily operates the ship's electronics, and uses them record and transmit a distress beacon while imitating Ripley's voice.


Associated Mythos Elements

  • H.R. Giger's book of artwork named after the Necronomicon led to the artist's heavy involvement in developing the dark, surreal, monstrously erotic "biomechanical" visual style of the franchise
  • Race: Xenomorphs
  • Race: Engineers
  • Race: Hish Predators (AKA Yautja or Hish-qu-Ten)
  • Race: River Ghosts
  • the Cthulhu Icarus RPG setting could easily be suitable for material from this franchise
  • Tome: (carvings, cave paintings, and other evidence of ancient alien interaction with humans appear in a few of the films)

Keeper Notes

  • Keepers might find elements of this film franchise useful for adaptation into stories for the Cthulhu Icarus and other Call of Cthulhu RPG science-fiction campaign settings; with minimal changes, the plots of these films could also be adapted to the 20th Century and other eras.
  • The vague and sketchy nature of alien creatures appearing in the franchise leave a lot of room for more "Lovecraftian" backgrounds and characteristics to be added or substituted or written around these beings.
  • Elements of the Predator (1986 franchise) cross-over films and the prequel film have some tantalizing Lovecraftian elements to them, in the weird ancient-astronauts, and pyramid-building and/or ancient-alien-worshiping cults introduced by the Predator creatures and Engineers - elements which might be put to more explicitly Lovecraftian use in home-brew Call of Cthulhu scenarios and materials than they were in the films.


External links, See Also