Seeing Alien in Theatres for the 45th Anniversary Was an Incredible Experience

Ridley Scott’s Alien turns 45 years old this year, and the theater closest to me was showing the film for Alien Day on April 26. So, I decided I needed to see Alien in the theater for the first time, and it was even better than I was expecting. 

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Alien Is a Survival Horror Classic

Fans of sci-fi and horror likely hold the Alien series in high regard. One of the best things about the franchise is that the different films in it fit into different genres. While James Cameron’s Aliens is much more a sci-fi action movie, Scott’s Alien films embrace the horror aspects of science fiction. The upcoming Alien: Romulus looks to continue that trend, as director Fedé Alvarez has a distinguished horror background. His prior work includes Evil Dead (2013) and Don’t Breathe.

Alien’s plot sees the crew of the Nostromo, a commercial spacecraft, making an unplanned stop at the behest of their parent company. They bring an unwanted visitor back to the ship, which proves to be one of the most advanced killing machines in existence. Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, attempts to help the crew survive.

Alien relies heavily on a feeling of claustrophobia to create tension, and Scott accomplishes this effect masterfully. On the big screen, it’s even better. The opening credits of Alien take us on a tour of the Nostromo, the ship that Ripley and the rest of the crew are traveling on. Right away, the audience can feel the isolation and confined nature of the ship. Before we meet a single character, the environment is established as a star of the film.

The Theater Experience

The inside of the ship in Alien.

April 26 is Alien Day because the planet where the crew of the Nostromo encounters the Xenomorph is LV-426. I love it when days or events happen that allow a fandom to celebrate. There’s so much negativity in public discourse that having an excuse to see Alien in theaters was such a breath of fresh air. A lot of people where I live apparently think the same way. In a late afternoon showing, the theater was about three-quarters full.

I’m not old enough to have seen Alien when it premiered, so this was the first time I’ve seen the film in the theater. So many of my favorite movies are from the 1980s or early ’90s, and I didn’t get to see them on the big screen. I feel like these re-releases are made with people like me in mind, and it’s great. When the grainy 20th Century Fox logo hit the screen, there was actually applause in the theater. I had only seen that before when a new Star Wars movie premiered or when I saw Avengers: Endgame on opening day.

Related: How Do Xenomorphs See in the Alien Movies?

There were even a few chuckles in the crowd when the captain visited the computer, which is called Mother. I always enjoy revisiting movies that try to predict future technology decades after their release. Needless to say, Alien’s vision of future technology is pretty far off. So is half the crew lighting up cigarettes at the dinner table on the ship. Alien doesn’t get everything wrong, though. The depiction of corporate greed and the powerful seeing the working class as expendable still resonates 45 years later.

Classic moments from the film still got good reactions from the audience. The iconic scene where the Xenomorph emerges from Kane’s chest cavity drew gasps. So did the moments of high tension where the crew attempts to find and kill the alien before it can eliminate them all. At the climax of the film, when the alien is almost blending into the decor of the shuttle, I could tell that a few people were seeing Alien for the first time.

An Enduring Franchise

Ripley and the crew in Alien.

Not many movie franchises stay relevant for 45 years. Alien joins heavyweights like Star WarsStar Trek, and James Bond in that club. Movie fans know that Hollywood is home to a copycat industry. Alien was made in the years when studios scrambled to capitalize on the success of Star Wars. Paramount resurrected Star Trek in 1979 to capitalize on it. Even James Bond went to space in 1979 in the unfortunate MoonrakerStar Trek and James Bond were established franchises that could recover from their 1979 missteps, but Alien was new. It had to stand on its own and engage audiences.

It did exactly that. Yes, it was horror in space. In 1979, producers could attract an audience to a film because it has elements Star Wars has. For people to still go to the theater to watch that movie in 2024, it had to have actually delivered. And with strong performances by Sigourney Weaver and the rest of the cast and an outstanding environment that inspired tension, Alien delivered in a big way.

Before you see Alien: Romulus this year, you should watch the original Alien again. If you get a chance to see it on the big screen, take advantage of it. The claustrophobia and tension are only amplified by the theater experience, and it is Scott at his best. You’ll be glad you did it. I certainly was.

Alien: Romulus hits theaters Aug 16.


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Author
Tyler Erickson
Contributor at The Escapist and has been writing about games and entertainment for over 10 years. I love FPS games, action/adventure, and sports games. In entertainment, I write about everything Star Wars, comics, action and horror movies, and fantasy and horror books. I have also written for GameRant, TheXboxHub, and Strangely Awesome Games. Podcaster and streamer, and always happy to talk games or entertainment, so follow me on socials!