Ridley Scott's masterpiece of quick-cutting (you never really see the monster) tells the story of the Nostromo, a deep-space cargo ship and its dysfunctional stir-crazy crew, starring Sigourney Weaver as Ripley (believe it or not). They stop to check on a ship that has crash-landed, only to bring a deadly parasite onboard with them. H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist, designed the alien ship itself to resemble the inside of a strange place that's half industrial plant, half womb. John Hurt is the first to go in the gory chest-ripping scene, and then this mechanical insect mutant starts to breed (which he later reprised in MonsterVision's Spaceballs). Additional cast: Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright. 137 minutes, rated R
(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)
Outer-space head-chompin insect mutants eat everything on the screen except Sigourney Weaver, sole survivor of the first movie. Maybe even better than the original ALIEN mainly due to director James THE TERMINATOR Cameron, who knows how to put your innards in a Cuisinart where they belong. Ripley goes to the Alien home planet with a squad of Marines. Paul Reiser plays a company executive who manipulates Ripley by hinting that she could be charged for everything that happened the first time. Special effects won an Oscar. 137 minutes rated R, the Director’s Cut runs 17 minutes longer. Additional cast: Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton (Twister), Jenette Goldstein
Both movies were built around a 1950s sci-fi/horror formula. In fact, Joe Bob found the original version and showed it on MonsterVision in 1997 after Alien:
It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)
The second spaceship to Mars returns with the sole survivor of the first mission, assumed to have murdered everyone else. But the real killer is a monster (played by Crash Corrigan), which is now also aboard the returning ship. Suspenseful low-budget movie stars Marshall Thompson (later the star of TV’s “Daktari,” a series inspired by John Wayne movie “Hatari”). Joe Bob says sci-fi writer Jerome Bixby sued “Alien” but didn’t get very far. Continued
Alien 3 (1992)
Joe Bob Briggs notes in the MonsterVision host segments for Alien 3 that the 3 is above the title, which would make it “Alien Cubed.” Sigourney Weaver lands on a space prison where the Alien regenerates itself and runs around killing people. The convicts, including real-life ex-con Charles S. Dutton, run their prison like monks in a monastery. Everyone, including Weaver, has shaved heads due to lice, but the movie formula is basically the same. Charles Dance, Paul McGann, Brian Glover, Ralph Brown, Danny Webb, Christopher John Fields, Holt McCallany, Lance Henriksen, Pete Postlethwaite, directed by David Fincher. 115 minutes, rated R
Alien Resurrection (1997)
In this one, Ripley (Weaver) returns as a clone (see “Barbarella” host segments link below for what happened to her at the end of Alien 3 after she realized that she contained the Alien mother) 200 years later, in this 4th installment. Helping her fight the aliens are a merry band of space pirates in what Leonard Maltin calls a “clumsy sequel with crummy logic, fair effects and far too many wisecracks; a few good action scenes, but otherwise strictly for series fans.” Weaver herself said she preferred doing the comedy movies “Ghostbusters” and Star Trek spoof “Galaxy Quest” to the Alien movies. Winona Ryder of Beetlejuice and Ron Perlman (of Ice Pirates and TV’s “Beauty & The Beast” series) are on hand to help. Additional cast: Dan Hedaya (Carla’s husband in the TV-series Cheers), Dominique Pinon, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, J.E. Freeman, and drive-in favorite Brad Dourif. 108 minutes rated R. Directed by some French guy. Last seen on ABC in primetime 1-21-02.
The Alien movies also spawned a bunch of imitators starting, as noted in the MonsterVision host segments for Leviathan, with “Leviathan,” a alien movie that’s all wet. There was also:
Jan-Michael Vincent of TV's Airwolf as nasty alien prison warden who sends low-budget spaceship to Earth to track down relatively nice fugitive. Rated R. Vincent was much nicer himself in MonsterVision movie Damnation Alley
Alien From L.A. (1987)
This low-budget mess, "inspired" by Jules Verne's Jouney To The Center Of The Earth, has been skewered by both MonsterVision and Mystery Science Theater 3000. A Valley Girl with the I.Q. of a turnip and coke-bottle glasses falls down a hole in the Earth's crust and finds herself in the lost city of Atlantis, where humans are used as slave labor. She's rescued by an adventurer driving a golfcar that's supposed to be alien-looking. Kathy Ireland stars, but it's only rated PG
Alien Nation (1988)
Cop James Caan is teamed with alien immigrant to track down the alien that killed his former partner in movie that inspired the Alien Nation TV-series. The plot itself seems to have been suggested by the movie “Chinatown,” which itself was remade by producer Steven Spielberg as the spoof Who Framed Roger Rabbit starring Bob Hoskins as the cop and Christopher Lloyd of Back To The Future as bad guy Judge Doom.
Alien Predator (1987)
Low-budget flop actually made in 1984, retitled to cash in on success of both "Alien" and "Predator" movies (this was long before the actual Alien Vs. Predator movie & videogame), but with world's worst special effects and worse acting.
The Alien’s Return (1980)
Dull bomb about two children and an old man in New Mexico who have a “close encounter.” Jan-Michael Vincent, a moonlighting Cybill Shepherd, Martin Landau of Space 1999, Raymond Burr of Godzilla, Neville Brand. Originally titled “The Return,” the video was retitled to cash in on “Alien.”
Alien Arsenal (1999)
Two high school outcasts come across a secret stash of outer space weapons in this sorta remake of Laserblast. About how it sounds. Jerrod Cornish, Josh Hammond. PG-13
Alien Erotica 2 (2000)
A plant from outer space changes everyone it comes in contact with. No, it’s not a remake of Little Shop Of Horrors, this plant changes people into nymphomaniacs. You know, some of the people in Hollywood grew up after they graduated from high school. Not rated (that means it probably never made it into theaters). Kird Reed. No relation to Alien Intruder
Alien Avengers (1996)
A couple vacationing on Earth (George Wendt of House and Shannon Reed), hunt down and kill low-life criminals for sport in this enjoyable spoof of “Predator,” while their daughter falls for one of the local humans. Seen most recently on the SciFi Channel with Thing From Another World, Meet The Applegates, and Coneheads. George Wendt returned in the sequel "Alien Avengers II" (1997)
Meet The Applegates (1990)
Mutant insects from Brazil masquerade as a typical American family in star Ed Begley’s mix of comedy, sci-fi and environmentalism. Directed by Michael Lehman (of the much better Heathers), rated R. Also stars Stockard Channing (of 1973’s dark comedy “The Girl Most Likely To”) and Dabney Coleman of WarGames fame. Originally released as simply “The Applegates.” At least it’s better than Transylvania 6-5000.
Joe Bob reviewed Alien 3 for Monstervision, but that was back in 1997, those host segments on tape but not yet transcribed...Click here to have the ending ruined if you haven't seen "Alien 3" yet, followed by "Barbarella" MonsterVision host segments
Alien also owes a nod to “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” (1956), in which aliens put pods in the homes of people and replace them, an alien duplicate / clone growing inside the pod and then emerging to replace the human. Kevin McCarthy starred in this movie version of Jack Finney’s novel “The Body Snatchers,” but complained that the studio added an epilogue in which the aliens are exposed and defeated (not in the book). When the movie was remade in 1978 with Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Goldblum, McCarthy was given a cameo scene at the end to do the line edited out of the 1956 version – that aliens were taking over (and couldn’t be stopped). It was remade again in 1994 as “The Body Snatchers” starring Meg Tilly (yes, Meg Tilly) and Gabrielle Anwar. Not to be confused with Boris Karloff movie “The Body Snatcher,” about a grave-robber. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers MonsterVision host segments