Visually, for 1979, the film is quite rich. While some of the shots of the spacecraft and alien are downright laughable by today’s standards, the one major quality that they hold is a material nature. With CGI, no matter how brilliantly an image is constructed, its artificiality shows. With Alien, its film quality plus the material/tangible use of everything gives it a greater sense of reality, primarily with one’s sense of touch. The alien and the spacecraft have a flesh which one can imaging touching: a stubbly, matte aircraft, the scales, the oozing flesh. There’s something very David Cronenberg happening here and its the body-horror images
The film’s sound-design is superb, with many of the effects and the careful adjusting of levels between right and left channels quite haunting and affective.
The lack of story background is both an advantage and disadvantage. The film stands on its own in a world untethered, but at the same time it does not rise from mere caricature to literature; the story is simple and effective, but a little lacking in depth. Helpful as a genre piece, this limits the film’s approach and forces it to remain within horror even more than in science-fiction, as there is no real science to speak of.
80/100 – Great