Alien Or Aliens: The Great Debate
Article by Aaron Haughton and Anthony Cleveland
Perhaps the most heated cinematic debate stems from the Alien franchise: which is the better film, Alien or Aliens. Fans of the series are sure to give answers that fall on either side of the coin. For us, when it comes down to which film we'd rather watch, it generally comes to a simple mood judgement -- do you want action or do you want horror? -- however, Anthony and I found that we are partial to one film over the other, which coincidentally are the opposites. Here's our reason why we tend to favor one over the other:
Alien w/Aaron Haughton:
Who could forget the first time they saw Alien? You can't. Literally cannot. In fact, I look back on my first Alien viewing as the kinda cinematic version of the Where-were-when-Kennedy-was-assasinated or Where-were-you-when-the-Twin-Towers-fell sorta questions -- because it's that memorable. At least to me, anyways.
I was maybe 6 or 7 and had gone into town with my dad to go to the public library, which didn't so much signify getting something good to read, but something good to watch. At this time, in my very, very small town, the library had amassed quite a large collection of VHS tape films because, I'm guessing, they knew there wasn't anything else to do in town that was worth a shit, except watch movies. I saw that cover with the egg cracking, the tagline "In space no one can hear you scream," the ominous green glow, and I immediately clutched it and went running to my dad. Much to my surprise, he said it was OK if I checked it out.
I watched it as soon as I got home -- in the daylight, mind you -- and I loved every second of it. I had never seen anything like it. You would think I would be traumatized, but I wasn't; I was rooting for Ripley to blow that pesky alien out the airlock. I was a kid with a short attention span (as all kids tend to be), but the film held my gaze the entire time. It still holds my gaze over 20 years later, and I imagine it will until I'm probably dead.
The suspense and effects in the film are amongst the crème de la crème, and the story is one we've never seen before. Everything in this film works because it takes the time to get us acquainted with the crew, so much so that we really don't want them to die once the horror starts to flourish. It introduced us to new horrors: the facehugger, the chestburster, the xenomorph -- all of which are so fucking cool and badass and fear-inducing that they will be seared into your brain for eternity. The film sets up the horrors wonderfully by shrouding it in mystery and intrigue, all of which keep you on the edge of your seat.
While I think that Aliens is the most fun of the two films, Alien is the better film out of the pair.
Aliens w/Anthony Cleveland:
Alien is a film thats set up to knock you off your chair the first time you watch it. You don't know what the facehugger does, you don't know why it just dies, and you don't know that the chestburster will grow into a creature that blends in perfectly with the ship. After you know the rules and what will happen, you see that these scenes are set up to explain what the crew is dealing with.
Aliens on the other hand, we know the rules, but yet there's so much more we learn. It answers where these facehugger eggs come from (and later Prometheus answered "which one came first the egg or the xenomorph). It's a film that treats us like we know the rules too -- we know there's a bunch of aliens down there, lets blow 'em away! Right? GAME OVER, MAN!
The scenes it this are still tense thanks to James Horner's swirling score -- just think about the queen alien trying to get Ripley as she gets in the elevator. There are so many great sequences of tension and action. Newt in the floor grate, welding the floor to save newt, the facehuggers in the medbay, and so many more.
I think another reason why i respect this movie is because its a sequel from the idea of someone who wasn't involved with the original, and it's a completely different but loyal take on the previous film.
Aliens for the win.
What do you think? Do you tend to favor one film over the other? If so, why? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!