Jeremy Wagner of Broken Hope with a life-size model of the Alien.
What set Alien apart from most horror movies of its time was its slow-burn pace and its bleak – if clumsy – view of the future. Unlike Star Wars, Alien doesn’t populate space with a society of political humans and relatable puppets – it’s quiet, it’s cold, and it goes on forever. The only people willing to venture out into the abyss are the blue-collar employees of Weyland-Yutani, better known as The Company, a corporation that seemingly owns the entire world and that is willing to sacrifice human lives at the drop of a hat. In this respect, the film illustrates a society much like the one most metalheads grew up in during the late ’70s and early ’80s – everyday people risking their lives at clunky, industrialised jobs for the sake of rich bureaucrats without a soul.
But what truly makes Alien an unmatched classic is the design of the titular creature by Swiss artist H.R. Giger. Somewhere between an android, a giant wasp, and the Grim Reaper himself, H.R.’s Alien (scientifically called the Xenomorph, which literally means 'foreign form') was an abomination unlike any other. The creature bled sulphuric acid, bred in a violent cycle of suffocation and dismemberment, and killed its victims with a flash of its unholy proboscis. For a generation of horror fans who were used to liquid-latex zombies and slow-moving werewolves, such an unorthodox demon was truly traumatising, all the more so because it came not from hell, but from space.