It was 31 years ago today, we saw the return of warrant officer Ellen Ripley. We also saw the second confirmed encounter with the monstrous Xenomorphs. It happened in a sequel that was seven years in the making.
Aliens took a movie which had previously been pure sci-fi horror and added in a heaping dose of action. In spite of that, it never loses its horror aspect. Between big guns blazing, blood splattering, and an audio assault of screams, you find lots of moments of pure terror and trepidation.
This time around, they brought along motion trackers which tell them when something is moving around them The Xenomorphs get closer, and closer, but still can’t be seen. One sees the other, or they get close enough that hiding anymore is pointless. The movie uses this trick several times, and it always works. Every. Single. Time.
On top of that, as terrifying as just one Xenomorph is, they don’t just up the ante with two, or five, or even ten. There are dozens of them. They are tracking the humans together. Each one that drops has another one behind it and they just keep coming.
Ripley has faced these beasts before, though, and she does not break. Not when they get stranded, not as the military sent with her are torn apart one after another, not even as the little girl they find, the sole survivor of the colony, gets dragged into the depths of the Xenomorph’s nest.
She doesn’t even break when we find the horror of the Xenomorphs we’ve seen isn’t even close to the worst they can be. Still she faces them all down.
After such a long break, it could have ended with the first movie. Left to dwindle into the video libraries as a classic horror film. Instead, the success and strength of Aliens brought forth an entire series. Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Alien vs Predator, Prometheus, and most recently Alien: Covenant all continued to break into theaters like chestbursters.
Thanks to Aliens, it’s definitely not “Game over.”
I think it’s time for a re-watch.