In 1979, Director Ridley Scott put the teeth into science fiction. Derived from a script written by Dan O’Bannon that was largely based on the 1958 movie It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Alien followed the horror of seven space travelers trapped aboard their vessel with a vicious beast that preyed upon them, one by one. Drawing upon the influences of H.R. Geiger’s bizarre artwork, the alien in question was both fascinating and frightening.  It was well beyond anything previously seen on film.

The film is slow and suspenseful. It begins with the crew of the space towing vehicle “Nostromo”, being awakened early from suspended animation midway during their return trip to Earth. They have been roused to investigate an unknown radio signal detected by their onboard computer, the ship’s master control system nicknamed “Mother” (voiced by Helen Horton). The signal originates from a remote planet, LV-426.

On the surface, they discover an alien derelict ship, resting among the rocks of an otherwise lifeless landscape. Led by Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Kane (John Hurt) and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) enter the alien wreckage.  In its interior, they discover the corpse of a large alien, the apparent victim of some wound that burst its bones outward. The corpse rests forever, staring with dead eyes through a telescope.

In the lower chambers of the ship, they discover a hive of eggs protected by a strange layer of mist. Kane climbs down among the eggs and disrupts one.  It opens and a thing latches onto his helmet. Using biological acid, it burns through and clamps itself onto Kane’s face, smothering him into unconsciousness. Dallas and Lambert rush the wounded Kane back to the Nostromo.

The Nostromo lifts off and continues on its return journey to Earth. Kane remains incapacitated for a couple of days until, suddenly, the creature releases itself and crawls away to die. Kane seems weakened but fine. Only during dinner, is the truth revealed. Kane starts convulsing and then falls across the table. His chest bursts apart and an infant alien pushes its way out of his body. It snarls at the humans and then rushes away into the darkness.

After jettisoning Kane’s body, Dallas leads the rest in hunting down the alien. The crew quickly learns that the creature, called a Xenomorph (Greek term meaning “foreign shape”), has quickly grown to a vicious bug-like thing larger than a man. Armed only with flamethrowers, the crew hunts the beast throughout the labyrinth of their ship. They soon realized that they aren’t hunting the alien. It is hunting them and is moving freely through the shift’s ventilation system.

In one of the film’s key scenes, Dallas crawls into the airshafts with a flamethrower to try to drive the alien into an airlock where it can be shot into space. The alien outmaneuvers him and drags him off into the darkness.

After the loss of Dallas, crewman Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) takes command and rallies her shipmates to face the monster until the ship’s doctor, Ash (Ian Holm), attacks her. She is saved by Parker (Yaphet Kotto) who smashes a canister across Ash’s head. The head knocks off revealing Ash to be a semi-organic robot. They repair the robot and interrogate him.

Ash reveals a sinister secret. The Nostromo was directed towards the alien signal by a representative of their parent company who hoped to bring a specimen of the alien back as source material for their bioweapon’s program division. After this development, Ripley initiates a new tactic. She opts to self-destruct the ship and escape in the long-range shuttlecraft.

The alien interferes with her plans. While Ripley is activating the self-destruct sequences, the alien attacks the remaining crewmembers, leaving the ship’s cat as Ripley’s only remaining companion. Ripley grabs the cat and escapes in the shuttle as the Nostromo erupts in a mass of energy.