Is Alien Undermined by One Bad Special Effect?

I recently rewatched the Sci-fi/horror classic Alien. The good news is that it is still the innovative, compelling, and suspenseful film that I remembered. The bad news, I forgot how awkward the climax was.

You don’t remember how bad it is? Watch it for yourself. After consistently displaying its agility and strength throughout the entire film, the xenomorph suddenly forgets how to use its arms and legs. The once terrifying creature, suddenly reduced to a dummy in a rubber suit, undermines what should be an epic death scene.

The film came out in 1979, so some excuses can be made. But the rest of the film features great special effects. So what happened? Why would creativity and attention to detail prevalent throughout the film be suddenly disregarded? This seems to be Ridley Scott’s only major misstep. Instead of showing us wide shots with the dummy alien being dragged behind the shuttle (with early onset rigor mortis), show us glimpses of what Ripley can see from the shuttle window. Member when the alien was first revealed as an adult and took out Harry Dean Stanton? The suspense is palpable because there are no wide shots. Less is more!

Maybe we should create an updated version of the classic sci-fi/horror film that can correct this one problem. I know what you’re going to say, “aren’t you one of those dorks who hates the changes made in the Star Wars special editions.” Yes, that is I. But the changes made in Star Wars original trilogy represent Lucas’ obsession with CGI and highlight the fact that Lucas doesn’t know what makes Star Wars so enjoyable. Instead we will remake the climax of Alien with only in-camera special effects.

It is our responsibility to make this change. Otherwise the next generation could judge this film too harshly and underappreciate this masterpiece. One day I will show my children Alien. If they dare laugh at Ripley’s triumphant moment, I might be trust into pure dork rage. Upon seeing my outburst my children could be scarred, potentially undermining years of decent parenting. Come-on Scott, do it for the kids!

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