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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 15:49 GMT
Alien still gives the creeps
by James Bregman
BBC News Online

Alien - The Director's Cut
The film is considered a sci-fi classic

The director's cut of Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror Alien is released and has been digitally remastered.

Twenty-four years after it first upset the squeamish, Alien still packs a mighty punch.

The iconic chest-bursting, acid-belching creature may lack its original shock power, but being able to anticipate the numerous blood-curdling moments only makes them more uncomfortable.

With minimal plot to get bogged down in, director Ridley Scott gets to focus on making everything look fantastic and delivering as many scares as possible.

The ageing hulk of cargo spaceship Nostromo provides a perfectly sinister setting, made even less pleasant when its crew descend to a barren planet to answer a distress call and return with a deadly parasite, hugging the face of unlucky astronaut John Hurt.

A supreme sense of claustrophobia, excellent fear-laden performances, and stunning production design all stand the test of time with ease.

This re-release should be a revelation to anyone who has only ever seen the movie on television; its sumptuously dark visuals, particularly the initial investigation of the mysterious planet, demand a very wide screen indeed.

Several minutes of previously-discarded footage have been spliced back in, with original scenes dropped to make way.

Alien - The Director's Cut
The atmosphere is heightened by quality sound

Non die-hards may well struggle to spot much difference, apart from one notable moment involving central character Sigourney Weaver and her missing colleagues.

For all its novelty, this reinstatement makes the already-slow final act - in which Weaver sets about fleeing the ship amidst an excess of strobe lights - even more drawn-out.

Still, when every frame looks this good, it is hard to complain.

What really stands out though is the sound.

Remastered and digitally twiddled with, Alien's audio is truly awesome - every scream, whirring computer or sting of creepy music is used to the utmost effect, and helps make viewing even more delightfully unsettling.

Alien - The Director's Cut is showing in cinemas across the UK.

Read some readers' views on the enhanced big-screen Alien below.

Just how did an 18 get down to a 15? Have we become so desensitised to blood, gore and violence thats its OK to allow this on younger and younger people? Are we going to get to where the US is of allowing anyone in as long as they are with an adult? Praises to Ridley on a true masterpiece and all-time classic. Shame on the BBFC...
Matt,UK

Brilliant, gets better with age. Everyone in the cinema jumped during the scene with Dallas in the air ducts. I think a couple of heads even hit the ceilings!
Steve Tudor,UK

Count yourselves lucky. In this little backwater it's not even on show ANYWHERE!!!
Tim Ward,Norfolk, England

Some parts of Alien haven't aged well - the exterior shots of the Nostromo for example, but still - you'll be hard pressed to find a more atmospheric, beautifully designed SciFi film. The cinema I went to on a Saturday night was filled with single guys in their mid 30s like me, savouring every frame (and probably wishing they had girlfriends to sit beside them, screaming and hiding their faces behind their hands).
John,USA

The thought of seeing it again scares me.. I had many sleepless nights following the first time...
MC,UK

The ultimate tribute to Alien is that over twenty years on it has not dated one iota and is still a masterpiece of craftmanship. The sets, the acting , the storyline - all fantastic and not a wasted moment. The added scenes help, higlighting the tension amongst the crew, emphasising Ripley as basically an outsider and the evolution of her status to uber-astronaut, the only one to able to control her fear.
Mushtaq,UK

I saw this movie last night and it did not disappoint. People who have not seen it on big screen should give it a shot. I can't wait to see it again this coming weekend.
Sanjeev Sinha,Waltham, USA

As one of the generation too young to see Alien at the cinema the first time (when it was still an X certificate), it was great to see it on the big screen at last.

The sense of suspense and the production design were just as I remember them. What I'd forgotten, however, was how good the performances were. It is the naturalistic acting that carries this film along so well, with the actors' idiosyncratic faces looking refreshingly unglamorous throughout. We've had plenty of time to re-acquaint ourselves with Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in the years since, but it was great to see Ian Holm's chilling Ash, Veronica Cartwright's neurotic Lambert and Tom Skerrit's impotent Captain Dallas again.
Robbie,UK

I remember this for when I was little - great film. Saw this at the weekend, god it's slow! Good in places, dated of course. But too slow for now. Shame.
Rob, Windsor, UK

Its so scary and mind disturbing that even though I want to watch it, I can't. The thought of it freaks me out, I can't even play the computer game!! Its a fantastic film!
Emily Pacitti,Scotland

I have always thought of the first half of the film as being like a documentary - a day in the life of space frieghter crew. Only when the main alien makes its first appearance does the film change pace and direction.

I have always liked the film and had the chance to see it on the big screen a few years ago. The director's cut offered me a chance to see it on the big screen again but I must admit that it offered nothing new. Perhaps it was because I had already seen the "new" scenes on the original DVD release? I do think that the alien signal was far more eerie in the cut scene than in the reinstated version.
Stephen Carlin,Northern Ireland

BURSTING with greatness.
Sarah Woolley,UK

No.
Jez,UK

Trust me, they heard last night's screaming in space. This time the release of a "director's cut" is fully justified. A modern classic.
Robert del Valle,USA

This is the ultimate sci-fi film and only The Wicca Man and Apocalypse Now come close to the intrinsic horror of Alien.
kevin,UK

Having just watched the film, I can see the reason why the many of the scenes were deleted. Not because they were bad, but because their omission served to add to the tension in the film. You get to see more of the Alien itself and some (slightly) brighter parts of the ships interior. With the knowledge of the sequels behind you, it is interesting to see how some of the deleted material would (and indeed did) follow on in subsequent films. On the whole it was intriguing to see a different interpretation of the storyline, even though I feel the original cut was the better one. I was grateful to have the chance to see this classic on the big screen with big sound.
Dan White,Bristol, UK

Still fantastic - but certificate 15? How is it possible that this terrific but terrifying film has been down-rated from an 18 to a 15? The original was classified 18, the DVD is an 18, the re-mastered DVD is an 18, and by all accounts the power of the film has not diminished at all with time. Who decided to allow children to see this film, and why?
Mike,UK

As far as the extra scenes are concerned I was slightly disappointed, feeling there was little added to the original. However seeing it on the big screen was fantastic. The chest bursting scene and the Alien's hand bit in the shuttle both made myself and my girlfriend jump. A must see for any sci-fi fanatic. An all time great!
Rich,UK

Alien remains a brilliant movie, because it uses all the primal fears that keep us on the edge, very few movies of any genre have captured this as well. The only film that approaches this on a Sci-Fi level is Blade Runner. But then that was a Ridley Scott film as well, so what else can you expect?
Tim,Belgium

Saw Alien last night was great as ever, but the new scenes were very far and few between and to be honest they could have done with out them. The sound and quality was far better you saw more detail than before. All in all still the best horror/sci-fi movie ever.
Mark Hughes,Scotland

I've seen the 'deleted scenes' on DVD; having them put back into the picture would add information to the narrative....and explain some of Ripley's remarks in the only decent sequel: Aliens. Calling this a Director's Cut is weird, because there was no controversy over the missing material before now; the film worked quite well without it until Aliens came along.... A better use of Director's Cut would be to release David Lynch's version of Dune with the two hours restored (Universal demanded he cut the film down....nobody's done that with Ridley Scott). 'Blade Runner' was only modified after a lot of demands to remove the stupid voice-over and idiot ending....that wasn't the director's choice, either. I really have to wonder what's going on with Wonderkind Scott: he cut some important information out of 'Legend' (leaving the film with gaping logic holes) at studio request, as well as changing the score....and this one's not been restored yet.
Roger Brown,Wales




SEE ALSO:
Sir Ridley Scott: Hollywood visionary
31 Dec 02  |  Entertainment
Sigourney denies Alien 5 role
21 Feb 01  |  Entertainment
Sigourney's Hollywood star
17 Dec 99  |  Entertainment


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