My Top 20 Scares of 2020: #13

I feel like #13 should be extra scary somehow (and also fall on a Friday??) but it’s really just .5 points more scary than #14. However this classic holds a special place in my heart. Mainly because Sigourney Weaver.

My #13 favorite horror film of 2020 is:

#13. ALIEN (1979)

This will never not be scary. (c) ALIEN 1979.

I’ve already spoken at length about how this franchise despises women’s bodies on both a literal and metaphorical level. My feelings about the later movies in the series range from apathay to rage. But the original is a classic for a reason, and possibly I have not spent enough time adoring it. So let’s go:

All Hail The Queen of SciFi Action Horror, Ellen Ripley!

The lady, the legend, the cat-loving spaceship technician! (c) ALIEN 1979.

ALIEN (1979) was written by Dan O’Bannon and directed by Ridley Scott. It features one of my (and many other people’s) favorite horror heroines of all time, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). Ripley is a savvy technician and a no-nonsense leader and she just happens to be a woman. The movie never mentions this fact, to my total joy. Ripley isn’t a soldier, but when called on to kick ass she KILLS IT. And she saves the literal cat, proving a woman really can have it all (if by “it all” you mean survive a murderous alien menace while also having a pet cat).

ALIEN also does something with pacing I really like, which I think more modern movies should take a look at: we don’t actually spend much time with Ripley at first. We spend time with the full crew (which also has one whole other woman in it somehow, my god!) as their problems slowly arise. When Ripley acts like a leader by necessity, the movie starts to focus in on her. She forces the movie to be about her by being a badass. Structurally I think that’s cool. Plus, the tension escalates gradually and inexorably from beginning to end of the movie, which is fun and scary.

And, of course, nothing will ever compare to the total disgust of the Chestburster.

How Did It Score
  • How scary was it? 3.5/5
  • How memorable was it? 4/5
    • Obviously this is a Classic of the American Cinema.
  • Was it a Quality film? 2/5
    • The tension and pacing are good but it’s basically just your standard genre-defining action horror.
  • How about those women? 3/5
  • Bonus: 1
    • Because Chestburster.
  • Total points: 13.5/20
    • Note: ALIEN scored the same total as yesterday’s CREEP 2 (#14). Per the rules laid out in the first post of the series, I broke the tie using the “How scary was it?” score.

Published by Brandy N. Carie

Playwright. Director. Producer. Feminist Takes on Horror Films.

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