On solo movie nights, no one can hear you scream

Question: is a family movie night still a family movie night when the family clears off because they don’t want to watch the movie?

Hmm, in my book, yes.

The movie in question was Alien, which none of them have seen, and which none of them want to see. Which left me alone, crusading onwards towards the goal of watching each movie in our iTunes library, one by one, every night for the next year.

It’s their loss. Which I told them repeatedly. They didn’t listen. They just left. There is simply too much choice for them to suffer through a movie they say would give them nightmares for weeks.

Alien is a brilliant movie. Despite my family’s response. It’s more than a horror, and more than a scifi. In fact, it’s more than a horror/scifi. It’s just a classic, and was from the moment it was released (in 1979). Let’s count the reasons.

1. It has a brilliant cast.

2. A fantastic script.

3. A groundbreaking premise.

4. The best monster.

5. And it’s superbly directed.

Sure, elements of the movie have dated in the 30 years or so since I first saw it, but it holds up surprisingly well. Ian Holm, one of my favourite actors, is brilliant as the android Ash, as is John Hurt, another favourite. Indeed, when Hurt’s character Kane is approaching the egg that ultimately releases the facehugger that clasps onto his head, I still find myself shouting for him to back away. Not literally.

And what can you say about Sigourney Weaver? Still one of the best and strongest female roles in cinema history. And also very gorgeous (are we allowed to say that still?)

The iTunes special edition of Alien also comes with the 2003 director’s cut, which is the version we watched as a family last night (except without the family). Much of the alternate footage is a little meh, apart from one scene when Kane, with facehugger attached, has been brought back aboard and Ripley enters the corridor to take a look. In this new scene, Lambert (Veronica Cartwright, who also plays the most annoying character in another favourite of mine, The Right Stuff) gives her a smack across the head for wanting to maroon them outside the ship—the altercation is perfectly done. In fact, the tension between each character is what gives Alien its edge, and its durability.

The first time I watched Alien I was 13, and I watched it solo. I’m still watching it solo all these years later. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever watched it with anyone else. Which leaves me feeling kinda … kinda … kinda how Ripley feels when she’s left alone at the end of the movie.

And how I will feel again tonight, when the family buggers off and lets me watch Aliens.