'Alien:' Slasher Horror And The 'Final Girl' Ripley -- In Space

Source: IMDB

There's a moment during the climax of Alien (1979) that cements its status in the hierarchy of horror. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the final member of the crew of the Nostromo, believes she's escaped from a nightmare scenario. She walks through the ship in her underwear completely unaware that there's a seven foot tall, acid-bleeding monster waiting to strike out at her from the interior hull of her escape pod. In a final last ditch effort Ripley pushes the titular alien -- also known as the Xenomorph -- out of an airlock before settling into an uneasy sleep.

Ridley Scott's 1979 film has the look of a William Gibson novel but once the blood starts to flow it's more Halloween than Neuromancer. After stopping on an alien planet a group of co-workers is knocked off one by one by a mysterious presence until only a final girl is left. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, and plenty of genre lifers, Alien is gruesome yet artful, and it looks like hard sci-fi if you squint. Despite its mad androids and blinking lights, it used jump-scares galore and the "final girl" slasher-movie structure that had been around for at least five years (dating to 1974's Black Christmas and Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and remains a plot device in horror to this day.