The following review was printed in the April 1992 edition of Super 8 Film Review.

ALIEN 4x600ft colour sound Distributed by Derann

One of the great joys of movie collecting is the ability it gives to the nostalgia buff, the seeker after thrills, or those with simply a wry sense of humour to revisit and re-experience the vast variety of schlock the movies have thrown at us at one time or another. Amongst my favourite trailer reels is one containing the most blatant example of so-called "subliminal" advertising ever witnessed. During the three minutes or so it takes to tell the unsuspecting punters all about the forthcoming attraction "IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE", messages such as SEE IT, THRILLS and DON'T MISS IT are superimposed for one frame only over scenes of a rampaging monster with flippered feet and a face resembling Darth Vader's helmet covered with a condom.

Sadly, I have never seen "IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE" so I don't know if the subliminal advertising worked or not, or indeed if it was worth seeing. Certainly from the grainy pictures in the trailer it looks a pretty fair example of the kind of monster movie that kept a lot of fleapits functioning in the fifties. I mention it only as a footnote to my review of the film it was said to inspire; 'Alien' which has now been released by Derann in Cinemascope and Stereophonic sound. Released in 1979 it starred Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt and Ian Holm, and for anyone who may have been only recently let out of a time capsule marooned in concrete for the last twelve years I'd better give a brief description of the plot.

A commercial mining space vehicle is forced off its course and made to investigate a beacon on a particularly hostile planet. One of the crew members becomes an unwitting host to a creature who proceeds to then make a forced ejection that for weeks after seeing the film on its original release made me regard the occasional twinge of indegestion with much more respect. Growing by leaps and bounds, the thing reduceds the crew to one living member, the wonderful Sigourney Weaver, resulting in a final duel of wits between her and the unwanted passeger.

I've been forced to give a vague description of the film because it is full of the most wonderful effects and terrifying suspense. Someone once described it as a 'Psycho' for the eighties and at first parallels were not apparent (at least not to me). But if you begin to see the space craft as the equivalent of the Bates Motel and Ian Holm's android as the Norman Bates figure, I suppose there are a number of similarities. It starts off as one kind of movie and half way through begins to confound you. Certainly as each of the characters meet their gory end, the viewer begins to sense the same kind of terrifying isolation that you experience in Psycho.

Where they do differ however, is in the design. Hitchcock used black and white film, a TV crew and a relatively subdued design. Alright, the house itself is pretty scary, but we'd all seen haunted houses before. Alien was made in Britain and directed by Ridley Scott. It was his second feature after the magnificent 'The Duellists' and again as with that film, the attention to design and lighting is absolutely superb. The alien space craft and the monster itself were designed by the Swiss born artish H.R. Giger and are the true stuff of nightmare. If you have 'Aliens' you must have the prequel. The print and the sound quality are dazzling. Derann just keep getting better and better. I showed this film at New Year and more than half the audience thought it was better than the sequel which was the most (at that time) successful horror/sci-fi movie ever made. I reserve judgement, but I can say that if this was a trailer instead of a written review, it would be peppered with subliminal messages such as "BUY IT", "FABULOUS" and "DON'T MISS IT!". And if they worked, I'd be doing you a favour.

Print A Sound A John Kane