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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A bloodthirsty alien, devoid of remorse or conscience, kills off crew members of a deep-space mining ship. But Ripley conveys the strong message to never give up and to do eveything you can to try to save your friends and co-workers.
Positive Role Models
Courageous female crew member Ripley shows tremendous resolve and presence of mind during a traumatic event. She even takes the time to rescue the ship's cat as surviving crew members attempt to escape the ship.
Violence & Scariness
A character sitting down to dinner with fellow crew members falls into convulsions, then dies a bloody death as an alien burrows out of his chest. One by one, characters are killed by the alien. While their deaths aren't always shown, gruesome deaths are strongly implied. Characters shoot a flamethrower and fire a cattle prod while trying to defend themselves against the alien. Horror movie suspense of the "What's that around the corner?" variety abounds.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Toward the end, a character takes off her space uniform, stripping down to a half-shirt and panties. In one of the pods, there are pictures of naked women, breasts shown.
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Expletives when faced with alien outbreak: "f--k off," "son of a bitch," "horses--t," "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Early in the film, a character is never shown without a cigarette in his mouth. At a celebratory dinner, a character is shown drinking from a can of beer, but does not act intoxicated.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Alien is a classic of sci-fi horror, and while not as gory as most horror films, it's too intense for younger viewers. In its most iconic scene, a character is killed after an alien burrows out of his chest, shooting blood everywhere. Unrelenting suspense permeates every scene after the first 15 minutes. While the deaths of the characters aren't always shown, gruesome killing at the hands (actually, tentacles) of the alien is strongly implied. One of the characters smokes, and all of them in their panicked states use profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Kids like scary movies, and this one definitely succeeds; small kids are better off with E.T., though teens can take this movie for the thrill ride it is. Being scary, in new and disturbing ways that hadn't been done before, was the mission of Alien. For a generation of moviegoers, Alien was a state-of-the-art shocker, even though it basically has a second-hand monster plot and characters that behave like cliched horror-movie victims, wandering alone in the dark or waiting like sitting ducks to be picked off. Alien did defy stereotypes of its time in the brilliant move of making the ultimate survivor a vulnerable-looking young woman, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), who courageously fights back against the alien marauder.
The 25th-annivesary DVD of Alien includes a few minutes of restored footage of what the alien does with captured prey -- considered too grim for 1979, but no surprise for anyone who saw the sequel, Aliens, or any of the later followups. Most of the violence here, in fact, is suggested in quick edits rather than directly shown, just like the skittering, skeletal/serpentine alien parasite itself. While this once-shadowy monster species has been exposed in inferior sequels, video games, and comic books (even Superman battled them!), some of the best minds in cinema tried to ensure this movie would be a nightmare-inducer, and parents should keep that in mind.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.