Alien Movie Poster Image




Dated but still extremely scary. Not for younger kids.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: February 23, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1979
  • Running Time: 124 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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. 



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. 



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. 


Expletives when faced with alien outbreak: "f--k off," "son of a bitch," "horses--t," "hell."

Not applicable
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. 

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.

What's the story?

The Nostromo, a cavernous and ill-lit interstellar mining ship, is manned by a miniscule crew of seven. They are awakened out of hibernation by an order from faraway Earth to investigate a mysterious distress signal on a dark and stormy planet. There the miners find a huge, grounded spaceship from an unknown civilization, with a long-dead alien pilot. A parasite, apparently the same type that took down the other craft, affixes to the face of a Nostromo crewman. After the crewman seems to recover, a hostile newborn alien bursts out of the doomed man's chest in front of the rest of the crew. The crew struggles to kill the fast-moving, fast-growing, unwelcome visitor before it gets them.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why the movie was so effective in evoking fear.

  • How do you think Alien compares with other futuristic outer space movies featuring aliens? 

  • How do you think the alien in Alien compares with other movie aliens? Do you imagine aliens as friendly or deadly-scary?  

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 24, 1979
DVD release date:January 1, 2002
Cast:Harry Dean Stanton, Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt
Director:Ridley Scott
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Topics:Adventures, Great girl role models, Robots, Space and aliens
Run time:124 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sci-fi violence/gore and language

This review of Alien was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 11 years old July 27, 2011

The Greatest Movie Ever!!!

Alien is the greatest movie of all time. It's 1 for kids of all ages. It appeals to 7 & 8 year olds & it was even marketed to them. I have no idea whether kids would find it scary or not. I watched it when I was about 7 & I didn't find it scary, but I'm already very used to Horror Thrillers at that age. It isn't very violent, it's very tame by today's standards. There's hardly any swearing. Nothing else is an issue. & now I can finally start my real review. Alien blends the perfect amount of suspense with the Sci Fi Discovery element. The 1st few scenes introduce the universe, time frame, environment & characters. Ridley Scott demonstrated the height of his directing ability in these scenes. Suspense is once again perfectly combined with The Sci Fi Discovery Aspect. They then slowly advanced the storyline into the point of the S.O.S. Signal & they begin to investigate the planet. The scene where Kane discovers the Alien eggs is 1 of the greatest shots in movie history, perfectly executed by Ridley Scott. That scene is only bettered by the chestburster scene that comes up a few shots later. This is the point of change in pace & the feel of the movie. It shifts from a slow-paced exploration & discovery feel to a suspense rollercoaster. The movie gets significantly faster in pacing. The 1st few scenes might be too slow for some people, but the key to liking them is appreciation & paying close attention, especially to detail. The ending is a legendary landmark in Sci-Fi, just like how the whole movie is a landmark in Sci-Fi Thrillers & Sci-Fi Horrors. Alien is the greatest movie ever, & it's for the whole family. I give it what would be the equivalent of a PG-13 in America & 6 stars
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byJaysnake June 27, 2011

A classic Horror

This movie is very suspensful and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole movie. Suprisingly there was not much blood and gore. You should see this movie it's very good.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 10 years old January 11, 2011


this film is not as scary as i expected it to be, it was really funny when a alien came out of a mans stomach LOLOLOL
What other families should know
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?