Reflections on the Golden Screen

The Silver Screen

A Sense of Wonder.
My first encounter with
an alien being was at a very early age in the Saturday Matinee at The Cameo cinema. I remember to this day the name of the alien creature ---- it was an Orangapoid and it was about to do something dreadful to Flash Gordon and I had to wait a whole week to find out what happened.  Many years later I saw the Orangapoid again, looking suspiciously like a man in a mangy gorilla outfit which had been rented out too many times but that's the price you pay for growing up. 
At the same time as Saturday matinees there were no end of pulp magazines and comics around with lurid and imaginative covers which said "buy me" which I usually did. The covers which I liked best were usually of a Space-Ranger with a goldfish bowl on his head, a ray-gun in one hand and a girl in the other. The girl was invariably a stunning blonde also with a goldfish bowl on her head and in what looked like an outer-space version of a cheer-leaders outfit. She would usually have swooned in the arms of the Space-Ranger guy who would be firing his ray-gun at a space monster.  Later on I came to realize that none of them would have survived a nano-second in the unimaginably harsh environment of space, goldfish bowls notwithstanding.   Most of the action in my magazines was set on Venus or Mars and it came as a revelation to find that getting to these places was a little harder than jumping on the number 27 bus. Not only that, if the Space-Ranger and his swooning girl-friend ever did manage to reach the nearest planet, it would be so inhospitable that they would wonder why they ever bothered.  Enlightenment had its price and I got to know that there is a downside to growing up but that sense of wonder never diminished and no matter how much I learn of the world about us, I know now that it never will. With the coming of knowledge has come the realization that the Universe is stranger and more wondrous than could ever be portrayed in art form. Nevertheless, those old films and those 30's pulps served to stimulate my imagination and cultivate an enquiring mind. I still retain a fondness for swooning space-girls and make no apology for that but take solace in the fact that I am in excellent company. Carl Sagan,  Isaac Asimov,  Ray Bradbury, Wally Wood and so many others all admit to having their imaginations stimu lated by the same lurid covers and the same lurid girls.  Wells and Verne no doubt felt the same way.
One of the first Science -Fiction stories that I read was centred around the invention of a glass through which the speed of light rays could be controlled so that the light travelled through the glass at a controlled rate. The invention was called Slow-Glass and the story went on to examine in dramatic detail just how it could effect the world about us. The story was written in such a way that for the first few chapters I believed that I was reading about a real invention.
There was a tiny article in the newspaper the other day which stated that scientists had invented a glass through which they could make particles of light travel at any speed they desired. They were very excited at the uses to which the invention could be put ---  they called it Slow-Glass.
Over the years there have been many examples of Science-Fiction becoming science-fact and technology is moving faster with each passing day. But the sense of wonder is always there and never diminishes no matter how much we know because the greatest thing we wonder about remains to be discovered. It could be tomorrow, it could be in a million years but until we find other life forms of any nature whatsoever then books and films will continue to proliferate and we will continue to fight monsters in outer space ----- the sense of wonder never goes away
.
Prior to the 1930's, films about aliens and outer space were thin on the ground and mainly restricted to adaptations of Jules Verne novels. Possibly the difficulties in producing special effects was the reason but it didn't stop the directors of Flash Gordon which ran for many episodes. The special effects weren't in fact very special consisting mainly of electrical charges crackling across two glass tubes and a rocket-ship powered by what looked like a firework. The same electrical charges could be seen bringing Frankenstein's monster to life, doing something or other to captive's brains and perhaps making robots stir. But I didn't see them like that then [Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon with Dale and Ming] ---in fact it thrilled me to bits when Ming threw a huge switch and the dynamo went zzzzzzz and you had to wait a whole week to see if Dale had been disintegrated. Life was so simple then.
From the 50's onward there was a veritable explosion in the production of Science Fiction films. They were all made attractive by beautifully painted posters of swooning space-girls bursting out of their Dior space-suits and I for one was drawn like a moth to a flame. The films invariably failed to live up to their publicity but the  next weeks  trailer looked great and the poster promised all manner of good things so by the time the following week came last weeks disappointment had been shrugged off and anticipation was as high as ever. The posters themselves were works of art in their own right and resembled the covers of the pulps a great deal and I only wish I had acquired some at the time although there is no doubt that she-who-must-be-obeyed would have consigned them to some dungeon in the basement rather than pride of place in the living room ----- don't pretend you don't know what I mean.       
The Day The Earth Stood Still { 1951 }
Many people attributed all manner of political and religious sub-plots to this film, going so far as to see it as an allegory of the Cold War. All that was lost on me at the time and as far as I was concerned there was an hour or so of boring dialogue to get through before we got to see the alien. When the alien craft from the reaches of Outer Space, having got through customs, did finally did make an appearance, it was one of the major disappointments of my film-going career. In the guise of an ambassador from a group of confederated planets devoted to peaceful co-existence, Michael Rennie stepped out of the
space-craft looking as smug as he ever did and
about as chillingly alien as our vicar.  Klaatu as
he was called, declared that the planet earth
must join the confederation or we would all be
annihilated forthwith, which I have to say that
even at that time seemed to me a little at odds
with their desire for a quiet life. Anyway,
somebody in the crowd as disappointed as I
was takes a pot-shot at the man from the stars
and by this time I was too bored to care so I
never found out if we were annihilated or not.
The Man From Planet X (1951)
Sounded good so I went along to see another alien set down in the mists of the Scottish Highlands of all places. This proved to be even worse than The Day The Earth Stood Still ---- at least Michael Rennie had bothered to bring a robot with him which livened it up a bit.
It Came From Outer Space (1953)
ensured that the standard of dross was
maintained, along with Earth VS The Flying Saucers,  Invaders From Mars, The Day The World Ended and many, many  others.  I know because I went to see them all.
By this time, even I was beginning to suspect that despite the beguiling posters these were not quality films that I was borrowing good money to see -------still This Island Earth   had a ring to it and the alien looked pretty grotesque so once again I turned up at the box office trying not to look as if I cared whether I got in or not -------when all the time I was dreading if it was a full house - even though there had never been one since the cinema opened.
 
  This Island Earth  {1955 }
At the time and for reasons I could never fathom, it was obligatory to have to sit through an hour or so discussion on ionization layers, decompression consoles and thermonucleic diatoms before the alien finally turned up----- and This Island Earth was no exception. The alien - being was called the Monitor of Metaluna and his tiny body wobbled under the weight of his massive, multi-coloured brain which could be seen pulsing rhythmically in line with his thought processes. The Monitor's brain was quite obscene and for someone smart enough to make the journey from Metaluna you would have thought he would have had the sense to wear a hat.  He also had huge, crab-like pincers for hands and in idle moments I wonder to this day how he pressed the buttons on his space ship not to mention his remote-control.
The film was one of the first in Technicolour and as well as the Monitor's brain the make-up department had spared no efforts on the scientist Vic Morrow's
appearance and he turned out to be weirder than the alien with his flashing white teeth, a beetroot red-face and a mop of blindingly silver hair.
There was unfailingly a love-interest in the films of this era and mostly
it was the  one who could scream loudest who got the part. In this film it was Faith Domergue who got the nod despite trying  to hide at the back. The studio put out a publicity blurb that her costume was so skintight that she couldn't get any underwear on underneath which must have dragged in a few dozen pervs to make us S.F. geeks look even geekier.  Anyway, the Monitor has a meaningful conversation with
Jeff Morrow about his O-level in physics and they have a fight and they all go home
Invasion of the Body Snatchers { 1956 }
Things started looking up with this film which as far as I was concerned was a straightforward Science -Fiction tale of aliens infiltrating the earth by taking over and duplicating humans. There was a distinct lack of action which was amply substituted for by the tense plot and for once there was a suggestion of some good acting. A measure of the quality of Invasion is that it has since been remade twice and stands up well to this day.
What completely went over my head and still does today was once again the preoccupation with some underlying meaning to what in my eyes was and is just a well-made film and no more than that. According to some sources, it is not about alien seed-pods at all but " the threat of Communist infiltration and brainwashing in the post McCarthy era". If I had known that I wouldn't have gone to see it.

Forbidden Planet { 1956 }

Regarded by many as the best Science-Fiction film of the 1950's I frankly found that there was a lack of action and the sets were so uninspiring that it came over as a play. As it turned out I wasn't far out in that assessment because true to form the producers once again unable to resist a sub-plot had based the story on "The Tempest" by Shakespeare.
But just when we were about to drown in a sea of sub-plots along came  one of the truly great S.F.films of the era.      
The War of The Worlds { 1953 }
Director : Byron Haskin

"No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched by intelligence's greater than man's. That we were being scrutinised and studied as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
Across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us
."

 With this adaptation of the opening lines of H.G.Wells novel Cedric Hardwicke created the atmosphere which at long last fulfilled all the expectations of a good Science -Fiction film.  Wells's novel was written in 1895 and set in Victorian London but Director, Byron Haskin and Producer, George Pal saw fit to set the action in America for all the usual reasons. Apart from the setting, the film is reasonably true to the book and engenders something of Victorian naiveté in mid-western U.S.A. The scene where the ship is seen like a shooting-star in the night sky and the crowd then gathers around the ship cooling in it's crater is superb, followed by the hushed expectation as the screw slowly opens and the machine takes it's first look at earth. The Director cranks up the tension as the machine humming and clicking surveys the awed crowd. There is very little fear in the people watching as the sinuous and symmetrical lines of the machine have a certain alien beauty all their own. Fascinated as if by a snake-charmer, the spell is suddenly and unexpectedly broken as the Martian machine unleashes a death-ray on the now panicky audience. This is scene-setting of the highest quality.
The rest of the film does not disappoint as the Martian machines expand into vast tripods determined to exterminate the human race. Gene Barry is an inspired casting as the phlegmatic Dr Forrester and for once the usual heroics are abandoned for an intelligent hero. The Martian machines are beautifully crafted multi-purpose killing machines and even 50 years on they would be a vital acquisition to any S.F. film.
The tension continues throughout the film with mankind and all it's sophisticated weapons on the brink of extinction as the Martians kill indiscriminately. The moral is painfully obvious as the Martians begin to die of a microscopic bacterium and somehow Byron Haskins injects a note of pathos into their dying.
I have a great affection for this film and for that reason alone hesitate to make any criticism but there are just one or two points applicable to both this and to the latest version with Tom Cruise.  In this case Cedric Hardwicke is the commentator and in the latest version Morgan Freeman is the reader but neither of them can hold a candle to Richard Burton speaking on
The War of the Worlds album by Jeff Wayne.  His rich baritone voice complements the theme perfectly.  As for the music---it had not been written at the time of the Gene Barry version but how it would have improved the second version !  Just one other thing is that the true era of War of the Worlds is in Victorian London and for this reason alone the definitive version remains to be made.
Planet of the Apes   { 1967 }
Director : Franklin. J.Schaffner
Based upon a short story by Pierre Boule  called Monkey Planet { also the author of The Bridge on The River Kwai }, Planet of the Apes was a sensation when it was first released spawning several sequels and a T.V. series which ran for years.  The cutting-edge make-up special effects now seem quite ordinary and emphasise just how fast cinema is moving in every department.  There's some sharp dialogue mostly of a Darwinian nature with the best line coming from Charlton Heston when he is protecting Nova, his girl-friend ;
One of the apes says "I didn't know your species was monogamous" and Heston ripostes "On this Planet it's easy"

Planet of the Apes doesn't really stand the test of time although it is a most enjoyable post- apocalypse movie with one of the all-time great movie moments in the final reel as Charlton Heston rages at The Statue of Liberty half-buried in the sand ----- shades of Ozymandias.  Nevertheless, in its day Planet of the Apes raised the bar and there were plenty to take up the challenge.
2001 : A Space Odyssey   { 1968 }
Director : Stanley Kubrick
From the novel by Arthur.C.Clarke
[2001: A Space Odyssey Poster] When Stanley Kubrick's caveman tossed a bone into the air at the beginning of A Space Odyssey, the face of Science Fiction films altered irrevocably. All at once the subject became fashionable and going to see A Space Odyssey became de rigeur in some circles. There was at the time a certain snobbishness about this film in which it was implicit that anyone with an ounce of intelligence would certainly understand  what was going on and that situation still exists today in some quarters. I for one never completely understood the whole thing but I could see that it had been made with sincerity and it had quality .

The central theme is the discovery of an alien artefact on the Moon and the space craft sent to investigate. Kubrick indulges himself in his own unique version of Space Opera with docking manoeuvres turned into machine minuets set to The Blue Danube waltz. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes tedious but always brilliant, Kubrick's outer space is a place of beauty and wonder.
The on-board computer HAL which runs the ship so competently turns into a nightmare of computer logic at odds with human logic and threatens the whole voyage. HAL is extremely interesting to all of us as there is no doubt he is the prototype for P.C.'s everywhere ----- illogical, dogmatic, domineering, erratic and omnipotent. Well yes, I suppose it could also be said of the wife but don't say I said so.
But it is the ending of the film which is so intriguing with a voyage into a kaleidoscopic world of psychedelic imagery which is wide open to any and every interpretation. I did at one time think that it was either Kubrick not knowing how to end his opus or alternatively he wanted to avoid the standard alien monster scenario. There have been many other explanations but when Arthur.C.Clarke, no less, states that he doesn't know what is meant then who am I to argue.
Whatever the merits or otherwise of A Space Odyssey , it was a watershed in S.F. film making and a challenge which other directors were not slow to take up.   At a stroke, Kubrick had destroyed forever Giant Crabs and Blobs and all the other monsters from outer space. They would return at a later date in many and easy to understand
Silent Running { 1972 }
Director : Douglas Trumbull.
Valley Forge is one of three gigantic space-ships travelling around the solar system. Each ship carries huge bio-domes containing a selection of the last trees and animals from earth. As one of the astronauts proclaims - " the earth is a place where disease has been eradicated and everybody has a job" and the implication is that human interests have completely superceded and replaced animal and plant life and Joni Mitchell's worst nightmare has come true.
When orders come to blow up the bio-domes and use the space craft for commercial reasons, Freeman Lowell played by Bruce Dern reluctantly kills his fellow astronauts with the cry that " this forest is irreplaceable
" and escapes into space carrying his precious cargo and becoming the ultimate eco-warrior in the process.
Bruce Dern in all his films appears as just this side of rational and is no different in this film as he befriends two robot drones Huey and Louie who provide some light relief from the monotony of life aboard ship. Eventually, he gives his life for the forest in the sky and leaves it to sail on tended by one of the drones.
The film has an overall 70's feel about it with Dern's hippy-looking clothing and long hair and a background of Joan Baez songs but it is to be applauded as one of the first warnings about the way we treat the earth and it's resources.  At the time the film was released the message was comparatively new and therefore it had more impact. Sadly, thirty years on and more species are being lost each day, the hole in the ozone layer is bigger and greenhouse gases are worsening.
Silent Running is not a great film nor is it particularly gripping but it is a warning just the same and to be applauded for that if nothing else.
Dark Star { 1974 }
Director : John Carpenter
Unlike
Silent Running, Dark Star has no great message for mankind unless it could be that space travel is bad for your health. Dark Star is a space ship seeking out unstable planets and blowing them up but the crew are more unstable than the planets. They become more so when a computerised bomb which makes HAL seem a model of reason and composure, refuses to release threatening to blow them all into eternity. The crew's attempts to reason with the bomb end in philosophical conversations and the bomb quoting Descartes' dictum of " I think therefore I am" amongst other gems.
At the same time an alien mascot causes havoc amongst the crew and looking very much like a beachball with legs prompts suspicions that not too much in the way of a budget was allocated to this film.
There is I am told a cult following for this film but frankly I can't see why. The 70's music and the crew's long hair dates it and the slapstick humour escapes me completely. As a movie buff it is worth watching if only as a project for John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon to cut their teeth on but as for the rest it is not my idea of Science Fiction.
There is one scene which was intriguing when one of the crew takes out a knife and begins to stab between his fingers as fast as he can. The same thing appears in
Aliens when the android does the same thing faster than the eye can follow.


 
Alien  { 1979 }
Director : Ridley Scott
Writer Dan O'Bannon who was light years away from the
Dark Star
Dan O'Bannon
It's hard to believe that it as long ago as 1979 that Alien sent a shock-wave throughout cinema audiences which still reverberates to this day
;
Alien raised the bar to heights unprecedented and is still the standard for every  one else to aim at. After Alien,  Science-Fiction films improved immensely but to date nobody has even come close and perhaps they never will ; It is entirely possible that Alien is the definitive film about outer space and will never be improved upon.  From the opening scenes of  Nostromo gliding among the stars to the knuckle-biting finale there is a sustained atmosphere of menace and foreboding throughout every corridor of the gigantic mining ship. 
We first encounter the seven astronauts as they awaken from hyper-sleep and breakfast together like some suburban family. One by one the characters become familiar - Dallas (Tom Skerrit ), Lt Ellen Ripley {Sigourney Weaver} ,  science officer Ash {Ian Holm} , Lambert ( Veronica Cartwright} , Brett and Parker {Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphet Kotto} , Kane {John Hurt} and as we get to know and like them so we care what happens to them. Our introduction to the crew as they go about their mundane and workaday routine is one of the main strengths of the film.  The crew have been away for a long time and are anxious to go home and for this reason a signal from an uncharted planet is greeted with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. When Ripley points out that the signal is not necessarily an S.O.S. but a possible warning, her fears are dispelled by Ash.
When John Hurt finds his way into the bowels of a literally alien environment none of the structures are familiar and the whole thing seems organic in nature. The encounter with the fossil alien in the cathedral-like control room is awesome in its strangeness. Stranger still are the eggs he encounters and the alien creature which attaches itself to his face.  Back in the ship attempts are made to remove the creature with no success and Kane's apparent recovery leads to the crew having a celebratory dinner. The following scene when the incubating alien bursts from Kane's chest in a bloody "birth" is truly horrific and has moved into one of those legendary cinema experiences which are familiar to everyone ----" Frankly. My dear", "Top of the world Ma" and so on.
The alien matures incredibly quickly and in best Agatha Christie style the crew are picked off one by one. Ridley Scott is well aware that horror is magnified in proportion to what you don't see as opposed to graphic details { which are all too common these days } and the taking of Brett is left to the imagination as the camera focuses upon Jonesy, the ship's cat, hissing in terror.
Ripley discovers that Ash is an android programmed to return an alien specimen to earth and the crew are
expendable and Parker destroys Ash after he attempts to kill Ripley. There is even more of a horrific element
to this scene as what's left of the android still attempts to carry out his programming and there is a sense that
this thing is part human being.  With only Ripley remaining alive she decides to blow up the Nostromo along with the alien and return to earth aboard the shuttle. This accomplished, she relaxes with Jonesy and preparing for the return trip discovers that the alien is aboard and she has to face it all over again. Nervously humming " You are my lucky star" as an antidote  to fear she finally blows the creature out of the air-lock.
Surprisingly,
Alien only took one Oscar which was for visual effects but this genre does not lend itself to Oscar
winning so it was not too surprising. What was surprising though was that this film was only Ridley Scott's second work as a director ; his first was The Duellist.
H.R.Giger's alien artefacts and the alien itself are a master-class in graphic design of a totally different life form 
to ours. He has also imbued the creature with a life cycle and the combination of ferocious killing machine with a technology to match our own make the Alien one of the most interesting concepts in the genre. There is also the tantalising fact that even after four Alien films nothing is known about where the creature originates and the potential storylines for Giger's Alien are endless.
 
Aliens  { 1986 }
Director : James Cameron
The sequel to Alien is often mooted as being even better and in many ways it is : Sigourney Weaver rounds out Ripley's character, the action is non-stop and James Cameron has expanded upon themes that Ridley Scott initiated. Both films are so good and Cameron has seamlessly welded the sequel onto Alien that I now think of them as one film.
In the opening scene, Ripley's discovery aboard her escape craft in a 57 year long hyper-sleep merely prompts a laconic " There goes our salvage" by her rescuers. During her recovery we uncover for the first time some of her background ; that she had a daughter who has sadly passed away of old age as Ripley's aging process slowed during her voyage.  Coercion by the "Company", incessant nightmares and loss of her family force her to face up to her demons and return to the planet she barely escaped, with her mission to aid a colony of terraformers.  Cameron is astute enough to realise that her experiences with the Aliens would have had profound effects upon even the hardest of people and Alien's Ripley is experienced, wiser and more cynical. Once aboard the Sulaco, in particular she is scornful of the accompanying gung-ho marine's "kick-butt" philosophy and sophisticated artillery.
At first sight, the marines would seem to be just another one-dimensional excuse for battles with the Aliens but again Cameron has borrowed from Ridley Scott and fleshed out his characters with individual personalities. We get to know them just as we got to know the crew of the Nostromo. The dialogue between them is also realistic and humourous ;
Marine  Hudson's query to the butch Vasquez   " Have you ever been mistaken for a man, Vasquez?"
meets with the cutting riposte "Have you?"
Her previous experience with androids has Ripley
showing an overt aversion to Bishop who professes
his near- Asimov programming to humankind. Our first meeting with Bishop has him performing the knife and hand stunt which Dan O'Bannon carried out in Dark Star.
 Once upon the planet, the marines investigate the living quarters where all of Ripley's
maternal instincts are roused when Newt is discovered.  Ripley identifies strongly with the traumatised little girl and vows to remain with her no matter what comes their way.  From this time on the action alternates between hysterical firefights in the foetid corridors of the unit to a truly scary scene where Newt and Ripley are trapped in the laboratory with two of the scuttling, crab-like face-huggers.
The scenes where the marines first enter the unit are extremely tense for minutes on end while the
depictions of the Aliens unfolding slowly from their organic lairs are the best ever.
Cameron captures perfectly the claustrophobic and terrifying atmosphere of Alien and Ripley's despair
at Newt's capture is heart-rendingly realistic.
Like all well-plotted films the ending brings together several previously innocuous scenes and characters
and Ripley's skill with the mechanised loader and Bishop's alliance combine to rescue Newt and kill the Alien queen in an electrifying finale to a superb sequel
Alien 3 { 1992 }
Director : David Fincher
It goes without saying that it is an act of courage of the highest order to attempt a follow-up to the previous
Alien films but without ever having reaching the pinnacles that his predecessors did David Fincher makes a reasonable fist of his task.
The storyline is innovative with Ripley carrying an alien inside her while marooned on a prison planet. As usual, Sigourney Weaver is supreme as the now hard-as-nails Ripley but no matter how tough she appears Sigourney Weaver invariably manages to apply a femininity and vulnerability to the soul of Ripley. It's inconceivable that anybody else could play this unique character and without Weaver's influence none of the Alien films would have been nearly as effective.
It is inevitable that it will be judged against the previous two films and while the film is enjoyable and exciting it never comes anywhere near to the n ow legendary status of
Aliens One and Two.
The special-effects, claustrophobic atmosphere and deadly cat-and-mouse games with the eponymous   aliens   are in place as usual and seem to be almost obligatory but what does come as a surprise is that the prison planet is chock full of British character actors. This is quite unusual in that S.F pictures are largely the domain of American actors and especially Alien films which are peopled by gung-ho colonial marines and although I was prepared to give it a chance the presence of so many Brits spoils the film a great deal.
The problem is that I know them all so well, see them regularly on T.V. and can never visualise them in anything other than the parts they have always played. Brian Glover in particular lost his hard-man credibility when he went over to advertise Tetley Tea Bags and Paul McGann, Christopher Fairbank and several others can be seen regularly in sit-coms. Not only that, British actors in space just don't do it for me. The exception that proves the rule lies in Charles Dance's commanding presence as a doctor. Dance's character is exceptionally interesting but inexplicably is cut short all too soon. Dance was impressive and illustrates emphatically the difference between a screen star performance and a T.V. character actor.

When Ripley dives gracefully backwards into a vat of molten lead most people assumed that they had seen the last of the Alien films but that was to underestimate the ingenuity of Hollywood when there is money to be made.
 
Alien Resurrection { 1997 }
Director : Jean-Pierre Jeunet
The fourth Alien film and yet another director found Hollywood in the quandary of having killed off the lynchpin of the whole set of films. Sigourney Weaver is Ripley. And in a triumph of Hollywood ingenuity, Ripley returned as a human/alien hybrid clone. Despite the imposing presence of Ron Perlman and the cachet of having Winona Ryder in the cast list, Resurrection, like Alien 3  inevitably falls far short of the standard set by the first two Alien films.
The sets are just as foreboding and the atmosphere just as menacing but the story line is unconvincing and very much contrived.
The special effects are as usual brilliantly done and it is worth seeing the film if only for the terrifying underwater scenes.
H..Giger's superb creation is too good to be forgotten about and there is plenty of scope for a revival at some stage but Aliens vs Predator is not the way to do it.  For the time being both creations have plumbed the depths ending up as no more than simulated computer games but one day they could be back better than ever.
Given what went before, the Alien films  were a giant leap for Science Fiction moviegoers .  It's hard to believe that it was all of  35 years ago when I sat in the Woolton Cinema  transfixed by the most realistic alien creature to date; although I was aware that the life-cycle of many insects involves laying their eggs in the bodies of other insects, the fact that Geiger had transferred it into his alien's life-cycle somehow made it more realistic.   Although from Alien onwards film Producers and Directors aspired to make better S.F. films it would be a long time before anyone would approach the quality of Alien  but none of them ever returned to the 1950's models.   Apart from setting the bar in story-line and innovation  Alien  was also the beginning of the spectacular rise of Computer Graphics technology which ensured that the future of S.F. films would be unhampered by jerky monsters and amateurish sets and for a long time S.F. films were worth watching for the C.G. effects alone.  However, the  more astute Producers and Directors soon realised that even the most mind-blowing special-effects needed a good storyline and it's only when the two came together that anything worthwhile was created.
There was one other thing which made Alien totally different to anything that had gone before and perhaps most significant of all - Ellen Ripley had become the first heroine of a Science Fiction movie and was far and away better than anything that had gone before.