My Descent Into Horror, Part 2: The Alien Franchise

 | June 10, 2022

When it comes to hobbies, people occasionally take breaks from them. That was me back in 2013. I started high school that year, and I had moved on from horror films. In my free time, I liked to play Metroid games. They provided an escape from the real world, which had enough horror in it already. 

Then, one day, I discovered the similarities between the Metroid games and the Alien movies through Wikitroid. For example, Ellen Ripley, the primary protagonist of the Alien films, inspired Metroid’s main protagonist Samus Aran. So I thought, “Hmm, what if I gave this movie a shot?" Eventually, I watched Alien on one uneventful Saturday.

What followed was one of the scariest movie experiences of my life.

In my neighborhood, everyone could hear me scream.

The Metroid games are primarily action-based, which I went in expecting to see with Alien. Instead, I got a non-stop suspense fest as the crew of the starship Nostromo got hunted down by the titular creature. When Ellen Ripley, portrayed by the legendary Sigourney Weaver, managed to blast the Alien (or Xenomorph, whichever you prefer to call it) into space, I distinctly remember cheering loudly.

In no time at all, Alien quickly became a favorite of mine. It also reawakened my interest in the horror genre. About a month after seeing the first film, I moved on to the sequel, Aliens. Like its predecessor, it completely blew me away. It had all the action one could ever want, and I never wanted it to end.

Plus, the chills I got when Ripley prepared to fight the Xenomorph Queen is something I will never forget:

Who WOULDN’T get excited by this?

I would go as far as to call Aliens the best action movie of all time. It also made Ellen Ripley my favorite movie protagonist, and I am sure a lot of others will agree with me. No matter what, she is a character that strikes chords with viewers like me from generation to generation. 

Ripley even shines through in less popular sequels like Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. On that note, I was initially not too fond of the follow-ups to Aliens, mainly when it came to Alien 3’s opening scene. However, I warmed up to those movies over time. For every aspect they got wrong, they got two more parts right.

Watching the films, I wondered, "What if I was in the middle of all the action?" That answer came in the form of the video game Alien: Isolation by Sega. I can feel some of you getting re-traumatized just by reading the title.

Makes you feel all… isolated, doesn’t it?

Here is something ironic: I rarely play horror games despite being a horror buff. Watching a scary movie is one thing, but playing a horror game is entirely different. You genuinely feel like you are in the moment, trying to survive whatever the game throws at you. Even watching YouTubers play scary games terrifies me. Regardless, I looked forward to playing Alien: Isolation on my brother’s Xbox One when I came home from school.

For those of you who are curious, the game revolves around Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda. On her quest to find out about her mother’s disappearance, Amanda ends up on the space station Sevastopol. Soon enough, she encounters the Xenomorph. Amanda has to figure out how to evade the creature and other enemies throughout the game as she seeks out the truth about her mother.

To this day, I have completed Alien: Isolation on Normal and Hard mode. Finishing a game like that feels empowering since it makes you believe you can accomplish anything. Plus, it was worth it after I died over 100 times. I should have counted deaths back then! (CouchSoup veterans will know what I’m talking about here.)

Who wants free kisses?!

For many, the Alien movies are instantly recognizable. I credit them for my interest in science fiction horror. Plus, who knows where the world would be without these films? We might not have fantastic franchises such as Dead Space, Halo, and even Stranger Things. Even more importantly, Ellen Ripley broke ground for strong female protagonists. 

In 1979, my grandmother took Mom to see the original film at a drive-in movie theater. She did not care that Mom was only eight; Grandma wanted her to see Alien because protagonists like Ripley were relatively rare back in the 70s. To this day, Mom still remembers being a little girl and watching a woman triumphantly defeating a relentless monster. Because of the franchise’s impact on me and so many others, I hope it will continue to endure.

My descent into horror did not stop with the Alien franchise, though. Around the same time, I found horror films from another country, and those were the films that inspired me to write. If you think American horror is messed up, stay tuned for part 3 of this article series.

In the meantime, do you have a favorite moment from the Alien series? Sound off in the comments below.

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