Alien (1979) is a highly regarded and influential film in the Thriller/Science Fiction/Horror genres. The film was directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O'Bannon. Scott had worked as director for several television series and had been the director on the well-received, "The Duellists," in 1977. Dan O'Bannon who had written various science-fiction works created the plot for Alien with co-writer, Ronald Shusette, borrowing heavily on horror and science fiction works from the 1950s and '60s. Scott, seeing the commercial success of Star Wars, decided that outer space, effects-driven films would be well received by critics and public alike. So he agreed to direct O'Bannon's work. The movie's success launched both careers, especially that of Scott, who went on to direct many blockbusters in years to follow.
The film stars Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerrit and Veronica Cartwright along with various others who are aboard the ship Nostromo, which is returning to Earth in the year 2122. The film is known for its dark and claustrophobic camera angles and its effective jump scares, compounding the fear of tight spaces with the fear of the unknown. The movie's large budget, $9-11 million, helped to effectively create the eerie set along with the terrifying, iconic alien which was immediately engraved in popular culture the moment it was first seen in theaters the summer of 1979.
Although the horror genre had made use of film since its invention, Alien is credited as a pioneering film for its inventive use of special effects to re-tell the old stories of the unknown, the dark things lying just outside our present reality. Its combination of old horror motifs with new effects and futuristic space-age technologies make Alien one of the most ubiquitous and scary movies in contemporary film.
The titular creature was designed by Swiss surrealist H. R. Giger who is known for his artwork in Necronomicon IV, and Biomechanoiden. The design for the creature was influenced by deep sea fish such as the Phronima, a small, translucent deep sea hyperiid, closely related to amphipods (crustaceans) which has much in common with the exo-skeletal structure of the alien and the Moray Eel which shares the alien's mouthed tongue.
The set design of the film was largely influenced by George Lucas' Star Wars though the set pieces have a much more grounded and gritty feel to them and has been cited as an influence on Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner. Which shared many characteristics of Alien's futuristic setpieces.