(1979)5Lucia BozzolaCombining science fiction with horror, Swiss artist H.R. Giger's alien design and Carlo Rambaldi's visual effects creepily meld technology with corporeality, creating a claustrophobic environment that is coldly mechanical yet horribly anthropomorphized, like the metallic monster itself. Director Ridley Scott keeps the alien out of full view, hiding it in the dark or camouflaging it in the workings of the Nostromo. Signs of '70s cultural upheaval permeate Alien's future world, from the relationship between corporate capitalism and rapacious monstrosity to the heterogeneous crew and Ripley's forceful horror heroine. The intense frights and gross-outs, however, are credited with making Alien one of the biggest hits of 1979 (it premiered on the two-year anniversary of Star Wars); Giger, Rambaldi, et al. won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Alien went on to spawn three genre-bending sequels (and reconditioned Ripleys): exceptional '80s actioner Aliens (1986), dark prison drama Alien 3 (1992), and exotically grotesque Alien Resurrection (1997). With its atmospheric isolation, implacable monster, and whiff of social conscience, Alien stands as one of the more thoughtful yet utterly terrifying horror films of the 1970s.