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October 1, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #12 - Alien

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House  Number 34 - Poltergeist  Number 33 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Number 32 - The Phantom of the Opera  Number 31 - The House of the Devil   Number 30 - Evil Dead II  Number 29 - Dead of Night  Number 28 - Carnival of Souls  Number 27 - Nosferatu  Number 26 - Candyman  Number 25 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  Number 24 - Horror of Dracula  Number 23 - The Wicker Man  Number 22 - Suspiria  Number 21 - The Omen  Number 20 - Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told  Number 19 - Rosemary's Baby  Number 18 - The Devil Rides Out  Number 17 - The Blob  Number 16 - Gremlins  Number 15 - Targets  Number 14 - Fright Night   Number 13 - Frankenstein
(1979, Dir. by Ridley Scott.)
Why It's Here:
To be perfectly honest, I don't think I've ever listed Alien among my favorite horror films before today. I get caught up in the genre wars sometimes, and I used to argue exclusively that this film - which is really a slasher movie with an alien instead of a masked dude - was a science fiction film. Now that I'm older and less stupid (I hope), I kind of realize that there's no point to that silly argument.  Alien is the kind of movie that makes me want to turn off all the lights and let it surprise me for the the rest of the night. And that's probably a horror movie. Am I rating it too low because I still think it's fringe to the genre? Maybe.  But at least it's here.

The Moment That Changes Everything:
There are plenty of famous moments in Alien, led by one of the more famous shocks in the history of movies.  But the moment in Alien that most impressed me when I first saw it - since Spaceballs had previously spoiled the big one - involves the motion detector that would be used so well in the sequel and a character traveling through some tunnels in search of the title character.  It's a tense sequence with an absolutely perfect ending.

It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
I'm going to go against the easy pick and discuss a movie that didn't make this list for the same reason Alien missed previous lists....I'm just not ready to count it as a an all-in horror movie yet.  And that movie is none less than Steven Spielberg's Jaws.  Yeah, I know.  But look, Jaws is so good that it doesn't need to be listed as one of my favorite horror movies.  The point is that it would play well in an uber-tense double feature with Alien. So who cares if it's on the list? It's awesome!

What It Means To Me:
Alien is one of my favorite movies of any genre, probably ahead of some of the films that will rank higher than it on this list of horror films.  I know, I'm a stickler when it comes to genre classification and am being slightly OCD here, but again - the point is that it's fantastic and a must see for anyone.  Alien should be a key part of any conversation about shocking cinema, and I couldn't keep myself from talking about it on this list.
P.S. - Up yours, Prometheus. You broke my heart.

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