Aliens: 30 Reasons to Watch 30 Years Later


Aliens was released in the summer of 1986. Unlike so many movies in the sci-fi, action, and horror genres, this one stands the test of time really well. Why? Let me count 30 reasons (with input from fellow Shrink Tank contributors):


  1. James Cameron’s pitch-perfect direction that balances action, tension, drama, and a dash of humor
  2. Excruciatingly slow build-up of suspense (from Melissa Miller)
  3. Marines’ colony incursion
  4. Pulsing motion detectors
  5. Eerie, Oscar-nominated score by James Horner
  6. Lance Henricksen as Bishop, the mysterious android who comes through in the clutch
  7. “Bishop’s thing with the knife” (from Jonathan Hetterly)
  8. Michael Biehn as the macho but sensitive Corporal Hicks (key line- “Eat this!”)
  9. M56 Smart Guns
  10. Jeanette Goldstein as the ass-kicking Private Vasquez (key line- “Let’s rock!”)
  11. Best surrogate mother-daughter on-screen relationship ever (from Ryan Kelly) and great example of tenacious maternal instinct
  12. Fighting off facehuggers
  13. Oscar-winning, real visual effects, not a torrent of CGI (they really blew stuff up for this movie)
  14. Aliens in the ceiling
  15. M41A Pulse Rifles (“10mm with over and under 30mm pump action grenade launcher”)
  16. Marines vs. aliens in operations
  17. Bill Paxton’s scene-stealing performance as Hudson, the loud-mouthed private (key lines- “Game over, man!  Game over!” and “You want some of this!”)
  18. Vietnam war metaphor
  19. Slamming corporate greed
  20. Paul Reiser as slime ball Burke (key line- “It was a bad call, Ripley.  It was a bad call.”
  21. Incredible sound effects (Oscar-nominated) and sound editing (Oscar-winning)
  22. Drop ships (“express elevator to hell”)
  23. Chase scene through the air ducts
  24. Marines’ armored personnel carrier
  25. Alien hive with cocooned colonists
  26. Flame throwers
  27. Newt, the lone survivor of the colony (key line- “It won’t make any difference.” and, from Frank Gaskill, “They’re dead.  All right?  Can I go now?”)
  28. Sigourney Weaver’s Oscar nominated performance as Ellen Ripley (best movie heroine ever?!)
  29. Ripley in an exo-skeleton going mama-a-mama with the alien queen
  30. “Get away from her, you BITCH!”


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