Sunday the 26th of April is Alien Day. The day when fans of the of the Alien movie franchise celebrate Ridley Scott’s, or more accurately, H.R. Giger’s most terrifying creation, the xenomorphs.
The 26th of April was chosen because the numbers in the date are the same as those of LV-426, the name of the moon that the crew set off to explore in the original movie.
In 1979, nothing like Alien had ever been seen before. Star Wars had been released 2 years prior but it was too epic and too plentiful to mirror the bleak nihilism in Scott’s universe. 2001: A Space Odyssey had been around for a decade but it was too clean and too precise a vision of the future to fit the dirt and grime of the Nostromo. Invasion of the Body Snatchers conjured fear of an unknown alien race but the “Pod People” pale in compassion to the terror caused by Giger’s creatures.
If we want to find a suitable father figure for Scott’s portrayal of deep space then we need to look beyond science fiction and instead turn our gaze to a small town in rural Texas. Ridley Scott took more from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre than he did from George Lucas and in the spirit of an independent horror movie he filled his audience with levels of dread that only the intimacy of a diminutive budget allows.
In Space No One Can Hear You Scream
Alien is science fiction done on the cheap, but never made to look that way. Scott plays more with tone and atmosphere than he does with special effects and world building. Like Leatherface, the Alien in this movie is a relentless force of something beyond what we would normally comprehend as nature. Its only motive is death, something it happens to be very good at.
Alien is more claustrophobic, more oppressive and more realistic than any science fiction film coming before it and, if I am completely honest, anything that has followed it.
The plot can be summed up in a few sentences: The crew of a space craft awake from cryo-sleep and head to a nearby moon, following what turns out to be a distress call. Whilst there a member of the crew is attacked by an unknown organism but seems to recover from this whilst back onboard the ship. What he brings back with him will terrorise them all.
Following the success of the Star Wars: A New Hope and its expansive twisting narrative, coupled with the fact that it was just one of a planned trilogy it is hard to imagine how a storyline as sparse as this was delivered with such confidence.
The Ripley Effect
As if to fly further in the face of convention our hero is female. This wasn’t completely alien territory for the film industry at this time, with a prime example being Jamie Lee Curtis’ portrayal of Laurie Strode in 1978’s Halloween, another film that Alien holds surprising similarities with. However, Laurie Strode, was a predominantly passive character throughout much of that original film. The same cannot be said about Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley.
For a start, let’s forget science fiction and aliens for a second and remember that Ripley existed in a male dominated environment. She was one of only two women onboard the Nostromo and is likely to be in the minority in general as a female astronaut. What sets Ripley apart from the likes of Strode is that she is that she is just as capable of being the hunter as she is of being hunted.
Scott hints at a society where women are still not taken seriously, as Ripley’s warnings are ignored by the predominantly male crew. Ripley is not sexualised, she dresses like the men and can act like them when she needs to but at the end of there is no denying that she is better than all of them, something that could be attributed to her gender but is most likely something that we should just attribute to her.
By the end of the film she is the only member of the crew left facing the alien. Unlike the men onboard she is smart enough to know when she is beaten, when she needs to retreat and when she has to fight dirty to gain the upper hand. In the end she flushes the alien out of the airlock and attempts to head back home, the sole survivor of a mission that would have been much more successful if only the meatheads had listened to her warnings.
What is most intriguing about Ripley is that her character emerges as the plot unwinds. She is not in charge at the start but when Dallas and Kane bite the space dust she asserts herself as the one in charge. It turns out the Ripley is meant to be in charge but only realised this herself when her back was properly up against the wall.
By the end she hasn’t managed to save the crew, but she has saved the rest of humanity (for now), herself and her cat and even has time at the end of what is an intense final scene, involving of all things a flame thrower, to send a message back to earth to explain what she has been through. If you’ve seen the second film then you’ll know that, yet again, her warnings are not taken seriously.
When the 26th of April rolls round and you decide that you want to revisit the Alien franchise, of course you need to marvel that the beauty and terror of Giger’s creation but you also need to appreciate how ground-breaking this the original film was. Science fiction meeting horror with the spirit and ethos of an independent movie. A genuinely strong female character who was smarter and stronger than anyone else. Alien was more than just the first film in a huge franchise, it was a first on so many levels and in my opinion it hasn’t been bettered over the last 4 decades.
Slots with Aliens
As well as revisiting the original film, here at ThePogg we will celebrate this glorious day by compiling a list of the best Alien themed slots. Whilst I have managed to find 10 I had to scour the far reached of the solar system to get to them.
With Play ‘n’ Go’s Planet Fortune slot players will find themselves immersed in the kind of 70s sci fi that Buck Rogers would have recognised. There are teleport beams, phaser guns of some sort and large goldfish bowl helmets. Whilst there are no aliens, it is inevitable that if this was a TV show they would appear in some future episode. You get mega symbols, stacked symbols, wilds and free spins.
The Cosmic Fortune slot is a few years old now but should still be considered as good as plenty of slots being released today. This Net Entertainment release comes with free spins, a bonus round, a jackpot and wilds. The symbols are made up of various characters, at least one of which is a terrifying looking alien creature.
Rick and Morty Megaways
The Rick and Morty Megaways slot was released just a few months ago and should be considered one of the best released of 2020 so far. If you know anything about Rick and Morty, you will know that the pair travel to different parts of the universe, spending a sizable chunk of their time in the presence of alien creatures. The slot looks as good as the show does and is brilliant example of the maximum megaways slots that BluePrint Gaming have become so good at. This slot has everything, from a variety of free spins games to random features. Add to this the general excitement of a megaways spin and there is little here to criticise.
It Came from Venus!
With the It Came from Venus! slot you need to be thinking about the Day of the Triffids or Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a reference point. This slot is about giant people-eating plants that come from Venus and settle in the sort rural American backdrop that aliens only ever seem to visit. The slot is well-designed and comes with a number of interesting features. You get free spins, wilds and a bonus feature, plus two additional features on top of that. There is plenty here to keep you engaged.
The Space Wars slot has all the space and alien action that you could ask for and whilst it might be a little short on bonus features it is still a stunning looking slot. Where this one might disappoint a little is the number of features that there are available. However, there is one shining light that needs to be mentioned. The house edge is one of the lowest on this list, making Space Wars one of the best value for money slots out there.
Described as “An alien race for the win”, the Reactoonz slot couldn’t really be any more perfect for this particular list. Your symbols are made up of scores of cute little alien creatures and with a slew of features waiting to be triggered, Reactoonz should be considered a Play ‘n’ Go classic. You get giant symbols, a random feature and what have been titled “Quantum Features”. This is a cluster based game that brings excitement with every spin.
Back to Venus
The Back to Venus slot makes its way onto this list essentially because it is better than the original. I don’t normally prefer reboots of slot games but if there is a discernible improvement then I can let it slide and in this instance that is exactly the case. You get 2 random features. You get Wilds that stick around for 1 extra spin and you get Free Spins that come with some exciting modifiers and there is an improvement on this house edge. There is nothing here not to like.
Thundercats: Reels of Thundera
The Thundercats: Reels of Thundera slot was released last year is one of a few Thundercats releases from the BluePrint Gaming group. They meet the brief because the Thundercats are aliens and because this is an excellent slot. It looks like the source material and comes with an array of features that will leave your mind boggled if you care to take a look at the paytable. Tapping into a nostalgia market that will see people who grew up in the 80s shouting Thundercats! Ho!! at the reels any time something lands.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Star Trek: The Next Generation slot had to be included because not only is it an excellent slot but it clearly has aliens in it. The main members of the Crew appear as symbols in a slot that comes with 2 sets of re-spins and with Free Spins. All 3 of the main features come with additions that make them stand out that little bit from the crowd. If you were a fan of the show and like playing slots then this one might just be for you.
The Mars Attacks! slot is based on the Tim Burton movie of the same name. The film was a meant to be a huge hit but never really took off in the way the studio hoped it would. However, it struck a note with some fans becoming a cult classic. The slot should not divide opinion as much as we are ending on a real high here. We gave this one a perfect score of 10 out of 10 and here at ThePogg we see the Mars Attacks! slot as a genuine contender for best release of 2020.
This was not the easiest of lists to compile, something that was compounded by not being able to play the actual Alien slots that were released quite a few numbers ago. Despite this I am pleased with the list that we have put together, with some genuine future classics here for players to enjoy for years to come.
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