Wow. I hate to just jack a blockquote entirely, but Alex Pang picks exactly the right paragraphs to reproduce from this Guardian piece on Alien’s 30th anniversary. Xan Brooke is writing about the famous bleahhh-there’s-an-alien-in-his-chest scene:
Watching the scene now, at a 30-year lag, you find yourself drawn as much to the reactions of the other actors as to the creature itself. Scott famously shot the film in one take with four cameras, and purposely kept the actors in the dark as to what, exactly, they were about to witness. It is safe to assume that none of them were as startled as Veronica Cartwright (playing the Nostromo’s navigator), who is shown recoiling in genuine horror from a spray of blood. “What you saw on camera was the real response,” recalls co-star Tom Skerritt. “She had no idea what the hell happened. All of a sudden this thing just came up.”
Cartwright’s shock would be mirrored in cinemas around the world. “Everybody remembers the moment when the creature comes out, because it was such a staggering event; totally beyond prediction,” says Thomson. “I remember seeing the film at the time with my wife and she was so horrified that she stood up and walked right out of the theatre. Afterwards she admitted that it was a very well-made film and all of that. But she could not take it; could not live with that possibility. It was as though she thought: if that can happen, anything can.”
That is seriously intense, in many overlapping ways. I’m overdue on another Alien viewing; now it’s in my queue.