The Great Debates: Alien vs. Aliens

Given the release of “Prometheus” this past week, the “Alien” franchise has been pushed back to the forefront. I’m not sure that anyone would prefer that movie to either of these, so I’m fairly certain that the debate over the best film in the Franchise still boils down to these two.

So let’s hash it out once and for all.

Click through to read the “Tale of the Tape” and then let’s hear which one you think is better, “Alien” or “Aliens”!

Released: 1979

Directed By: Ridley Scott

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, Tom Skerritt, and Harry Dean Stanton

Comments: A horror movie in outer space. After landing on an alien planet, a member of the away crew gets attacked by an alien organism that implants an embryo within him. After the parasite hatches with fatal consequences, it rapidly matures to a menacing killer that the crew does not know how to stop.

Atmospheric, frightening, and solidly made, “Alien” rocketed its way into popular culture with a strong female lead, a spartan story done to perfection, and horrifying creature concepts that trigger primal sexual and reproductive fears.

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Released: 1986

Directed By: James Cameron

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn, Lance Henriksen, Al Matthews, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, Mark Rolston, Cynthia Dale Scott

Comments: After Ripley safely returns to Earth, she’s convinced to return to LV-426 in order to investigate colonists who have fallen out of contact. Accompanied by an entire platoon of Marines, they nonetheless discover that they’re outmatched… the Aliens have started a colony of their own.

Part action movie part horror story, “Aliens” delivers more advanced special effects, shows of the Aliens more, and gives Ripley a chance to go toe to toe with the Queen.

Featuring some of the Xenomorph’s finest shots ever filmed, some excellent action sequences and strong themes of motherhood, “Aliens” is a worthy sequel and one of those rare films that’s worth asking “Is it better than the first?”

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So there you have it folks! The tale of the tape between these two classic Sci-Fi flicks. Two different, legendary directors take their pass at the same universe. They wound up setting the foundation for a franchise that is still continuing today and in all likelihood will see more movies in the near future!

So which do you prefer? In your opinion, which of these two is the superior fillm? Put your vote up in the poll, and then let us all hear what you have to say by sharing in the comments below!!

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105 thoughts on “The Great Debates: Alien vs. Aliens

  1. With the exception of Die Hard, I don’t think there is a better action film than Aliens, and despite all of the many great points you brought up about why Alien is better than Aliens on the LAMBcast a few months ago, my heart is still telling me to go with Aliens.

    • Then go with it, man, go with it. LOL

      I like Aliens a lot. Personally, everyone already knows where I stand. But I dont give people shit for preferring Aliens. It’s a really good flick… totally a worthy successor.

      I’m not sure I wouldnt put Raiders or a couple of others ahead of this on the all time action films list, but I can see it earning your respect, Ryan, definitely!

  2. These are movies that are hard to compare as they are in different genres, Aliens is an action movie, the first one is a space horror movie. This definitely is a great debate. Personally I don’t have a hard time choosing which one is better though as it’s Alien. This movie has so much tension, shocking moments and atmosphere that the second one really can’t compare to it. Aliens has a lot of stereotype characters, I didn’t have the feeling that they were in danger as much and the addition of the girl felt like being added on to add some emotional layer, which didn’t work for me.

    • Yeahhhhhh… I always felt like she (Newt) was a plot device more than a character. LOL. You know? But… it is what it is. I’m with you. In this poll, I’m not even going to hide my “true feelings” I’m too well “on the record” with choosing Alien. For exactly the reasons you cite. It is just a masterpiece of creating tension. I love it.

      • If I remember correctly she disappeared for part of the movie, that was a good indication she was a plot device. Nice to see you feel the same!

      • Ok, ok. 10 year old Kloipy would pick Aliens without a moments hesitation. Adult Kloipy has to go with Alien

      • Ok, and I feel that I now have to defend my answer. I LOVE Aliens. Love the characters, love the action, just an all around awesome movie. But. I will never forget seeing Alien for the first time. Not knowing what to expect at all. And this unique and desolate landscape unfolded before me. Then you get to the chestbursting scene and you have no idea what the hell to expect. It just puts you on edge for the rest of the film. Just a brilliant movie

      • HAHAHA!! I’m glad I could throw such a conundrum at you today!! LOL

        I’m with you. For exactly that reason. It puts you on the edge of your seat and keeps you there.

        I actually have a couple of specific issues with Aliens, too, that I might break out before the day is through, but they’re both great movies.

        Glad I could talk you into making this tough decision. :D

  3. Aliens was my favourite film of all time during my teen years so I have to side with it. However, nowadays I don’t like to think of either one as better than the other but rate them both equally. It isn’t often you get two quite different films made within the same franchise “universe” and I love each film for its individual merits. Alien is such a scary, suspense-driven horror film while Aliens is high-octane action. I think they are both, technically, perfect but if I was to pick one to take to the desert island it would be Cameron’s sequel.

    • Ok, that’s cool Dan, I can see that. I think Aliens has some weaknesses (some thin characters, for example) but they’re both excellent.

      You’re completely right, it’s rare you get two films in a franchise that are so different, and yet both are great. It’s usually more the case where the movie that’s different is different cause its subpar. LOL

  4. Aliens may be a great action film, but Alien is a classic in its genre and highly influential. Scott creates a perfect mood and takes his time before letting all hell break loose. It’s also held up better and looks amazing for a film that’s more than 30 years old.

    • Booyeah. LOL. Agreed my man, agreed.

      I’m not sure I’d say it’s held up better, mainly because I dont think there’s any issue with Aliens “holding up”, I think it does fine in that regard.

      But “Alien” is truly a classic, and that’s one thing that I would hesitate to give to “Aliens”.

  5. Alien! “Aliens” owes too much to the concept, story line and cinematic suspense of the brilliant “Alien”. As incredible a film maker as Cameron is, and he is, “Aliens” is a far easier composition when all you need do is create war between man and “Aliens”. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed “Aliens” greatly, but “Alien” had greater effect. I remember having nightmares after “Alien”. That’s something few films cause and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

    • That’s a solid point. Aliens IS a sequel. So the creatures and setting were already pretty well established. Along with Ripley’s character. That’s a great point.

      Although I would credit Cameron for taking the existing ingredients and coming up with a dish that’s almost entirely different. Still, Alien did set a great foundation…

  6. I know it was a long time ago and it is easy to confuse things over time, but seeing the two overviews side by side I know understand why I’ve been getting the films mixed of so much over the years. Back in the day, I wasn’t as big a fan of horror. But I love me a good action film. And yes, I did have a few nightmares too. So I think I’ll go with Aliens as a favorite, although, if I sat down today and watched them one after another, I might pick Alien nowdays.

    • They’re both really good… a lot of people are struggling to pick.

      If you’re a bigger fan of Action than Horror, there’s no doubt Aliens would be the more likely choice!

      I’d recommend revisiting them if you get a chance, UN, they both hold up really really well. I enjoyed rewatching them both earlier this year. I’m sure you would too!

  7. For me this comes down to which genre I prefer. I prefer action films to horror, so therefore I prefer Aliens to Alien. Which is not to say anything negative about Alien. Quite to the contrary I love both films, but given the option of which I prefer to re-watch, it’s Aliens hands down.

    Which is the BETTER film is a different question though. Judging on the quality of the writing, acting, film-making, effects, editing etc, then I still think Aliens gets a slight edge, but it’s closer. The script for Alien has a slight edge, but the craft of pacing and overall experience has to go to Aliens.

    But Alien has a cat. so there’s that. :D

    • Hedging his bet, he goes with the cat! “Aliens” is a better rewatch. Once you’ve seen the monster pop out of John Hurt’s stomach, the suspense is gone. But once is enough to make Hollywood history!

    • “Which is the BETTER film is a different question though. Judging on the quality of the writing, acting, film-making, effects, editing etc, then I still think Aliens gets a slight edge, but it’s closer.”

      Nnnnnnnooooo… Cmon man. Are you saying Aliens has better acting? (And I say that knowing full well Weaver got an Oscar Nom) I’ll give you better effects, but I would “put up my dukes” over writing, film-makig and maybe even editing.

      Plus the cat. :D

      • I think the acting is about equal between them. Alien has an edge, with Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Ian Holm and John Hurt, but Aliens is no slouch on the acting front with sterling performances from Lance Henricksen, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser and Michael Biehn, and especially the whole gestault of portraying a squad level military group more ‘realistically’ than most military ‘war’ films ever. I saw this film with a couple of my old Army buds and none of us could get over how well they nailed the squad dynamic. “Absolutely BADASS!”

        Alien may have had a few better individual performances, but Aliens had better ensemble cast performance.

  8. “ALIEN” Is A Sci-Fi HORROR Film.
    “ALIENS” Is A Sci-Fi ACTION Film.
    With That Established, It Becomes Harder To Choose Between Them, As They’re Vastly Different From One Another.
    I Loved “Aliens” And Always Will.
    BUT…
    …As Far As Which Is The Better Film…
    …I’ll Take “ALIEN” Any Day.
    I Do Have Them All On DVD And BLURAY…
    …But My Heart Also Belongs To My Collector’s Edition LASER-DISCS.
    Both Are Amazing Films, And I Often Watch “Alien” “Aliens” and “Alien 3″ Back To Back To Back.
    But In Choosing ONE Of Them As The Best…
    …”ALIEN” All The Way, Baby.
    -BRAD

    • Mannnn…. Brad pulling out the LASER Discs on us and shit. :D That’s OLD SCHOOL right there!

      I go with Alien as well, there’s no secret about it. Good choice!

      You like Aliens 3, too, huh? It’s an acquired taste I guess… I’ve actually watched it twice this year for blogging related stuff.

      • Alien 3 Is An Acquired Taste, Yes, But I Do So Enjoy It. And Yeah, I Know I’m Showing My Age With The Laser-Discs, But They Are PRICELESS. Hard To Find Anyone Who Would Be Willing To Spend $100 To Own Just One Movie… But They Were/Are AMAZING hehehe
        And I’m Happy To Hear I Have Your Support With “Alien” hehehe

  9. I went with Aliens, Bill Paxton puts it on top for me, as the better film. “Maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”

  10. I hate Aliens with such passion. The Queen using the elevator, Bill freaking Paxton, Newt being cool with everything after God knows what she saw because – wait for it – she got a hug and hot chocolate or some shit. Easy choice right here. I love opening sequence of Alien 3 – it makes up for this cutesy stuff.

  11. Ouch! That’s a tough one… Let me think for a mom…ALIENS! Did I just say that? I meant… ALIENS! Shit, I just said it again. Yeah, too right man. It does come down to horror or action though and I found Cameron’s take exciting as hell man. Some characters fall into stereotype but there’s no denying that it’s gripping stuff. Newt was a little pain in the arse though, she almost ruined the whole thing but Biehn, Henrikson and particulary Paxton are brilliant.

    • See though? I dont have to “hedge” Alien. There’s no “dsiclaimers” The closest I would come is Ash on the ground being a poor special effect by modern standards, but hey, it was 1979!

      To me, the Newt thing, and Paxton, etc etc are enough to be a difference maker. You know?

  12. I’m with Aliens. Even though I’m a big horror fan, great action is better than great horror for me. Where are all the Alien Resurrection fans, pissed that they don’t get to vote for their favourite? Oh wait…

    This shouldn’t even enter into my thought process between the two invidual films but I’m also thinking about how I love Cameron more than Scott.

    • Ehrrmmm…

      Well, first off, LOL @ the Resurrection joke, that movie sucks loudly.

      You have me thinking on the Cameron/Scott thing. I dont agree, but the pop culture world probably would. If I had to choose one filmography to have at the exclusion of the other’s, it would pick Scotts. It would suck never to see T2 again, but I could live without most of the rest. Meanwhile, I couldnt do without Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator.

      I dont think most people would agree with me though.

  13. I didn’t vote because I haven’t seen both of them. I’m not a real big horror fan so I’ve only seen Aliens. Been meaning to watch the original but just haven’t gotten around to it. Aliens is amazing though, a fantastic watch.

  14. Honestly, I always say, given this exact choice, that it’s [insert the last film I've re-screened]. I’ll watch Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ again and say, “That’s it! No question.” Then, I’ll follow it with James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’ once more and say, “No, this is the one!” Two different movies with the same bloodline that work, each their own way, so damn well. I reckon I’ll keep picking one of over the other, and then reversing myself, ad infinitum. They’re a remarkable, unforgettable pair of films that I never tire of watching.

  15. Let me put this in perspective by saying both are brilliant films that would make my top 100, and that either answer is respectable, but with that said….

    Aliens is the superior film in almost every way. Weaver is great in both films, but the Ripley character goes to far more interesting places in Cameron’s installment. Also, people can say what they want about the quality of the actors in Alien, but I cared about the cast of Aliens a lot more. The special effects in Aliens still hold up brilliantly, the themes in Aliens are far more interesting than in Alien, and the whole film is just so damn entertaining.

    The only thing I will say Alien does better is the way Scott creates tension through setting and atmosphere. Other then that, Aliens does everything better.

    Like I said, Alien is a brilliant film, one of my favourite horror movies. But I gotta go with my heart, and my heart says Aliens.

    • Ok, man. That’s a well done argumentative post… I’ll give you a lot of points and cred.

      But “Aliens is the superior film in almost every way” is a wicked stretch. I’d also say that even if you wanted to say the themes of motherhood in Aliens were more interesting than the reproductive fears in Alien, there’s no way you could say they were delivered with more skill or anything. I mean, Cameron preactically hangs signs when he wants to express a theme. Scott subtly interweaves his into the actions and narratives.

      Point Ridley, Point Fogs, and Alien has tied it up BABY!!!! Whoooo!

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