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. As I mentioned in the Prometheus review, Alien was an Epiphany that was unlike anything that came before it. and generated at minimum a visceral impact like Hitchcock or The Exorcist did at its first release.

    Aliens is great, but its greatness is based on the original and comes in the form of extrapolating from one creature to many. That of course is lets Ripley be the larger than life badass she already was but now in a very action oriented way.

    Of all the films in that universe (including Prometheus,) the first still stands as the King of the Hill!!

    • It WAS an impactful movie. I mean, it totally resonated into the national consciousness… that tagline caught hold, the creature was instantly recognizable, and Sigourney Weaver was off and running.

      The “Originiality” factor is popping up in a lot of people’s explanations…

      Cant wait to hear how our OTE came out, dude. Havent checked in to see if its up yet or not.

      • Should be up today and I think its going to be stellar! The new OTE schedule is already full, Hah. Brian runs a great show!

  2. I voted for Alien, because of the original entertainment value. Both as stated above, many times, are great movies that still hold up. Had Aliens come before Alien, so to speak, I may be voting differently.

  3. Alien, and it’s really not even close to me. There’s lots of good action sci-fi movies, but there’s only one really good sci-fi horror movie.

    Really, I just find Aliens fairly ordinary. A solid movie, good performance from Weaver (actually, she just was great in all four movies), but in the end it just doesn’t have anything more going for it than the first movie than a bigger budget. I agree that Ripley is more interesting in Aliens, but I don’t actually count that as a bonus; watching Alien the first time you don’t know who’s going to come out on top because none of the cast was “the star”, so none had plot immunity. Ripley was such the Big Star of Aliens, there was really no chance that Ripley would die.

    And I’ll acknowledge I’m in the minority here, but I’ll just throw it out… Bill Paxton makes me want to hurl. Can’t stand that guy and his scenery chewing. Really wish a xeno had bitten his face off.

    • Ohhhhh man… I was so WITH YOU! LOL

      I have to admit Bill Paxton makes me laugh. But that’s exactly why I scoff at Aliens having “better acting” LOL. Please. The James Cameron Players? LOL.

      The rest of it though is right on K2, especially the part about Ripley being a better character in Alien because you didnt know who the final survivor would be for 85% of the movie. That’s insightful, man. Very true.

  4. If you were going to pick one to nominate for an Oscar, go with Alien. If you wanna know which one I own, watch once a year at least, and talk about with my friends, go with Aliens! I’ve loved Aliens from the very first time I saw it. Cheese, military, subtle romance, awesome action, freaky alien…yes please and thank you! So, I vote Aliens. :)

  5. I know it’s late in the day but this “debate” got me thinking. What is the essential difference between the two films. Well “Aliens” is the pay-off, but “Alien is the build up. Hitchcock once famously said; “imagine a bomb under a table. If the bomb goes off, that’s action. If it doesn’t that’s suspense!” If you asked a general audience, what’s the one thing you remember most about “Alien” or “Aliens”, what’s the one scene that sticks in your mind, I guarantee it’s the alien exploding out of Kane’s chest. How many times have you seen this parodied in movies, Tv, magazines and elsewhere. This scene has been analyzed for religious content, sexual meaning and as an omen on the end of the world! “Aliens” just doesn’t have that extra value meaning because the “bomb” has already gone off!

  6. Alien. Hands down. It’s what started it all off. Loved the horror. Loved it all.

    Aliens is a great film, but like everyone’s already said, more action, less horror. And I love me a good space horror.

  7. Hi, fogs and company:

    Having grown up on ‘Red Scare’ Sci-Fi movies. Where the monster’s prime directive is to kick in the backside of the Army and Marines. I’m going with ‘Aliens’. Even though the horror of its predecessor, ‘Alien’ is very Lovecraft and well executed.The sequel feels more streamlined and on familiar ground.

    • Copy that.

      It’s as good a rationale as any, Jack, certainly. Definitely a litlle bit of lineage present in that movie to those early sci-fi horror/monster flicks you reference. :D

  8. ALIENS!

    I’m sure the original is better quality overall, but, dang it, I’ve watched the space marine one way more times. And probably quote it a hundred times more.

    Incidentally, the Red Letter Media guys put out an interesting theory about these movies. Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3 are all basically the same movie, but filtered through the eyes of different directors. Which means Alien basically is the same as Aliens, only through the eyes of Ridley Scott and James Cameron respectively. It’s an interesting theory, kinda like how songs can have different variations and different emotional resonance depending on what band is playing it. Alien is like the Beatles’ version of “Hey Jude”; Aliens is like Elvis’ version.

    • That’s a good analogy. Each film is very different… Without a doubt. I’ve watched them quite a bit this year, and the respective director’s fingerprints are all over each installment.

      I only wish Fincher had total control over Alien 3 (including script) he could have made something so sick!! :D

  9. I voted for Alien. Aliens is decidedly the more crowd-pleasing and entertaining movie but I love the more subtle nuance of Alien which manages to build thrills much more intelligently.

    • There you go! (Clapping loudly) Cap knows what time it is! LOL

      Keep in mind folks, I’m just a neutral observer here, running this poll with scientific objectivity…

      (Hissing under my breath) Way to GO Cap…

  10. I have problems with all Alien films. We aliens are tired of every film depicting us as evil killers! Most of us are completely normal. I’m part alien, part human and part terminator. At least some terminators are shown as heroes. But not aliens. I wish you could see us in reality.

    • Well said, Ripley.

      I dont think Prometheus is going to help the cause, either.

      There’s always hope that the truth will be revealed though. I think we all just need to be patient. Giorgio is on the case.

      • Thank you for understanding! So many humans think it’s okay to use stereotypes. But they really hurt! And yes, I believe some filmmaker will be brave enough to tell the truth.

    • Oh, I agree there, totally. The Terminator films are far and away his best stuff! :D

      But I wouldnt say no one cares about it, cmon, now… its a really good movie with a lot of pop culture signifigance… it’s drawing a lot of votes. A lot of people voting for it…

  11. VOTE ALIEN!
    Alien, because it set the benchmark for sci-fi/horror/noir, it set a benchmark for creature FX, set design, score, I could go on! it’s the perfect, self contained, fully realised futuristic horror.

    If you put the 2 films side by side, visually, Alien still looks superb, Aliens is starting to creak a little, and because Alien set the foundation for which Aliens built on with the creature design, I’m giving Alien the nod.
    Not that I don’t like Aliens, I still watch it, and enjoy it, infact it’s the only film I’ve seen twice in the same day of release, and there was a time after it’s VHS release when I could quote the whole movie, it’s a great popcorn movie, thrilling, bombastic at times, it’s a great sequel! If I was 18 again, maybe I’d vote Aliens, infact I would thinking back… but I think as you grow older, you begin to appreciate the aesthetic a little more, and Alien was the first film that kept me awake all night after watching, so I have to vote for it…. or it will come for me in the night!!!!

    • “Bombastic at times” LOL. That’s a very good way of putting it :D

      Alien should get a lot of credit for being the original – no doubt. One of the best creature designs ever, and Aliens scores a lot of its points from showing it off in more detail.

      But you also bring up the best point, and thats that Alien is a nuanced, atmospheric horror flick. Solid through and through.

      Glad you chimed in Nik, thanks for the vote!!

  12. Both classic and very different (as has been stated). Yet, Alien is the superior film. Intense and masterfully crafted. Although Aliens is full-throttle-non-stop action, that is entertainment at its finest, it does not reach the level of sheer terror and fear that its predecessor achieves.

    In space no one can hear you scream. Indeed!

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  14. Alien.

    If you ask me, there’s really no discussion here as to which is the greater film. Certainly one can enjoy Aliens on its considerable merits; it’s an outstanding action film, probably one of the best of all time, and a huge, worthy expansion on the scale and scope of the universe Scott created in his own masterwork just a few years earlier.

    But I don’t think Aliens comes close to Alien in terms of sheer excellence in craft and ideas and execution. (Which is to say nothing of the influence Scott’s film has had on horror since 1979. Aliens‘ biggest influence can be felt in Cameron’s other, later films.) Alien is perfect, which is a hard thing for even the best movies to achieve; among many other things, it’s a film that has all the right notes of tension at all the right time, features superlative conceptualization in its designs, and remains self-contained and functional on its own terms even today, more than 30 years after the xenomorph has become a horror icon.

    If Prometheus had been half the film Alien is, I think we’d be singing its praises unilaterally.

    • Agreed. Prometheus cant carry “Alien”s jock. LOL

      Your reasoning appears to be in alignment with mine. Aliens is a very, very good movie. Indeed. But ALIEN is a GREAT movie. It has very very few flaws, and the only ones I can readily think of are some minor issues regarding special effects being dated, etc.

      Glad we concur, sir!

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