Newt, portrayed by child actress Carrie Henn, is stalked by an Alien in a scene from “Aliens,” the 1986 sequel to the original film.

Pop culture? Film critic’s dad rates the ‘Alien’ movies

I was a 20-year-old college student in the summer of’ ‘79, when “Alien” was released into theaters with much fanfare. Back then, there was no internet to buy tickets. For that matter, blockbusters like “Alien” were first distributed under “limited release” back then, meaning big regional theaters got first dibs.

Three buddies and I drove into San Francisco from the East Bay suburbs to catch a Saturday night showing. We had no idea what we were getting into. Now this was the 1970s in the Bay Area, so we left our smoke-filled Pinto wagon and went in feeling pretty good, if you get my gist. We came out of that film positively freaked out. One of my cohorts was a 6-foot-7 starting small forward for a Division I college basketball team. The first words out of his mouth following the film were, “I am NEVER going into space.”

I have been hooked on the “Alien” franchise ever since and I am pretty sure my eldest son, George, who wrote the accompanying piece was far too young when he first saw the films on VHS tapes — remember those?

But without further ado, here is my rankings of the “Alien” franchise films, with a few trivia tidbits to boot.


“Alien” (1979) — Ok, so I can’t pick a favorite between the first two. They are different. The original is much more terrorizing and suspenseful, while the first sequel is action-packed. One casting note of interest from “Alien.” Among the crew of the space freighter Nostromo is Lambert, the chief navigator, played by Veronica Cartwright, the sister of Angela Cartwright, who was best known for her roles as Brigitta in “The Sound of Music” and Penny Robinson in the 1960s TV series “Lost in Space.”

“Aliens” (1986) — Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley. Accompanying here to take on the “Aliens” this time are a group of Marines. This one has another great cast that includes Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Paul Reiser.

Worth watching

“Alien: Resurrection” (1997) — A crew of smugglers gets caught up in a military-industrial operation to breed and train “Aliens” as weapons. Along with Weaver, of course, the cast includes Winona Ryder, Dan Hedaya, Ron Perlman and Leland Orser, with whom I went to high school for a year back in 1975.

“Prometheus” (2012) — Directed by Ridley Scott, this underrated prequel stars Charlize Theron, Michael Fasbender and Idris Elba.

If there’s nothing else on

“Alien 3” (1992) — After her last encounter, Ripley (Weaver) crash-lands on Fiorina Fury 161, a maximum security prison and ore refinery. But she’s brought along an unwelcome stowaway.

First-time director David Fincher disowned the film, citing constant studio interference and actually walked out of production before final editing began.

Mediocre at best.

Run Away

“Alien vs. Predator “ (2004) — an awful spin-off.

“Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem” (2007) — Worst than the first!