All due respect to “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” fans (RIP Leonard Nimoy), but “Alien” is easily my favorite sci-fi franchise of all time.
Why do I love it? Try Sigourney Weaver at her most bad-ass. Try H.R. Giger's incredible Xenomorph, the most oddly beautiful creation in movie-monster history. Try Stan Winston's jaw-dropping Alien Queen. Try the fact that every single movie in the series tried something unique and different. Hell, I even admire aspects of the widely-reviled “Alien: Resurrection,” including the infamous Newborn! Can't help it: there is something wildly, transcendently strange about that albinic monstrosity.
That said, the first two films in the franchise are clearly the best, and the crazy thing is I can't even really compare them. They're too different! Ridley Scott's claustrophobic original gave way to full-tilt action in James Cameron's followup, and while my loyalties have shifted over the years I've ultimately found the task of deciding which is “better” to be nearly impossible. Both are great films for almost entirely different reasons.
I don't really know how to feel yet about Neill Blomkamp's recently-announced fifth film in the series — which will supposedly be set after the events of James Cameron's “Aliens” — but that has no bearing here. For now, I'd like to pay homage to the greatest moments of the original “quadrilogy,” from first scream to last. Thanks for the memories, you slimy beasts.