Succeeded by: Aliens (1986)
With Alien, director Ridley Scott and producer Walter Hill brought B-movie sci-fi horror and the female action hero to mainstream cinema, with first-grade contemporary visual effects as catalyst for the movie's effect and remarkable success. The title character was a villain in the simplest sense; driven by reproduction and self-preservation – basic human needs made into horror. Alien salutes and nourishes off of xenophobia; everything unknown and not human should be feared, lest you end up as some of the more gullible of these crew members. Ridley Scott appeals to your most basal emotions, and probably gets the response he seeks. Luckily, we have Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley as our saviour – she's not only cool and emotionally controlled, she's also forward-looking and considerate, like an amalgam of classical male and female virtues. She became a feminist icon for all the right reasons – she's not a dissident, she's a confident go-getter in an unforgiving world. And she can even put up with being desired – in her underwear – by her viewers. Perhaps because she's just as unattainable for her admirers and for her critics as she is for the alien.