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Space Race

A Complete Ranking of Every Alien Film

Catch Alien 3 this month on IFC.

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Since Ripley and those pesky xenomorphs burst onto the scene in 1979 like the baby alien from Kane’s chest, the Alien franchise has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning sequels, prequels, and plenty of poor knockoffs. (We even celebrated “Alien Day” on April 26th.) With IFC airing Alien 3 this month, we decided to rank every Alien film from terrible to terrifying. Where does your favorite fall on our list? Read on to find out.

7. Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)

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20th Century Fox

The word “requiem” brings to mind death, and this unnecessary gore fest sequel to the already pretty terrible Alien vs. Predator is proof the series should be put out of its misery lest it kill all our warm, fuzzy feelings for the Alien and Predator franchises. AvP: Requiem attempts to have slightly more exposition and plot than its predecessor, but the film gets bored with it quickly, resorting to buckets of blood and cheap scares all shot in very poor lighting that is meant to look moody but winds up making you strain your eyes instead in order to see any of the “action.” The humans all do their best with shoddy dialogue and stereotypical, one-dimensional roles. There’s a perverse pleasure to watching this train wreck unfold, but AvP: Requiem is a film that is far more shock than anything resembling awe.


6. AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

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20th Century Fox

Overstuffed with hollow CGI, the one thing Alien vs. Predator has going for it is it delivers exactly what’s promised in the title. If you’re looking for any semblance of a real plot, look elsewhere, because this movie isn’t for you. Oh sure, fan favorite Lance Henriksen shows up as billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland – the man on whom his android character’s appearance in previous films was based – and assembles a team to investigate a mysterious, shape-shifting pyramid buried under the ice in Antarctica, but the humans are mainly here to be playthings and add to the body count in this extraterrestrial showdown. Like Godzilla vs. King Kong, the popcorn-worthy enjoyment of Alien vs. Predator comes from seeing two big baddies going at it with cloaks, daggers, and facehuggers, even if the whole thing is pretty silly. Best to forget the two excellent series this film pulls its main monsters from and just settle in for the schlocky carnage.


5. Alien: Resurrection (1997)

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20th Century Fox

Not even a script from beloved sci-fi scribe Joss Whedon could save this semi-fun clunker set 200-some odd years after the events of Alien 3. This time around, poor Ripley has been cloned using DNA from blood samples taken before her death and impregnated with an alien embryo. As a result, she has super-strength, acidic blood, and a sixth sense to feel the xenomorphs. But despite the added welcome presence of Winona Ryder as an oddly empathetic synthetic and tough guy Ron Perlman, the film is mainly recycled scenarios from previous installments and an excessive amount of gore. Sigourney Weaver, for her part, commits fully to a sequel unworthy of her talents. This one should have just stayed dead; no resurrection required.


4. Alien 3 (1992)

Director David Fincher’s feature film career got off to an inauspicious start with this jumbled if intriguing third installment in the series that features a bald Ripley butting heads with both a renegade xenomorph and the ex-inmates of a penal colony when her escape pod crashes on Fiorina “Fury” 161. The film unsuccessfully tries to be too many things at once: a meditation on faith, an indictment of corporate greed and ego, an exploration of PTSD, and an old-fashioned horror movie.

Unfortunately, these loose threads of interesting, complex ideas are never given the chance to fully develop; too much studio meddling throughout production led to a patchwork script that is promising but messy. Like many of Fincher’s later films, Alien 3 has a pervasive atmospheric bleakness in every frame that actually works quite well for its rather fatalistic plot, creating a rather beautiful visual style that stands apart from the other films in the series. Weaver is still the main attraction, and she delivers…quite literally. There’s only room for one Queen in this series, and Ripley makes damn sure she’s it. RIP to them both.


3. Prometheus (2012)

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20th Century Fox

Critics and fans were split on Ridley Scott’s 2012 return to the franchise due to its ambitious, philosophically-heavy plot from screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts that raised more questions than answers. However, Prometheus is perhaps Scott’s most visually stylish film of late with tastefully-employed CGI intermixed with practical effects to achieve an equal sense of wonder and isolation, not to mention a bloody scene featuring Noomi Rapace that rivals Alien for its shock and gore factor.

Though not, in Scott’s words, a “direct prequel” to Alien, the film has plenty of visual, narrative, and musical nods to the original peppered throughout while still successfully existing as its own unique story within the larger Alien universe. While it lacks some of the nuance of Alien, Prometheus manages to capture much of the same atmospheric, chilly tone. One thing critics and fans could unanimously agree on: Michael Fassbender’s standout performance as creepy, conniving, Peter O’Toole-obsessed android, David, who will return in the 2017 follow-up, Alien: Covenant. Big things have small beginnings, indeed.


2. Alien (1979)

Pitched to studio execs as “Jaws in space,” Scott’s first cinematic voyage into the place no one can hear you scream is a modern masterpiece of slow-building suspense and downright terror. Much like in Jaws, Scott’s sparing use of the actual alien until late into the film ramps up the tension, putting the Nostromo crew and the audience alike on edge as does Jerry Goldsmith’s atmospheric, haunting score.

Every element –- from H.R. Giger’s iconic creature design to Michael Seymour’s production design of the sets –- gives the film a chilly, claustrophobic yet elegant feeling unmatched by a sci-fi film since. While Sigourney Weaver’s tough-as-nails Ripley would go on to become the breakout heroine of the series, Alien is truly an ensemble piece with each character getting plenty of screen –- and scream –- time. From its still-shocking “chestburster” scene to Ripley’s frantic race against the ship’s self-destruct sequence, this one set the stage for future sci-fi films in bold, exciting ways.


1. Aliens (1986)

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20th Century Fox

James Cameron’s follow-up to the original is heavier on the action than the suspense but equally as thrilling and scary, turning Ripley’s survivor of the first film into an all-out badass warrior much like he did with Sarah Connor in the Terminator series. Weaver earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her strong, layered performance as the embattled but relentless Ripley, and Cameron’s screenplay and direction gives her a level of respect and bravura usually reserved for male action heroes.

Cameron takes the seeds of Ridley Scott’s original ideas and makes them bloom into a fully realized world of militarized forces, sinister corporate agendas, and true dystopian nightmares. The standout supporting cast featuring Cameron favorites Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn as well as Paul Reiser, Carrie Henn’s orphan Newt, and Lance Henriksen’s iconic android Bishop hold their own and add to the emotional heft of the film. The heart-racing action sequences balance out the slow-build to the mother of all climactic battles at the end. A technical marvel in its time that still looks impressive today, James Cameron’s sequel dares to actually have a heart in the midst of its chilly futuristic setting. For the rest of the films in the series, it’s game over, man! Aliens blows them all out of the airlock.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.