A look back at this day in film history
May 25
Alien May 25, 1979
Alien opens

Would you believe that perhaps the scariest monster in motion picture history had its origins in a beach ball? Ridley Scott’s Alien opened May 25, 1979, and, indeed, the metallic, murderous, viper-fast monster that terrorized a deep space crew on the starship Nostromo was inspired by low-tech special effect from a sci-fi spoof, Dark Star. Alien’s screenwriter, Dan O’Bannon, previously wrote and starred in the 1974 John Carpenter film, which is about a space crew roaming the galaxy to protect the planet Earth before they are attacked from within. Those attacks are from their intelligent bomb cargo but also an alien mascot that was made from a spray-painted beach ball. After the film, which attained cult status on college campuses throughout the 70s, O’Bannon said he dreamed of making a film in which the alien would be truly scary. On a trip to Paris, he discovered the work of the Swiss fantasy artist H.R. Giger. “His paintings had a profound effect on me,” O’Bannon is quoted as saying in The Book of Alien. “I had never seen anything that was quite as horrible and at the same time as beautiful as his work. And so I ended up writing a script about a Giger monster.” It wasn’t until Ridley Scott signed on to direct, though, that studio 20th Century Fox agreed to hire Giger himself to the film. Giger would go on to win an Academy Award for Visual Effects. The artist’s designs laid the groundwork for all the various Alien sequels and the more recent Alien vs. Predator franchise. These Alien designs also influenced Giger’s work designing clubs and bars. In Switzerland’s Giger Bar, for example, visitors can hang out in the spaceship-like interior and sip “alien” cocktails (white and black vodka, Maracuj liqueur and ginger ale).

More Flashbacks
May 25, 1979
The Brood released in USA

Ask any film fan to name a film about divorce, and some predictable replies — War of the Roses, Intolerable Cruelty, Kramer vs. Kramer — will come up. But what about David Cronenberg's The Brood? The 1979 horror film stars Oliver Reed as a psychotherapist whose experimental treatment causes one patient, played by Samantha Eggar, to spawn mutant children who act out her violent impulses.

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