This thriller set in outer space is the box-office hit of the summer. It capitalizes on our fear of monsters in the dark. Nostromo, an interstellar space transport, picks up signals from a strange planet. Crew members go out to investigate and return to the ship with a deadly chameleon-like organism in tow. Eventually the seven astronauts must each face this mutating monster on board the Nostromo.

Tom Skerritt is featured as Captain Dallas, a humane man whose heart proves his undoing. Yaphet Kotto and Harry Dean Stanton put in good performances as two obstreperous basement engineers who have nothing on their minds except being paid for an extra stop on the mission. Ian Holm is scary as the scientist officer who is in cahoots with Mother, Nostromo's computer. Sigourney Weaver makes a very appealing screen debut as the second-in command — a woman who is strong as steel and imbued with common sense lacking in the others. Veronica Cartwright and John Hurt are the other crew members.

The first requisite of an above-average or excellent horror story is characters with whom we can identify. Scripter Dan O'Bannon has done his job well. Director Ridley Scott's use of hand-held cameras and his clever manipulation of light and sound lift this movie above other films of its type. Alien is a scare machine that really works!