I can clearly remember the very first time I heard about Ridley Scott’s now-classic science-fiction/horror movie Alien.
It was late September, 1979 and I was sitting in a Physics class at school waiting for our new substitute teacher to arrive (sadly his name now eludes me). He arrived late and instead of catching up for lost time he spent the first 20 minutes of the lesson excitedly telling myself and the rest of the class about the amazing movie he’d seen the night before – Alien. He actually went into quite a bit of graphic detail – particularly of the now famous chest-burster scene – and his enthusiasm was contagious. The fact that he wasn’t actually teaching us anything, or that he was talking to a class of 11 year olds didn’t seem to faze him at all. And while he was talking I clearly remember thinking two things: first, that this was, by far, the best Physics class I’d ever sat in (and as it turned out the best Physics class I ever sat through); and second, that I couldn’t wait to see this amazing film.
I eventually did see Alien, although it was a few years later, and even though I watched it on VHS the film’s power was undeniable. Despite his obvious faults as a teacher, that sub was spot-on when it came to film appreciation.
I mention all this because I was recently reminded of the teaser poster for the film, issued in early 1979. The poster is simple and bold, almost entirely mono-chrome with just a splash of colour. The image relies heavily on strong bold typography with the three orange figures at the bottom enclosed by the heavy black type. The tagline – “a word of warning…” – is also simple and understated.
Although the final theatrical poster for Alien was far more atmospheric, and featured the now famous “In space no one can hear you scream” tagline, I’m a great fan of it’s predecessor. It’s simple, bold and just hints at the film’s premise, everything a good teaser poster should be.