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The Alien franchise is one of cinema’s strongest series. You wanna know why? Because it refuses to be pigeon-holed into one specific genre. The series kicked off with one of the greatest horror films of all time, but throughout its nearly 40-year lifespan, the franchise has evolved and transformed nearly as much as its titular monster. Entertainment Editor Drew Dietsch examines the entire franchise and takes a look at all the different genres, tones, and changes the series has gone through.

Alien

Ridley Scott’s original masterpiece took classic horror elements from films like The Old Dark House and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and transplanted them into the far reaches of deep space. Alien is basically a slasher movie where the killer is a constantly evolving extraterrestrial lifeform. And it’s the greatest slasher movie ever made. Eat your heart out, Jason Voorhees.

Aliens

When the time came for a sequel, James Cameron decided that it was time to go to war. By turning the story into a Vietnam allegory, Aliens was able to shift into the realm of action cinema without losing the dark edge of the original.

Alien 3

Speaking of dark, Alien 3 went into full-on bummer territory. Director David Fincher took the story to a place that many fans didn’t approve of, but maybe that’s because this version was looking at how the alien was a curse upon protagonist Ellen Ripley. It made the movie feel closer to Requiem for a Dream than a sci-fi/horror/action flick.

Alien Resurrection

Didn’t like how gloomy the last film was? Well, Alien Resurrection went way over to the other side of the spectrum and became a comedy courtesy of whimsical French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and screenwriter Joss Whedon. Yes, if you ever wanted to see the series get unabashedly goofy, this is the entry that will scratch that itch.

Alien vs. Predator AVP: Requiem

Need more comic booky, blockbuster fare? Paul WS Anderson’s showdown flick was more than capable of that, turning the series into a PG-13 toy seller. There was a sequel that tried to be more violent but came across just as silly. But hey, if that’s your bag, have fun playing with your Predalien action figure.

PrometheusAlien: Covenant

Now that Ridley Scott has returned to the series, he’s bringing back the B-movie feeling of the original film but adding in some philosophical pondering into the mix. Just goes to show that when you have a good idea, you can tell an infinite amount of stories in a number of different ways. Just as long as we always get some sweet chestburstin'.

Alien: Covenant bursts into theaters on May 19.
Drew Dietsch
Drew Dietsch has written for CHUD.com, the News-Press, WhatCulture, and releases a weekly film review podcast, The Drew Reviews Podcast. He'll yak your ear off about horror movies, Jaws, RoboCop, and/or Batman if you let him.