Among some of the odder choices for my age range, like Porky's, Animal House, Ragtime, Deer Hunter, and Apocalypse Now, one film stuck in my head as being quite possibly the largest double edged sword in my movie watching career. And it turns 30 this month.
Few films changed the science fiction genre any more than the movie, "Alien." It was dark, gritty, and built on suspense and terror like nothing else before it. I must have been about 10, and in the 5th grade. No kid I know was allowed to see this movie. By this age, I had seen porn, underage sex, and incredible scenes of terror and violence on the big screen. Nobody cared or believed me, but Alien was different. Seeing Alien was like that moment when the kids saw "Terrence and Philip" in the movie "South Park." Kids had HEARD of the chestbursting scene. And they wanted to know it all. I went from social pariah to cool kid for about a week because of this movie, as I described in lurid detail the gore and the most important part; the ever mythical shape of the whole alien, which trailers and posters never showed more than a mere fraction of.
Or course, there was a flip side to this power. I had nightmares and had trouble sleeping for weeks. I kept feeling like an alien was uncurling like a serpent in the shadows. I refused to see the film again until somewhere in the 1990s.
And despite the fact it was an R-rated horror film, they had action figures shortly thereafter. I thought I was making it up in my head, but no: