Alien: Specimen is a 2019 fan-made short film directed by Kelsey Taylor and starring Jolene Anderson and Aubrey Wakeling. Created as part of the Alien 40th anniversary shorts project run by Tongal in association with 20th Century Fox, the film centres on a colony botanist named Julie who becomes trapped in the facility where she works with a lone Facehugger, her only protection being the colony's guard dog.
In a remote greenhouse facility on planet LV-492, botanist Julie works the night shift alone, with only the outpost's dog, Maggie, for company. Discovering an unexpected shipment of soil, she radios her colleague Dev and expresses suspicion, pointing out that Maggie has taken an unusual interest in the containers. Despite finding no record of any soil samples being delivered, Dev dismisses Julie's concerns and tells her to get back to work. Donning her headphones so she can listen to her music, Julie wraps the mystery containers to prevent any potential contaminants leaking before going about the rest of her duties.
Later that night, Julie notices one of the barrels of soil has tipped over and now lies open; removing her headphones, she discovers the facility's containment alarm is ringing, but she is unable to reach the door before it seals, trapping her inside. She attempts to call Dev to have him override the lockdown, but the primary power fails, rendering the radio useless and leaving the area only dimly lit by emergency lighting. Hearing Maggie whimpering nearby, she goes to check on the dog; as she searches, she slips in a viscous slime on the greenhouse floor, discovering a trail leading back to the overturned barrel. Investigating further, she finds the source of the slime is an open, egg-like object hidden within the soil.
The radio returns to life long enough for Dev to inform Julie that he intends to reboot the facility's power in an attempt to lift the lockdown, and before she can tell him to wait the area plunges into total darkness. Recovering a flashlight, Julie realises there is a small, scurrying creature loose in the greenhouse with her. She desperately begins trying to prize open the access door with a trowel, hearing the sounds of Maggie scuffling with the organism in the darkness. Her efforts on the door quickly prove fruitless, and with Maggie's growls turning to pained yelps, Julie arms herself with a shovel and goes in search of the dog. She soon locates her amidst the plants, apparently unharmed, at which point Maggie's anxious barking alerts her to the Facehugger hiding in the ceiling above. Julie barely manages to bat the leaping creature away with the shovel, at which point Maggie sets upon it and disappears once more into the gloom.
As Julie follows their trail the power and lighting come back online, and she eventually finds the Facehugger lying wounded on the floor. Before it can recover she cuts it in half with the shovel. Nearby lies the twitching body of Maggie, the skin torn from her face, revealing her to be a synthetic. Dev arrives on the scene and asks what happened, to which Julie emotionally responds, "Maggie did her job." She thanks the damaged android for saving her life before plunging the shovel into her body, destroying her.
Alien: Specimen is one of two shorts produced as part of the 40th anniversary shorts contest not to be written by its director (the other being Alien: Harvest); Kelsey Taylor became aware of Tongal's project so close to the submission deadline that she felt she did not have time to develop a satisfactory story herself, and instead reached out to other Tongal users who were unable to enter due to living outside North America, asking if they would be willing to let her direct their story. She received four proposals in response (actually submitting all four) and 20th Century Fox and Tongal ultimately selected Federico Fracchia's greenhouse concept to enter production.
As originally planned, the Facehugger creature would have been portrayed with a practical prop throughout the short, but the production was unable to afford an articulated puppet on their tight budget and the crew struggled to achieve satisfactory results with the static props they had. With time running out, director Taylor turned to friend (and the film's gaffer) Luc Delamare who provided computer generated visual effects for the creature in its more active scenes.
- The greenhouse itself was initially conceived as a high-tech, laboratory-like facility similar to the lab where the Facehuggers are encountered in Aliens. However, when the crew lost the planned filming location, they changed to a more industrial, utilitarian look.
- Maggie was to be a French bulldog, the intention being she was a simple companion for Julie rather than a working dog. However, Fox suggested she be changed to a guard dog and thus she became a doberman, which director Kelsey Taylor noted was a better fit for the new industrial look of the greenhouse itself.
- The twist that Maggie is actually a synthetic was added late in the film's development, while the short originally concluded with Julie falling victim to the Facehugger, her superiors discovering her body once power is restored. However, Taylor decided that she wanted Julie to survive, and thus the synthetic dog was devised as a means to defeat the Facehugger and allow Julie to live.
- Alien: Specimen is one of two 40th anniversary shorts to receive an official "theatrical" poster, the other being Alien: Ore.
- Although the length of the film was set from the beginning, director Kelsey Taylor nonetheless views the short as "an early scene from a greater story and the beginning of an adventure that takes [Julie and Dev] outside the greenhouse and leads them to a dark truth about their mission". The envisaged continuation would see Julie and Dev fleeing into LV-492's dense native jungle after the greenhouse facility becomes overrun by Xenomorphs, and would also reveal whether the Egg found in the soil sample was accidentally scooped up or placed there intentionally.
- During production, Alien: Specimen was known as Alien: The Green House Effect.
- ↑ "Tongal - Creator Interview: Director Chris Reading on the Making of Alien: Containment". Retrieved on 2019-09-11.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "HN Entertainment - EXCLUSIVE: 'Alien: Specimen' Director Kelsey Taylor Talks To Us About Making Her Fantastic 'Alien' Short Film". Retrieved on 2019-09-11.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "AVPGalaxy - Kelsey Taylor (Director of Alien: Specimen, Alien 40th Anniversary Short) Interview". Retrieved on 2019-09-11.
- ↑ "AVPGalaxy - Fox Shares Release Order & Red Band Trailer for Alien: 40th Anniversary Shorts!". Retrieved on 2019-03-28.
- ↑ "Instagram - kelseytaylorhasnoinsta". Retrieved on 2019-09-11.