- "You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."
"You admire it."
"I admire its purity. A survivor... Unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality."
- ―Ash and Lambert regarding The Alien (from Alien)
The Alien, nicknamed "Kane's son" by Ash, was a lone Xenomorph Drone that was born on board the USCSS Nostromo from Executive Officer Thomas Kane in 2122. After its metamorphosis it went on a vicious kill spree and was solely responsible for wiping out all but one of the Nostromo's crew in just a few hours. It was eventually killed by Ellen Ripley, who ejected the creature into space and burned it alive.
As an Egg
The Alien began its life as one of the many Ovomorphs aboard a derelict Engineer spacecraft on the moon LV-426. At some point, this spacecraft crashed on LV-426 under unclear circumstances, while at around the same time the vessel's Pilot was apparently impregnated by a Facehugger. Before dying, the Pilot set up a warning beacon to deter any other lifeforms from investigating, and this signal was later detected by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.
In the year 2122, while transporting an ore refinery from Thedus, the Nostromo, a commercial towing vehicle, was redirected to LV-426, supposedly in response to detecting the distress signal emanating from the planetoid; in reality, Weyland-Yutani had pre-selected the Nostromo to investigate after detecting the signal themselves, placing a Synthetic sleeper agent aboard to ensure the survival of anything that was discovered.
Three of the ship's crew — Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane and navigator Joan Lambert — set off in search of the signal's origin, eventually discovering the derelict ship. While investigating, Kane stumbled across the ship's cargo of Eggs and was attacked by a Facehugger. After he was returned to the Nostromo and the ship took off, attempts to remove the Facehugger failed. Later, with embryo implantation complete, the Facehugger detached and died, leaving Kane apparently unharmed until the Chestburster within him erupted during the crew's last meal as they were preparing to re-enter hypersleep. The infant creature rapidly escaped into the bowels of the ship.
Stalking the crew
Within hours, the Alien had grown into a full-sized Drone and claimed its first victim, technician Samuel Brett, who was ambushed as he searched for the ship's cat Jones; the Alien punctured his skull with a Headbite before dragging the corpse into the Nostromo's ventilation ducts. When Captain Dallas went into the air ducts in an attempt to flush the creature into the ship's main airlock using a Flame Thrower, the Alien captured him as he descended a ladder next to the Drone.
Eventually, the survivors — Ellen Ripley, Lambert and Dennis Parker — elected to set the Nostromo for self destruct and abandon the ship in its shuttle, the Narcissus, although in order to survive they needed to collect additional coolant for the shuttle's life support systems. The Alien ambushed Lambert and Parker on the lower decks while they collected the necessary supplies. While Lambert froze in fear, the Alien easily overpowered Parker and killed him with a Headbite, before returning to Lambert, mutilating her, killing her and hanging her body from the ceiling.
Ripley, now alone with the creature, set the Nostromo's engines to self-destruct and headed for the Narcissus, but was cornered by the Alien and cut off from the shuttle. She escaped while the Alien was distracted by Jones, left behind in a cat carrier, but was unable to shut off the ship's self-destruct sequence. With no choice, she made for the shuttle again, this time finding the Alien gone and escaping before the Nostromo exploded.
After preparing to enter hypersleep, Ripley discovered, to her horror, that the Alien had actually escaped the Nostromo's destruction by sneaking aboard the Narcissus with her and was sleeping in an alcove. After donning a spacesuit, she blasted the creature with steam to lure it out but was unprepared when it attacked her. Ripley opening the shuttle's airlock and ejecting the Drone into space just moments before it could kill her. However, it clung on in the open doorway and began to haul itself back on board; Ripley shot the Alien through its abdomen with a harpoon gun, flinging it out into space. The harpoon became caught in the closing door, tethering the Alien to the ship, and once again the wounded creature attempted to climb back aboard, this time through the shuttle's engines. Ripley ignited them, incinerating the Alien and finally hurling it away into space, killing it.
In the Director's Cut of the film, the Alien is seen to have created a small Hive in the Nostromo's hold where it cocooned Brett and Dallas and began transforming them into new Eggs. Ripley discovered the nest during her escape from the ship and incinerated it, and its occupants, with a flamethrower.
List of Notable Victims
Behind the Scenes
The Alien was designed by H. R. Giger, based on his 1976 lithograph Necronom IV. However, before Giger became involved both Dan O'Bannon and Ron Cobb made some preliminary sketches of Alien's antagonistic creature. Upon being hired, Giger made several conceptual paintings of the adult Xenomorph before crafting a full-size sculpt of the final version, constructed from plasticine and incorporating pieces such as vertebrae from snakes and cooling tubes from a Rolls-Royce. This sculpt was then used to cast the latex suit, which was again embellished with unusual inorganic components, including bottle caps and even macaroni pieces. The highly detailed costume was very restrictive and severely limited Bolaji Badejo's movements when inside.
The creature's head was manufactured separately by Carlo Rambaldi, who had worked on the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Rambaldi followed Giger's designs closely, making some modifications in order to incorporate the moving parts which would animate the creature's jaw and inner mouth. A system of hinges and cables were used to operate the creature's rigid tongue, which protruded from the main mouth and had a second mouth at the tip with its own set of movable jaws. Condoms were used to fabricate the various membranes around the jaws owing to their translucent appearance and ability to stretch with the movement of the jaws themselves. Rambaldi ultimately constructed three heads for the film, two fully articulated pieces and a third lightweight head for use when the actor playing the Alien would be required to perform rapid movements during action scenes. The articulated heads had around nine hundred moving parts and points of articulation. Part of a human skull was used as the "face", hidden under the smooth, translucent cover of the head. It was originally conceived to encase maggots beneath the clear carapace so that the movement within could be seen on camera, but the idea was scrapped when the maggots fell asleep beneath the hot studio lights and refused to move.
Rambaldi's original Xenomorph jaw is now on display in the Smithsonian Institution, while in April 2007 the original Drone suit was sold at auction. Copious amounts of K-Y Jelly were used to simulate saliva and to give the Alien an overall slimy appearance. The creature's vocalizations were provided by Percy Edwards, a voice artist famous for providing bird sounds for British television throughout the 1960s and 1970s as well as the whale sounds for Orca: Killer Whale (1977), with some additional vocals provided by effects artist Roger Dicken.
- Main article: Eggmorphing
The canon status of the Alien's attempt to reproduce by turning a victim into a new Egg, dubbed "Eggmorphing" by fans, is hotly debated to this day. Owing to the fact the scene in Alien showing this was not officially released until the Director's Cut in 2003, it is not clear whether both forms of Xenomorph reproduction (Eggs laid by a Queen, as seen in Aliens, and Eggs created from captured victims, as seen in the Director's Cut of Alien) are typical of the species. Many fans postulate that Xenomorphs use the Eggmorphing tactic as a secondary means of reproduction in the absence of a Queen, and possibly to create a Queen in the first place. This theory is backed up by the novelization of Alien3, which claims that both methods can be used, depending on the situation, and the latter is capable of creating a Queen. To date, the Alien3 novel is the only official source that attempts to ratify both methods.
Despite being cut from the film, the Eggmorphing scene was fairly well-known at the time of Alien's release. Notably, the idea of victims being turned into Eggs in such a manner resurfaced in several of the unfilmed scripts for Alien3, chiefly Eric Red's unproduced script. In fact, early shooting scripts for the film that was ultimately made featured a scene where the survivors discover a small Hive constructed by the Dragon, inside which the creature has cocooned several of its victims and is apparently turning them into new Eggs. However, the sequence was cut before filming.
Prototype translucent suit
The prototype translucent suit was created during pre-production as was one of the first (if not the first) suits to be struck from the original Alien sculpted by Giger. One of their original concepts for the creature was to be almost translucent, allowing viewers to see the eerie internal workings of the body, but the special material was particularly rigid and proved to be too inflexible for the film's requirements and the concept was scrapped in favor of the opaque skin creating the dark, mysterious 'barely seen' look. Notably, a similar translucent skin concept was also considered during the development of the Newborn for Alien Resurrection.
Crafted from a special latex by Andrew Ainsworth, today the suit is in a delicate condition and consists of a torso, left arm and hand as well as a pair of legs and solid translucent resin head. Due to the sheer age of the suit, it has begun to display signs of deterioration showing cracks and missing sections that have become detached over the years, most notably the right arm, neck, dome and part of the right side of the skull. It appears that the tail and dorsal tubes were never made for this suit, as neither of the two are seen in any behind the scenes pictures of the suit. To ensure maximum longevity the Prop Store had the suit professionally treated and placed over a perfectly fitted display model using a combination of special adhesive and cream latex, which all help support the suit.
The suit was acquired by the Prop Store from the personal collection of Ivor Powell and the suit was sold by the Prop Store with bespoke base that incorporates the movie title, and the overall ensemble measured over 2m (79“) tall, by approximately 53cm x 85cm (20“x “33.5). Due to the suit's delicate condition and size a specialist shipping service was required and customers would request a quote before ordering.
- Fans have given the Alien in Alien various nicknames to differentiate it from other Xenomorph individuals, such as "Big Chap", "Kane's Son" (a phrase actually spoken in the movie by Ash) and "Giger's Alien" (after its designer, H. R. Giger). During filming, the crew nicknamed the creature "Little Rascal" while Giger himself humorously referred to the adult as the "Alien Dessert", a reference to its status as the final evolution of the organism in the film. The name Big Chap has notably been adopted by several companies for officially licensed media, including NECA, while Giger's Alien is also the title of both a book and a documentary on the artist's role in the production.
- While developing the script for Alien, Dan O'Bannon briefly considered making the titular antagonist a virus or a spiritual force rather than a physical creature.
- Following Alien's release, one reviewer stated that the titular creature "made the shark in Jaws look like a goldfish", such was its horrifying impact and presence.
- The fully grown Alien in the novelization of the movie is quite different to that in the film. It has an alarming ability to regenerate after sustaining injury, possesses large eyes, and notably does not have an inner jaw, instead using its bare hands to kill its victims.
- While the Alien does not have eyes in the film, it does have human eye sockets in its skull under its domed carapace. While they are difficult to discern in the movie, they are quite visible in production stills of the suit.
- According to Ridley Scott, he conceived the Alien as having a lifespan of only a few days — the reason it hides within the Narcissus and shows no real interest in attacking Ripley (until she provokes it) was because it was coming to the end of its life and was looking for a perfect place to die alone.
- Dan O'Bannon, meanwhile, envisioned the Alien as being part of a higher culture, and the only reason the individual aboard the Nostromo is so hostile is because it finds itself alone and ignorant.
- To coincide with the release of Alien, Kenner Products produced an 18" toy figure of the titular creature that has since gone on to become one of the most sought-after pieces of Alien franchise merchandise.
- The American Film Institute ranked the Alien as the fourteenth best villain in American film history in their list of the 100 greatest heroes and villains.
- The Lurker caste seen in Aliens: Colonial Marines is obviously inspired by the Alien's design.
- Coincidentally, the Alien can be thought of as a "sibling" to the Drone that later hunted Ellen Ripley's daughter Amanda, due to the fact both creatures originated from the same batch of eggs.
- Aliens/novel (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Original Sin (mentioned only)
- Alien: Out of the Shadows (mentioned only)
- Alien: Isolation (mentioned only)
- Alien: River of Pain (mentioned only)
Behind the scenes
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