Category ArchiveAlien

Alien Synopsis

The Nostromo, a Weyland-Yutani commercial mining vessel, still 10 months from Earth, intercepts an alien signal from a nearby planet, Acheron, and the crew realize they are obligated to investigate under company policy ,or suffer fortiture of all shares. After landing on the planet, three crew members (Captain Dallas, Lambert and Kane), leave the ship to explore the area and find the source of the signal. Meanwhile the Nostromo’s mainframe “Mother” deciphers the message to be a warning, not a distress call. However, it’s too late to stop the away team as they have arrived at the source of the signal – a massive derelict alien spacecraft. Inside they find a sole alien corpse, thousands of years dead, and a cargo hold full of leathery egg-like structures. When Kane disturbs one of the eggs it opens and an organism attaches itself to Kane’s face, immobilizing him.

Breaking policy Ash, the ship’s science officer, allows Kane and the others back onboard and they leave the planet for the Nostromo waiting in orbit. Kane is kept in medical while Dallas and Ash decide how to get the organism off his face without killing him. It seems to feed oxygen to his lungs while clinging to his throat and face. After a failed attempt to cut the creature off, the crew finds out it has an amazing defense mechanism – concentrated acid for blood!

Then the creature seems to leave Kane’s face on it’s own and quickly dies. Ripley, the ship’s flight officer confronts Ash about allowing Kane back on board, but he avoids the issue while continuing to study the dead alien creature. Kane then wakes and seems to be fine until he begins to choke during dinner, and another alien creature bursts from his chest killing him. The first organism laid an embryo in his chest to spawn and grow. Shocked, the crew do nothing but watch the creature scurry off into the depths of the ship.

A hunt for the alien begins with motion tracking devices and electric prods, but quickly escalates to flamethrowers when Brett, the chief engineer’s assistant, is killed by a now seven foot tall alien monster. The crew quickly realize it uses the ship’s air ducts to travel, and Captain Dallas is the first to enter the shafts to flush the creature out, armed with only a flamethrower and flashlight. The alien is tracked to Dallas’s position and communication with Dallas is lost. A search of the ducts turns up only his flamethrower. No blood. No sign of Dallas.

Ripley, now in command, tries to get answers from Mother and finds that the company has ordered Ash to ensure a safe return of the alien creature to Earth for study in the bio-weapons division. Crew expendable. Ash is then discovered to be an android when he attacks Ripley, and Parker, the ships chief engineer, knocks his head off with a fire extinguisher, exposing circuitry underneath.

Ripley, Lambert and Parker decide to take their chances in the lifeboat, Narcissus, but Lambert and Parker are killed while gathering oxygen tanks for the life support system. Ripley, and the ship’s cat Jones, escape in the lifeboat and self destruct the Nostromo’s engines.

The alien is smart, however, and has stowed away in the lifeboat with Ripley. She puts on a compression suit, straps into the pilot chair, and blows the alien out of the airlock, then destroys it with the thrusters. Ripley is then left to float toward Earth with hopes of being picked up within a few weeks.

Alien Awards and Nominations

1980 Academy Awards

  • Oscar Winner, Best Visual Effects
    • H.R. Giger
    • Carlo Rambaldi
    • Nick Allder
    • Dennis Ayling
  • Oscar Nomination, Best Art/Set Direction
    • Michael Seymour
    • Leslie Dilley
    • Roger Christian
    • Ian Whittaker

1980 Golden Globe Awards

  • Golden Globe Nomination, Best Original Score – Motion Picture
    • Jerry Goldsmith
  • 1980 Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films, USA Awards
    • Saturn Award Winner, Best Science-Fiction Film
    • Alien
    • Saturn Award Winner,Best Supporting Actress
    • Veronica Cartwright

1980 British Academy Awards

  • BAFTA Film Award Winner, Best Production Design
    • Michael Seymour
  • BAFTA Film Award Winner, Best Soundtrack
    • Derrick Leather
    • Bill Rowe
    • Jim Shields
  • BAFTA Film Award Nomination, Best Costume Design
    • John Mollo
  • BAFTA Film Award Nomination, Best Editing
    • Terry Rawlings
  • BAFTA Film Award Nomination, Best Supporting Actor
    • John Hurt
  • BAFTA Film Award Nomination, Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Role
    • Sigourney Weaver
    • Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music
    • Jerry Goldsmith

1980 Hugo Awards

Hugo Award Winner, Best Dramatic Presentation: Alien

1979 San Sebastián International Film Festival

Silver Seashell Winner, Best Cinematography and Special Effects: Alien

Total Nominations: 14.
Total Awards: 8.

Alien Trivia

This section includes both common and little known trivia about Alien, including outtake information, cast secrets, director quirks, and more. If you have trivia of your own submit it to us and have it added to the site (with full credit, of course):

  1. The Spanish version of the title translates as Alien: The 8th Passenger.
  2. Originally to be directed by Walter Hill, but he pulled out and gave the job to Ridley Scott.
  3. Roger Dicken, who designed and operated the “facehugger” and the “chestburster,” had originally wanted the latter to pull itself out of Kane’s torso with its own little hands, a sequence he felt would have produced a much more horrifying effect than the gratuitous blood and guts in the release print.
  4. The alien’s cycle of laying eggs in the chest (which then burst out) is similar to the lifecycle of the tsetse fly.
  5. A lawsuit by A.E. van Vogt, claiming plagiarism of his 1939 story Discord in Scarlet (which he had also incorporated in the 1950 novel Voyage of the Space Beagle), was settled out of court.
  6. Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed.
  7. An early draft of the script had a male Ripley.
  8. Veronica Cartwright was originally to play Ripley, but producers opted for Sigourney Weaver. Unbeknownst to Cartwright at the time.
  9. In the scene where Dallas, Kane and Lambert are leaving the ship, the actual actors walking past the Nostromo’s landing struts are three children (two of whom were Scott’s children dressed in scaled down spacesuits. This has the effect of making the ship look bigger.
  10. The compression suits were very hot, causing Tom Skerrit, Veronica Cartwright, and John Hurt to lose weight during the filming of the scene in which Dallas, Lambert, and Kane venture to the derelict. Only after Ridley Scott’s own children collapsed wearing the suits was something done.*
  11. A sex scene between Dallas and Ripley was in the script, but was not filmed.
  12. The front (face) part of the alien costume’s head is made from a cast of a real human skull.
  13. “Nostromo” is the title of a Joseph Conrad book. The shuttle that Ripley escapes on is called the “Narcissus”, a reference to another Conrad book.
  14. Conceptual artist H.R. Giger’s designs were changed several times, because of their blatant sexuality: the top of the eggs resembled a vagina too closely.
  15. Extra scenes filmed but not included, due to pacing problems: Ripley finds Dallas and Brett; Dallas is covered in maggots and begs Ripley to kill him; She does so with a flame thrower; Ripley and Lambert discuss whether Ash has sex or not; alternative death scene for Brett; Parker comes across an alive Brett being lifted from the ground.
  16. Scott is reportedly quoted as saying that originally he wanted a much darker ending. He planned on having the alien bite off Ripley’s head in the escape shuttle, sit in her chair, and then start speaking with her voice in a message to Earth. Apparently, 20th Century Fox wasn’t too pleased with such a dark ending.
  17. The Polish title, translated back to English, is “The 8th Passenger of the Nostromo.”
  18. During production an attempt was made to make the alien character transparent or at least translucent.
  19. Three aliens were made: a model and two suits. One of the suits was for the seven foot tall Masai tribesman Bolajo Bolaji, and the other was for a trained stunt man. The models had to be repainted every evening of the shoot because the slime used on-set removed the acrylic paint from their surfaces.
  20. The vector graphics that appear on Ripley’s screen showing the undocking sequence for the Nostromo was also used for the aircar launch sequence in Blade Runner (1982).
  21. The rumor that the cast, except for John Hurt, did not know what would happen during the “chestburster” scene is partly true. The scene had been explained for them, but they did not know specifics. For example, Veronica Cartwright did not expect to be sprayed with blood.
  22. The thin layer of mist that “notified the eggs” was made possible using a pulsating laser and smoke, borrowed from the band The Who?**.

Sources

  • Internet Movie Database: Alien (1979).
  • *Talking with Veronica Cartwright , Richard Knight Jr., Windy City Times, November 8, 2006.
  • **Official website for the American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100 Villains CBS special, air date June 3, 2003 at 8 pm.