ByJonathan J Moya, writer at Creators.co
Movie loving owner of a fashion boutique.
Jonathan J Moya

I still remember the space where Alien made me scream. In the vacuum of of all the other loud gasps I am sure no one heard it. Three years later, in that very same space, I would cry for the first time at a movie when a friendlier E.T. died.

Film buffs cherish those moments when movies jolt them from darkness to light, when the visceral becomes emotional, and an image is so seared into consciousness and soul that it informs not only every movie seen after that but almost every life moment also.

That is what Alien was. A chest-burster. It exploded you from within, left you gutted, watching the better part die and the evil created scampering out just as the door closes. Life was a Nostromo, a labyrinth where if you did get through, it was just barely and sleep was the only reward. You had to forget the horror in the dream. It took three years until Spielberg's dream provided a counterbalance, before it became comfortable for you, and us, and the world to imagine the good space and not just monstrous nothingness seeking to destroy us.

H.R. Giger created the concept art for the creature, but it took director Ridley Scott to fully transform this Alien flesh into the symbol for evil. Thirty-five years latter it still spawns the artistic imagination.

The Poster Posse strives to do the film justice with over 35 alternate art poster prints dedicated to all things Ripley, Ridley, icky, and in between. Between the sweet exploration of deadly space is enough trivia about the making of Alien to fill the vacuum between the next frightful illumination.

Alien Trivia

Doaly
Doaly
  • The chest bursting scene was filmed in one take using four cameras.

  • Except for John Hurt, most of the cast did not fully know what would happen during the chest bursting scene. They only knew the vaguest of details. For instance, Veronica Cartwright did not know she would be sprayed with blood.

  • H.R. Giger's initial designs for the facehugger were held by US Customs who were alarmed at what they saw. Writer Dan O'Bannon had to go to LAX to explain to them that they were designs for a horror movie.

  • The actual production design of the facehugger used by sculptors to make the real prop was created by Dan O'Bannon himself, as O'Bannon had trained as a designer. (Giger wasn't available in England at the time).

  • The embryonic movements of the facehugger, prior to bursting out of its egg, were created by Ridley Scott using both his rubber-gloved hands.

  • H.R. Giger's design for the Chestburster was originally based very strongly on Francis Bacon's "Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion," depicting creatures that while quite phallic are also more birdlike, and were actually based on the Greek Furies. Giger's doubts about his first design were confirmed when Ridley Scott fell down laughing at the sight of the prototype Chestburster, describing it as "like a plucked turkey," and Roger Dicken ended up retooling it to resemble the now classic design.

  • The scene with the alien exploding from the stomach was a reference that came to co-writer Dan O'Bannon because he struggled with stomach problems.
Doaly
Doaly
  • The movie was originally to be directed by Walter Hill, but he pulled out and gave the job to Ridley Scott.
  • All of the names of the main characters were changed by Walter Hill and David Giler during the revision of the original script by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett.
  • The script by O'Bannon and Shusett also had a clause indicating that all of the characters are "unisex", meaning they could be cast with male or female actors.
  • However, Shusett and O'Bannon never thought of casting Ripley as a female character.
Andrew Swainson
Andrew Swainson
  • 20th Century Fox Studios almost did not allow the "space jockey", or the giant alien pilot, to be in the film. This was because, at the time, props for movies weren't so large and it would only be used for one scene.
  • However, conceptual artist 'Ron Cobb (I)' convinced them to leave the scene in the movie, as it would be the film's "Cecil. B. DeMille shot", showing the audience that this wasn't some low-budget B-movie.
  • The large Space Jockey sculpture was designed and painted by H.R. Giger himself, who was disappointed he couldn't put any finishing touches on it by the time filming came about for the scene.
  • The Space Jockey prop was burned and destroyed by a burning cigarette left on the model.
  • The space jockey prop was 26 feet tall.
Andy Fairhurst
Andy Fairhurst
  • According to myth, the name for the company, "Weyland Yutani", was taken from the names of Ridley Scott's former neighbors - he hated them, so he decided to "dedicate" the name of the "evil company" to them.
  • In reality the name was created by conceptual designer Ron Cobb (who created the Nostromo and the crew's uniforms) to imply a corner on the spacecraft market by an English-Japanese corporation.
  • According to himself, he would have liked to use "Leyland-Toyota" but obviously could not so he changed one letter in Leyland and added the Japanese name of his (not Scott's) neighbor.
  • Nostromo is the title of a Joseph Conrad book. The shuttlecraft is called the Narcissus, from the title of another Joseph Conrad book.
Ben Mcleod
Ben Mcleod
  • The Alien's slime consisted of K-Y jelly.
  • The original working title was Star Beast.
Berkay Daglar
Berkay Daglar
  • The first day that Sigourney Weaver shot a scene involving Jones the cat, Sigourney Weaver's skin started reacting badly. Horrified, the young actress immediately thought that she might be allergic to cats, and that it would be easier for the production to recast her instead of trying to find 4 more identical cats.
  • As it transpired, Weaver was reacting to glycerin sprayed on her skin to make her look hot and sweaty.
Brian Taylor
Brian Taylor
  • To simulate the thrust of engines on the Nostromo, Ridley Scott had crew members shake and wobble the seats the actors were sitting in.
  • Three versions of the landing craft were built for the production: a 12" version for long shots, a 48" version for the landing sequence and a seven ton rig for showing the ship at rest on the planet's surface.
Chris Garofalo
Chris Garofalo
  • The inside of the alien eggs was composed of the most gelatinous nastiness the production crew could find: cow hearts and stomachs.
  • The facehugger's tail was a sheep's intestine.
  • The internal organs of the facehugger that Ash autopsies were made from fresh shellfish, four oysters and a sheep's kidney.
Chris Garofalo
Chris Garofalo
  • According to Ridley Scott, the mechanism that was used to make the alien egg open was so strong, that it could tear off a hand.
  • The screech of the newborn alien was voiced by animal impersonator Percy Edwards. He was personally requested by director Ridley Scott to do the sound effect and it was recorded in one take.
Chris Garofalo
Chris Garofalo
  • In The Blue Planet (2001), David Attenborough said the Alien (1979) monster was modeled after the Phronima, a creature spotted by submersibles at great depths.
  • However there is little evidence to support this claim - the original Alien design was based on a previous painting by H.R. Giger, Necronom IV, which bears little resemblance to the Phronima.
  • Giger's agent, Bijan Aalam, claims "He never inspired himself by any animals, terrestrial or marine".
Daniel Nash
Daniel Nash
  • Aside from being an easy-to-remember moniker for the ship's computer, another reason for the crew referring to it as "Mother" is the actual name of the computer: MU-TH-UR. This is printed in red lettering on the small access door that holds the computer card that Dallas and Ripley use to gain access to the control console room.
  • The original name for the spaceship was Snark. This was later changed to Leviathan before they finally settled for Nostromo.
Harlan Elam
Harlan Elam
  • The alien's habit of laying eggs in the chest (which later burst out) was inspired by spider wasps, which are said to lay their eggs "in the abdomen of spiders." This image gave Dan O'Bannon nightmares, which he used to create the story.
Harlan Elam
Harlan Elam
  • The producers of the 1950s potboiler It! The Terror from Beyond Space considered suing for plagiarism but didn’t.
John Aslarona
John Aslarona
  • 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.
Kaz oomori
Kaz oomori
  • Ridley Scott's first exposure to early Alien (1979) drafts were sent to him by Sanford Lieberson, then head of 20th Century Fox's London headquarters. Lieberson had seen Scott's The Duellists (1977) and was adequately impressed to consider the neophyte filmmaker.
Laurie Greasley
Laurie Greasley
  • The genesis of the film arose out of Dan O'Bannon's dissatisfaction with his first feature, Dark Star (1974) which John Carpenter directed in 1974. Because of that film's severe low budget, the alien was quite patently a beach ball.
  • For his second attempt, O'Bannon wanted to craft an altogether more convincing specimen. The goofiness of Dark Star (1974) also led him in the direction of an intense horror movie.
  • For the alien's appearance in the shuttle, the set was built around Bolaji Badejo, giving him an effective hiding place. However, extricating himself from the hiding place proved more difficult than anticipated. The alien suit tore several times, and, in one instance, the whole tail came off.
Luke Butland
Luke Butland
  • Many of the interior features of the Nostromo came from airplane graveyards.
  • Ridley Scott did all the hand-held camera-work himself.
Luke Butland
Luke Butland
  • The grid-like flooring on the Nostromo was achieved using upturned milk crates, painted over.
Luke Butland
Luke Butland
  • Jerry Goldsmith was most aggrieved by the changes that Ridley Scott and his editor Terry Rawlings wrought upon his score. Scott felt that Goldsmith's first attempt at the score was far too lush and needed to be a bit more minimalist.
  • Even then, Goldsmith was horrified to discover that his amended score had been dropped in places by Rawlings who inserted segments from Goldsmith's score to Freud (1962) instead.
  • (Rawlings had initially used these as a guide track only, and ended up preferring them to Goldsmith's revised work.) Goldsmith harbored a grudge against the two right up to his death in 2004.
Marko Manev
Marko Manev
  • In the original H.R. Giger concept art the Alien had eyes. Giger wanting to enhance the cold and unemotional nature of the creature for the movie insisted that the production team leave the eyes out.
Matt Needle
Matt Needle
  • Carlo Rambaldi constructed three alien heads based on H.R. Giger's designs: two mechanical models for use in various close-up work, and an elementary model for medium-to-long shots. Rambaldi was not available to operate his creations on the actual shoot, though he did spend two weeks in the UK as a technical advisor to Ridley Scott and his crew.
Matthew Griffin
Matthew Griffin
  • The famous tag line of the poster "In Space No One Can Hear You Scream" was created by copywriter Barbara Gips.
Mathew Griffin
Mathew Griffin
  • Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist who, in her comic Dykes to Watch Out For, proposed a simple test to see if a film treated its female characters as equal members of the cast. The rule has three parts: the must feature 1. At least two female characters, who 2. have a conversation with each other that 3. isn't about one of the male characters. This criteria came to be known as the Bechdel test.
  • The character in the comic who outlines these criteria says the last movie she saw that fit these criteria was Alien.
Orlando Arocena
Orlando Arocena
  • To preserve the shock-value of the alien's appearance, no production images of it were released, not even to author Alan Dean Foster when he wrote the film's novelization.
Orlando Arocena
Orlando Arocena
  • According to Ridley Scott in the DVD commentary, he had envisioned a moment in the ending scenes of Ripley and the alien in the space shuttle in which the alien would be sexually aroused by Ripley.
  • Scott says that in the scene, after Ripley hides in the closet, the alien would find her and would be staring at her through the glass door. The alien would then start touching itself as if comparing its body to Ripley's. The idea was eventually scrapped.
Patrick Seymour
Patrick Seymour
  • Ridley Scott gives credit to three films for shaping his Alien vision: the original Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey for their depictions of space and Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre for how it handles horror.
  • Dan O'Bannon requested that Ridley Scott and producer Walter Hill, both of whom had little knowledge of horror or science-fiction cinema, screen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to prepare for shooting the more intense scenes. Scott and Hill were stunned by the horror film and admitted it motivated them to ratchet up the intensity of their own film.
  • Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett wanted all the characters to be male to avoid what was already becoming a cliché in horror films: the female in danger being the only one left alive to face the killer at the climax, later referred to as the "final girl" phenomena.
  • Ironically, that's exactly where the character of Ripley ended up although it must be noted she is much stronger and more resourceful than the typical horror film "final girl".
Paul Ainsworth
Paul Ainsworth
  • During the opening sequence, as the camera wanders around the corridors of the Nostromo, we can clearly see a Krups coffee grinder mounted to a wall; this is the same model that became the "Mr. Fusion" in Back to the Future (1985).
Paul Ainsworth
Paul Ainsworth
  • Ridley Scott revealed that to make the action more realistic, the flight deck was wired so that flipping a switch in at one console would trigger lights somewhere else. The cast then developed "work routines" for themselves where one would trip a switch, leading another to respond to the changes at his work station and so on.
Peter Guiterrez
Peter Guiterrez
  • Ridley Scott avoided any notion of the Godzilla effect, noticing that the Alien was a man in a rubber suit, by mostly never shooting in long shots and taking close-ups at various angles to avoid showing the creatures human shaped skull.
  • The front part of the creature's face was cast from an actual human skull.
Rich Davies
Rich Davies
  • The only other person seriously considered for the Ripley part besides Sigourney Weaver was Weaver's Yale acting classmate Meryl Streep.
  • The screen test that bagged Sigourney Weaver the role of Ripley was her speech from her final scene.
Robert Bruno
Robert Bruno
  • Shredded condoms were used to create the tendons of the alien's jaw.
  • When Dan O'Bannon was stumped about why the crew couldn't just kill the Alien with a gun, concept artist Ron Cobb came up with the novel idea that the alien should bleed acid.
Rodolfo Reyes
Rodolfo Reyes
  • Bolaji Badejo who plays the alien in the movie was a graphic artist who was discovered at a pub by one of the casting directors.
  • He was about 7 feet tall with thin arms - just what they needed to fit into the alien costume.
  • He was sent for Tai Chi and Mime classes to learn how to slow down his movements.
  • A special swing had to be constructed for him to sit down during filming as he could not sit down on a regular chair once he was suited up because of the Alien's tail.
  • Three aliens were made: a model; a suit for seven-footer Bolaji Badejo; and another suit for a trained stunt man.
  • During this production, only H.R. Giger and Bolaji Badejo were permitted to view the rushes with Ridley Scott, enabling them to better discuss and refine aspects of the beast's look and movements.
  • Yaphet Kotto (Parker) actually picked fights with Bolaji Badejo who played the alien, in order to help his onscreen hatred of the creature.
  • Bolaji Badejo beat Peter Mayhew to the part of the alien.
Rodolfo Reyes
Rodolfo Reyes
  • The literal translations of some of this film's foreign language titles include Alien: The Eighth Passenger (Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Denmark and France) and Alien: The Uncanny Creature from a Strange World (West Germany).
  • The Hungarian translation of the title translated back is, "The 8th passenger is the death" and from that on, all 3 other Alien movies had such titles that end with the word "death." Aliens (1986): The name of the planet: Death; Alien³ (1992): Final solution: Death; Alien: Resurrection (1997): Reawakens the Death.
  • Furthermore, the alien is referred to as "death" in the Hungarian title of AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004): The Death against The Predator.
Salvador Anguiano
Salvador Anguiano
  • A scene originally cut, but re-inserted for the Director's Cut shows Lambert slapping Ripley in retaliation for Ripley's refusal to let her, Dallas, and Kane back on the ship.
  • According to both Ridley Scott and Veronica Cartwright, every time she went to slap Sigourney Weaver, Sigourney would shy away. After about three or four takes of this, Scott finally told Cartwright "Not to hold back. Really hit her." Thus the very real shocked reactions of Weaver, Yaphet Kotto, and Harry Dean Stanton.
Salvador Anguiano
Salvador Anguiano
  • Potential directors, who either were considered by the studio or wanted to direct, included Robert Aldrich, Peter Yates, Jack Clayton, Dan O'Bannon and Walter Hill.
  • Aldrich in particular came very close to being hired, but the producers ultimately decided against it after they met him in person, and it quickly became apparent that he had no real enthusiasm for the project beyond the money he would have received.
  • According to David Giler, the moment when Aldrich talked himself out of the job came when they asked him what kind of a design he had in mind for the facehugger; Aldrich simply shrugged and said "We'll put some entrails on the guy's face. It's not as if anyone's going to remember that critter once they've left the theater."
Sam Ho
Sam Ho
  • Ridley Scott originally wanted to cast Harrison Ford for the role of Captain Dallas. Tom Skerrit got the part when Ford turned it down.
  • Ridley Scott's original cut was lot bloodier, but because of the negative reactions of test audience and possibility that movie will get X rating, scenes with violence and gore were cut down.
  • Some outtakes that can be seen in making of documentaries show longer and bloodier versions of chestburster scene and Brett's death scene.
  • For Parker's death, a fiberglass cast of Yaphet Kotto's head was made, and then filled with pigs' brains. The forehead was made of wax so that the alien's teeth could penetrate it easily. Indeed barbed hooks were fastened to the end of the teeth to make sure it broke the wax surface effectively.
Scott Hopko
Scott Hopko
  • Originally, no film companies wanted to make this film, 20th Century-Fox had even passed on it.
  • They stated various reasons, most being that it was too bloody.
  • The only producer who wanted to make the film was Roger Corman, and it was not until Walter Hill came on board that it all changed.
  • 20th Century-Fox agreed to make the film as long as the violence was toned down; even after that they still rejected the first cut for being "too bloody".
Scott Hopko
Scott Hopko
  • The spacesuits worn by the Tom Skerritt, John Hurt and Veronica Cartwright were huge, and bulky. They had no air releases or place to disperse sweat and condensation.
  • Under the 100 degree studio light the actors would often pass out. A nurse was constantly on set to supply them with oxygen.
  • It wasn't until Ridley Scott's and cinematographer's Derek VanLint's children (who were used in the suits for long shots) started passing out that some costume modifications were made.
Simon Delart
Simon Delart
  • Ridley Scott reportedly said 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.
Simon Delart
Simon Delart
  • An early draft of the script had a male Ripley, making this one of at least three films where Sigourney Weaver played a character originally planned to be a man. The second is The TV Set (2006) and the third is Vantage Point (2008).
The Dark Inker
The Dark Inker
  • The Production's animal trainers got Jones the Cat to react fearfully to the Alien by placing a German Shepherd in front of Jones and separating the two with a screen. When the screen was removed to make Jones suddenly stop and start to hiss.
Thomas Walker
Thomas Walker
  • According to Ian Holm, Ash's head contained spaghetti, cheap caviar and onion rings.
Thomas Walker
Thomas Walker
  • Ash's blood is colored water. Milk was not used as it would have gotten very smelly very quickly under the hot studio lights. Milk was used though for the close-up of his innards, along with pasta and glass marbles.
Tomasz Opasinski
Tomasz Opasinski
  • Dan O'Bannon was hyper-critical of any changes made to his script and, to be fair, he defended some aspects of the film that ended up being most iconic (including H.R. Giger's designs).
  • Although he would come on set and nitpick, O'Bannon was generally welcomed by Ridley Scott until O'Bannon lost his temper and insulted Scott in front of the whole crew.
  • The producers, including Walter Hill, had minimal respect for O'Bannon and largely ignored him, giving him little credit once the film became a success.

Trivia mostly comes from IMDb.com and AVPGalaxy.net

For more like this see my blog.

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