The Alien film series is a science fiction horror film franchise, focusing on Lieutenant Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) and her battle with an extraterrestrial lifeform. Produced by 20th Century Fox, the series started with the 1979 film Alien, which led to three sequels, books, comics and video game spinoffs.
In addition to the franchise are the "Alien vs. Predator" films (AvP: Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem), based on the related franchise which combine the titular Aliens with the Predator beings from the Predator film series.
After completing the film Dark Star
(1974), Dan O'Bannon
wanted to take some of the ideas (such as where an alien hunts a crew through a ship) and make them into a science-fiction horror film, at that time provisionally called Memory
. Screenwriter Ronald Shusett
decided to collaborate with him in the project, adding elements from another O'Bannon script, Gremlins
, which featured gremlins
getting loose aboard a World War II bomber
and wreaking havoc with the crew. The duo later finished the script, initially entitled Star Beast
, until casting around for a better name, O'Bannon noticed the number of times the word "alien" occurred in the script, and so he adopted this for the film's title. The writers imagined a low-budget film, but Star Wars
' success made Fox invest $8 million on production.
In the original script, the ship has an all-male crew, including the Ripley character (though the script's 'Cast of Characters' section explicitly states that "The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women"), which would be played by actor Tom Skerritt, but later, character re-casting made Ripley a woman, because producer Alan Ladd, Jr., and script-doctors Walter Hill and David Giler had heard rumors of Fox working on other titles with strong female leads. Skerritt became Captain Dallas, and Sigourney Weaver was cast as Ripley.
Swiss painter and sculptor H. R. Giger designed the alien creature's adult form and the derelict ship, while Moebius created visual for the spacesuits and Ron Cobb provided most of the on-set design.
The film was successful, but Fox wasn't very interested in a sequel until 1983, when James Cameron expressed his interest in continuing the Alien story to producer David Giler. After Cameron's The Terminator became a box office hit, Cameron and partner Gale Anne Hurd were given approval to direct and produce the sequel to Alien, scheduled for a 1986 release.
Due to studio changes to Aliens, Sigourney Weaver wasn't much interested in returning to the series, so she didn't argue when producers David Giler and Walter Hill told her, in early 1990, that they were commissioning a third Alien film without Ripley, coming back with her in a fourth installment. But Fox's president Joe Roth didn't agree with Ripley's removal, and Weaver was called in for the movie. Alien³, released in 1992, had a troubled shooting, without even a finished script and having already spent $7 million when David Fincher, the third director considered for the film, was hired to lead the project. After the film was ready, the studio reworked it without Fincher's consensus.
While fans and critics didn't receive Alien³ well, the $103 million in international box office kept Fox interested in continuing the franchise. In 1996, production on the fourth Alien film, Alien: Resurrection, begun. Ripley wasn't in the script's first draft, and Sigourney Weaver wasn't much interested, but decided to join the project after meeting director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film, released in 1997, had a long production and was described by screenwriter Joss Whedon as having done "everything wrong" with his script.
Following is a plot summary for the entire Alien
series. For additional plot details, see the movies' specific pages or The Alien Universe Timeline
, a towing vessel hauling an enormous ore refinery and 20 million tons of raw ore, with a crew of seven (including Captain Dallas and Warrant Officer Ripley) has set out from the mining colony Solomons on its return to Earth in the year 2122. During the return voyage, the ship’s computer "Mother" intercepts a non-human transmission from the moon LV-426
. Mother, according to Weyland-Yutani
(“the Company”) protocol, alters course and wakes the crew from hypersleep
in order to investigate the transmission.
Upon investigation of the transmission source, a derelict alien ship, Executive Officer Kane becomes infected with an alien parasite. On orders of Captain Dallas, Kane is brought back on board and treated by Science Officer Ash, who is, unknown to the others, an android. The crew members return to the Nostromo from LV-426, hoping to return to Earth as soon as possible. After a brief period, an alien emerges from Kane and proceeds to kill all human crew members except Ripley. Ash, the android, was terminated by the other crew members after his attempted murder of Ripley, an action he took in defense of the alien species.
Ripley activates Nostromo's auto-destruct sequence and escapes in the shuttle. The Nostromo and its cargo are destroyed in a series of explosions, but Ripley soon discovers that the alien had also entered the shuttle. Half-dressed and nervously singing "Lucky Star", Ripley kills the alien by blasting it out of the shuttle's airlock and burning it with the shuttle’s jets. Ripley sets the shuttle's course for Earth and returns to hypersleep.
Alien Director's Cut
Director Ridley Scott
has stated that he did not really think that Alien
required this tweaking, and that the term "Director's Cut" was used for marketing reasons only (and inconsistently as well). In the Alien
Quadrilogy materials, he goes out of his way to state his preference for the original: "rest easy, the original 1979 theatrical version isn't going anywhere". He recut the film himself, only after viewing the studio's attempt to do so; a version that he felt was "too long" and ruined the film's pacing.
A brief rundown of the restored footage or cut scenes, in the order that the scenes appear:
- The Nostromo crew listening to the alien transmission
- Kane took out his weapon in the egg chamber.
- The scene in which Ripley asks Ash if Mother has analyzed the alien transmission (and in which Ash replies “No”) has disappeared. Instead we see Ripley simply playing with the computer console and sitting down while a binary sequence displays on the computer screen.
- Lambert slapping Ripley for refusing to let them bring Kane back aboard the ship.
- Some dialogue deleted during the scene where Ripley confronts Captain Dallas in the corridor over letting Ash keep the dead alien facehugger. Dallas' lines about the replacement of Nostromo's original science officer by Ash at the last minute have disappeared. This interesting deletion removes a bit of foreshadowing that all is not as it seems with the character of Ash.
- A handful of shots added to Brett's death scene, including one clearly showing the alien dangling from above, and another where Parker and Ripley rush into the room just after the alien grabs Brett. As they look upward, dripping blood covers them.
- A new brief shot of Lambert added as the crew regroup and weigh their options after Dallas' death.
- A new brief shot of the alien swatting at Jonsey the cat after Ripley drops the case next to the airlock.
- Restoration of a portion of the film's arguably most famous deleted scene — Ripley discovering the alien's nest and the bodies of Dallas and Brett. But the Director's Cut does not include Ripley's lines to the dying Dallas ("What can I do?" and "I'll get you out of there") before, at his request, she kills him with the flamethrower.
- A quick extension of a shot as Ripley discovers the alien blocking the path to the shuttle; the alien appears staring at Jones the cat in his catbox, then it swats the catbox out of its way. This extended shot had never aired before, even on DVD.
The Director's Cut also deleted brief snippets of footage:
- Some of the conversation between Ripley and Dallas concerning Ripley's distrust of Ash
- Scene where Ash leaves the infirmary after Ripley has confronted him for breaking quarantine procedures.
- A brief sequence showing Dallas querying the ship's computer, Mother, about his odds of killing the alien, and getting no reply, before he enters the ventilation ducts.
- Part of the sequence where Ripley gains entry to Mother
- Parker going through the ship alone and watching out for the alien
- An almost unnoticeable cut as the last three surviving crew members round a bend in the corridors of the spaceship
Found in the year 2179 after 57 years drifting in space, Ellen Ripley returns to human civilization. Upon recounting the events of the Nostromo
and LV-426, she learns that a group of settlers has recently moved to LV-426 and set up Hadley's Hope, a space-colony. After dismissing Ripley’s claims as ridiculous, the Company (specifically Carter Burke
) sends colonists to the derelict ship to investigate Ripley’s report of an alien species. Shortly thereafter contact with the colony ceases. In response, the Company sends Ripley, a group of Colonial Marines, and Carter Burke to investigate LV-426 aboard the vessel Sulaco
Arriving at LV-426, Ripley and her companions soon discover that aliens have overrun the colony and that all settlers have died, except for a young girl, Rebecca Jordan, nicknamed Newt. The rescue team becomes trapped in the settlement, where hundreds of aliens hunt them. Their mission is further complicated by Ripley's discovery that Burke intends to bring one of the aliens back for the Company's bio-weapons division.
Eventually, the aliens kill all those barricaded at Hadley's Hope except for those who eventually retreat to the Sulaco: Ripley, Newt, Corporal Hicks, and the android, Bishop. After a brief confrontation with the Alien Queen aboard the "Sulaco", Ripley sets a course for Earth and the crew enters hypersleep.
Aliens Special Edition
Special Edition added approximately 17 minutes to this film. Several small additions to the plot were presented, including:
- Ripley has a daughter and learns of her death upon arrival at the Gateway Station.
- The events taking place on LV-426 immediately before infestation. (The longest addition at roughly 6 1/2 minutes.)
- When the marines first enter the complex on LV-426, the marines detect movement which turns out to be a false alarm.
- Foreshadowing dialogue about the existence of a larger alien, the queen
- Extra battle scenes involving the marines' robot sentries.
- More scenes of Newt and Ripley bonding.
- Hicks and Ripley's exchange before she goes to rescue Newt.
The movie begins with one alien facehugger emerging during the crew's hypersleep on the Sulaco
. It proceeds to impregnate Ripley with an alien queen-embryo. The cover of Ripley's hypersleep-chamber cuts the facehugger, and the release of its acidic blood causes a fire on board, which leads to the Sulaco
jettisoning an escape shuttle towards a penal-colony planet, Fiorina 161
, inhabited only by a small number of extremely violent and dangerous offenders. The rescuers who recover the escape shuttle discover that only Ripley has survived the crash. Meanwhile, prisoner Murphy's dog Spike becomes impregnated with a second alien embryo by the same facehugger. (A first in the series, as facehuggers have been depicted as only being able to impregnate a single being prior to this.)
Ripley is nursed back to health by Dr. Clemens, who she develops a relationship with. After carrying out an autopsy on Newt, to make sure there is no "cholera" infection in her chest, the bodies are thrown into the prison's gigantic furnace. At the same time, Spike goes into convulsions and the alien is born. This alien is different from the previous kind, having lost the spikes on its back and now walks on all fours. A more dangerous alien has arrived.
Upon learning about the alien on the planet, the Weyland-Yutani corporation sends a rescue ship to Fiorina 161. However, it quickly becomes clear that they only care about capturing the Alien specimen, not Ripley or the inmates. In these circumstances, Ripley convinces the inmates to kill the Aliens (including the one inside her) before the company's ship arrives.
After an elaborate set-up, which required the inmates to run up and down tunnels and corridors to confuse the creature, Ripley, Dillon and Morse are chased into the furnace, where the destruction of the alien takes place. After pouring several hundred gallons of moulten lead onto the Alien, it still chases Ripley up to the ceiling via an extensive pipe system. Ripley activates the overhead sprinklers, which cover the alien in cold water; it then explodes from the immense temperature changes.
Using a lead smelter, Ripley sacrifices herself to prevent the company from harvesting the queen embryo from her body, saving countless human lives in doing so. Every single prisoner on Fiorina 161 is dead, except Morse, who is seen being taken by the company to an unknown location for unknown purposes.
Alien³ Special Edition
The Special Edition added approximately 35 minutes of new or alternate footage to the film. Several changes to the plot ensued, including:
- A completely different opening in which Clemens finds Ripley washed up on the beach.
- The impregnation of an ox, rather than a dog.
- The film now shows a more in depth perspective with the prisoners' apocalyptic, millenarian religion.
- The film now shows the temporary capture of the Alien and its confinement inside the toxic waste dump. One of the prisoners sacrifices himself to lure the alien into the trap, but this random act of heroism is in vain, as the mentally ill prisoner Golic, who develops an obsession with the alien, releases it. The creature kills Golic after using him.
Two hundred years later, around the year 2379, several United Systems Military (USM) scientists have cloned Ripley eight times by using blood samples from Fiorina 161 rediscovered in the year 2356. Upon successfully cloning Ripley, the 8th clone, whose DNA
had combined with the alien species her body had hosted, the experiment successfully develops an intact alien and extracts it from her chest.
In the year 2381, a small ship called the Betty
, manned by smugglers, brings several kidnapped space-travelers, still in hypersleep, to a secret USM research vessel called the USM Auriga
. The smugglers do not realize the reason for the kidnappings, but they later discover that the USM scientists will impregnate the travelers with alien embryos. The experiment quickly runs awry when the aliens break loose by killing one of their own to melt a way out with its acidic blood. They then begin killing everyone on the ship. While chaos ensues, an android named Call (passing itself off as a regular human female) changes the course of the ship (previously heading to Earth as per default emergency procedures) to crash-land in an attempt at destroying the aliens on board in the process.
While the ship is on course to crash, the crew race for their last ship after the escape pods have been ejected from the military presence. While rushing to the ship, Ripley falls into the alien nest only to confront the queen in pain from birth, who was given a human's reproductive system from the DNA combination. The Queen gives birth to "Newborn", which is half Alien half Human (more alien), which kills the Queen and accepts Ripley as its mother. Ripley runs for the ship as the Newborn chases after. She barely makes it aboard but brings the Newborn with her without knowing. The ship escapes with almost no time to spare as Ripley quickly realizes that the Newborn is aboard from Call's missing presence on the deck. Ripley, with quick thinking, cuts herself as the Newborn is "hugging" her and flicks her blood (acidic from the DNA combination) at a close viewing window, causing it to eat through the glass. As the window shatters, air rushes from the room, pinning the Newborn in the broken window's frame. The powerful pressure differential between the room's atmosphere and the dead vacuum of space outside quickly crushes the Newborn's body and its collapsed remains are violently blown from the ship.
The Auriga crashes into Africa and explodes, presumably killing all aliens on board. The clone Ripley, Call, and the remaining crew of the Betty (Johner and Vriess) manage to escape the Auriga before it explodes, violently. As the Betty descends towards Earth, Ripley and Call contemplate their next move.
Sigourney Weaver and director Ridley Scott are considering another Alien movie with Fox's approval.
|| Release date
|| Box office revenue
| United States
|| United States
|| Outside U.S.
|| May 25 1979
|| July 18, 1986
|| May 22, 1992
| Alien: Resurrection
|| November 26, 1997
| Alien film series
|| $655,760,141 |
- Originally $78,944,891; $1,986,910 were garnered in the Director's Cut release in 2003.
|| Rotten Tomatoes
|| Yahoo! Movies
|| Cream of the Crop
|| 97% (70 reviews)|
Director's Cut: 94% (49 reviews)
| 86% (14 reviews)|
Director's Cut: 100% (17 reviews)
| 83% (22 reviews; Director's Cut)
|| A- (10 reviews) |
|| 100% (37 reviews)
|| 100% (6 reviews)
|| 32% (31 reviews)
|| 33% (27 reviews)
| Alien: Resurrection
|| 53% (59 reviews)
|| 50% (16 reviews)
|| 63% (21 reviews)
IGN listed Alien as the 13th best film franchise of all time. Alien was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning for Best Visual Effects. Aliens got seven nominations, including a Best Actress for Sigourney Weaver, winning Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects. Alien³ was nominated for Best Visual Effects.
There have been a number of spin-offs
in other media including a large number of crossovers
within the Alien fictional universe
. These include:
As well the novelizations
based on the various films (including Alan Dean Foster
's) there are a number of novel series.
Numerous comic appearances include:
The first game based on the franchise was Alien
(1982) for the Atari 2600
, a game heavily based on Pac-Man
. A strategy game
based on the first movie was released in 1984.
Aliens was adapted into four different videogames, a shoot 'em up arcade by Konami, a collection of minigames by Activision, a first-person shooter by Software Studios, and a MSX platformer by Squaresoft.
Acclaim released three different games based on Alien 3, two different run and gun platformers (one for various platforms in 1992, another for the SNES an year later) and a Game Boy adventure game in 1993. Sega also released a light gun arcade, Alien 3: The Gun in 1993.
The last game based on an Alien film was 2000's Alien: Resurrection, a PlayStation first-person shooter.
Other Alien games include Mindscape's adventure game Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure (1995), Acclaim's first-person shooter Alien Trilogy (1996), the FPS Aliens Online (1998), the Game Boy Color action game Aliens: Thanatos Encounter (2001), and the mobile phone game Aliens: Unleashed (2003). The latest game released was the arcade game Aliens: Extermination, in 2006.
There is also a First person shooter videogame for PC called Aliens versus Predator (computer game) in which one can play as a Marine, Predator and Alien. This was followed by Aliens versus Predator 2 and the expansion pack Aliens versus Predator 2: Primal Hunt
In December 2006, Sega struck a deal with Fox Licensing to release two games based on the Alien franchise on seventh generation consoles. Obsidian Entertainment will develop an Alien role-playing game, and Gearbox Software will develop a first-person shooter.
- The Book of Alien (by Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross, Star Books, 112 pages, 1979, ISBN 0-352-30422-7, Titan Books, 2003, ISBN 1-85286-483-4)
- Making of Alien Resurrection (by Andrew Murdock and Rachel Aberly, Harper Prism, 1997 ISBN 0-06-105378-3)
- The Complete Aliens Companion (by Paul Sammon, Harper Prism, 1998, ISBN 0-06-105385-6)
- The Alien Quartet: A Bloomsbury Movie Guide (by David Earl Thomson, Bloomsbury Publishing, 208 pages, 1999, ISBN 1-58234-030-7, as The Alien Quartet (Pocket Movie Guide), 2000 ISBN 0-7475-5181-2)
- Beautiful Monsters: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Alien and Predator Films (by David A. McIntee, Telos, 272 pages, 2005, ISBN 1-903889-94-4)