Alien (1979), directed by Ridley Scott, is an extremely popular and influential science fiction/horror movie that spawned several sequels and imitators. Although the title characters are the highly aggressive extraterrestrial creatures, the real connecting thread is the saga of Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, a human woman who finds herself the principal opponent of the species throughout the series. This makes the film series the only major American one with a heroine as the protagonist until the Tomb Raider series featuring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft.

The film's imagery was designed by H.R. Giger, for which he won an Oscar.

A movie poster from the original release of Alien

Table of contents
1 Plot:
2 Early versions:
3 Sequels:
4 The Director's Cut (2003):


Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

The story begins when the crew of the transport ship Nostromo (named for a novel by Joseph Conrad) receive a transmission which might be of nonhuman origin. They land on a deserted planet and find an ancient derelict spaceship and the eggs of the aliens that killed its crew. When one of the crew is attacked by a newly-hatched alien, the creature is brought aboard the Nostromo, where it methodically wipes out the crew.

The eponymous alien creature is a lethal predator with consistently surprising abilities and physical forms, and which reproduces by parasitizing living victims. The plot device of its having acid for blood was created in order to prevent the Nostromo’s crew from being able to kill it easily with firearms — the blood would eat through the ship's hull. The life cycle of the alien has been compared to that of the tsetse fly.

In 2002 the United States Library of Congress deemed Alien "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Early versions:

The original script for the film was written by Dan O'Bannon, who had worked with John Carpenter on Dark Star. O'Bannon's original script was titled Star Beast, and was a revision of an idea O'Bannon had had years before, about gremlins getting loose aboard a World War II bomber and wreaking havoc with the crew.

O'Bannon's original script bears many resemblances to the film that actually got made, but with significant differences. The spaceship — designed for a low-budget production in mind — was a small craft called the Snark. Its crew was all-male. The alien embryo is discovered in a ruined pyramid on an alien planet; this concept was actually held onto for a long time, and preliminary H.R. Giger pyramid drawings intended for Alien exist, but eventually the producers went with the idea of a wrecked derelict (also designed by H.R. Giger, even though the ship was supposed to be that of a different alien species).

Substantial excerpts of O'Bannon's original script appeared as bonus materials on the 1992 laserdisc boxed set of Alien, though they were not included in the 1999 Alien Legacy DVD box. The complete O'Bannon script will be included on the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set as a bonus feature.

Some early concept art was drawn by Chris Foss and Jean Giraud, better known as comic book artist Moebius. Moebius' designs for the Nostromo spacesuits made it into the final film.


There has also been a spinoff film titled Alien Vs. Predator slated for release in August 2004. It is a commercial crossover with the Predator franchise and early reviews of the script indicate it pays no attention to the story continuity of either series. There is also a rumored Alien 5 movie, although it has been said that the script is, for the time-being, too violent to appeal to any major group.

The Director's Cut (2003):

October 29, 2003 saw Alien re-issued in cinemas as a Ridley Scott director's cut. It restores many — but not all — of the deleted scenes that have already appeared as bonus materials on previous laserdisc and DVD releases of the film, and makes one interesting deletion from the original cut. However, unlike the Star Wars "Special Editions", it does not appear as if any of the film's original special effects footage has been digitally enhanced (though the film's original negative did undergo some digital cleanup and restoration). Here is a brief rundown of the restored footage in the order the scenes appear. Spoilers included

  • The Nostromo crew listening to the alien transmission.

  • Lambert slapping Ripley for refusing to let them bring Kane back aboard the ship.

  • Some dialogue deleted during the scene where Ripley confronts Dallas in the corridor over letting Ash keep the dead alien face-hugger. Dallas's lines about the Nostromo’s original science officer being replaced by Ash at the last minute have been removed.

  • A handful of shots added to Brett's death scene, including one where the alien can clearly be seen dangling from above, and another where Parker and Ripley rush into the room just after Brett has been grabbed.

  • A portion of the film's most famous deleted scene — Ripley discovering the alien's nest and the bodies of Dallas and Brett — has been restored, though 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 she kills him with the flame thrower.

  • A quick extension of a shot as Ripley discovers the alien blocking the path to the shuttle; the alien is shown staring at Jones the cat in his catbox, then it swats the catbox out of its way. This extended shot has actually never been shown before, even on DVD.

Both the Director's Cut and the original theatrical version will be included in the Alien Quadrilogy boxed set released on December 2, 2003.

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