Alien

Question: Question about the Director's Cut of the film. The scene where Brett is looking for Jones has been altered slightly - when he looks up at where the water is dripping from, you can actually see the Alien hanging motionlessly from one of the chains. Has Ridley Scott given an explanation as to why he added this new dynamic to the scene? It's easy enough to speculate why, but a link to an 'official' explanation would be appreciated.

Answer: According to the commentary on the DVD, Ridley didn't add this scene to the original cinematic release because he thought it revealed the true horror of the Alien too soon in the film. The scene is quite early in the film and he thought revealing the fully matured Alien at that time would reduce the viewer's fear.

I had watched Alien several times before I noticed the Alien hanging there.At this point the Audience have no idea what the Alien looks like, they're looking at pieces of science fiction equipment put in by the production crew that they can't relate to, so for all they know the Alien could just be a piece of kit hanging there.

Question: What exactly is the space jockey and why haven't we seen it in the other films except its fossilized self sitting in the what I call the laser gun?

Answer: It's another race of space alien that is also subject to infection by the Aliens. This particular one was infected and moved as far as it could from its race's known space and broadcast a warning before it died. The presence of eggs in the hold may indicate that it was a research ship. The race was never used in other Alien movies because it adds a new dynamic to the plotlines: two alien species, locked in mortal combat and neither particularly friendly with humans. In the Alien pseudo-prequel Prometheus we learn these beings are known as the Engineers and have interesting ties with both the aliens and humans as well.

Phoenix

Question: A bit puzzled as to why Ash tried to kill Ripley by stuffing a rolled up magazine in her mouth when he could have strangled her in seconds.

Answer: I believe this was another subtle way for the film to depict that Ash was malfunctioning or at least not fully processing correctly and having problems. It was showing a brutal savagery to his motions as well as an artistic choice for the moment.

Quantom X Premium member

Answer: This is just one possibility among many, but Ridley Scott suggested Ash may have been developing latent sexuality that he was not equipped to handle through his programming, and perhaps not physically either; his use of a rolled-up magazine may have come about because he was not constructed with a penis (I had to stop myself from making a pun about "hardware").

TonyPH Premium member

Chosen answer: Because Ripley would warn the other crew members about the Special Order, namely that the company's mission was to collect the alien (to use as a biological weapon) and that the crew was expendable. The company assigned Ash to carry out the plan, and being a robot, his only intent is to follow their orders.

raywest Premium member

Question: I recently saw this film at a local cinema and I noticed that there was a scene missing from when I first saw this film as a kid. In the aforementioned scene, Dallas is on the main computer (Mother) trying to get information about how to destroy the Alien. The computer just keeps responding with "Can not compute." He finally asks "What are my chances" and still gets the same response. I was wondering if anyone remembered this scene and knows why its been removed?

Gavin Jackson

Answer: If I'm not mistaken, the scene you're talking about (where Dallas consults Mother before going into the vent) was removed from the Director's Cut version of the film (which did get its own theatrical release in 2003). Perhaps that's the version they showed. I couldn't find the scene in its entirety, but is this what you're referring to? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OaoQES6C9ok.

Bishop73

Question: When the man who was looking for the cat, before he was killed, there is water dripping from somewhere, where is it coming from?

Answer: The water is condensation coming from the cooling towers of the ship. The ship is seemingly powered by a nuclear reactor, and the towers above Brett are the ship's equivalent of the large hyperboloid towers seen in traditional power plants. Following this scene Ripley remarks about Brett's abduction "...then it disappeared into one of the cooling towers." This is furthered by the end sequence - Ripley shuts off the cooling system ("Mother; I turned the cooling unit back on!") - which coincides with her action of raising the 4 towers, which would presumably cut off access to the cooling water which serves to keep the core from melting down. This is also supported by her not being able to stop it after a certain point - when the imminent temperature for meltdown is reached coolant can not be returned, because it will flash boil from convective heat before reaching the core, which prevents the required conductive cooling.

Question: Why were there so few crew members on this very very large ship? If even one of them had a heart attack, they'd have to maintain the ship with only 80%.

Answer: There are several possible reasons. For one, the ship is fully automated, and the computers perform many technical functions, basically running everything. The crew is barely essential, and is kept in stasis during much of the voyage, awakened only at specific periods to perform specialized tasks or attend to unexpected problems. And though the ship overall is large, its function is simple: hauling a huge payload. Also, the ship is owned by a ruthless corporation wanting to maximize their profits. One way to achieve that is by using minimal personnel. They no doubt assume that if one crew member was lost or incapacitated, the others would manage somehow. On this particular voyage, however, the company intended to find and utilize the alien, and having a small crew, which they consider "disposable" makes it easier to achieve that. It was probably intended that Ash, the robot, would murder the crew or see to it that the alien "impregnated" them with embryos before returning them to stasis, only to die later.

raywest Premium member

Answer: The question may not be referring to this, but just in case: the ore refinery towers are often mistaken to be part of the ship, but this is actually a load that the ship is towing. What we see detach and land on the planet is in fact the entirety of the ship.

Question: The Alien brings Brett and Dallas back to its nest alive in order to create more Aliens. It seems that Brett had died in the process but Dallas is still alive. How then would the alien impregnate them without facehuggers complete with an egg?

Answer: It's possible that Brett was the only one being turned into an egg and that Dallas was merely stuck to the wall to be the eventual facehugger host.

TonyPH Premium member

Dallas is more than just merely stuck to the wall. He is in physical agony, his eyes appear to no longer work properly, and he has barely enough strength to muster more than a couple words. And the words he can get out are him pleading with Ripley to end his suffering.

BaconIsMyBFF

Answer: Actually the alien was using Brett and Dallas to make new facehugger eggs. The scene, only shown in the Director's Cut, shows Brett partway through being turned into an egg and Dallas in what appears to be the very beginning of this process. This scene was cut from the theatrical release and as such, James Cameron did not include this feature of the alien lifecycle in the sequel. Cameron showed the eggs are laid by a queen and the franchise has continued with this approach since Aliens and has never revisited the idea that alien eggs are created from the bodies of humans. Since this scene only appears in the Director's Cut, its status as canon remains in question. However, some fans reconcile this by theorizing that in the absence of a queen a single alien can use human bodies to create more facehuggers.

BaconIsMyBFF

Question: Why did the last three remaining crew members split up? Surely it would have made better sense to stay together as up until that time the alien had only attacked people when they were alone.

Answer: They felt like they didn't have enough time. Parker and Lambert stayed together to get coolant while Ripley was to prepare the shuttle and set the auto-destruct. They wanted to escape as soon as possible. Staying together would have, in their minds, lengthened the time they were on the ship with the alien.

BaconIsMyBFF

I would add to that the fact that Lambert and Parker were actually killed while still together. By splitting up, the alien could only attack one person or group at a time. This actually increased the chances for Ripley.

Garlonuss Premium member

Answer: Fair point but I don't think that the Alien would have attacked three people because when it moved in to kill Lambert it didn't know that Parker was behind it.

You're basing that on what you know about the alien from watching the films. The characters at this point have no real idea how the alien would behave. For all they know, it could start reproducing asexually and there could be six more of them on the ship.

BaconIsMyBFF

Don't understand what you mean, sorry.

You are saying that you believe the alien wouldn't attack three people together. That's because you've probably seen the films and have a pretty good understanding of the creature's biology and behavior. The characters in the film have no idea how it behaves or how it will behave the longer it stays alive. The biology of the alien is so different from anything they've seen and they want to get away from it as soon as they possibly can.

BaconIsMyBFF

Question: After Ripley has set the ship to self destruct, she grabs Jones and hurries towards the shuttle. She then runs into the alien in the corridor, drops Jones and runs away and then tries to stop the self destruct system. Now she'd set the ship to self destruct, needed to get the hell out of there, the alien was in her way, why didn't she just blast it with her flamethrower? Ripley is not like Lambert, she's feisty and brave and I think Ripley would have done just that.

Answer: Ripley is, for the majority of this film, not "feisty and brave." She is written to be an intelligent, capable, but otherwise average person. She is for all intents and purposes an "everyman" character. She does not become the tenacious, bold heroine that defines her in popular culture until her last battle with the alien, and these character traits are solidified in the sequel. For most of the film, she is very much terrified of the alien and the prospect of fighting it head on is the furthest from her mind. At that moment in the corridor, her fight or flight response kicks in and she flees. All of this serves to make her fight against the alien in the shuttle more poignant, as she is forced to literally face her fears and defend herself. Note that while she is trying to get the alien to come out of its hiding place on the shuttle, she is soaked in nervous sweat and is singing a song to calm herself down. Would the Ripley of later films have blasted the alien to kingdom come? Of course. The Ripley in this film has yet to become the no-nonsense, composed heroine we remember at that point.

BaconIsMyBFF

Question: There is an incredibly freaky but cool voice in the trailer that sounds like a woman screaming. Is this sound heard in the film (I've watched it heaps of times but never heard it) and how was the sound effect created?

Dra9onBorn117

Chosen answer: The "woman screaming" sound effect was created by an instrument called the water harp. And, no, the sound effect was never heard in the film.

Casual Person

Question: Why would the company need a biological weapon and how would they use the alien as such?

Answer: The company is huge and diverse. Presumably it has a weapons division. An alien creature might give their researchers something to investigate that was unknown to rival businesses.

Answer: The company is in the business of colonizing planets.Now if a rival company were doing the same thing the company could plant an alien on the planet to wreak havoc and make it inhospitable, therefore making their own planets more desirable and ultimately more profitable.A ruthless tactic but the company is ruthless.

Thanks Lionhead.

Answer: The company might have some use for the creatures for themselves, but more likely saw the aliens as a commodity, a biological weapon to be sold for profit.

raywest Premium member

Answer: The nefarious "militarization" of newly-discovered properties (both earthly and otherworldly) is a common and predictable sci-fi and space-fantasy subplot that is so overused that it has become cliché. Usually, the specific military application is never actually revealed. It's really recycled social commentary, implying that humanity is so materialistic and ruthless that WE are the real "monsters," with no regard for Life (human or otherwise) in the natural world. This creates a dual threat within the movie, with the hero and/or heroine providing the only moral compass between a sensational alien confrontation and an even more terrifying human menace.

Charles Austin Miller

Question: Why did the shuttle craft only have room for two crew members when there are seven of them? The shuttle is mainly an escape vessel if the ship was in danger and their lives were at risk hence the stasis capsules, so there should have been accommodation for seven.

Answer: Considering "The Company" that owned the mining space ship was notoriously cheap (and corrupt) about providing their crew with necessities, it is hardly surprising they had inadequate safety equipment, like enough stasis capsules. Also, the company's real mission (known only to Ash) was to collect the alien creature at any cost while the crew was deemed "expendable," so no need to provide them with a viable escape method.

raywest Premium member

Question: Why wouldn't the self-destruct system have a stop button? Presumably if you wanted to abort the procedure it should be instant and not have to go through all the rigmarole of trying to shut it down.

Answer: The Nostromo is powered by a nuclear reactor. The self-destruct system simply shuts down the cooling towers, causing the reactor to gradually rise in temperature until it reaches critical mass. The cooling system can be turned back on within the first 5 minutes but after that, the reactor is so hot the cooling liquid will evaporate once it comes into contact with the system. Ripley tries turning the cooling towers back on, and she does so right before the 5 minute failsafe timer is up, but the system was still too hot to cool the reactor. This is why Ripley curses at MUTHUR, she made it back in time but a meltdown is still inevitable. Apparently the 5 minute failsafe timer is not exact to the second and Ripley actually had slightly less than 5 minutes.

BaconIsMyBFF

I believe she just barely misses the cutoff, rather than making it but still having it be ineffective. She curses Mother out of frustration, and perhaps fury at the computer's cold indifference to her fate.

Answer: It's pretty typical in movies that in a self-destruct situation, once it's started, it is impossible to stop, for whatever reason. It's about plotting and maintaining the tension to keep the audience on the edge of their seats to see if the hero can survive. Considering how corrupt the company was, they'd expend little effort into proper safety procedures.

raywest Premium member

Question: I heard that originally the character of Lt. Ripley was supposed to be male, is this true?

Answer: Lt. Ripley stands as one of the first strong female lead characters in American science-fiction. In an early version of the script, writers Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett had written all of the roles as generic male ones with a note in the script explicitly stating "The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women." It was left to director Ridley Scott and the casting agents to choose the cast of any gender composition they wished.

Michael Albert

Question: I know they never really make this clear in the movie,but if anyone has heard an interview from Ridley Scott as to about how far in the future this movie takes place,I'd love to know.

Answer: An easter egg on the Alien Legacy DVD states that the year of their arrival on Acheron is 2122. It's logical, since in Aliens, 57 years later, Ripley mentions the order given by Burke to investigate the derelict, which was dated '79.

Question: If Ash's job was to get the Alien specimen back to "The Company", why wouldn't he have just advised Dallas to put Kane in hypersleep, claim that it was too advanced for him to handle and let The Company gather the specimen when they arrived back to Earth? The way it was done resulted in a failure to get the Alien back and cost lives.

Answer: Ash tried exactly that, but Dallas overrode him. He was uneasy about putting Kane in hypersleep with a facehugger attached.

Grumpy Scot

Question: In the last scene when Ripley is escaping in the shuttle, why is the Alien wedged awkwardly in the wall? And why is it so mellow about getting out and killing Ripley?

Answer: The xenomorphs are quite intelligent, despite their savage nature. In this scene, for example, the alien understands that the Nostromo is about to self-destruct, and it correctly anticipates Ripley using a shuttle to escape the blast. The alien carefully hides in the shuttle and goes into a dormant state (so as not to alert Ripley to its presence until they are well underway). When Ripley realises the alien is aboard, she dons her pressure suit and sprays the alien with fire-extinguishing gas to prompt a response. After a startled jump, the alien languidly reveals itself because it is emerging from its dormant state, but also because it knows there is no escape for Ripley in the tiny spacecraft. The implication is that it is in no hurry to kill her, which heightens the tension and horror of the scene.

Charles Austin Miller

Question: First, thank you to the individual that answered my question: "Why did they wear helmets in the first alien and not Aliens?" However, I am still puzzled though with my question: "How did the facehugger get through Kane's helmet?" The answer given was: "It secreted an acid that "burned" through the helmet." If this is true, wouldn't the acid still on the facehugger have burned Kane's face when it attached itself?

mozeus5

Chosen answer: The facehugger was apparently able to control how much acid it secreted, and it was just enough to penetrate the helmet without it touching Kane's face. It would need to protect its "host" in order to ensure that the embryo was able to fully develop before "hatching."

raywest Premium member

Answer: In the Alien novel it pushed its way into Kane's helmet using just brute force and not with acid.

The question was about the movie, not the novelization. And yes, in the movie the facehugger secretes acid: you can hear a sizzling sound as the creature latches onto Kane's helmet.

Jukka Nurmi

Sorry I was wrong about the Alien novel, it did indeed use acid to burn its way into Kane's helmet.

Question: Just after Ripley finds out from mother "crew expendable", she has a run-in with Ash, but he doesn't hurt her - she hurts him - so why does she have a bloody nose?

kh1616

Chosen answer: Some people are prone to bloody noses without actually being physically hurt. Extreme emotional stress or physical exertion can trigger it by breaking small blood vessels in the nasal passages. She could also have bumped her head at some point off screen and had a delayed reaction.

raywest Premium member

Answer: The reason for the nosebleed was a deleted scene from the film. Ripley, in her attempt to escape from Ash, opened a hatch into a corridor which had been previously damaged by the alien (also a deleted scene) and wasn't supposed to be used. She suffered depressurization and retreated back and closed the hatch before looking for another escape route. That is what caused the nosebleed.

Character mistake: When Ripley interfaces with Mother for the first time and sees the special order, an instruction reads as "Insure return of organism" rather than "Ensure return," a common enough grammatical error for humans but not one that a programmed super-computer would generate.

More mistakes in Alien

Ripley: Micro changes in air density, my ass.

More quotes from Alien

Trivia: The original budget for Alien was supposed to be $4.2 million, but was then doubled to $8.4 million after Ridley Scott impressed 20th Century Fox with the storyboards he made.

Casual Person

More trivia for Alien

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.