Trivia: Originally, director Ridley Scott wanted "Alien" to have a much darker ending. His intention was to have the alien get back on board the shuttle, rip Ripley's head off and then calmly sit down in her chair and record the final transmission, speaking in her voice. The producers understandably found this a little too extreme, so Scott tried changing it to having Ripley go to sleep as normal only for the camera to pull back out of the airlock's window and reveal an alien egg, in the process of hatching, attached to the outside of the shuttle (after the "Brett/Dallas egg mutation" scene was deleted, this also had to go).
Trivia: Originally the design for the alien called for it to have pulsing brains in its head (the idea being so we could see the creature 'thinking' while it moved around). The effects department accomplished this by having live maggots placed underneath the transparent dome on the head. Unfortunately the maggots refused to wriggle and move around on command, so the effects dept. doused them with LSD right before the cameras started rolling. The idea was later scrapped.
Trivia: For the wide shots where we see Kane and Co. walking around outside the Nostromo, Ridley Scott used children (two of which were his own) in special child sized space suits so the sets would appear bigger in comparison to the people on screen. He used the same tactic again when they discover the fossilised space jockey on the alien ship.
Trivia: The idea for Alien came from a terrible comedy B movie called Dark Star (albeit with a cult following) which had in it an alien that was a beach ball.