Posted by Darkness on December 10, 2006 (Updated: 22-Aug-2023)
The producers of the 1950s potboiler It! The Terror from Beyond Space considered suing for plagiarism but didn’t.
Ridley Scott’s 2003 director’s cut largely came about when over 100 boxes of footage of his 1979 original were discovered in a London vault.
Despite releasing a new version of the film titled “Alien: The Director’s Cut”, Ridley Scott wrote in a statement in the film’s packaging that he still feels the original Alien was his perfect vision of the film. The newer version is titled “The Director’s Cut” for marketing purposes, featuring deleted scenes many fans wanted to see incorporated into the film (such as the scene where Lambert and Ripley discuss whether or not they’ve slept with Ash, suggesting there’s something not quite right about Ash).
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.
Ridley Scott cites three films as the shaping influences on his movie: Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey for their depiction of outer space, and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for its treatment of horror.
The words “Weyland Yutani” (the name of The Company) appear at the bottom of one of the computer screens during the landing sequence (in green).
Many of the non-English versions of the film’s title translate as something similar to “Alien: The 8th Passenger”.
There is no dialog for the first 6 minutes.
The word “fuck” is used five times in the film, four of them by Ripley.
The “Company” referred to in the film is Weylan Yutani. It would become Weyland Yutani in James Cameron’s sequel 7 years later.
According to a quote from Veronica Cartwright in a film magazine, in the scene where the alien’s tail wraps around her legs, they are actually Harry Dean Stanton’s legs, in a shot originally filmed for another scene entirely.
Copywriter Barbara Gips came up with the famed tagline: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
According to John Hurt in the DVD Documentary, he was considered at the beginning of casting to play Kane but had already committed to another film that was set to take place in South Africa, so John Finch got the role instead. However, two separate incidents occurred which got Hurt the role. First was the fact that he was banned from South Africa because the country mistook him for actor John Herd who strongly opposed the Apartied (Hurt points out that he was opposed to it too, but was lucky enough not to get blacklisted) so he was unable to do the other film. Second, actor John Finch became seriously ill from diabetes and had to pull out. Ridley Scott immediately contacted Hurt, pitched him the script over a weekend and John Hurt arrived on the set Monday morning with little to no sleep to begin filming.
Veronica Cartwright was originally to play Ripley, but producers opted for Sigourney Weaver.
Veronica Cartwright only found out that she wasn’t playing the part of Ripley when she was first called in to do some costume tests for the character of Lambert.
The character of Lambert was supposed to be the reflection of the audience. She was the one in the film that was expressing all the fears that the audience would have been experiencing.
Tom Skerrit wasn’t initially interested in playing a part in Alien until he found out Ridley was involved.
The screen test that bagged Sigourney Weaver the role of Ripley was her closing off speech aboard the Nostromo’s shuttle at the end of the film.
When casting the role of Ripley, Ridley Scott invited several women from the production office to watch screen tests, and thus gain a female perspective. The women were unanimously impressed with then-unknown actress Sigourney Weaver, whose screen presence they compared to Jane Fonda’s.
Ripley was originally a male character called Roby. But it was decided that the lead should be a female, something that was coming about in the movies of the time: “The return of the women”.
Bill Paterson turned down a part.
Bolaji Badejo beat Peter Mayhew to the part of the alien.
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. Being a Masai 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.
Yaphet Kotto (Parker) actually picked fights with Bolaji Badejo who played the Alien, in order to help his onscreen hatred of the creature.
Dan O’Bannon first encountered H.R. Giger’s unique style when the two were briefly working on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ill-fated attempt at making “Dune”.
Conceptual artist H.R. Giger’s designs were changed several times because of their blatant sexuality.
Conceptual artist H.R. Giger would successfully sue 20th Century Fox 18 years later over his lack of screen credit on Alien: Resurrection.
H.R. Giger’s initial designs for the face-hugger 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.
Giger removed the eyes from the design for the Alien, because he felt it was scarier not knowing where the Alien was looking.
The front (face) part of the alien costume’s head is made from a cast of a real human skull.
During production an attempt was made to make the alien character transparent or at least translucent.
Three aliens were made: a model and two suits. One of the suits was for the seven foot tall Masai tribesman Bolaji Badejo, and the other was for a trained stunt man.
The models had to be repainted every evening of the shoot because the slime used on-set removed the acrylic paint from their surfaces.
Among some of the ingredients of the alien costume are Plasticine and Rolls Royce motor parts.
Shredded condoms were used to create tendons of the beast’s ferocious jaws.
The face hugger carcass that Ash autopsies was made using fresh shellfish, four oysters and a sheep kidney to recreate the internal organs.
The slime used on the Alien was K-Y jelly.
The rumor that the cast, except for John Hurt, did not know what would happen during the “chestburster” scene is partly true. The scene had been explained for them, but they did not know specifics. For example, Veronica Cartwright did not expect to be sprayed with blood.
The alien that bursts out of John Hurt’s stomach makes its speedy exit across the dinner table via a hole cut in the table and a crew member on a skateboard underneath attached to a rope. Several other members of the crew then yanked on the rope quickly to make the alien really move.
The chestbursting scene was filmed in one take with four cameras.
Roger Dicken, who designed and operated the “face hugger” and the “chest burster,” had originally wanted the latter to pull itself out of Kane’s torso with its own little hands, a sequence he felt would have produced a much more horrifying effect than the gratuitous blood and guts in the release print.
The shriek that the alien baby makes when it first bursts out of John Hurt’s chest was a combination of a viper, a pig’s squeal and a baby’s cry.
For the chestburster sequence, John Hurt stuck his head, shoulders and arms through a hole in the mess table, linking up with a mechanical torso that was packed with compressed air (to create the forceful exit of the alien) and lots of animal guts. The rest of the cast were not told that real guts were being used so as to provoke genuine reactions of shock and disgust.
The screech of the alien as it bursts from the stomach of John Hurt was actually 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.
“Nostromo” is the title of a Joseph Conrad book. The shuttle that Ripley escapes on is called the “Narcissus”, a reference to another Joseph Conrad book. See also Aliens.
The vector graphics that appear on Ripley’s screen showing the undocking sequence for the Nostromo were also used for the aircar launch sequence in Blade Runner.
Three Nostromos 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.
The original name for the spaceship was Snark. This was later changed to Leviathan before they finally settled for Nostromo.
The Nostromo’s computer is called Mother. In the third sequel, Alien Resurrection, the spaceship’s computer is called Father.
Mother’s two 30 second countdowns take 36 and 37 seconds respectively.
To simulate the thrust of engines on the Nostromo, Ridley Scott had crew members shake and wobble the seats the actors were sitting in.
The Nostromo was built to then-current NASA specifications for spacecraft. Some of the displays from the Nostromo are reused in Blade Runner (1982).
The decal on the door of the Nostromo is a “checkerboard square”, the symbol on Purina’s pet food label; it designated Alien Chow.
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).
The Nostromo is supposed to be 800 feet long, while the craft she is towing is a mile and a half long.
Many of the interior features of the Nostromo came from airplane graveyards.
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.
The computer screen displaying Nostromo’s orbit around the planet contains a hidden credit to Dr. Brian Wyvill, one of the programmers for the animation. Within the top frame entitled Deorbital Descent, it is possible to isolate the letters “BLOB”, Dr. Brian Wyvill’s common nickname.
The grid-like flooring on the Nostromo was achieved using upturned milk crates, painted over.
The engines of the Narcissus coming to life was created by having water pour out of showers with strong arc lights around it. This gave the illusion that it was plasma.
The engine plasma that blasts the alien away from the shuttle at the end of the movie is actually just tons of water pouring over the camera.
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.
The blue laser lights that were used in the alien ship’s egg chamber were borrowed from The Who. The band was testing out the lasers for their stage show in the soundstage next door.
130 alien eggs were made for the egg chamber inside the downed spacecraft.
The inside of the “eggs” as seen by Kane was composed of real organic material. Director Ridley Scott used cattle hearts and stomachs. The tail of the “face hugger” was sheep intestine.
The space jockey prop was 26 feet tall.
In the space jockey scene, the three crew members Lambert, Dallas, and Kane are portrayed by Ridley Scott’s two children and another child; this was done to make the model appear larger.
The embryonic movements of the “face hugger” (prior to bursting out of its egg) were created by Ridley Scott using both his rubber-gloved hands.
A closer look at the alien eggs in the scene right before the facehugger reveals that slime on the eggs is dripping from bottom to top. Ridley Scott did this intentionally by shooting with the camera upside down.