Xenomorph XX121, commonly referred to as simply the Xenomorph and known colloquially as the Alien, is a highly aggressive endoparasitoid extraterrestrial species. The Xenomorphs are predatory creatures with no higher goals than the propagation of their species and the destruction of any life that could pose a threat to them. Like wasps or bees, Xenomorphs are eusocial, with a fertile Queen breeding a host of subordinate castes. The creatures are known for their potent acidic blood and their pharyngeal jaws, although their biological life cycle, in which their offspring are implanted inside living hosts before erupting violently from their chests, is in many ways their signature aspect.
The original Alien design is credited to Swiss surrealist and artist H. R. Giger, originating in a 1976 lithograph called Necronom IV and refined for the series' first film, Alien, in 1979. It deliberately evokes many sexual images, both male and female, to illustrate a blurring of human sexual dichotomy. The mechanical head-effects for the original creature were designed and constructed by Italian special effects designer Carlo Rambaldi. The species' design and life cycle have been extensively added to throughout each subsequent appearance, while continuing advancements made in the field of special effects technology have led to numerous variations in the creature's design.
Aside from their repeated conflicts with humans, Xenomorphs have notably been associated with the Yautja (Predators), leading to the extensive Alien vs. Predator franchise, including the films Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). The Xenomorph has also featured heavily in numerous literature and video game spin-offs, including crossovers with other well-known franchises.
Xenomorphs are primarily solitary ambush predators, although they have been known to adopt swarm tactics when acting in larger groups. Despite their voracious ability to kill, they often seek to take their victims alive to be hosts for more Xenomorphs; victims are taken to the Hive (or simply a secluded location if no Hive exists), cocooned and/or immobilized before being impregnated with a Xenomorph embryo.
Notably, Xenomorphs will alter their physical appearance during development depending on the physiology of the host in which they gestate — in all likelihood, this incorporation of physical traits gleaned from the host is designed to ensure the adult creature is better suited to the environment in which it will find itself. This ability to alter its form based on the host's physical attributes occurs at a cellular level and has been referred to as the "DNA Reflex". Historically, most Xenomorphs encountered have typically gestated inside human hosts, and therefore adopt a basically bipedal, humanoid stance, but other variations born from a wide variety of different host organisms have been seen, and as a result feature varying physical appearances. Perhaps the most notable of these variations is the "Predalien", the result of a Xenomorph gestating inside a Yautja. However, regardless of any physical variation resulting from the host, Xenomorphs always possess certain distinctive, trademark characteristics.
Outwardly, they have a skeletal, biomechanical appearance and are usually colored in muted shades of black, blue or bronze. Whatever the host organism, they invariably possess distinctive, elongated, cylindrical skulls, but possess no visible facial features other than their mouth; how the creatures see or otherwise rationalise their environment is uncertain. The carapace atop the head has been seen to vary, from smooth and vaguely translucent to ridged and opaque. It has been proposed that this difference is part of a maturation process, and that younger creatures or Drones possess the smoother, domed carapace, while older specimens, such as Warriors, feature ridges. Notably, ridges are often visible beneath the smooth dome of Drones.
The Xenomorphs' primary weapon is their inner pharyngeal jaw, which is capable of shooting from their mouth like a piston with sufficient power to smash through bone and metal. In fact, a common tactic used by the creatures to eliminate prey is to restrain the victim with their hands, immobilizing them, before killing them with a precision jaw strike to the head, piercing through the skull and penetrating the brain; this form of attack is colloquially known as a "Headbite". On several occasions, Xenomorphs have been seen to suspend the corpses of those that they kill from ceilings.
Xenomorphs have segmented, blade-tipped tails. The sharp tip has been seen to vary from a small, scorpion-like barb to a larger, flat blade. Despite their seemingly flimsy physical construction, the creature's tail makes for an incredibly potent weapon, strong enough to impale and lift a Yautja from the floor with seemingly little effort. The tails have been used variously as stabbing, slashing and blunt force trauma weapons. Above the tails, the creature possesses several tubes on its back, typically consisting of two pairs — a larger upper pair and a smaller lower pair — often with a fifth, sharper spine in the centre below the base of the head. The exactly purpose of these tubes is unclear.
Xenomorphs have appeared as both plantigrade and digitigrade organisms, usually in accordance with their host. For example, human- and Yautja-spawned Xenomorphs typically possess humanoid hind limbs and walk upright, while Xenomorph's spawned from quadrupedal hosts (referred to as "Runners") sport double-jointed hind legs and move predominantly on all fours. The Cloned Xenomorphs created aboard the USM Auriga also possessed digitigrade legs despite spawning from human hosts, perhaps as a result of imperfections and cross-contamination in the cloning process.
When standing upright, Xenomorphs are vaguely bipedal in form, though they adopt a more hunched stance when walking or sprinting and are equally adept at moving on all four limbs, even in instances where the host host was a bipedal lifeform, such as humans. They are quite capable of running and crawling along ceilings and walls and are expert jumpers. They possess great physical strength, having been known to break through metal vent covers and welded steel doors with little effort, and even of breaking down reinforced pressurized doors over time. Their large clawed talons are more than capable of tearing humans apart, while their primary jaws are capable of producing a bite strength estimated at 6,000 psi.
Xenomorphs do not radiate heat, and their body heat matches the ambient temperature of the environment in which they are found. Adverse extremes of temperature appear to have little, if any, affect on their physical prowess. In fact, physiologically they are incredibly hardy creatures — aside from being unaffected by temperature extremes that would quickly incapacitate or kill a human, they are capable of surviving in the hard vacuum of space, at least for a limited period of time. One Alien on Fiorina 161 was even known to survive several tons of molten lead being poured onto it.
Blood and secretions
- See also: Xenomorph blood
Xenomorph blood is an extremely potent and concentrated molecular acid that can corrode on contact almost any substance with alarming speed. It is dull yellowish-green in color, and seems to be pressurized inside the body so that it spurts out when wounded, as a defensive measure. This blood can prove incredibly problematic when encountering Xenomorphs aboard a starship, as using traditional firearms or explosives to attack the creature will potentially cause its blood to leak out in sufficient quantity to eat through the hull of the ship.
In some instances, Xenomorphs have been known to be conscious of the effects of their acidic blood, and even exploit it to their advantage — aboard the USM Auriga, the Lead Alien and another Cloned Xenomorph successfully escaped their containment cell by eviscerating a third, causing its acid blood to melt through the floor of the cage. Similarly, Xenomorphs on Bouvet Island freed their Queen by slashing and cutting her, causing her blood to melt the chains that restrained her. Some forms of the Xenomorph have been known to "spit" acid, either as a tool or a form of attack. For example, Facehuggers have been known to regurgitate a small amount of acid to melt through obstructions between them and a potential host, such as the faceplate of a spacesuit helmet. This spitting ability has also been exhibited offensively by adult Xenomorphs; much like a spitting cobra, the creatures will spit acid to blind and incapacitate their victims rather than kill them outright. Despite their own immunity to their blood, Xenomorphs are vulnerable to hydrofluric acid, which was used against them to great effect on LV-178.
Xenomorphs Drones can also produce a thick, strong resin (vomited from their mouths) that they use to build their Hives and to cocoon their victims. This substance has the added effect of paralyzing their victims when regurgitated over their nose and/or mouth, making it easier for the creatures to move them to the Hive for implantation.
Intelligence, communication and behavior
The Hadley's Hope and USM Auriga incidents both showed that the species excels at observational learning and problem solving. In both cases, Xenomorphs managed to learn how to operate the machinery of their mechanized environments at a very basic level. On Acheron, the Xenomorphs were able to cut the power to a section of the complex to allow themselves access to their human prey, while the Queen was able to learn how to operate an elevator simply by observing it once. It has even been suggested that the Queen may have established her "nest" at the colony's main Atmosphere Processing Plant due to some understanding that such a sensitive location would afford her a degree of protection — any attackers would be unable to destroy her and her Hive without also destroying the entire facility. However, others have suggested her choice of location may simply have been the result of her selecting the warmest part of the base in which to make her nest. On the USM Auriga, captive Xenomorphs were able to use blood from one of their own kind to melt through their enclosure and escape. The Xenomorphs in the Yautja pyramid beneath Bouvet Island used a similar strategy to free their Queen from her chains.
It has been theorized that the intelligence of individual Xenomorphs may be influenced by the host. At the very least, the creatures can apparently inherit some degree of basic instinctual urges from their host, as seen when a Predalien on BG-386 was witnessed tearing a skull from a human corpse as a trophy, matching common behavior exhibited by the Yautja creatures from which the Predalien was spawned. With the distinct exception of the "Newborn" aboard the USM Auriga, Xenomorphs have demonstrated little actual emotion, save for basic self-preservation and maternal instincts toward their Eggs and the Queen.
The means by which Xenomorphs communicate amongst themselves is unclear, although it is apparent from their behavior that they possess the ability to do so. While Xenomorphs are able to vocalize a variety of hisses and screeches, it seems probable that the majority of their communication is performed through some other means, possibly involving the use pheromone release or even some form of telepathy. The creatures possess a unique ability to inherit memories genetically, passed down from one generation to another. These memories go far beyond mere base instinct, and can include recollections of very specific events witnessed by earlier generations. According to Dr. Wren of the United Systems Military, the purpose of this genetic memory ability is to ensure the species remains intact regardless of "the differing characteristics they might have to adopt from their varied hosts".
It has been proposed that pheromone detection and the scent of their prey's fear when confronted may determine the behavior and hostility of Xenomorphs during their attacks. According to some sources, Xenomorphs may perform excruciating, bloody kills when sensing that their victim is terrified by their rpesence (Lambert's death abaord the USCSS Nostromo being an example), while cleaner, faster kills take place when the prey either does not notice the Xenomorph or is less aware of its presence. It also seems that pheromone detection may help Xenomorphs to locate their prey, and that, since synthetics do not possess such chemicals, the Xenomorphs usually tend to ignore them as long as they are not disturbed.
The question of Xenomorph gender is heavily debated. The most widely accepted answer is that Xenomorphs simply have no genders and are completely asexual. The exception to this is the Queen, which due to its role as an egg-layer and general overseer of Xenomorph Hives is usually said to be female, comparable to similar female castes in the insect kingdom. Consequently, some argue that all Xenomorphs are female, given the apparent ability of a typical individual to molt into a seemingly female Queen.
Little is known regarding the Xenomorph's diet and it remains unclear exactly how they gain sustenance, or if they even require sustenance of traditional means at all. Events at Hadley's Hope on Acheron seem to imply the Xenomorphs do not use humans as a food source, as Colonial Marines who entered the Hive there found it to be littered with the corpses of colonists used as hosts, none of whom showed any sign of having been consumed, in whole or in part, despite the fact they had present for some time. Similarly, Marines from the USS Sephora found evidence that even bodies left cocooned for as long as 17 weeks were not desecrated or devoured in any way following death.
Further contradictory evidence demonstrates the precise opposite: for one, the Dragon on Fiorina 161 was apparently seen to eat at least some of the humans that it killed. The inmate Walter Golic, who witnessed an attack by the Xenomorph and escaped, also subsequently claimed that the creature "feeds on minds" (although owing to his delusional state, it is unclear how accurate this statement may be; he could simply have misinterpreted a Headbite as a form of feeding). In Gunnison, Colorado, Warriors were seen to feed on their victims. On New Galveston, hosts were known to be used as a source of food for the Hive once the embryos inside them had been born, and Xenomorphs on BG-386 were also occasionally seen to feed on humans they had attacked, sometimes while they were still alive.
Xenomorphs operate under a caste system, with groups of specialized individuals performing distinct tasks within the species. It is not clear to what degree these castes are subject to a social hierarchy, although certain Xenomorph types, notably the Praetorians and the Queens, clearly exercise some degree of control and superiority over other more common variations.
While individual Xenomorphs have been known to operate independently, owing to their tendency to reproduce rapidly and in large numbers they are more commonly encountered in groups and often likened to an infestation owing to their tendency to spread and consume all suitable host organisms in an area. As with many other eusocial organisms, Xenomorphs, particularly in larger groups, will create a central nest or Hive in which they will reside, often overseen by an Egg-laying Queen. Raiding parties will be sent out into the surrounding area to search for and capture more hosts, which will then be brought to the Hive and used to create more Xenomorphs. In larger infestations, smaller "satellite" Hives may be created, containing just a few Xenomorphs, allowing victims to be cocooned and impregnated even far away from the Queen herself.
While the origins of the Xenomorphs have never been definitively determined, several notable theories on their beginnings have gained widespread recognition. Perhaps the most prominent of these is that they are not a natural creature, but were created artificially to act as a biological weapon of war by another, technologically advanced race. Evidence suggested to support this includes the Xenomorph's general biomechanical biology and appearance, as well as the perceived "perfection" of their physical nature. Various individuals have proposed that the Engineers may be the race that created the Xenomorph, especially given their known propensity for advanced bio-weapons (including Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15), although another (less widely-accepted) theory is that the Yautja may have been responsible, owing to their close and lengthy association with the creatures. To date, no conclusive evidence has been discovered either way.
The Xenomorph life cycle comprises several distinct stages: they begin their lives as an Ovomorph, or Egg, laid by a Queen, which hatches a parasitoid larval form known as a Facehugger, which in turn "impregnates" a living host with an embryo known as a Chestburster. After a gestation period of several hours, the Chestburster erupts violently from the host's chest, resulting in the death of the host.
The Chestburster then matures to an adult phase within a few hours, shedding its skin and replacing its cells with polarized silicon. Due to the DNA Reflex, horizontal gene transfer during the gestation period leads the Xenomorph to take on some of the basic physical attributes of the host from which it was born.
- Main article: Ovomorph (Egg)
The Ovomorphs or Eggs laid by the Queen are large, ellipsoidal leathery objects between two to three feet high with a four-lobed opening at the top. As a potential host approaches, the egg's lobes unfold like flower petals, and the parasitic Facehugger extracts itself from within and attaches itself to the potential host.
- Main article: Facehugger
A Facehugger is the second stage in the Xenomorph's life cycle. It has eight long, finger-like legs which allow it to crawl rapidly, and a long tail adapted for making great leaps. These particular appendages give it an appearance somewhat comparable to chelicerate arthropods such as arachnids and horseshoe crabs. As its name suggests, it attaches to the victim's face, and its sole purpose is to impregnate them orally with a Xenomorph embryo. The underside of the Facehugger, the part that touches the victim's face, and its orifice (from which extends a proboscis used for delivering the Xenomorph embryo) noticeably resembles a vagina.
The Facehugger is a parasitoid; its only purpose is to complete the implantation process, by gripping its legs around the victim's head and wrapping its tail around the host's neck. Upon making contact, the Facehugger quickly renders the host unconscious — the exact means by which this occurs is unclear. The Facehugger then inserts a proboscis down the host's throat, supplying it with suitable atmosphere whilst simultaneously implanting an embryo. Attempts to remove Facehuggers generally prove fatal, as the parasitoid will respond by tightening its grip and suffocating the host, while the Facehugger's acidic blood prevents it from being safely cut away. Once the Xenomorph embryo is safely implanted, the Facehugger detaches, crawls away and dies.
- Main article: Chestburster
After implantation and the death of the Facehugger, the host subsequently wakes up with no considerable outward negative symptoms. Symptoms build acutely after detachment of the Facehugger, the most common being a sore throat, slight nausea, increased congestion and moderate to extreme hunger. During the extended gestation period of an embryonic Queen, symptoms may additionally include a shortness of breath, exhaustion and internal hemorrhaging (detectable through biological scanners and present in nosebleeds or other seemingly random bleeding incidents), as well as chest pains inflicted either by the lack of chest space due to the Chestburster's presence, or even premature attempts to escape the host. The DNA Reflex ensures the incubating embryo takes on some of the host's traits, such as bipedalism, quadrupedalism or even possessing the mandibles of a Predator and other body structure changes. Over the course of 1–24 hours, indeterminable in some cases, and sometimes up to several days in the case of some Queens, the embryo develops into a Chestburster, at which point it emerges, violently ripping open the chest of the host, killing it.
Growth and maturity
Shortly after the Chestburster erupts from the body of its host, it will flee due to its vulnerable state and attempts to find a secure location in which to molt into its adult form. Initially, the chestburster it is less than 1 foot (30 cm) tall. However, it soon undergoes a dramatic growth spurt, reaching adult size in a matter of hours; in Alien the embryo had grown to be over 7 feet (2.2m) in height by the time the Nostromo crew located it again.
- Main article: Drone
The Drone is the most basic and common form of Xenomorph found in the Hive; the Drone form acts much like worker bees or ants. The Drones' main function is to keep the Hive functioning properly and to gather new hosts for impregnation. They are almost identical to Warriors in appearance with the exception of their smooth, domed skull, and their tails, which end in a stinger-like barb as opposed to a large blade.
- Main article: Warrior
The Warrior (also called the Soldier or Hunter) is the primary assault caste of the Xenomorphs. They are fast, strong, reasonably tough, and savage combatants. Even in death the Warrior is dangerous, as its highly pressurised bloodstream will cause it to burst apart when killed and drench nearby enemies in acid. Warriors have ridged heads, as opposed to the smooth carapace of the Drone, but are otherwise virtually identical; because of this, Warriors are often said to simply be the mature life stage of the Drone.
- Main article: Runner
A Runner is a Xenomorph born from a quadrupedal host. The creature itself shares the same basic physical conformation and instincts as bipedal Xenomorphs, although they typically adopt a different posture, primarily moving on all fours and possessing digitigrade hind legs. They also lack the dorsal tubes of the human-spawned Xenomorphs, and are more red-brown in color when compared to other, typically black Xenomorphs.
- Main article: Praetorian
Praetorians are considerably larger than most other adult Xenomorphs, typically around twice the size of a Warrior, but are smaller than Queens. They act as guards to the Queen within the Hive (their name taken from the Praetorian Guard, the loyal bodyguards who would protect the Emperor in Ancient Rome). They are easily distinguished by the large, flat crest, like a crown, that extends from the rear of their heads. It is thought Praetorians may be capable of molting into a Queen if no Queen is present. Praetorians possess much more concentrated acidic blood, and they have been seen to produce a deafening scream that will summon additional Warriors to their aid.
- Main article: Queen (caste)
Xenomorph Queens are considered the apex of the species. They are significantly larger and stronger than basic Warriors and even Praetorians. They are approximately 20 feet tall when standing erect and 53 feet in length. Their body structure differs also, having two pairs of arms, with a smaller secondary pair of limbs located on the chest. The Queen's head is larger than other adult Xenomorphs and is protected by a crest, similar to that on Praetorians but considerably larger. The exact shape of the crest can vary from Queen-to-Queen. Unlike other Xenomorphs, the Queen also has high heel protrusions from its feet.
Egg-laying Queens possess an immense Egg sac attached to their lower torso, similar to the enlarged abdomen of a queen termite. Unlike insect queens, there appears to be no need for drones to fertilize the Xenomorph Queen. When attached to its Egg sac, the Queen is essentially immobile and her body is supported by a biomechanical "throne" that consists of a lattice of struts resembling massive insect legs.
- Main article: Jockey-Xenomorph
The Jockey-Xenomorph, also known as the Ultramorph, is a Xenomorph born from an Engineer (its name being a reference to the colloquial name for the Engineers, "Space Jockeys"). The Jockey-Xenomorph is usually depicted as being huge in size, perhaps rivalling Queens in height. The Jockey-Xenomorph should not be confused with the Deacon, a creature born from a Trilobite impregnating an Engineer.
- Main article: Predalien (caste)
The Predalien is a Xenomorph spawned from a Yautja, or Predator. It is apparently rare and is regarded by the yautja as an abomination and an affront to their species. Predaliens feature many traits in common with Yautja, such as dreadlock-like appendages on their heads, similar mandibles, and comparable skin color and vocalizations. They are large, bulky creatures, possessing greater physical strength than both Predators and human-spawned Xenomorphs. Predaliens also have thicker tails than regular Xenomorphs. At least one Predalien has been capable of bypassing the Ovomorph/Facehugger reproductive cycle altogether, being able to implant multiple embryos within victims directly through its inner jaw. This trait apparently allows the creature to build an army of Drones or Warriors before it becomes a mature Queen and enters its sedentary condition with an Eggsac.
Predaliens notably take after their host to a greater extent than human-spawned Xenomorphs, possibly because the Predator's genes are more potent. This could also explain why some Predaliens have been known to carry out ritualistic mutilation of their prey, perhaps as some form of genetic throw-back to Yautja customs.
- Main article: Cloned Xenomorph
The Cloned Xenomorphs were a mutated Xenomorph strain bred aboard the USM Auriga by United Systems Military scientists in 2381. They descended from the Queen extracted from the cloned Ellen Ripley, known as Ripley 8. Due to imperfections in the cloning process, the Queen and her offspring were not true Xenomorphs but subtly altered hybrids, mutated through the inclusion of human DNA in their genetic makeup.
While the Cloned Xenomorphs generally resembled normal human-spawned Xenomorphs, they possessed several notable differences that made them unique. Their necks were fleshier in appearance compared to the biomechanical look of other Xenomorphs, and they displayed some quadrupedal traits akin to the the Runner caste, as opposed to adopting the primarily bipedal stance of other human-spawned Xenomorphs. There were also slightly differences in the shape of the head, which was narrower, with a longer muzzle and more prominent chin. Additionally, both the Cloned Queen and her Drones were green-brown in color, with a shimmering, insect-like quality to their exoskeletons.
- Main article: Newborn
The Newborn was a mutant human-Xenomorph hybrid creature created when the Queen aboard the USM Auriga developed a second reproductive cycle, a perversion of the human womb. The Newborn was considerably larger than a regular Xenomorph and notably does not possess the faceless, highly elongated skull typical of the species. Instead, it had a far more human-like face, including eyes, a nose, and a fleshy tongue in place of the Xenomorph's signature inner jaw, and a far more humanoid skull that showed only minor elongation at the rear. The creature also lacked the distinctive dark, biomechanical exoskeleton common to the species, instead being covered in soft, flesh-colored skin. The Newborn possessed immense strength, able to jump huge distances or crush a man's skull with its bare hands. It shared little association with its Xenomorph brethren, going so far as to kill the Queen that bore it, and apparently viewed Ripley 8 as its true "mother".
Alien 2: On Earth
The Alien in the non-canon film Alien 2: On Earth differs considerably from that seen in the original Alien (and the rest of the official franchise). Its infant form bursts out of the victim's face rather than the chest (leading some fans to christen it the "Faceburster"), while in its adult form it is shown to be a shape-shifting creature that attempts to assimilate other lifeforms. It is also composed mainly of long tails / tentacles with which it have the ability to slice off heads. As a parasitic lifeform, the alien seeks to absorb and assimilate any nearby lifeform, and enables to gain shelter and be able to adapt to virtually any environment that can sustain multi-cellular, complex life.
AVH: Alien vs. Predator
In the mockbuster movie AVH: Alien vs. Hunter appears a type of alien called Spideroid Alien. Two of these half-humanoid half-spider hybrid creatures arrived via meteorite. The Hunter tracked them down and slayed one, while the other escaped and began killing humans for food. The Spideroid Aliens are noted for their deliberate resemblance to the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise, though they are green rather than black. They can travel at great speeds on their spider legs.
Behind the Scenes
Concept and creation
The script for the 1979 film Alien was initially drafted by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Dan O'Bannon drafted an opening in which the crew of a mining ship are sent to investigate a mysterious message on an alien planet. He eventually settled on the threat being an alien creature; however, he could not conceive of an interesting way for it to get onto the ship. Inspired after waking from a dream, Shusett said, "I have an idea: the monster screws one of them," planting its seed in his body, and then bursting out of his chest. Both realized the idea had never been done before, and it subsequently became the core of the film. "This is a movie about alien interspecies rape," O'Bannon said in the documentary Alien Evolution. "That's scary because it hits all of our buttons." O'Bannon felt that the symbolism of "homosexual oral rape" was an effective means of discomforting male viewers.
The title of the film was decided late in the script's development. O'Bannon had quickly dropped the film's original title, Star Beast, but could not think of a name to replace it. "I was running through titles, and they all stank", O'Bannon said in an interview, "when suddenly, that word alien just came out of the typewriter at me. Alien. It's a noun and it's an adjective." The word alien subsequently became the title of the film and, by extension, the name of the creature itself.
Prior to writing the script to Alien, O'Bannon had been working in France for Chilean cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky's planned adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic science-fiction novel Dune. Also hired for the project was Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger. Giger showed O'Bannon his nightmarish, monochromatic artwork, which left O'Bannon deeply disturbed. "I had never seen anything that was quite as horrible and at the same time as beautiful as his work," he remembered later. The Dune film collapsed, but O'Bannon would remember Giger when Alien was greenlit, and suggested to director Ridley Scott that he be brought on to design the Alien, saying that if he were to design a monster, it would be truly original.
After O'Bannon handed him a copy of Giger's book Necronomicon, Scott immediately saw the potential for Giger's designs, and chose Necronom IV, a painting Giger completed in 1976, as the basis for the Alien's design, citing its beauty and strong sexual overtones. That the creature could just as easily have been male or female was also a strong factor in the decision to use it. "It could just as easily fuck you before it killed you", said line producer Ivor Powell, "[which] made it all the more disconcerting." Fox was initially wary of allowing Giger onto the project, saying that his works would be too disturbing for audiences, but eventually relented. Giger initially offered to completely design the Alien from scratch, but Scott mandated that he base his work on Necronom IV, saying that to start over from the beginning would be too time-consuming. Giger signed on to design the adult, egg and chest-burster forms, but ultimately also designed the alien planetoid Acheron and the Space Jockey alien vessel.
Giger conceived the Alien as being vaguely human but a human in full armor, protected from all outside forces. He mandated that the creature have no eyes, because he felt that it made them much more frightening if you could not tell they were looking at you. Giger also gave the Alien's mouth a second inner set of pharyngeal jaws located at the tip of a long, tongue-like proboscis which could extend rapidly for use as a weapon. His design for the creature was heavily influenced by an aesthetic he had created and termed biomechanical, a fusion of the organic and the mechanic. His mock-up of the Alien was created using parts from an old Rolls Royce car, rib bones and the vertebrae from a snake, molded with plasticine. Originally, the creature was to be translucent, but after problems with the fragile see-through suits tearing the idea was scrapped, although the translucent concept was retained for the dome on the creature's skull. The final Alien's animatronic head, which contained 900 moving parts, was designed and constructed by special effects designer Carlo Rambaldi. The creature's mouth tendons were created from shredded and stretched condoms, while its teeth were made from polished steel. Giger and Rambaldi would both go on to win the 1980 Academy Award for Visual Effects for their design of the Alien.
Scott decided on the man-in-suit approach for creating the creature onscreen. Initially circus performers were tried, then multiple actors together in the same costume, but neither proved scary. Deciding that the creature would be scarier the closer it appeared to a human, Scott decided that a single, very tall, very thin man be used. Scott was inspired by a photograph of Leni Riefenstahl standing next to a 6'4" (1.94 m) Nubian. The casting director found 7'2" (2.18 m), rail-thin graphic designer Bolaji Badejo in a local pub. Badejo went to tai chi and mime classes to learn how to slow down his movements.
A cultured Alien
O'Bannon's original concept for the Alien was that it was a member of an advanced civilization, an idea ultimately dropped in favor of a more simplistic, animalistic take. In his initial vision, the final form of the adult Alien was in fact part of a peaceful, cultured race who first had to pass through a period of adolescence, at which stage they were consumed with ferocious violence and aggression. The creature's incredibly complicated reproductive cycle would form the basis of a religion the species followed, involving the use of sacrificial hosts to breed more young inside ornate, ritualistic pyramids. After birth, the violent adolescent creatures would be tended to by the more docile adults, but when those adults were wiped out by an unknown event, the unborn children were left dormant for thousands or even millions of years, waiting for more hosts to arrive. It would be one of these hyper-aggressive, untended adolescents that would stalk the crew of the Nostromo.
- "In Dan's original conception the Alien race had three entirely different stages in its life-cycle. First, the egg, which is tended by third-stage adults and housed in a lower chamber of the breeding temple. When ready to hatch, the egg is placed in the middle of a sacrificial stone and a lower animal, the equivalent of an Alien cow, is then led on to the stone. Sensing the warmth, the Facehugger springs out, attaches itself to the animal and deposits a fetus into the stomach. The Facehugger soon drops off and the fetus develops inside, eventually chewing its way out and killing its host. This creature, the Chestburster, is the Alien's second stage, and it simply runs about eating, mindlessly carnivorous. At this stage the creature is still controlled and nurtured by adult Aliens, until the Chestburster begins losing appendages and becomes more and more harmless. Finally — its bloodlust gone — the Alien becomes a mild, intelligent creature, capable of art and architecture, which lives a full, scholarly life of 200 years. At some point a cataclysm causes the extermination of the adults of this unique race leaving no one to tend and nurture the young. But in a dark lower chamber of the breeding temple a large number of eggs lie dormant, waiting to sense something warm."
- ―Ron Cobb on the Alien civilization envisioned by O'Bannon.
Eggmorping: The original life cycle
- Main article: Eggmorphing
In the initial cut of Alien, the Alien possessed a complete life cycle, whereby the still-living or dead bodies of its victims could be converted into new Eggs, a process dubbed "Eggmorphing". This allowed even a solitary Drone to continue the creature's existence. However, the scene showing this final stage was cut for reasons of pacing, leaving the ultimate origin of the Eggs obscure. This allowed Aliens director James Cameron to introduce a concept he had initially conceived for a spec script called Mother, whereby a massive mother Xenomorph laid the Eggs and formed the basis for the creature's life cycle. Cameron conceived the Queen as a monstrous analogue to Ripley's own maternal role in the film. In that vein, some critics have compared it to Grendel's mother.
Throughout the films and games of the franchise, the Xenomorph design has changed, either subtly or significantly, with each appearance. Most obviously, the original Alien's distinctive domed skull was changed to a ribbed design for ALiens, largely because director James Cameron preferred the look of the ridges, which were originally to be partly concealed beneath the smooth carapace. Cameron was also concerned the smooth carapace may crack or break under the rigors of filming, and so it was dropped from the design. The smooth head style returned in Alien3, Alien Resurrection and Alien vs. Predator, but reverted to a ridged style in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.
Simialrly, the creature has been portrayed with a fluctuating number of fingers. In Alien, the Alien has webbed, six fingered hands. The number of fingers is reduced to three in Aliens, and are shown to be much longer and more skeletal. In Alien Resurrection, the number of digits is increased to four, with two long middle fingers and a pair of thumbs. This design is kept in the Alien vs. Predator films, though the hands were made bulkier in order to make the Xenomorphs seem more formidable against the Predators.
For many years, the creature had no specific name, and was referred to most often on screen, and in the credits of each film, simply as the Alien. However, the term "Xenomorph" (lit. "alien form" — from the Greek xeno-, meaning "foreign/alien", and -morph, meaning "form") is used by Lieutenant Gorman in Aliens and by Ellen Ripley in the extended Assembly Cut of Alien3. Although the word was likely intended to be a generic term that could apply to any alien lifeform, it has been adopted by fans and used in merchandising as a convenient name for the creature. It is often abbreviated to Xeno, particularly in video games based on the series, where Colonial Marines typically refer to the creatures as such.
Many other oblique terms have been assigned to the Xenomorph. It has been referred to as an organism, a creature, a serpent, a beast, a dragon, a monster, or simply, a thing. The Xenomorphs are also commonly referred to as "bugs" in expanded universe media, especially by Colonial Marines. Ash in Alien even refers to the creature in the film as "Kane's son", after the crew member in whom it incubated. On occasion, specific Aliens have been given more distinct names, such as the main Xenomorph from Alien vs. Predator, which is listed in the movie's credits as "Grid" after a grid-like wound received during the film, or "Specimen 6" from the video game Aliens vs. Predator. The species' binomial names are given in Latin as either Internecivus raptus (meant as "murderous thief") in the Alien Quadrilogy DVD or Linguafoeda acheronsis (meant as "foul tongue from Acheron") in some comic books.
In was not until 2014 that the creature received the official designation Xenomorph XX121, coined by S. D. Perry for Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report (although it first appeared in the novel Alien: Sea of Sorrows, which was published several months prior to Perry's book).
In the years since the release of Alien, the Alien has become one of the world's most recognized movie monsters and a pop-cultural icon. In 2003, the Alien was voted as the 14th most memorable screen villain by the American Film Institute. Blondie co-founder Chris Stein, who is a friend of Giger, pondered in an interview:
I'd like to see someone even vaguely compile how many versions of the Alien are floating around the world in models and stuff; there must be close to 100,000–little toys, things. All the Japanese horror comics just plunder his style.
The Aliens have appeared in many crossovers (including a large number of intercompany crossovers) in comic books and other media such as novels, toys, and video games. Crossovers include encounters with Terminators, Judge Dredd, Green Lanterns, Batman, and Superman. The largest of these crossovers is the Alien vs. Predator franchise, in which the Aliens battle the Predators. This was an idea that came to comic book artist Chris Warner in early 1989. He and other people at Dark Horse Comics were trying to come up with a good character combo for a new comics series. Dark Horse had been publishing Aliens comic books under license from 20th Century Fox since 1987. In 1990, the first depiction of the idea in film appeared in Predator 2, when an Alien skull, sculpted by Kevin Hudson, appeared as one of the trophies in the Predator spacecraft.
- ↑ James A. Moore. (2014). Alien: Sea of Sorrows. Titan Books, 77.
- ↑ S. D. Perry. (2014). Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report. Insight Editions, 2.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Vincent Ward (writer) and David Fincher (director). Alien3 Assembly Cut [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Ridley Scott, David Giler, Walter Hill, H. R. Giger, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett. The Beast Within: The Making of 'Alien' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ Sandy Schofield. (1996). Aliens: Rogue. Bantam Spectra, 63.
- ↑ 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett (writers) and Ridley Scott (director). Alien [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Paul W. S. Anderson (writer and director). Alien vs. Predator [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ Tim Bogenn. (2010). Aliens vs. Predator Official Strategy Guide. DK/BradyGames, 25.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 Vincent Ward (writer) and David Fincher (director). Alien3 [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Joss Whedon (writer) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (director). Alien Resurrection [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens Special Edition [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ S. D. Perry. (2014). Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report. Insight Editions, 22.
- ↑ Alien: Isolation [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One]. The Creative Assembly.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 John Hurt, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, H. R. Giger, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett. The Alien Saga [DVD]. Prometheus Entertainment.
- ↑ Tim Lebbon. (2014). Alien: Out of the Shadows. Titan Books, 119.
- ↑ James A. Moore. (2014). Alien: Sea of Sorrows. Titan Books, 274.
- ↑ Christopher Golden. (2014). Alien: River of Pain. Titan Books, 234.
- ↑ S. D. Perry. (2014). Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report. Insight Editions, 25.
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 20.8 20.9 Aliens vs. Predator [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Rebellion.
- ↑ A. C. Crispin. (1997). Alien Resurrection novelization. Warner Aspect, 45.
- ↑ A. C. Crispin. (1997). Alien Resurrection novelization. Warner Aspect, 39.
- ↑ Shane Salerno (writer) and The Brothers Strause (directors). Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ James A. Moore. (2014). Alien: Sea of Sorrows. Titan Books, 273.
- ↑ Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, H. R. Giger. The Alien Legacy [DVD]. Sharpline Arts.
- ↑ Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. (1995). Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. Boxtree Ltd., 150.
- ↑ Sideshowtoy. Retrieved 15 February 2006.
- ↑ James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill, Stan Winston. Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ "Alien: Engineers" by Jon Spaihts
- ↑ S. D. Perry. (2014). Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report. Insight Editions, 9.
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 Mark Kermode, Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, James Cameron, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Alien Evolution [DVD]. Nobles Gate Scotland.
- ↑ Ximena Gellardo, C. Jason Smith. (2004). Alien Woman: The Making of Lt. Ellen Ripley. Continuum, 25.
- ↑ Paul Scanlon, Michael Gross. (1979). The Book of Alien. WH Allen & Co.
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 Mark Kermode, Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, H. R. Giger. Alien Evolution (Alien re-edit) [DVD]. Nobles Gate Scotland.
- ↑ "Weyland-Yutani Archives - The Translucent Alien". Retrieved on 2013-04-30.
- ↑ HR Giger. (1979). HR Giger's Alien. Sphinx, 60.
- ↑ 37.0 37.1 37.2 "Monster Legacy - StarBeast — Prologue: Alien, Dan O'Bannon's Cosmic Horror". Retrieved on 2015-08-07.
- ↑ Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett (writers) and Ridley Scott (director). Alien Director's Cut [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ 39.0 39.1 Aliens film commentary, Alien Quadrilogy box set
- ↑ The Alien Trilogy: A New Beowulf
- ↑ Alien Queen in Cameron's Aliens (1986).
- ↑ Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr.. (2004). AVP: Alien vs. Predator: The Creature Effects of ADI.
- ↑ "PlanetAVP". Archived from the original on 2008-02-24. Retrieved on 2008-02-29.
- ↑ "Forbiddenplanet.co.uk". Retrieved on 2008-02-29.
- ↑ With acheronsis instead of acheronensis, acherontea or acheruntica.
- ↑ The comic book Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator includes the binomial name Linguafoeda acheronsis.
- ↑ "AFI's 100 YEARS...100 HEROES & VILLAINS". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved on 2008-02-25.
- ↑ Romy Ashby (2000). "The Talented Mr Giger". space.com. Archived from the original on 2000-08-19. Retrieved on 2008-02-25.
- ↑ "History of Contra". Gaming Target. Retrieved on 2008-02-25.
- ↑ "IGN Presents The History of Metroid". IGN. Retrieved on 2013-09-17.
- ↑ Jody Duncan & James Cameron. (2007). The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio. London: Titan, 336. ISBN 1-84576-150-2.