Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto
Plot: A commercial crew aboard the deep space towing vessel, Nostromo is on its way home when they pick up an SOS warning from a distant moon. What they don't know is that the SOS warning is not like any other ordinary warning call. Picking up the signal, the crew realizes that they are not alone on the spaceship when an alien stowaway is on the cargo ship.
According to Yaphet Kotto, Ridley Scott told him to annoy Sigourney Weaver off-camera so that there would be tension between their characters. Kotto regrets this because he really liked Weaver.
To get Jones the cat to react fearfully to the descending Alien, a German Shepherd was placed in front of him with a screen between the two, so the cat wouldn't see it at first. The screen was then suddenly removed to make Jones stop advancing and start hissing.
The dead facehugger that Ash autopsies was made using fresh shellfish, four oysters and a sheep kidney to recreate the internal organs.
It was conceptual artist Ron Cobb who came up with the idea that the Alien should bleed acid. This came about when Dan O'Bannon couldn't find a reason why the Nostromo crew wouldn't just shoot the Alien with a gun.
During early development, Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett ran into a writing impasse while trying to work out how the alien would get aboard the ship. Shussett came up with the idea "the alien f*cks one of them," which was eventually developed into the facehugger concept. This method of reproduction via implantation was deliberately intended to invoke images of male rape and impregnation, so both writers were adamant that the facehugger victim be a man: firstly because they wanted to avoid the horror cliché of women being depicted as the easy first target; secondly because they felt that making a female the casualty of a symbolic rape felt inappropriate; and thirdly, to make the male viewers feel more uncomfortable with this reversal of genre conventions.
Harrison Ford turned down the role of Captain Dallas.
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. He was 7 feet 1 inches 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. The is was also his only acting role. He vanished into anonymity after this.
A scene originally cut, but re-inserted for the Director's Cut shows Lambert slapping Ripley in retaliation for Ripley's refusal to let her, Dallas, and Kane back on the ship. According to both Ridley Scott and Veronica Cartwright, every time she went to slap Sigourney Weaver, Sigourney would shy away. After about three or four takes of this, Scott finally told Cartwright "Not to hold back. Really hit her." Thus the very real shocked reactions of Weaver, Yaphet Kotto, and Harry Dean Stanton.
The chest bursting scene was considered the second scariest movie moment of all time on Bravo's The 100 Scariest Movie Moments (2004).
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. Veronica Cartwright, playing Lambert, screams when blood splatters on her. Her screaming was genuine; the cast didn't expect so much blood, and didn't know which way the blood would splatter.
Aside from being an easy-to-remember moniker for the ship's computer, another reason for the crew referring to it as "Mother" is the actual name of the computer: MU-TH-UR. This is printed in red lettering on the small access door that holds the computer card that Dallas and Ripley use to gain access to the control console room.
Dan O'Bannon requested that Ridley Scott and producer Walter Hill, both of whom had little knowledge of horror or science-fiction cinema, screen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to prepare for shooting the more intense scenes. Scott and Hill were stunned by the horror film and admitted it motivated them to ratchet up the intensity of their own film.
Yaphet Kotto (Parker) actually picked fights with Bolaji Badejo who played the Alien, in order to help his onscreen hatred of the creature.
The dead fossilized alien is commonly referred to as the 'Space Jockey'. It was a term used by the production crew, and was subsequently adopted by fans of the movie, even though the name itself isn't used anywhere in the movie, nor in the script.
Ridley Scott was so bored whilst waiting for the budget to be determined on the film in his spare time he storyboarded the entire movie and then sent it to the studio where they were so impressed with his vision they doubled the budget.
The producers of the 1950s potboiler It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) considered suing for plagiarism.
One common story is that "Weyland" and "Yutani" were the names of two of Ridley Scott's neighbors whom he didn't like. However, this isn't the case. Ron Cobb, the designer of the movie came up with the name "Weylan-Yutani"
Originally the crew was suppose to emerge from hypersleep completely naked. This was nixed due to concern about censorship in several markets. For the awakening from hypersleep segment, Veronica Cartwright and Sigourney Weaver had to wear white surgical tape over their nipples so as not to offend certain countries.
The film was originally scripted to end with Ripley escaping the Nostromo with her shuttle, and the Alien dying on board the Nostromo. Ridley Scott thought this ending was way too simplistic, so he negotiated with the studio for an additional half a million dollar budget and a week of filming to add a 'fourth act' to the movie, showing how the Alien stowed away aboard the shuttle, and Ripley trying to flush it out. Scott originally wanted a much darker ending, where the Alien climbs back into the shuttle and Ripley harpoons it, but it makes no difference; the Alien runs towards her, slams through her masks and rips her head off. It would then sit in her chair, and start mimicking captain Dallas' voice, saying "I'm signing off, hopefully the network will pick me up". Apparently, 20th Century Fox wasn't too pleased with such a dark ending. According to Scott, while pitching this idea over the phone, there was a long and uncomfortable silence. Within 14 hours, a studio executive arrived who threatened to fire him on the spot unless he changed the ending to one where the Alien would die. Scott later admitted that allowing Ripley to live was the better ending.
The scene with the alien exploding from the stomach was a reference that came to co-writer Dan O'Bannon because he struggled with stomach problems.