The ‘Alien’ franchise has provided some of the most terrifying moments in cinema since Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking sci-horror promised to make you shriek silent-space screams back in 1979.
The xenomorphs have endured eight films so far (yes, the ‘Alien Vs Predator’ films DO count) up to and including 2012’s ‘Prometheus’ and so to celebrate the most terrifying extra-terrestial since ‘A.L.F.’ here’s 17 of the most shocking and disturbing moments from the series so far.
Warning: Not for the faint-hearted!
16 - ‘Alien3’ - Dog chestburster
David Fincher’s third ‘Alien’ film was beset with production problems from the outset, with company men rumoured to be meddling throughout the shoot.
It’s a wonder that it even made it to screen, but it’s unfairly maligned in our opinion, and this moment where Murphy’s poor Rottweiler becomes the first non-human in the series to “birth” a xenomorph certainly makes you sit up and take notice.
15 - ‘Alien Resurrection’ - The Newborn
You’ve got to admit, you didn’t see this coming. So, when Ripley was cloned, her DNA mixed with that of the alien, which subsequently altered that of the alien queen that she birthed at the start of the film – following so far? After the alien queen laid a load of eggs, she then gave birth to a human/alien cross – the newborn. We’re not sure what’s more shocking – the pink hybrid beast, or the way Ripley kills her, by blasting it into the vacuum of space through a tiny hole in space ship window.
14 - 'Alien vs Predator’ - The Predalien is born
Although dismissed by purists, the ‘AVP’ films are actually a lot of fun. The finale of the first film takes the concept to its logical conclusion by birthing a Predator-Alien hybrid beast “The Predalien” from the chest of a dead Predator. We definitely did not see that coming!
13 - ‘Alien3’ - Clemens killed
Ripley’s had a tough old time on Fury 161, but at least she’s found an ally (and a sexy one at that) in the shape of Charles Dance’s Clemens. Shame then, that as soon as he confides in her his dark secrets, earning her trust, he’s unceremoniously speared by a xenomorph right in front of her eyes. Can’t a girl get a break around here?
12 - ‘Prometheus’ - Fifield attacks
After Sean Harris’ Fifield gets stranded inside the alien ship, he’s attacked by weird snake-creatures and gets infected. He wreaks his revenge on the shipmates that left him behind by returning to the Prometheus as a hideously mutated beast, killing the crew left, right and centre, before getting run over by a surface vehicle. Sh*t just got very real.
11 - ‘Aliens’ - Game over, man
James Cameron, fresh from his ‘Terminator’ success defied all expectations with the ‘Alien’ sequel, delivering a bigger, more bombastic (and some say better) film than Scott’s original. It starts off slowly, as all good ‘Alien’ films do, but once the xenomorphs start causing chaos, the pace never relents. This moment, which sees an bloodthirsty alien dispatch the drop-ship pilots just as the Colonial Marines and Ripley look like they’re about to escape with their lives, throws the whole mission into danger.
Game over indeed.
10 - ‘Alien’ - The escape pod
Ripley has destroyed the Nostromo and the alien along with it. She’s settling into the escape pod with Jones the cat in preparation for the long journey home… but she’s not alone. It’s a classic bait and switch from Ridley Scott, and it provides the first ‘Alien’ film with a fittingly memorable finale as Ripley blasts the star beast into outer space.
9 - ‘Prometheus’ - The Engineer decapitates David
Michael Fassbender’s synthetic David (the best thing in the disappointing ‘Prometheus’) has brought his aged master to meet the Engineers in their ship. David awakens the Engineer and speaks to him on behalf of Weyland, urging him to grant him eternal life. What does David get in return? His head pulled clean off.
8 - ‘Alien3’ - Fan death
Murphy (played by Christopher Fairbank) finds the shedded skin of the newborn alien in a lonely tunnel. Thinking that he’s found his dog, he turns when he hears a noise to find a now huge alien looming over him. The poor chap gets acid spat in his face and he falls backwards into a huge fan which instantly shreds him to bits. We’re big fans of this scare (geddit?).
7 - ‘Alien’ - Kane gets attacked by the Facehugger
The crew of the Nostromo head out onto the surface of the mysterious planet to investigate a distress signal that has awoken them from stasis. Inside the vast chamber of a derelict spaceship the crew find huge pods lying dormant… or are they? Completely out of the blue, a face hugger leaps out attaching itself onto Kane’s (John Hurt) face, incapacitating him. Still makes us jump to this day, even on our millionth viewing.
6 - ‘Prometheus’ - Shaw performs self-surgery
Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw discovers she has an alien embryo growing inside her previously infertile womb so - turning the tables on the monsters - she decides to perform a self-caesarean with the help of the Prometheus’ medical bay, removing a huge twitching tadpole creature from her belly. It’s a genuinely stomach-churning moment that lingers long in the memory.
5 - 'Alien Resurrection’ - Ripley’s clones
Ripley doesn’t let a little thing like death get in the way of a good story. After throwing herself and the alien queen into the incinerator at the end of 'Alien 3’, the space diva is back in ‘Resurrection’ thanks to that classic sci-fi trope – cloning. This shocking scene in the fourth film sees Ripley meeting the seven hideously-deformed clones that came before her. Even for this franchise, it’s a gruesome moment, particularly when she has to torch one that is begging for death.
4 - ‘Aliens’ - Alien Queen revealed
James Cameron’s sequel took what we knew about the aliens and added a whole new dimension to them. Hudson (in the director’s cut) theorises that the creatures operate like an insect colony with a large dominant female queen, and lo and behold – he’s right. The moment the alien queen is revealed knocks you for six, mainly for the sheer scale of the beast, which Ripley eventually takes down.
3 - ‘Alien’ - Ash goes crazy
The best thing about this moment, which sees Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley confronting the nebbishy Ash (Ian Holm) about the company’s intention to return home with an alien at any cost (“Crew: Expendable”) is that the presence of “Synthetics” hadn’t been signposted at all. When Parker knocks Ash’s head clean off and the android starts screaming, it’s totally horrifying and completely unsettling.
2 - ‘Aliens’ - Bishop gets speared
Synthetics don’t get an easy ride in the ‘Alien’ franchise. Bishop, the second film’s droid of choice played by Lance Henriksen, looked like he was going to make it to the end, but just as Ripley makes her peace with him back on the Sulaco, he gets speared right through the chest by the Queen. He ends the film torn completely in half, but manages to make a brief reappearance in ‘Alien 3’.
1. ‘Alien’ - THAT dinner scene
After Kane’s body is returned to the Nostromo with facehugger still attached, the mysterious creature detaches itself leaving Kane seemingly fine to continue his duties. However, while the crew tuck in to some much-deserved restitution, Kane is suddenly struck with the worst indigestion ever committed to screen and a tiny alien bursts gorily from his chest.
Legend has it that Ridley Scott didn’t warn the other cast members about how gruesome it was going to be, hence the real look of shock on their faces.
Image credit: 20th Century Fox/Rex