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Alien (1979) Poster

(1979)

Goofs

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When the crew is sharing a meal after Kane regains consciousness, Parker is shown to be talking. The shot changes to show the crew from a closer angle, and although we can still hear Parker speaking, he is shown to be laughing softly and not speaking at all.
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When Ripley visits Parker and Brett to inspect their progress, she says "Yeah, you'll get whatever's coming to you." But the word "Yeah" is missing entirely from the soundtrack, and the rest of the sentence is out of sync with the video. This error is not present on the original Alien DVD box set, where Ripley's "Yeah" is muffled but quite audible. But the 2003 theatrical release and the new "Alien Quadrilogy" boxed set both have the word entirely absent.
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When the rest of the crew is watching Dallas and Ash try to get the facehugger off of Kane, Parker asks, "How come they don't freeze him?" but his lips don't move when we hear this.
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Character error 

At the very beginning, when Dallas is going through the computer login sequence to communicate with Mother, and all the green-lettered commands are flashing by, the word "ALIGNMENT" is spelled "ALLIGNMENT".
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During the landing sequence, Kane issues the instruction "Roll 92 degrees port yaw." Roll and yaw are two separate directional axes. The correct instruction (and what the ship actually does) is "Roll 90 degrees port."
During Ripley's final log entry, she identifies herself as the "3rd officer." She is technically the 3rd in command, or "2nd officer." (Dallas is Captain, Kane is the 1st officer, Ripley is the 2nd officer).
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Continuity 

During the conversation about Brett being a parrot, the length of his cigarette constantly changes.
When Kane, Dallas, and Lambert are in their spacesuits exploring the alien ship, all are wearing white/gray fabric covers on their heads under the domes of their helmets. These are like the "communication carriers" or "Snoopy hats" worn by Apollo and later astronauts. But when Kane's helmet is cut off in the sick bay, no Snoopy hat.
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When Ripley finds out the truth from Mother, Ash is seen standing next to her. A brief scuffle ensues and Ripley leaves the room. As she leaves there is no injury to her but when the door opens on the other side she has a bloody right nostril.
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When Dallas asks the computer for advice, his typing is supposed to be underlined whilst the responses are not, but this arrangement goes awry.
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The amount of alien slime on Dallas' hand changes between shots.
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During the "chestburster" scene, Parker is holding Kane's arm when he is convulsing. However, after the alien arrives and Parker has clearly backed away with arms in the air, you can still see Parker holding Kane's arm.
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When Ripley comes out of the closet with her spacesuit on in the shuttle to try and get rid of the Alien and she straps herself into the seat the straps are up over her shoulders. Then she scene switches to her fingers pushing the switches and the scene then goes back to her in the seat and the straps are down on her arms. The next time the scene changes again the straps are up over her shoulders.
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During the introduction scenes of the Nostromo, the stars in the background are maintained even though the spaceship is shown from different angles.
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When Lambert comes to tell the rest of the crew that it will be ten more months until they reach Earth, Ripley is leaning forward listening to her. In the next shot she is leaning against the wall when she says, "Oh God."
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Just before Ripley enters the Narcissus (shuttle), she is carrying Jones's carrier with the "window" to the front. The next shot shows her holding the carrier with the window to the rear.
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Near the end when Ripley is in the shuttle closet putting on the space suit there are 2 axes hanging on the wall. When she puts the helmet on they have vanished.
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When Dallas is first entering Mother, as he passes through the last doorway... when he is seen outside the door, one of the lights on the door-frame is burned out (on his left) but in the next shot, it is lit.
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When the members of the Nostromo are exiting the ship to leave to explore the Alien ship,the wind is blowing at high speeds, yet when the steam is shown from the lift it is just drifting down rather than being blown away at high speed. Whereas other scenes show the high wind blowing.
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When Ripley consults Mother, she puts her left hand on a ledge and begins to type with her right. In the close-up she is typing with both hands, but when we cut back to the wider shot, she is still leaning on the ledge with her left.
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Crew or equipment visible 

A crewman with a black panel of some kind is visible through the smoke as Ripley runs through the corridors at the end of the film.
When Dallas is crawling around through the bowels of the Nostromo before he is taken by the alien, you can see a dolly track lining the floor.
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Factual errors 

Dallas informs the crew that Mother, the ship's computer, has interrupted their journey having intercepted a transmission of unknown origin, an acoustical beacon that repeats at intervals of 12 seconds. Acoustics is a branch of science dealing with sound. Sound is a mechanical wave that requires a medium, like air or water, in order to propagate. There is none of that in space. The tagline of the movie, "In space no one can hear you scream" also applies to an acoustical beacon.
A moving dippy bird toy is shown in the opening scene. Dippy birds require water to work. As the crew is in hibernation and has been for some time, the water in the glass in front of the dippy bird would have long ago evaporated, so the toy would be motionless, not dipping.
The planetoid where the Nostromo finds the alien spaceship is said to be 1200 kilometers diameter with a surface gravity of .86G. (Earth is 1G.) The horizon would curve visibly on a moon that tiny. By Newton's Law of Gravitation, a body that small would need a density of 50 grams per cubic centimeter to achieve .86G. This is more than twice the density of osmium, the densest element known. It's unlikely that the moon would be made of a massive ball of some hitherto unheard-of, super-dense, stable element. Together, this indicates that the size of the moon is incorrect.
The computer console refers to an "OVERIDE" instead of an "override".
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Because she's no longer in a flight seat or in any way strapped in, when Ripley fires the shuttle's engines, the g-thrust should throw her against the aft bulkhead, but it doesn't.
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In the takeoff sequence the "entering orbit" announcement is heard just after emerging from the clouds - this is impossible because the atmosphere ends at a much higher altitude than the top of clouds/dust layers, and the orbital speed cannot be reached in air even above a small planetoid, moreover, there must be a horizontal acceleration stage out of the atmosphere to gain the speed necessary for the orbital insertion.
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When the Nostromo approaches the planet, there is too short time between the phases of the approach - such distances in space would require either much more time or much greater speed - in the latter case the deceleration required for orbital insertion would have lethal effect on the crew.
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Miscellaneous 

In final scene when Ripley uses the grappling hook on the alien. It shouldn't have been able to retract back up because its acidic blood should have melted it away.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

A close-up of the Alien egg when Kane is looking at it shows water droplets falling upwards off the egg, revealing that the shot was done with the camera upside down. (according to Trivia, this is an intended effect by Ridley Scott)
There is no sound in space, but it plays on the soundtrack for dramatic effect.
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In the opening scene, we see the reflection of a computer screen on the helmet with a cup on the right. When we see the helmet again, it is showing a different screen, so the cup is not present.
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Plot holes 

How did Jonesy, the cat, close the locker door behind him from where he was "hiding" during the initial alien search?

Revealing mistakes 

When trying to abort the countdown, the cancellation instructions Ripley follows with her finger are actually just a French translation of the detonation instructions she followed earlier.
The two holes caused by the facehugger's acid blood in the ceiling of the two different decks have exactly the same shape (re-used shot).
When attempting to remove the facehugger by cutting one of its fingers, acid is bled out getting on the gauze, the surgical instrument and the floor but only melts away the floor.
When Parker and Brett are walking through a long hallway and complaining that none of the other crew "come down here", their reflection can briefly be seen in a mirror behind them. Mirrors were used to make the set hallways look much longer than they actually were.
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Several shots early in the movie where the crew are at their stations the monitor images are projected onto their faces. This is impossible - they would have to look into projectors instead of monitors, so this effect just doesn't make sense.
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Blood squib visible during chest-bursting scene.
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Throughout the film, at numerous points, what is reflected in the crew's helmets doesn't agree with what should be reflected.
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When Dallas, Kane and Lambert are inside the alien ship containing the space jockey, there is light coming from the left side of the screen, despite them being inside an internal chamber of the derelict spacecraft.
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When Dallas is climbing through the air shafts of the Nostromo, a ladder he uses wobbles.
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One of the moons in the system containing LV-426 (the target moon) is out of phase with the others.
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Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

Just after the time limit to override the self-destruction of the ship has expired, the clock starts counting down from 5 minutes to 0. We see the clock counting down and it cuts away when the timer reaches 4:57, and then mother says "ship will self-destruct in T-minus 5 minutes."
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Character error 

Mother's reports of the remaining time in the countdown to self-destruct all say that the explosion will occur "in T minus <x> minutes". In fact, as she is saying that the event will occur after a certain period, the "T minus" is unnecessary. She should simply say that the event will take place "in <x> minutes".
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Character error 

The company's orders received by Mother state, "Priority One - Insure return of organism." Although technically synonymous with "ensure", in common usage "insure" is the wrong verb (suggesting that the company should take out a policy with an insurance company). The statement should be, "Ensure return of organism."

Continuity 

The milky "sweat" that drips down Ash's forehead before he fights Ripley disappears after he throws her onto the desk. It was not wiped away, because his head is perfectly clean, rather than smeared.
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Continuity 

When the alien is popping out of Kane, the camera changes angle and there is a significant amount of blood missing from his shirt. Then when the angle changes again, the blood comes back.
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Continuity 

Just before Dallas is taken by the alien, Ash's headset disappears.
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Continuity 

When Ash wrestles Parker to the deck, Lambert can be seen dragging Ripley through a hatchway into an adjoining corridor. In the next scene, Lambert is just picking Ripley up. She moves Ripley only a short distance toward the hatch before dropping her to assist Parker.
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Continuity 

Right before Dallas is taken by the alien he touches a patch of alien slime on the floor. In the next shot he has more slime on his hand than there was on the floor.
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Continuity 

After Ash wrestles Parker to the deck, Lambert runs over, grabs Ash (the prop torso) and throws him aside. In the next scene, Ash is still atop Parker. Lambert then hits Ash with the electric prod.
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Continuity 

During Parker's fight with Ash, the sleeve on his right shoulder suddenly becomes torn and a safety pin is visible holding it together. In the next shot we see his shirt intact and we see Ash tearing it.
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Continuity 

During the chest-burster scene, Kane's shirt is not tucked in during the initial struggle but becomes tucked in when the alien breaks out of his chest (the fake chest).
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Crew or equipment visible 

Just after the alien bursts from Kane's chest, you can see 2 steel rods supporting either side of the head. They disappear into the neck when the body is raised high enough.
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Crew or equipment visible 

Just before Brett is taken and the alien drops down behind him you can clearly see wires attached to the alien.
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Crew or equipment visible 

During the chest-burster scene just before Lambert is sprayed with blood there is a quick shot of alien bursting out of Kane: on a freeze-frame a hole is clearly seen in the table right under Kane's raised hand.
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Factual errors 

Mother's two 30 second countdowns take 36 and 37 seconds respectively.

Plot holes 

If, as we are told, Special Order 937 ordered the science officer to return an alien organism, why didn't he "just freeze him" (as suggested by Parker) immediately, instead of the riskier method of trying to remove it, then trying to catch it?

Revealing mistakes 

As Ripley blows the alien out of one of the Narcissus' aft nozzles, the engine exhaust is obviously water because it dribbles down the camera. Ridley Scott stated that they used water as a substitute for some sort of plasma. At any rate, there's no reason for the exhaust - whatever it is - to dribble down a camera glass that isn't supposed to be there.
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Revealing mistakes 

After Lambert hits Ash with the electric prod, the camera pans down and we can see wires on the ground leading to the prop Ash torso atop Parker. The torso has no legs, ending at the waist. (Visible in 1979 theatrical wide-screen and full-screen versions, but not in 2003 director's version).
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Revealing mistakes 

The alien's tail snakes between Lambert's feet, but it's not her feet that are shown. Lambert wears cowboy boots; the feet shown wore joggers. The feet and legs were Harry Dean Stanton's (see Trivia).
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Revealing mistakes 

In the split second shot where the alien drives its tongue into Parker's head, you can see he is bald, but throughout the rest of the movie, he has hair. Also, in a freeze-frame of the shot you can see the alien tongue is white, not airbrushed like the rest of the creature.
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Revealing mistakes 

Jones vanishes from his carrier as Ripley boards the Narcissus. This is deliberate because the fiery explosion effects used would be too cruel to the trapped animal. However, as a consequence, Sigourney Weaver handles the carrier more roughly than Ripley would if Jones was inside.

Revealing mistakes 

During their fight, just before Ash throws Ripley into a bunk, the camera operator mistakenly knocks the wind chimes. Ian Holm even looks towards the sound, puzzled.

Revealing mistakes 

When Parker is beating Ash with the air tank, the tank bends and wobbles several times as though made of rubber.
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Revealing mistakes 

During the fight between Ash and Ripley, you can see that Ash throws a stunt double, who has bushier hair than Sigourney Weaver.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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