Aliens (1986) Poster



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  • Newt was likely afraid of encountering any living thing after the massive alien attack on Hadley's Hope for fear of running into an alien. Off screen, she saw how little the inhabitants of Hadley's Hope put up a fight against the aliens between their small armed weapons and barricading themselves into different areas, and the aliens were still able to break through and decimate Hadley's Hope population. So she likely figured that even though the marines were there to help, they would likely draw the attention of the aliens and the aliens would pick them off as easily as they did with the Hadley's Hope population. She likely figured she was better off hiding alone and avoiding confrontations where possible. Edit

  • In the novelization of the movie, Ripley reflects on this after Burke tells her how long she'd been drifting: she recalls hearing that the life expectancy for humans in stasis was about 65 years. Around that limit, the body begins to fail beyond the capacity of the technology to preserve it. Edit

  • After spending 57 years drifting through space in stasis following her encounter with the alien, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is rescued but her story about the deadly creature is treated with scepticism. Ripley learns that the planet where her crew first found the alien has now been colonized but that contact with the colonists has been lost after the Company ordered them to investigate the derelict alien spacecraft Ripley claims was there. Ripley is subsequently called back into action as an advisor to a team of hardened space marines, dispatched to the planet on a rescue mission...if there's anyone left to rescue. Edit

  • Aliens is a sequel to Alien (1979) (1979), which was based on an original screenplay by Dan O'Bannon. The screenplay for Aliens was written by Canadian-American film-maker James Cameron, who also directed the movie. There have since been four sequels: Alien³ (1992) (1992), Alien: Resurrection (1997) (1997), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) (2004), and AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem (2007)) (2007). Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection continue Ellen Ripley's story begun in Alien, whereas AVP and AVPR were written as prequels to Alien. Novelisations of Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 are available, written by Alan Dean Foster. Edit

  • Ripley was indeed in hypersleep for 57 years. When she first meets Company representative Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), she is in the hospital and he informs her that she's been out there for 57 years, at which point she starts to react to an alien birthing from her. Then she awakens and we find out this was a nightmare.

    In the Director's Cut, there is an added scene later on where Burke sits down and tells Ripley that her daughter had died two years prior at the age of 66. This means that if she was still alive, she would be 68. Ripley the laments that she was trying to get home for her 11th birthday. 68 - 11 = 57 years.

    So it's likely that in the initial meeting with Burke where he reunites her with Jones the cat, he had informed her how long she'd been in hypersleep, but then she had a recurring nightmare where that discussion went a very bad way. Edit

  • Her escape shuttle was found drifting through space by a salvage team. Hoping to claim the shuttle for salvage, they discovered that Ripley was inside and still alive in hibernation, and so their finders claim was negated. Ripley and Jones were then taken to Gateway Station in orbit around Earth for recuperation. Edit

  • Ripley's shuttle decompressed shortly after the Alien drooled on the floor. The subsequent air displacement was strong enough to almost blow the Alien out (had it not held on), so it is imaginable that most of the drool blew out/evaporated quickly. After being adrift in space for 57 years, any remaining drool would certainly have evaporated. However, since the Alien was bleeding when Ripley hit it with the harpoon, some drops of acid may have scorched the floor or wall, and because saliva also contains organic molecules, trace amounts of proteins should have been discovered if the team had done a thorough job. Since the discovery of some proteins or scorch marks is hardly conclusive evidence, it is very likely that the Company simply lied to Ripley and used it as a way to demote her and thereby silence her about the Alien (as they may have plans for it yet). This is further supported in that no mention was made of the fired harpoon gun, which was still in the shuttle when the salvage team found it. Ripley would be fully accountable for the destruction of the Nostromo, which would enable the Company to get their lost money back through insurance.

    In the novelization of the film (taken from the original shooting script), Ripley comments to Burke that the evidence had been tampered with, and later, when Burke is confronted with the extensive damage to the colony complex, he remarks that the complex is insured anyway. Edit

  • This is not made completely clear in any of the films, though there are plausible explanations. One reason may be that the Company's secret attempts to obtain the Alien were only known by a few of its executives (the ones who re-routed the Nostromo to LV-426's vicinity) and that they were no longer in a position to send another team to LV-426 after the events of the first film. Another reason could be that they simply had no opportunity: with the Nostromo declared missing, there were undoubtedly large inquiries done which would only have drawn attention to their unethical acquisition of the Alien. In that case, the Company probably had little other choice than to bury the project.

    About thirty years after the events of the first film, the Company begins terraforming the planet and a colony is set up there. However, neither the colonists nor any Company employees seem to know anything about the Derelict Ship until Ripley arrives back at Earth 20 years later (and the warning signal coming from the derelict ship was presumably deactivated or no longer operating after the Nostromo visited the planet). Burke then instructs the colonists to investigate the Derelict Ship, which supports the notion that the Company's information about the Alien and their plans to obtain it were either deliberately buried or simply lost in the 57 years it took Ripley to return to Earth, and no one involved in this earlier attempt was in power anymore (otherwise they would have sent out someone earlier). In the colony's information log, Ripley later reads that Burke sent the colonists to the Derelict Ship directly after hearing about it from her testimony.

    Burke says he did this for three reasons: (1) he wasn't certain that there even was a Derelict Ship on the planet, (2) making it an official investigation rather than a coincidental finding would make it a security situation, resulting in the loss of any rights to anything found on the planet, and (3) he hoped to obtain an Alien specimen and make millions by selling it for bio-weapons research. While on Earth, Burke may have had access to classified Company documents that detailed their earlier attempt to obtain the Alien and sacrificed an entire crew to get it; he then simply chose to follow up on that plan; or he just heard Ripley's story about the Alien and thought it was an interesting species for the bioweapon research program, not knowing the Company had tried to get one 57 years before. Edit

  • The colonists were sent to LV-426 with no knowledge of a derelict ship or any warning that the planet may harbor a dangerous alien lifeform, so they had no reason to go looking for them. They may not have detected the derelict's beacon because it was no longer sending out a signal.

    In a graphic novel released by Heavy Metal two months before the movie release, when Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Kane (John Hurt), and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) enter the derelict ship, Dallas twists a knob near the base of the giant's chair and turns off the signal. Although this is not strictly canon, this event also occurs in the original shooting script for Alien.

    In a 1986 issue of the magazine Starlog, and in an extended scene with the derelict ship in Aliens: Special Edition, it is shown/described that the ship is visibly damaged by volcanic activity, i.e., a lava flow has crushed the derelict ship against a rock outcropping, ripping open its hull. This damage may well have silenced the signal. (This is also James Cameron's preferred explanation.)

    It's been suggested that the signal stopped broadcasting as soon as the crew of the Nostromo entered the derelict, (though this is unlikely as there would be no sense in programming a warning signal to deactivate and thereby risk other visitors coming to investigate).

    An explanation is also provided in the video game, Alien: Isolation, which is widely considered canon by fans. The game, which takes place in between Alien and Aliens, depicts salvage vessel USCSS Anesidora discovering the derelict via the beacon signal. The Anesidora crew locates the beacon and intentionally turns it off to keep anyone else from finding the ship.

    Whatever the reason the colonists were not alerted by the warning beacon, the original script did call for them to eventually find the derelict, although that information did not make it into the movie. In fact, it was Newt (Carrie Henn)'s father who found the derelict and he was attacked by a Facehugger much like it happened to Kane in Alien. Like on the Nostromo, the Alien then hatched and quickly began to go after the rest of the colonists. By the time Ripley and the Marines got there, Newt was the only one of the 158 colonists left. This scene was restored in the special edition. Edit

  • The initial investigation of the Nostromo crew already indicated that the planetoid's atmosphere was primordial, and therefore incapable of sustaining complex life. LV-426 is described during Ripley's hearing as "a rock with no indigenous life". It stands to reason that the Company did thorough checks of the planet, determining that its soil was incapable of sustaining life, and therefore suitable for terraforming. They simply didn't bother to check the entire planet surface for signs of life or external civilization, or perhaps the Derelict Ship itself blends in with the surroundings so much that it doesn't stick out on any scan or picture made from above. In the first decade, the colonists were probably busy building the Colony Complex and Atmosphere Processor, leaving little time to explore the planet's surface, where nothing is expected to be found anyway. Exploring the surface would be much harder without a breathable atmosphere, so this was probably limited to the direct vicinity of the Colony Complex. It is also suggested that the Derelict ship is quite far away. As soon as the air became breathable, the colonists probably did active surveys of the planet. In the extended edition, it is suggested that the Derelict ship was in fairly uncharted territory, described as "past the Ilium range, in the middle of nowhere". Also, the surveyors took their kids with them, suggesting that the distance back and forth couldn't be conveniently covered within a day, and the ship is not in the near vicinity. This makes a random discovery unlikely, also because the terrain is rocky, and the atmosphere causes cloud formation and mist, which would have made the ship harder to detect when one doesn't know what to look for. It is only on Burke's instructions and with precise coordinates that the colonists found the ship. Edit

  • Ripley is initially reluctant to go back to the planet, even after she hears that over 60 colonist families now live there and that the Company have lost contact with them. However, Ripley keeps having terrifying nightmares about the Alien, and most likely feels the best way to deal with the problem is to face it head on and ensure the Alien species is wiped out forever. When she calls Burke after yet another nightmare, she does not agree to go until he confirms that the mission is to "destroy, not bring back a sample for study."

    Her motives may also have been partly more mercenary, as she lost her position as a Warrant Officer and could only find work as a cargo loader after her return to Earth. The Company agrees to restore her previous position with them on the condition that she goes back to the planet as a consultant with a team of marines to investigate why they have lost contact with the colonists. However, given the fact that she makes her decision to return immediately after another nightmare, it seems that her intent to wipe out the Aliens is her main drive. In interviews, director/screenwriter James Cameron drew parallels with Vietnam war veterans suffering from shell shock, post-traumatic stress disorder or survivor's guilt, who were nevertheless among the troopers to do a second tour to Vietnam. Edit

  • Each marine's first name is the same as the actor who played them. We see "Frost R." who was played by Ricco Ross, so the character's full name is Pvt. Ricco Frost. The other characters are: Pvt. William Hudson (Bill Paxton), Pvt. Jenette Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), Sgt. Al Apone (Al Matthews), Pvt. Mark Drake (Mark Rolston), Cpl. Collette Ferro (Colette Hiller), Pvt. Daniel Spunkmeyer (Daniel Kash), Cpl. Cynthia Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott), Pvt. Tip/Tim Crowe (Tip Tipping), and Pvt. Trevor Wierzbowski (Trevor Steedman). The only exceptions are Cpl. Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn) and Lt. Scott Gorman (William Hope). Edit

  • Pvt Hudson comments about the mission being "just another bug-hunt," possibly implying that the marines have encountered alien species before, as does Pvt Frost in the mess hall scene, when he reminisces about "Arcturian poontang." Under the cockpit window of the drop ship is a picture of the marines' mascot: an eagle brandishing a machine-gun and wearing boots with the slogan, "bug stompers," which implies that such is their specialty. Elsewhere on the marines' uniforms are patches with similar images of an eagle and the slogan, "We endanger species." A "bug hunt" could also simply mean that they've been sent on several wild goose chases with no aliens to be found, which would explain their derision about it being another false alarm. James Cameron revealed on the DVD commentary that he had all the actors playing marines read Robert A. Heinlein's novel "Starship Troopers" (published in 1959), and this is a nod to the inspiration of that book.

    However, the most likely reason is that "bug hunt" was slang for a search-and-rescue mission, which seemed a rather second-rate challenge than a "stand up fight", which, in Hudson's terms, meant being sent down to a war-ridden planet to aid in some sort of violent dispute where there will be lots of combat. When Gorman says, "All we know is there's still no contact with the colony and that a xenomorph may be involved." It meant they would be going in to look for missing colonists, to which Hicks replies, "It's a bug-hunt." which corroborates with the slang theory. Then he asks, "What exactly are we dealing with here?" to which Ripley steps in to explain the circumstances of the colonists going missing.

    It is likely the marines uniform slogans about being "bug stompers" is merely coincidence (done so because of the Starship Troopers novel), as if they specialized in dealing with alien species or had been sent on wild goose chases before in regards to aliens, then they would've been a little more serious in the briefing, knowing that there have been past inquiries as to extraterrestrial existence. But they scoff at Ripley's story, just as the Company executives did, because there hadn't been anything relating to extraterrestrials recorded in "over 300 surveyed worlds". Unlike Star Wars, which has thousands of different species, this universe is portrayed as a humans-only dimension, as the concept of the original film was to depict what it would actually be like to encounter an alien.

    There is also the explanation, supported by some dialogue, that the bug hunt suggests that they have to kill aliens from space (not the alien of the film), but the extraterrestrial life is limited to vermin or lower form of life. Hudson being impressed about Ripley seeing an "alien" sound like he has seen many before when the marines have been on bug hunt. The hearing committee also comment that the Nostromo crew found something never seen before in 300 worlds, making the life-cycle of the Alien rather unique and more threatening than the other Alien-species out there in the world (including the so-called Arcturians). To sum up: there are different alien-species in the world, and the alien of this film appears to be the most sophisticated and dangerous. Edit

  • Prior to his encounter with the Aliens, Hudson is only concerned that this is going to be another "bug hunt". During the first encounter with the Aliens, his point of view changes drastically. He probably did not expect the Aliens to put up much of a fight or to be so unstoppable against all their superior military weaponry. He also loses his composure after seeing many of his squad claimed by the Aliens. He is one of only three marines to survive the encounter. As they set up a barricade, Hudson begins to slowly sink into a state of paranoia, even questioning Ripley's judgment and her ideas of survival. Eventually, Ripley calms him down stating, "We really need you and I'm sick of your bullshit."—she acts like an officer, a position she was promised by Burke if she went with the Marines on their mission. Hudson starts to gain control of his fears, partly because Ripley is acting like an officer, therefore he'll fall in line, and because he suddenly remembers what his job entails—acting like a soldier. When the Aliens overrun Operations, Hudson fights without fear, constantly taunting the Aliens and gunning them down at will. Secondly, from a film making perspective, Hudson represents "the audience". By portraying him as panicking and stricken with fear, it represents what normal people would do if they were in a similar situation. After all, if none of the characters were shown to be afraid of the aliens, they wouldn't seem nearly as menacing. It also allows the audience to develop a sense of compassion and empathy for the on screen characters—right before the aliens mount their final attack, even Hicks seems afraid. The role of the audience was portrayed by the Lambert character in the first film. Edit

  • Numerous behind-the-scenes pictures and documentaries of Alien show the Alien's head with ridges, but the special effects artists covered it with a gelatinous substance, causing the head to appear smooth. The reason for the different look in Aliens is that director James Cameron thought the Alien head looked more interesting with the ridges visible, so the special effects team left out the gel. According to the extras from the DVD, Cameron also didn't want to have the clear dome on the Alien's head, as he thought it would be prone to breaking. To stay within the continuity of the saga, one could argue that Aliens are "born" with a smooth head and that this cover falls off after a while, exposing the ridges. Another proposed theory is that Aliens, similar to bees and ants, can differentiate into different castes (including Queens); the original script also called for much smaller, albino versions of the Aliens, serving as worker drones in the Queen's lair, to care for the eggs. The adult Aliens seen in this movie are considered Warrior Aliens, who are bred for combat and defense of their hive. Edit

  • Bishop noted that the acidic blood appeared to be neutralized by the stasis fluid. And even on Earth, there are several different types of containers that can safely hold acid, so it is not surprising that a medical lab would have some of these on hand. Edit

  • A point could be made that the confrontation with the Aliens might have been avoided if everyone had simply followed Bishop by crawling through the duct towards the uplink tower. However, this would have been unwise from a strategic point. Following the battle in the atmosphere processor basement, the nest has been awakened, and the Aliens can be expected to actively pursue the survivors, especially at night. In fact, Bishop is taking quite a risk by getting to the uplink tower "with all those things running around": one of the Aliens stowing away on the first dropship and subsequently causing it to crash already proves that the creatures do not limit their movements to indoor spaces. There was even an unfilmed scene in the original screenplay where Bishop encountered an Alien while crawling through the conduit. Bishop simply didn't have a choice because someone had to get out and pilot the second dropship down. However, an entire group of marines would not be safe outside, where it is cold and wet, and the danger can come from all sides, making the group that much harder to defend. So the best strategy would be to lock themselves into the main colony building, sealing all doors that lead in and setting up sentry guns (in the Special Edition) while waiting for Bishop to get the second ship down, and then mount an escape through the front door. However, nobody considered that the Aliens would find a quick way into the building. Trying to use the conduit to escape at that time was impossible, given the time it would take to weld it open again. Also, Newt warns them that they should get inside because it would be dark soon and "They mostly come at night...mostly." Edit

  • When Ripley learned that Burke intended to secretly bring the Facehuggers back to Earth for bioweapon research, she threatened to alert the Earth authorities that he was smuggling in dangerous organisms. She further vowed to report him for his role in the slaughter of the colonists as he sent them to the derelict ship without warning them of what was inside. However, Burke's intention wasn't to kill Ripley but to get her and Newt impregnated with the alien embryos, then freeze their bodies in order to get them through quarantine. In the first film, after Kane was impregnated, he was unconscious for a long period of time after the facehugger had fallen off. Ripley & Newt would experience the same side-effect. Burke figured that no one would know what they were carrying inside, and they were simply the only two at the time who were isolated enough for the impregnation to succeed. Edit

  • The Facehuggers were being kept in stasis tubes in the Med Lab. The most probable explanation is that Burke returned to the Med Lab after bringing Lt Gorman to Operations. He then placed the tubes on slow drain just before he left the Lab again. When the fluid in the stasis tubes had drained sufficiently, the Facehuggers revived enough to escape from the tubes themselves. It's possible that, in addition to the stasis fluid neutralizing the effects of the acid, they might have had some sort of analgesic that also numbed them and reduced their considerable strength. Once the tubes had drained and the analgesic had worn off, they could pop the covers of the tubes and escape. The draining of the fluid from the tubes could also have involved loosening the covers slightly which might give the creatures an advantage in escaping. Edit

  • In the previous movie, the one Alien was smart enough to single out mostly individual victims instead of a group (Brett, Dallas), and to stow away on the shuttle when the Nostromo was set to self-destruct. This implies a reasonable capacity for thinking. However, it did menace Lambert, seemingly not realizing or caring that Parker was armed with a flamethrower (to the Alien's luck, Parker couldn't use it without harming Lambert anyway). In the DVD commentary, James Cameron states that the Aliens in Aliens had been alive for a few weeks at least and, thus, had plenty of time to adapt and learn. Some viewers say that the Aliens have more than enough capacity to reason that humans are dependent on light and electrical energy. It cannot be clearly deduced how intelligent Aliens are. They eventually learn to stay away from the sentry guns (in the Special Edition), but it takes them quite a number of sacrifices before they find out. This suggests that they learn through a process of trial-and-error. Generally speaking, the quicker an organism learns, the more intelligence it possesses. Just like small children, they need to experience it first before they can learn anything about it. It is very much possible that they damaged a conduit by accident earlier in life, noticed how it caused the power to go out, and used that knowledge to intentionally cut the power later. Others postulate that the introduction of a Queen indicates that the Aliens are a hive species, reducing the Aliens to mere drones with no more intelligence than a very evolved insect. By this reasoning, the Aliens did not intentionally cut the power, but accidentally damaged some electrical conduits, probably while they were finding ways into the complex through the ceiling. Staying with the insectoid/hive mind idea, along with the insinuated intelligence of the Queen, it is possible that the Queen learned of human's dependency on power and lighting through observation, and then ordered the drones/warriors to cut the power (even though they may or may not have understood why they did it). Edit

  • The Queen seems to display a fair ability to reason. She recognises the threat that Ripley's flamethrower poses (after some demonstration) and then calls off her warrior Aliens. She is also able to figure out how an elevator works; notice that Ripley needs to press the switch in order to go up; the Queen must have done the same to reach the platform. It is unclear whether she knew this procedure ahead of time or whether she was imitating Ripley's actions (although it is possible that the elevator goes back up automatically, as it did when Ripley first came down into the sub levels and the elevator closed and departed after she disembarked). She also appears to know how to safely hitchhike on a dropship (or was it lucky chance that she ended up safe in the landing strut bay?). This opens the possibility that it is just the Queen that displays intelligence, and the warrior Aliens simply obey her. Edit

  • When Ripley and Hicks are escaping, they enter an elevator, as the door closes an alien forces its way through and so Hicks shoots it. The result has the acid splashing all over Hicks' armor and he likely got small spatters on his arms and face. Aboard the dropship, Hicks has bandages all over his upper torso and around his head as well. In subsequent comic book adaptations (which are an alternate storyline from where Alien 3 went) show Hicks with a scar on the left side of his face. As he was leaving the elevator with Ripley he clearly had black scorch marks on the left side of his face which were likely a result of his getting some arterial spray. Edit

  • He is mainly seen running in the background but blends in with the others, so it's hard to discern who he is in each scene. However, he does have two close-up shots. The first is after Ripley knocks the cornbread out of Bishop's hand and everyone at the table looks Ripley's way (as shown in the frame here). The second is after Frost was set on fire and fell over the ledge. Wierzbowski is the one who leaned over the ledge and was grabbed by Hicks, who shouts (in slow motion), "Come on!" (as shown in the frame here). He is often mistaken for Crowe, as Crowe is the one killed in the explosion. Edit

  • In most of the expanded universe, comic books, video games, and even in the Assembly cut of Alien 3, they are referred to as "xenomorphs". They are first referred to as xenomorphs by Lt. Gorman in Aliens, but this isn't an official name and is simply a blanket descriptive term to cover any unknown alien species, since the term "xenomorph" is derived from the Greek words "xeno" (stranger, alien, foreigner) and "morphe" (form, shape). In the expanded universe, some of the comic books give the species the name Linguafoeda acheronsis (meaning "vile tongue from Acheron"), but this has not actually been mentioned in any of the movies. In the background art of the Alien Quadrilogy DVD menus, they are called Internecivus raptus ("murderous thief"), but this name also does not get mentioned in the actual films themselves. Edit

  • Ripley helps Cpl Hicks out to the dropship where Bishop (Lance Henriksen) is waiting for them. With only 19 minutes left before the complex blows up, Ripley forces Bishop to fly to the atmosphere processor, so she can get back into the hive to get Newt, using her homing bracelet to track her. When Ripley locates the bracelet, however, she finds it on the floor and Newt is nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, Newt, who has been cocooned nearby, sees an Alien egg opening and a Facehugger about to leap out at her, so she screams. Ripley finds her, kills the Facehugger and releases Newt from the cocoon, and they start running back to the surface. Along the way, she takes a wrong turn, and they suddenly find themselves in a lair, facing the egg-laying Alien Queen. As she and Newt slowly back away, Aliens close in around them. The Queen "orders" the Aliens to back away when Ripley threatens to destroy her eggs. Ripley finally empties her flame-thrower and automatic rifle on the Queen, the Aliens and the eggs, and tosses in her arsenal of grenades, destroying the Queen's means of laying them. However, the Queen herself survives and chases after Ripley and Newt as they head back up through the complex to the platform, only to find that the dropship is no longer there. Just as a second elevator door opens and the Queen comes out, the dropship appears and picks them up. They head back to the Sulaco, and the complex blows up. As they're disembarking from the dropship onto the deck of the Sulaco, Bishop explains that the platform was becoming too unstable, forcing him to take to the air and to hover while waiting for them. Suddenly, Bishop is pierced through the chest by a large tail and then ripped in half. The Queen emerges from the landing gear of the dropship where she managed to stow away as the dropship was leaving the colony. Newt takes cover under the floor grates, while Ripley tries to divert the Queen by running into the cargo hold and closing the heavy steel door. The Queen then goes after Newt, but Ripley emerges from the hold in one of the mechanical cargo power-loaders that makes her more of a match in size and strength for the Queen. The two "mothers" fight each other, with Ripley eventually able to trap the Queen in an airlock and blow her into space. In the final scene, Bishop and Hicks have been placed in hypersleep, and Newt and Ripley do likewise for the return trip to Earth. Edit

  • The introduction of the Queen to the Alien franchise has caused considerable debate among viewers attempting to build consistent canon between the first two movies. Ridley Scott, director of the first movie, has stated that he considers the original cut of Alien to be the definitive version—no queen and the scene in which Ripley stumbles upon Brett and Dallas being transformed into eggs having been cut from the movie. The transformation scene resurfaced in the Director's Cut released in 2003, but by that time James Cameron had free reign from the studio to come up with his own alien life cycle for the second movie which was released in 1986 (as described in the commentary for Aliens: The Special Edition). A popular hypothesis among fans is that the Aliens have a hive-based society. With insects, there is no "Queen" egg until the workers choose to create one. It could be that the lack of a Queen compels the Alien warriors to create the right circumstances for the production of a Queen, and that the "transforming" is part of preparing a host or producing the correct food source to make a "Queen facehugger". In this case, transforming humans is a behavior the Alien falls into if a Queen isn't available to make eggs. Another theory is that the Alien doesn't turn people into eggs at all; the cocoons simply appear egg-shaped, but it takes a Queen to lay the eggs containing the Facehuggers. Edit

  • There are many theories about how the eggs got aboard the derelict. The nature of the derelict and its crew are a mystery, left intentionally unanswered by the original crew that produced Alien. Viewers have proposed various theories, such as:

    Theory One: The Queen burst from the derelict's pilot. He may have been the only crew member on the ship, so once he died, the ship crashed, leaving the Queen time to lay thousands of eggs, then hibernate, until visitors came.

    Theory Two: The Space Jockey was some sort of scientist. He investigated a planet and found the eggs, loaded them onto his ship to examine, and was then impregnated by one. When he came to, not knowing what had happened to him, he took off into space. The alien then birthed, and he crashed with all the eggs intact (no queen present).

    Theory Three: Ignoring the continuity with the franchise and speculating on the original idea behind the aliens: the ship had a large crew, who were turned into eggs (as per a theory stemming from the director's cut). This would also mean that Lambert's comment "I wonder what happened to the rest of the crew" was a subtle hint this was the original intention. If this is what happened then, there was never supposed to be a queen, and the Alien itself was the final stage. This theory is extremely unlikely, as the Space Jockey and its species are far too big to turn into little eggs. Not to mention; if everyone is turned into eggs, then who is left to impregnate?

    Theory Four: The Queen was on the ship, laid the eggs, but died off or was killed in the crash. It said that the Space Jockey had been dead for so long it had become fossilized, suggesting the ship had been there for thousands and thousands of years. (It's suggested the Aliens don't age or die naturally from both the fact that the eggs survived in the ship for all that time and the fact that Ash says, "I have confirmed that he's got an outer layer of protein polysaccharides. Has a funny habit of shedding his cells and replacing them with polarized silicon, which gives him a prolonged resistance to adverse environmental conditions."). So a new queen wasn't birthed until Aliens, possibly from Newt's father.

    Theory Five: Director Ridley Scott explained in interview that he envisioned the derelict as a sort of carrier for biological weapons; the eggs were intentional cargo, but naturally, something went wrong. This is certainly consistent with the Company's obsession with obtaining a specimen for their bio-weapons research. The 2012 film Prometheus which is a prequel to the Alien series, supports this: in it, Company researchers discover an old colony of the Space Jockey race (called Engineers now), where they keep a black liquid containing very small organisms with highly mutagenic properties. Infection with the liquid produces various results: some humans start to mutate into gruelling monstrosities; one of the female workers births a squid-like organism after having sex with her infected partner; the squid subsequently "impregnates" one of the Engineers like a facehugger, which in turn causes an Alien-like creature to burst out from the Engineer. This may suggest that the Engineers experimented with the black liquid, and finally produced the Alien species, which they used as bio-weapons. Edit

  • According to James Cameron on the Aliens Special Edition DVD (2003) commentary, he'd previously had trouble getting visual effects right in the wider aspect ratio of 2.35:1 while working on the effects crew of Escape From New York (1981), and so for Aliens, opted for the narrower and easier 1.85:1 ratio. Cameron also stated that if given the chance again, he'd film Aliens in 2.35:1. Edit

  • Several long epic movies had produced commercially disappointing results in the 1970s (most notably Bernardo Bertolucci's five-hour movie Novecento). The 1980s therefore saw a shift from long epics to films around the two-hour mark, which were commercially much more viable. In the case of Aliens, American audiences in particular were were not expected to willingly sit through a science-fiction movie of 154 minutes, so the studio demanded several cuts to tighten the plot. James Cameron went to the cutting room again, and removed more than 15 minutes of footage. Most of this was character development of Ripley or background information about what had happened to Newt's parents. Some of the action got cut out, as well. The advantage of the theatrical cut is that it is moves more fluidly. The Director's Cut, however, offers more depth and information. This is also the opinion of director James Cameron, who prefers the Director's Cut (also called the "Special Edition"), believing it to be the better and more exciting version of the movie. Leading actress Sigourney Weaver also made clear which version she preferred, threatening to never shoot another Alien film if the longer Director's Cut was not released. Cameron later ran into studio pressure while making his next movie, The Abyss, when 20th Century Fox studios balked at the idea of a 3-hour summer film. The film was reduced to about 2 hours and 17 minutes, and was later released in the long version. Edit

  • Although nothing is seen after the credits finish rolling, it is the same sound as an Alien egg opening. Edit

  • For the Blu-ray version, some digital corrections were made. Edit



The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • The crew is very small to begin with; 11 Marines plus Ripley, Burke and Bishop, 14 in total. It's possibly an economical move by the military so they don't have to deal with logistics (food, water, supplies) of a large crew. With the crew streamlined, the company or the military don't have to provide a lot of provisions and cryosleep pods for more people.

    Additionally, the ship appears to be fully automated and controllable in the absence of the crew. When they become stranded after the 1st dropship is destroyed, Ripley floats the idea of contacting the Sulaco in orbit from the planet's surface and having it prep the other dropship and launch it. Therefore, it wouldn't be necessary to leave anyone aboard the ship.

    However, as we see, this creates a few problems: automating the Sulaco doesn't account for equipment failure or destruction, like the dropship and the APC, so the crew's situation becomes very tricky. They could have easily contacted the Sulaco from the APC but it was destroyed in the dropship disaster. Add to that the fact that Bishop discovers the processing station is going to explode in only a few hours and their situation becomes more dire.

    They then use Ripley's idea of contacting the Sulaco remotely, which proves to be very difficult and dangerous because the colony's transmitting dish can't be operated from their communications center. So they send Bishop to do it, logical since Bishop says he's the only crewmember who can bring the ship down on remote.

    In the end, it would indeed have been smarter for someone to stay behind in case the mission had trouble, but by doing so, James Cameron was able to create more tension in the story. Edit

  • In order:

    (1) Pvt Frost: (Ricco Ross): After Dietrich is grabbed by an Alien, she accidentally fires her flamethrower at Frost, setting him on fire and causing him to plummet down a shaft.

    (2) Cpl Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott): She is taken by the Aliens and presumably impregnated, because Hudson notices that she still shows life signs.

    (3) Pvt Crowe (Tip Tipping): When Frost's bag of ammunition explodes, he is in close proximity and is killed.

    (4) Pvt Wierzbowski (Trevor Steedman): Killed in the battle. He gives a long tortured scream as seen from the point of view from his camera.

    (5) Sgt Apone (Al Matthews): While he is ordering the ceasefire to prevent rupture of the cooling system, Apone is taken by an Alien. He is presumably impregnanted, because Hudson notices that he still shows life signs, and is therefore preserved by the Aliens.

    (6) Pvt Drake (Mark Rolston): Before entering the APC, Drake encounters an Alien, which he didn't notice until the last second. Vasquez shoots it with her smartgun, but it explodes and a large amount of acid splashes on Drake's face and body, possibly killing him. He may also get incinerated when the fire from his flamethrower blows back at him. Either way, he'd be dead.

    (7) Pvt Spunkmeyer (Daniel Kash): Killed by an Alien offscreen after he finds saliva when boarding the dropship (or killed in the crash, if the Alien had not killed him by then).

    (8) Cpl Ferro (Colette Hiller): When the door opens behind her, she assumes it is Spunkmeyer. When she turns around, it is an Alien, which kills her and causes the dropship to crash.

    (9) Pvt Hudson (Bill Paxton): After an intense firefight, Hudson is pulled through the floor and presumably taken to be cocooned, though he would have been killed when the atmosphere processor erupted.

    (10) Burke (Paul Reiser): He tries to escape from the others and believes he has done so. A door opens behind him, revealing an Alien, which presumably killed him. (In the comic book "Newt's Tale," as well as in a deleted scene not included in the Director's Cut, Ripley and Newt later encountered Burke in a cocoon. Ripley gives him a grenade to end his own life, but he was unable to bring himself to do it.) If he was cocooned, he would have died when the atmosphere processor detonated.

    (11) Pvt Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) and Lt Gorman (William Hope): After Vasquez is injured by acid, Gorman runs back for her and starts to drag her out. Surrounded by aliens, Gorman detonates a grenade, killing both of them and taking several Aliens with them. Edit

See also

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