Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Ripley and Roswell: Close Encounters of the Alien Kind

I believe I’ve already mentioned what a HUGE fan I am of the Alien franchise in past posts. Ellen Ripley is, without a doubt, one of my heroes. But as much as I want to talk about what an action icon she is, this post (unlike this one) is devoted to her foe . . . the face-hugging, chest-bursting Xenomorphs. Thanks to their creators – Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett – these are some of the scariest creatures in the film industry.

The aliens start out looking innocent and non-threatening; no one would suspect while gazing upon them in their un-hatched eggs that they’re natural born killers. But then the shell comes off and the little hell beasts come out to play. The image of one leaping out and attaching itself to a crew-members face haunted my eight-year-old nightmares for months (thank you so much for that one dad).

And yet, this terrifying scene is a picnic compared to what comes next. (Prepare yourself.) The alien implants an embryo into its victim’s stomach before falling off and dying, and then, just when you think all is safe, the now-matured embryo violently bursts through its host’s chest in one of the most iconic scenes of all time (I'll leave out the corresponding image for this one). It’s so shocking and disgusting that it’s incredible. You just don’t expect it to happen. And when it does, you simply have to scream and cheer at the same time. With their speed, strength and acid blood (which, unfortunately, they spit at their targets), these Xenomorphs are the crown jewel of deadly species and top of the extraterrestrial food chain.

But not all aliens are created equal (or equally petrifying). Some look remarkably . . . human. Like those from the 1999 TV series Roswell. They are able to blend in among the humans of earth, hiding in plain sight. Of course, Max, Michael and Isabel are only half alien. In fact, they’re hybrids. They maintain the gifts and abilities of their alien ancestors, such as the power to heal or mind-control, which looking like normal teenage kids.

Or nine-year-old Allie Keys from the TV miniseries Taken (played by Dakota Fanning). She too is a human/alien hybrid, and a product of decades of alien experimentation with both species DNA. This series, for those of you who’ve never heard of it, was a Sci-Fi channel sleeper-hit (produced by Steven Spielberg), and some of the best television I’ve ever come across.

There are of course many other alien designs, from the adorable E.T., to the Prawns of District 9 and tentacle-baring villains of Independence Day. But none of them will ever compare with the the masterful Alien franchise. 

This post is part of the Blogging A through Z Challenge 2012. My theme is (in case you didn’t already guess) science fiction. Stay tuned for the rest of the alphabet, and if you’d like to check in on the rest of the participants, simply click here.


  1. So, looking forward to Prometheus?

    1. I'm not sure I've ever been more excited about a movie in my entire life.

  2. Prometheus is looking really good!
    I guess that will be your P for next year ;)

  3. Alien sure did scare the pants off a lot of people! :)

  4. They mostly come at night...mostly...

  5. I watched Alien for the first time as part of a women in film class. It was terrifying and awesome all in one.

  6. Those H.R. Giger designed aliens are the pinnacle of terrifying aliens.

  7. Prometheus is going to be great... I hope. I love sci-fi too! Too bad you could relive my dream from last night.

  8. I haven't seen Taken, but want to. And to this day, it's hard for me to watch Alien. Give me the heebie jeebies!

  9. The "Alien" movies were awesome -- the second one is probably one of my favorite films.

    I think that part of the effectiveness of that first "alien-bursting-out-of-the-chest" scene in the initial movie was that they were (of course) all eating spaghetti -- the blend of the baby alien with all of those noodles just added to the ick factor. ;^)

  10. I've never heard of the Prawns of District 9 but now I feel compelled to watch it!

  11. The alien exploding from the chest scene is one of the best scenes. Ever. :)

  12. The alien didn't look nearly that terrifying the first time I saw it. You know, in Spaceballs.

    I've seen the rest, but now I have to seek out Taken.

  13. I've never seen Alien. The picture is a little freaky, though!

    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

  14. I need to watch TAKEN again. And ALIEN.

  15. And then Cameron took them to a new level by introducing the Queen!

  16. Laughing Ferret – I know! I really cannot wait to see it. Hopefully it’ll be post-worthy.

    Paul – That is by far the best, and creepiest, line of the entire movie.

    MJ – That’s awesome. Ripley is such a badass. She’s definitely one of my idols.

    Rusty – Well said. Very well said.

    Mina – Me too. I wind up covering my eyes for half the film even though I’ve seen it hundreds of time.

    Chris – I’ve never thought about it before, but you know, you’re absolutely right! That makes it doubly creepy.

    Madeline – I couldn’t agree more.

    Nate – Taken really was amazing. One of those few shows that no one ever saw, but everyone should.

    Joshua – I just rewatched them a few days ago. It was awesome!

    Alex – Well, Cameron is a genius. Aliens was, if possible, a step up from Alien.

  17. There are two things I've always really liked about Aliens (not the movie):
    1. The way they change dependent upon what creature they gestate inside of.
    2. Predators. (but not the Vs movies, just the idea of the hunt (and the early comics were really good (and the reason the movies ever got made)))

    I haven't gotten around to either of those TV shows, yet.

  18. I think some of my favorite alliens are...transformers! (But I still insist that the girlfriend in T3 was inconsistent with the white dress and the constant shoe changes! ...forever known as "not megan fox".) Did you know that Bumblebee really lives here in CO protecting us?!?

  19. "Did IQs suddenly go down...? I already said, they were not indiginous..." The chilling words of Ripley prior to the realization that colonists had been sent to alien slaughter. Great post, especially contrasting the "face-hugging" aliens (hilarious line, by the way) to the ever-so-good-looking teens in Roswell.