I wish to admit that the consistency of the report below seems almost like melted cheese on a pizza
|Facehugger on the face of Broussard drawn by Ron Cobb|
a) Tales of the Giger paintings
Dan was interested in making his movie featuring a Giger monster, and so when he had been telling his friends what he had seen of Giger's work in Paris they all replied with words disbelief words to the effect of "Yeah, yeah, fat chance" and even Ron Shusett responded in the same way.
However Dan was not able to bring back any of Giger's pictures with him and when he wrote Alien with Ron, he would say to him "Look, when you see these pictures, you’ll believe me" and it wouldn't be until later that Giger would finally send him a couple of his books but another version of the story was that
b) Come on Ron, light up the board!
Ron Shusett was responsible for having the idea about how the alien life form gets aboard the humans' spacecraft without the creature getting in through an open vent in the space craft in the manner of "It! The Terror from beyond Space!"
Dan's intention was that the monster had to get aboard in a way that would amaze everyone, he didn't want to do a repeat of, Ron remembered him saying to him in light of the way he came up with an idea for the end of an earler film script, possibly "They Bite", "come on Ron, light up the board, I know you could help me crack this, I've seen how your mind work...., how does the alien get on board, how do they have to deal with it?".
|Dan O'Bannon with his copy of Giger's book 'A Rh+' (Moebius Redux DVD)|
It was perhaps about two weeks after Dan moved in, they were still up at three o'clock in the morning and Ron was exhausted and had enough,
Ron in defeat said, ‘Dan, maybe I’m not good at horror movies.’
He had never gravitated toward horror movies. His interest in science-fiction was more in the direction of Jules Verne, but he also loved Edgar Allan Poe.
It was simply a fact that he was so frightened by movie horror, even when he was twelve years old that he couldn’t even see the earlier horror movies, and he couldn't actually go until he was an adult
Ron said, ‘I’m going to sleep.’
He went to bed and awoke two hours later with an idea churning in his brain.
It was not actually from a dream Ron's impression about this was that during dream state his mind was working out an answer subconsciously and so he was able to access his creativity more closely.
In the middle of the night, he suddenly got up and went over to Dan who was sleeping on the couch in the other room and woke him up.
d) Ron tells his idea to Dan
And so from various impressions from Ron's own memory of the event, the conversation possibly went like this while at the time there are a large number of different words that could have been used.
Ron said " Dan, Dan, I got it, I got it, it's the solution to the whole movie"
Dan replied "What is it? How does he get on board?"
Ron said "The monster screws one of the people"
Dan asked "What! What are you talking about? "
Ron added "Well, jumps on his face and plants his seed in him."
Dan responded "Well, how in the hell, you know, how's that going to be, an alien impregnating..."
e) The rest of the idea
Ron said "Yuh" and then went on to describe it further, how there was some form of life left in an egg that was millions of years old, was it a fungus or something, but it could detect the human victim outside of the egg because it was translucent, and he imagined the creature to be a crab like thing that jumps on his face, plants a tube down into his throat and inserts his seed into him, then inside him the seed grows and gestates.
With that Dan responded that "yes, that it could go on his face, it could be a little creature" and at present they didn't even know what the creature looked like.
Ron's idea continued that when they get it on board, the autodock can't see it, they obviously realised that the thing was keeping the human victim alive but they don't actually know that there's something growing there, they can't tell because there's an inky substance like an octopus secretes, and then Ron said " Dan, what happens by this way, you'll have a human giving birth to an alien".
f) Dan's response to the facehugger idea
Dan response covering his mouth with shock and surprise at the whole idea of this face rape impregnation ideas was "Oh my god, that is the most amazing thing I've ever heard, nobody's ever seen anything like that."
Dan was very pleased about this loving the idea of interspecies rape because it touched on all the buttons dealing with unresolved feelings about sexuality and Ron would remember the gasp on his face.
Dan also talked to Ron about his other movie script They Bite that had an idea connecting with this, and so while seemed somewhat derivative of that, it was also different enough in that the alien would behave in a way that a wasp would plant its young in a spider and let it grow.
Dan never thought about applying his idea for his "Memory" script and having an alien do it to a human
g) The face hugger and the chestburster idea coming together
Ron's idea came without the alien creature's young inside the man's body would indeed come out when the crew were operating on him and opening him up which seemed like the story from Weird Science where they open up a ships crew member on the operating table and out crawls a green monster.
Dan said in response "No, No, what happens is that he doesn't have to operate. In the middle of the movie he comes bursting out of his chest." (For more about the development of the chestburster idea, read: Birthing the Chestburster)
Within three weeks from that point, the rest of the story began to come together
h) Parasite/ Insect life cycle rather than alien human hybrid
Ron first went for the idea that what came out was a hybrid monster that was a cross between a human and an alien, but they decided that what they really wanted was something that would keep changing its form.
It was their idea that it would be like a parasite or even the life cycle of an insect, and they thought they could say "Yeah, an alien life can be like an insect lifecycle."
Dan found himself modelling the creature on microscopic parasites that move from one animal to the next and have complex life cycles and enlarging the parasite.
Dan was interested in the biology of the aliens and he wasn't interested in streamlining the script below interest for level for the sake of economy.
He was thinking about microscopic parasites such as worms.
If we compared the spore to something such as a whipworm egg, that would remain in the soil for several years remaining infecting waiting to infect a dog.
There are numerous types of parasitic worms that enter the body, lay eggs inside and infest the host. Tapeworm eggs can live months waiting to be eaten by an animal, humans can pick up tapeworm from undercooked pork.
In terms of the insects, he was also thinking about the Ichneuman Wasp: 'The young of ichneumons are mostly internal parasites of the larvae in the families comprising the beetles; the butterflies and moths; and the ants, bees, and wasps; plus flies and spiders. The mother ichneumon typically inserts her eggs into the body of the host—usually a grub or caterpillar—and the hungry larval ichneumons, devouring their hosts from the inside, usually end up killing their hosts by the time they are ready to pupate and become adult ichneumons.' (http://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/ichneumon-wasps)
This was also similar to the screwworm or blowfly that would look for open wounds in animals and humans, perhaps use the eyes, nostrils, or anus of her victim, then lay 100-400 eggs which hatch, and the larvae start burrowing into their host’s flesh.
Once they’re situated in tunnels, the larvae continue to feed and grow, the bigger they get, the more they have to eat, leading to a festering and oozing on the host, which attracts more flies, which lay more eggs, which do more feeding and burrowing.
If they are disturbed while feeding they burrow deeper in the tissues like a screw: this is why they are called "screw"-worms.
Through this process clusters of screwworm larvae are reportedly capable of consuming an entire sheep or dog from the inside out in five to seven days. (See: parasitipedia.net)
Meanwhile another wasp, a Tarantula Hawke Wasp would hunt and sting a tarantula spider, paralyze it, and lay its eggs in the spider; its eggs grow off the living spider, like a surrogate mother.
i) Echoing Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who
Back in 1975, a Doctor Who story was being televised The Arc In Space which explored a similar idea with a wasp like intelligent extra-terrestrial impregnating the passengers of a space arc hibernating in cryogenic suspension who begin to transform into the alien larvae.
And by 1978, after Dan wrote his script, the TV series BattleStar Galactica would use the idea of a race of insects known as the Ovions that would take humans and seal them up in chambers in their hive to be eaten by the alien young hatching from an egg planted in the cell.
They also might loosely be compared to the Selenites from the film First Men In The Moon that were an insectoid race but these creatures, while they wanted to keep their human visiters from leaving appeared to have no intention of eating them.
Another aspect of the alien creature being imagined was that if it came out the size of a cat, it could keep changing and growing - and avoid the one bad feature of most great monster movies; they eventually become repetitive.
j) Inspired by Tim Boxell's Defiled
One can go back to how at one stage a creature was to be found inside an alien skull that was very inspired by Tim Boxell's Defiled comic book story and wonder how this evolved into an egg found inside a pyramid as if they were playing with different ideas such as the ageless melon shaped organism in the tower from Simak's Junkyard being the container for the facehugger creature instead of the alien skull.
Another thing about Tim Boxell's Defiled, it's about a man retrieving an alien artifact that looks to be a bust of an alien head and then it transformed into a live organism which suddenly rapes and impregnates.
When Dan saw this comic book story, his idea about the chestburster began to make sense. (See: Memory Surfaces and Tim Boxell's Defiled )
k) Echoing Philip José Farmer's book "Strange Relations"
Dan talked about his interest in the collection of short stories Strange Relations by Philip José Farmer
which influenced Alien, and in the last story "My Sister's Brother" there are some ideas that look as if they might well have inspired the idea of the facehugger planting its seed through the victims mouth as an act of oral penetration and then it grows into something that starts eating away at the body.
l) Echoing David Cronenberg's Shivers
David Cronenberg was quite sure that Dan O'Bannon watched his own movie Shivers and from that developed the facehugger/chestburster idea but differing statements had come across about whether Dan had seen them or not, let alone knew about. But considering the film's content, it's something that should have interested Dan. (See: Inspiration from Shivers)
m) Echoing the The Slaver's Weapon/ The Soft Weapon polymorphism
Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett knew Alan Dean Foster from the time when he novelised Dark Star, and he was novelising this Star Trek series that came to the TV screen in late 1973. One of the episodes The Slaver's Weapon was shown in TV in 1973, written by Larry Niven and this features ancient stasis boxes left behind by an extra-terrestrial civilisation that kept the contents preserved for indefinite periods of time, as if forever.
The crew of the enterprise discover inside a weapon that seems at first almost useless, but on different settings it changes shape, shows itself to be a very powerful weapon able to be shot in a direction and create an explosions possibly as powerful as Hiroshima, and then reveals itself to have a computer mind that decides to turn into a weapon that self destructs when used next.
What that showed was something near enough to a strange polymorphous life form coming out of a container comparable to the an alien spore in that it was a container that lasted near enough for an eterntity, I'm imagining that Dan would have been familiar with Larry Niven's story The Soft Weapon which The Slaver's Weapon was based upon, and making the connection, discussed the idea with Ron about how it was similar to what they wanted and Ron would have reacted with fascination.
(See: Alien: Echoes of ideas from Star Trek The Animated Series)
n) Echoing Hedorah The Smog Monster's polymorphism
Meanwhile, the idea of polymorphic monsters came to the surface in the film Godzilla vs Hedorah released in Japan 24th of July, 1971 , (commonly known as Godzilla vs The Smoke Beast released in the USA in 1972). Perhaps it was something that Dan might have known something about, although it was Ron Cobb who decided to give the Facehugger acid for blood. The creature first appears as a microscopic alien lifeform that feeds on Earth's pollution and grows into a poisonous, acid-secreting sea monster.
"Hedorah metamorphoses into an amphibian form, allowing it to move onto land to feed on additional sources of pollution. Hedorah is confronted by Godzilla. Hedorah is easily overpowered by Godzilla and retreats into the sea. During the fight, however, several pieces of its new body are flung nearby, which then crawl back into the sea to grow anew and allow the monster to become even more powerful. It returns shortly thereafter in a flying saucer shape demonstrating new, even deadlier forms which it can switch between at will. " (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godzilla_vs._Hedorah)
|Godzilla Vs The Smog Monster|
o) Developed from polymorphism in Dan O'Bannon "They Bite"
Some element of this idea Ron had was already partially being explored in Dan's story for a movie called "They Bite" so Ron knew that it was derivative of that although that story was about giant bug implanting its pods like a wasp would plant its young in a spider and let it grow there and Dan had never thought about using it in this context on a human.
- Ron Shusett: So he said, "light up the board Ron, I got this first act, and you like it", and he says, "I know, I know, you have a good mind. From these, just weeks and weeks I've worked with you before I left, and, and what I saw you've done on Total Recall which you did with a short story", ah" , as far as you got it, I know you can make the breakthrough for me."(The Beast Within : Starbeast: Developing the story documentary 8:10)
- Ron Shusett : "Dan said somehow, the monster has to get on board the ship in a way that will amaze everybody and so I wake up in the middle of the night I said "Dan, I have an idea", and he said "what?" I said "the monster screws one of the people" and he said "what! what are you talking about?" I said "he jumps in his face, plants a tube down him, inserts his seed in him and later it comes bursting out of his stomach" and Dan goes "oh" (covering his mouth with shock and surprise) My god, that is the most amazing thing I've ever heard, nobody's ever seen anything like that," so we sat up all night and we wrote and within three weeks we had what I would say is 85% of the plot, the structure, we didn't write the screenplay right there of what you saw, became the Alien , 85%" (from "Beast Within" documentary, Alien Quadrilogy DVD set 2003):
- Ron Shusett : "We started talking and he said "yeah, it could go on his face, it could be a creature, we don't even know what the monster looks like, it's a little creature and it jumps on his face." And I said "somehow the monster has to plant its' seed in him, but nobody will know that until it comes bursting out of his chest." (Dan O'Bannon responded):"Oh my god, i think we've got it, we've got the whole movie, nobody's ever seen anything like this" And it wrote itself within three weeks, we had the story structure completed, and it took us another three months to do the script"(Alien Saga documentary 04:17)
- Ron Shusett : And this was not a dream, this was the subsconscious, I was very aware of that, In other words, it was not… you're mind, you're closer to your subconscious, when you're in dream state and so I woke up in the middle of the night, I was very aware of the fact that I did not dream it but my brain was churning. and I said, ‘Dan, I have it: I have the solution, the monster. " He said 'What is it?" I said" the alien is like a crab like thing, and it jumps on his face and plants his seed inside him. And then it grows and gestates and comes bursting out of him in the middle of the movie!’ (Dan O'Bannon responded):'Oh my god, no one has ever seen anything like that" and within three weeks of that moment, the entire structure, just as you saw it, with one exception, not for now, fell completely into place. ( Executing Alien: Ronald Shusett, Cinefantastique website)
- Ron Shusett : Dan put his finger on the problem he said, I knows what happens, has to happen next, is the creature has to get on the ship in an interesting way. But I have no idea how and if we could solve that, if can't be just it snuck in, then I think the whole movie will unfold, come in to place. I went to sleep and I'm sure it isn't dreaming, it's a... the mind is functioning subconsciously, and in the middle of the night, so I woke up and I said, "Dan I think, i think i have an idea," and he said "what?" and I said "well, uh, the alien, the alien screws one of them" he said, "what are you talking about?"Well jumps in his face and plants the seed in "(Alien Evolution documentary, 4:57)
- Ron Shusett: So I went to sleep and I’m sure it is in dreaming, the mind is functioning subconsciously and that sort of gives you closer access here. And so in the middle of the night, I got up and I woke up and I said Dan, I think I have an idea. He said what? I said, well, the alien, the alien screws one of them. He said what are you talking about? Well, jumps on his face and plants his seed in him. And Dan had talked to me about his other movie that had something about that, so it really was somewhat derivative of that, but it was a little bit different about a giant bug that implanted their pods, like a wasp will plant its young in a spider, and let it grow there. So it was really derivative of that idea, but he’d never thought of applying it for this. And for the alien to do this to one of the humans and then in the middle of the movie would come bursting out of his chest! (Interview for Alien Evolution)
- Ron Shusett : So I went to sleep and I’m sure it is in dreaming, the mind is functioning subconsciously and that sort of gives you closer access here. And so in the middle of the night, I got up and I woke up and I said Dan, "I think I have an idea. He said "what?" I said, "well, the alien, the alien screws one of them."He said "what are you talking about?" "Well, jumps on his face and plants his seed in him." And Dan had talked to me about his other movie that had something about that, so it really was somewhat derivative of that, but it was a little bit different about a giant bug that implanted their pods, like a wasp will plant its young in a spider, and let it grow there. So it was really derivative of that idea, but he’d never thought of applying it for this. And for the alien to do this to one of the humans and then in the middle of the movie would come bursting out of his chest! He said, "well my God, that’s the most - nobody’s ever seen anything like it." I remember the gasp on his face. And it took us three weeks from that point to get the whole structure. "(see Alien Legacy documentary)
- Ron Shusett: Dan , I have the idea . I know what the monster does. The monster screws the human being. It plants the seed, grows and emerges from the body of the human - a human hybrid monster. It's in there , and we don't know until it comes out and escapes in the ship, and all during the movie, it's chasing them and changing into different forms."( Alien - The Monster of all Monster Films by Dr. John L Flynn)
- Ron Shusett: We were working on some other projects when Dan brought out Alien. I didn't have any ideas to contribute. We both floundered around. Dan said "Ron, if you'd just put on your thinking cap , I'm sure we can turn this into hot property." (Future Life#11, July 1979, p29)
- Ron Shusett: "I came up with zero and went to bed. Now, at that time, Dan was sleeping on my couch. He counted on living off his Dune money which never materialized. He was broke and so was I. Nobody bit on They Bite. My wife was supporting both of us. I went to sleep and woke up with one sentence in my head. I can't tell you the sentence because it would give away the crux of the film. But I figured out how the creature would make contact with his first human. I ran in and told Dan and we started typing that night." (Future Life#11, July 1979, p29)
- Dan O'Bannon :"As soon as I heard it, I thought, oh well, that, that's it. That was one of the ideas that made it possible to uhm, make this thing worth doing at all. This is a movie of alien interspecies rape, that's it, that's scary, that scaring because it hits all of our buttons, all of our unresolved feelings about sexuality, all of them."(Alien Evolution documentary 5:42)
- Dan O'Bannon: The whole thing was supposed to be about the sexual life of an alien
One thing people are all disturbed about is sex, everybody is always in a knot about sex, I said that's how I'm going to attack the audience, I'm going to attack them sexually, and I'm not going to go after the women in the audience, I'm going to attack the men! And I'm going to put in every image I can think of that I know will make the men in the audience cross their legs. Homosexual oral rape! Birth! The thing lays its egg down your throat, the whole number!(Alien Saga documentary.)
- MidnightTicket: You have been credited with creating the idea for the chest burster in Alien. How did that come about?
Ron Shusett: I did come up with it but I did it in my sleep, if you can believe that. I think I wasn’t really sleeping. I was but I didn’t dream it. The best I can guess is that your subconscious, you’re closer to when your sleeping and therefore I was able to solve the problem we had. Dan said to me when I first read the script “I know what has to be done but I don’t know how to do it. If you can help me do it we’ll get this script done and it will be up to it’s potential. We need to figure out how the Alien gets on board in a way that nobody’s ever seen before.” We worked together for months and we just stared at the wall. We were so broke my wife was supporting us. Dan was sleeping on my couch. I said, “Dan, I don’t know. I thought I could help you fix this but so far I haven’t come up with anything.” He said “No, I feel you’re getting close on it. You’ve come up with possibilities. Let’s just go to sleep and we’ll start fresh start on it tomorrow.” So I go to bed and I wake up at three o’clock in the morning and I came into the living room and I said to Dan “I think I’ve cracked it. I think I know how it gets on board in a way that nobody’s ever seen in their whole life. It impregnates one of them. When they were down there looking they didn’t know what they would find. They find some almost primordial life. It’s prehistoric but it’s moving. That was the egg. They’re going to try and open it up.” We know what happened. Something jumps on his face and puts a tube down his mouth and impregnates him. They can’t see it on X-Ray because like an octopus produces ink it blocks out what’s growing in there. We know it’s breeding in there and then in the middle of the movie it comes bursting out his chest. Dan and I just looked at each other. We knew that would have to happen. Once implanted you have to operate or it comes bursting out the chest. Dan and I just pictured that and we were amazed. We looked at each other in shock. We said “Nobody’s ever seen that on screen.” Within three weeks we had the whole structure exactly as you saw it in the film once that one moment came to me. Dan was right. He knew that would unlock the rest of the movie. It seemed to write itself. It sounds crazy. It took us a couple months to get the dialog but that was easy once we had the roadmap. Most amazing is that we got it made almost immediately with no contacts, no nothing. (http://www.midniteticket.com/blog/interview-writer-ron-shusett-on-alien-dan-obannon-ridley-scott-and-prometheus-part-2)
- Complication Ensue: Dan O'Bannon had been working on ALIEN for a
year and a half before you met him, and he was on page 29, right?
Ron Shusett: He couldn't figure out how to get the alien on the spaceship in a way that no one had done before. He didn't want them to just leave a vent open. We had all these film school peers, and I brought him TOTAL RECALL to work on together. And he showed me what he had on ALIEN. And I came up with the chest-burster. "He impregnates him. He injects something into him. And it just bursts out of his chest." And then we knew, now the story's gonna work. No one's seen something like that. After that moment it took us only three months to get the whole structure, and then maybe another 3 months to get the script written. And it was virtually exactly as you see on the screen, except for Ash being a robot, which was Walter Hill's idea. (http://complicationsensue.blogspot.co.uk/2012_11_01_archive.html)
- Ron Shusett: People have read all kinds of things into it that we didn't intend, not even subconsciously. But there was one thing we did do. It was our idea that it would be the life cycle of an insect. The way a wasp will sting a spider, paralyze it, and lay its eggs in the spider; its eggs grow off the living spider, like a surrogate mother. That we did want it to be. We didn't want it to be a human mated with an alien and a hybrid. We thought we might pick up on it and say "Yeah, an alien life can be like an insect lifecycle.' One aspect of it, if it came out the size of a cat, it could keep changing and growing - and avoid the one bad feature of most great monster movies; they eventually become repetitive. With built-in device, it could keep changing shapes and sizes. (http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2008/09/executing-alien/)
- See partial transcript from the Ask Mr Kern epsiode, relating to invention of the lifecycle)
- Dan O'Bannon: I came back to the States and told friends about Giger, and they all went, 'Yeah, yeah, fat chancel' Even Ronnie Shusett. I wasn't able to bring back any of Giger's pictures with me, and so, while we were writing Alien, I'd keep telling him, Look, when you see these pictures, you’ll believe me’ (Omni June 1979)
- Dan O'Bannon: Well, this is it, this is the book I borrowed from Giger in 1975. When Dune fell through, I came back to LA, I brought this book with me, not much else. I didn't know the picture was going to be cancelled, I came back here for Christmas, to see my friends, and I had a phone call, Dune was cancelled, so I lost all my clothes and my luggage and everything but I did have this, and erm, I had to do something with myself so I did Alien, (SEE: Dan O'Bannon on Alien from Moebius Redux)
- Dan O'Bannon: Finally, Giger sent me a couple of his art books, and I shoved them at Ronnie. When he opened them up, he said, 'Oh my God! Oh my God! It's more than you said! I can't believe it!' (Omni June 1979)
- Dan O'Bannon : I wanted it to be really obvious to studio executives in 1976 that that the monster was not going to be cripplingly difficult to pull off, I wanted to write it so most of it was clearly a man in a suit, I described it as a tall humanoid, and I limited it to one because Omnivore had dozens of these complex creatures. But it had different parts to its life cycles. I modeled it after microscopic parasites that move from one animal to the next and have complex life cycles. I just enlarged a parasite. I was interested in the biology of aliens, so I wasn’t interested in streamlining the thing below interest level just for the sake of economy. (http://www.tested.com/art/movies/458897-dan-obannon-and-origins-alien/)
- Dan O'Bannon: The title did not come immediately, I didn't really have a title, and probably the reason for that was because the threat at the centre of the story, whatever this monster, thing or danger was going to be was not at all clear to me at this point. I thought of everything but the threat, i just had a very cloudy emotional feel about what that thing was to be, didn't know what it was yet, but I had certain, you know, starting points. There was my , my itch to do an alien, a movie that looked real, and there was the fact that I met HR Giger in Paris and looked at some of his paintings and I was struck by them, and I started putting that together. I think I went through an exhausted every possible kind of science fiction threat there is, I considered them picking up an alien disease, I considered a um, a non physical kind of spiritual alien that would possess people. I went through all the different ways you could harm the human body and all the disgusting things that could happen and then, and the thing that, that then finally I think broke it through for me as I, I was reading this underground comic book, an artist whose name escapes me, and he had drawn this one page, one panel story, this underground comic, a just sorta kind guy in a space suit with a worm creature emerging from his chest, and I thought, yeah, that, that's it, what could be scarier than having the thing infest your own body like that, and the thing started to fall into place for me, started to use as a model, parasites. You know, real living parasites here on Earth, they're microscopic things but they have this complicated cycles with which they infest, first a cow picks it up in a hoof, burrows into the person and then it mutates in the body and then it gets into the meat, and then the person eats the stake and then something else, and then it crawls out of leg. I took these microscopic parasites and I made them larger. The parasites infest the person, and so the alien, the whole notion of it, everything that it did, put together through many days and nights over many months, of painstakingly considering and discarding every possible idea until I had a life cycle for this thing that I liked. (Conceiving the alien life cycle: Alien Quadrilogy)
- Ron Shusett: After about two weeks, I said, ‘Dan, maybe I’m not good at horror movies.’ I had never gravitated toward horror movies. My interest in science-fiction was more in the Jules Verne [tradition]. But I also loved Edgar Allan Poe. It was simply that I was so frightened by movie horror that I couldn’t even see the earlier horror movies. When I was twelve years old I was terrified of going to horror movies; I never could until I was an adult – that’s how real they were to me. Dan said, ‘No no no, I feel we’re getting close.’ So I said, ‘I’m going to sleep.’ This was not a dream. I woke up in the middle of the night and my brain was churning. I said, ‘Dan, I have it: the alien jumps on his face and plants his seed inside him. Then it grows and gestates and comes bursting out of him in the middle of the movie!’ Within three weeks of that moment, the entire structure, with one exception, fell completely into place. (http://www.scified.com/news/executing-alien-ronald-shusett-interview)
- Ron Shusett: and he's stuck there, and he said, hearing ideas and reading scripts I had done without him, he felt between he and I, we could come up with the balance in the movie that's starting right after so called page 29 where they left the ship they're exploring and go in the bowels of the alien boomerang ship and he finds something there and he didn't have created what they found there, but he knew it had to be some form of monster and how it could get on the ship in a way nobody ever saw or would have no impact, it would just have been like an updated movie, erm, old time B movie, a sensational outstanding thing that would amaze everybody how, what they found on there had to do with the monster, how the monster got on the ship and what they dealt, how they dealt with the creature and so we started , he had in script form twenty nine pages, but we started from there in outline form and we worked weeks and weeks, maybe months, I don't know, and we were getting closer we thought, we couldn't quite figure out what this breakthrough was, and uh, finally since who was sleeping on my couch, he was so broke and my wife was supporting both of us, two room apartment, my wife and I slept in the bedroom, Dan slept on the couch. So I, at one point I said, Dan, I don't know, I said I thought I could help you do this, I hope I can but I'm exhausted and I've got to go to sleep and we'll start tomorrow. So he went into his room and went to sleep and I'm saying, I'm pretty sure it was not a dream, it was my subconscious mind tackling the problem, but when you sleep, you're closer to your subconscious, so most other people say you dreamed about, I think it's, I think it's er a little simpler, simpler than that, or maybe more complex. You didn't just dream it, you're brain is working, I'm saying how can this get, what can happen, what can happen while I'm asleep, because I woke up with the answer, even though I was sound asleep before I had it, I ran into the other room, woke up Dan, I said Dan, I think I have the key to it, I think I know what happens, what they find in the bowels of that alien ship, what it has to do with the alien, how it gets on ship, in a way that will shock everybody, so I said the egg thing which everybody saw in the movie, but maybe it had been there thousands of years, there's still somehow like fungus or something that's growing inside, so it's moving, some kind of embryonic seed of life, something in there and they see it through a transparent egg. This is what I came up in my dream, and the guy puts up his face to see what it is and then the egg opens up and this thing jumps on his face that's now called the famous Face Hugger, back then it didn't exist, put its tube down his mouth and inserts something in him, but is keeping him alive. They put him back on the ship, put an x-ray on him and they can't see what it's doing to him because it spits out ink like an octopus blocking so you can't see, blocking. They don't want you to see naturally what we know, oh yes, it's growing inside there, because it's a scifi movie and that's what's going on there, why the reason they wont let him in the creature's built so you can't x-ray to see what's happening, and at that point, we know that the creature has to breed, come to fruition in a short time, because they have a very quick life cycle, in my opinion, insect like, and it comes to life and comes out his body, but we debated, should we operate on him, how should it come out of his body and we both sat there and Dan said No, what if we don't operate, what if it just comes bursting out of his chest and this is about forty percent of the way through the movie, and I just looked in horror and just said Dan, that's it, that's the movie. And we, we were so shocked of our own creation because we knew, because I guess that's the the the nexus of creative force, at that second we both knew. Not that dreams always work out the way you think or you're even conscious, we knew it was going to be something amazing, movie's going to get written, probably get made and everybody talk about it for years, in just those few seconds, we all just felt that way. Me and Dan and our creation and it only took us about six weeks to finish the structure and outline form and Dan had the first 29 pages in writing. We outlined what I just said first and it was easy after that because we knew that the creature had to keep changing. We used as a model, ah, the caterpillar and the butterfly. it had to keep evolving and the audience would get bored. it would come out of his chest and it would gradually grow larger until it was frightening. Suddenly seven feet tall, and start the little thing and it would grow and it would be used and we would never get tired of it, it would keep evolving and that, the rest was so easy to write, craftsmanship was responsible, the only inspiration we needed for the whole balance after that was the robot's head, which was a brilliant idea where Ash is a robot, and that was the only piece, the rest was craftsmanship after the face hugger and the chest burster, We just needed craftsmanship, we knew we needed something amazing after the chest burster, so it wouldn't be the only thing you talked about, so we came up with the idea that Ash is a robot and is trying to help the Alien, that's his mission or operation even if people die, to bring it back alive and then his head gets knocked off and you think oh my god that's just a bloody scene and then we hook him back up and he talks to you as his head talks to you and that was such an amazingly neat piece of information that carried the whole third act so that there wasn't any place where you didn't see something in the first, second and third act that didn't amaze you and that, it just fell into place. (Rough transcription http://onscreenandbeyond.com/podcast/osb238RShusett.mp3)