Sex and the alien

Leading from 
Alien
and 
The Creature In The Wall

a) The Strip
The other side of the fourth is the fact that Ridley stripped the Ripley character down, Sigourney Weaver in the part is strong, capable and attractive and he wanted to increase the sense of her peril by showing her undressed, Ripley does a modest strip down to her underwear. It not only made this ballsy sort of lady vulnerable - but sexy too. Sigourney's understanding behind doing the strip is that obviously Ripley didn't want to go into hypersleep covered in blood and god know what else, she just wants to take her clothes off and have a bath. 

b) Possibilities of the alien's sensuous nature
Ridley appeared to Sigourney to have thought that there were great erotic possibilities for the scene in which the alien, watching Ripley as she shedding her clothes so that it looked as if she was going from green and crusty looking in her clothes to something pink and softy, then alien would find it amazing and somehow this idea related to sexual fascination, but on the other hand she knew that the Alien was resting though she discussed the possibility of this creature watching Ripley with voyeuristic passion. The alien would not attack because it was fascinated by the fact that it saw skin. To see another creature without it’s shell would move it, touch it in some way so, Sigourney as an actress remained inspired to think about the alien’s sensual side, (and found in the later Alien sequel, Alien Resurrection, eighteen years later a way to experience a kind of a sexual interaction with the alien creature.)

c) Questions about Sigourney's point of view
From Ridley's point of view, he only tended to talk about an interest in the erotic possibilities of Ripley shedding her clothes rather than have a point about what the Alien was thinking in a sensuous way. He further looked at Sigourney Weaver's idea some years later in hindsight,  and thought that perhaps she has a touch of sympathy for the creatures because she looks at it from the viewpoint of her character. Ripley was part crew member and part scientist, someone who thought in logical terms. And maybe at that moment, her scientist side emerged and she began to study the creature like a scientist would and started to get a perspective on what it may have been thinking and previous to this scene, one should remember that there had been absolutely no communication between the alien and the crew members, other than violent experiences.

d) Questions about nudity
Sigourney felt that since the creature had been naked all the way through the movie, she at least ought to find herself naked before this creature at the end of it all, but this didn’t go down well with the studio bosses concerns about selling the film to Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain, so she wore her underwear. Also, she felt that seeing what kind of response she was going to have from the audience, she thinks it was just as well she had some clothes on.

e) Smallest pair of knickers
They were looking for a pair of knickers of Sigourney to wear back on the set, they held the shoot up by a couple of house, the first pair that the costume designers came back with looked to Ridley like a pair of diapers, he wanted something very sex and so he went himself to find something and whatever the smallest pair were, those he came back with. Sigourney was a tall healthy woman with long legs who did a lot of running. Ivor Powell was impressed by how sexy they made her look.

f) White knight vs Futuristic Dragon
The last twenty minutes are treated in a very lyrical style, Scott sees this as a reflection of the way he looks at reality. It was more than whether Ripley will triumph, it becomes a situation with an undercurrent of sexuality where she dons the virginal white space shit and she takes up a fight with a futuristic dragon. 

Source Quotes
  1. Sigourney Weaver: Ridley thought there were great erotic possibilities for that scene which the alien, watching Ripley go from green and crusty-looking to something pink and soft, would find amazing. But face it, if you were in that situation would you want to go into hypersleep covered and in blood and god knows what? She just wants to take off what she’s wearing and have a bath  (Photoplay)
  2. Ridley : Oddly enough there's a sensuality to this whole scene, errrrrrr, partly the silence. It's, um, subtly sexual, right, or is it just me, huh.(alien 20th anniversary dvd, between 1hour 42mins - 44mins)
  3. Ridley : Ripley does a modest strip once in the shuttle, but we kept that to stress the vulnerability of a lady who’s pretty much a ballsy sort (Ridley Scott interview by David Lewin, Daily Mail 1/10/79)
  4. Cinefantastique
  5. Ridley Scott: Sigourney has a touch of sympathy for the creature because she looks at it from the viewpoint of her character. Ripley was part crew member and part scientist, someone who thought in logical terms. Maybe at that moment, her scientist side emerged and she began to study the creature like a scientist would and started to get a perspective on what it may have been thinking. Previous to this scene, remember, there had been absolutely no communication between the alien and the crew members, other than violent experiences. (Omni)
  6. Questar magazine #5, November 1979
  7. Interviewer The Last Twenty Minutes are treated in a very lyrical style.
    Ridley Scott: This is how I like to look at reality. It's not simply a question of knowing whether or not Ripley will triumph. I wanted to introduce another dimension. She takes up the fight against some futuristic dragon - that's why I made her put on the white spacesuit. At the same time, this has something carnal. She is possessed by the idea of this confrontation and her behaviour changes completely (Duelling with Death)
  8. Ivor Powell: I mean, I remember Ridley, 'cause again, this is with his , like commercial hat on, before we shot that sequence, we like held up shooting for a couple of hours where I set out one of the costume designers to go, 'cause the first pair of knickers that they turned up with for Sigourney to wear, as far as Ridley was concerned looked like a pair of diapers and they weren't sexy enough, so we all waited while he went out and came back, and whatever the smallest pair were, those were the ones that got chosen as you can see etc, I mean, Sigourney's a , you know was a very healthy girl, and big sort of legs, she did a lot of running, etc, but they made her look amazing, sexy, and the whole thing was this undercurrent of sexuality and that end sequence of her changing into that virginal white space suit, and then now the alien
    Wayne Imms: yeah, yeah, absolutely

    Ivor Powell: All of that, talk about Freudian. It was beauty and the beast really., so. (Alien Q &A, Genesis Cinema, August 23rd 2014)

One More Surprise Ending

Leading from 
Alien

This is not where the story ends
The film was meant to be over when she goes inside the escape shuttle, takes off, signs off and even with the big bang behind her, that was sound and mixing between three cards and a wobbly camera and he was supposed to sign off there. As in O'Bannon's script, Ridley felt he simply couldn't end the film here "No way, you can't do that, you canna possibly end there"

The end of the movie almost never got made , and there are a few stories about what would have been there right at the end. But Ridley's thoughts were that he wanted to close the lid on the story and then let it out again so that when Ripley goes into that shuttle, there's a moment when you know that the film isn't over when you're sitting in the seat.

Fourth Act filmed in Four days
He told the the studio bosses "I wanna spend X to give you a fourth act. "

They replied "How much? 

He added "it'll take us four days"...  

They replied "Four Days!" 

Ridley responded "you really don't even know what I'm going to do yet, let me explain to you what I'm going to do, then you'll go "how can you do that in four days?" as opposed to "four days!" 
We're not finishing the film when she jumps in the shuttle, there's a fourth act,"

They said "what do you mean, the film's over when she jumps in the shuttle and takes off and bingo!"

But Ridley's next response was "no, there's a fourth act in there that will change the way films are made"

See also: The Creature In The Wall

Source Quotes
  1. (1:38: 19 /1:41:50) Ridley Scott: Now the film was meant to be over when she goes inside, ah, you take off, you do the signing off. Now clearly you can not end the film (1:42:00) here, even with a big bang behind her. And you know, the big bang's then are not the big bangs we could do today, but you know what, today it'd be CGI, this is all real inside the... inside the studio on the set which is you know, only firewood. Okay so this is all design as the end of the movie. So there's a one megaton thing going to go off in a second, and graphic design, interesting uh. Just a flat card , nothing happening, (01:39:00) it's just the sound and mixing between three cards, and I figure you've got to have two or three, but this, I've go... I've got the wobbling down now pretty good. Nobody's really wobbled the camera 'til this moment you know I remember til that, so I'm literally wobbling the camera. Bit unsure about the red ball. (1:43:00) And score. Now, this would be the end of the film. But that.. that's it, you would do a signing off there, and I had to say "no way, you can't do that, you canna possibly end there"

    Here we made it for 8.6, which even in those days was cheap

    (1:39:41 / 1:43:30) Sigourney Weaver: I didn't know that, I thought it was $14

    (1:39:43 / 1:43:32) Ridley Scott: 8.6

    (1:39:44 / 1:43:30) Sigourney: Aah, Wow!

    (1:39:45 / 1:43:32) Ridley Scott: Yeah, So at the end I said "I wanna spend X to give you a fourth act. "
    "How much? 
    And I said well, "it'll take us four days"...  
    "Four Days!" 
    I said "you really don't even know what I'm going to do yet," so I said, "let me explain to you what I'm going to do, then you'll go "how can you do that in four days?" as opposed to "four days!"(01:40:00). I said "we're not finishing the film when she jumps in the shuttle, there's a fourth act," And they said, "what do you mean, the film's over when she jumps in the shuttle and takes off and bingo!"
    I said "no, there's a fourth act in there that will change the way films are made" because at at , I think until this moment, it's almost fair to say, there's probably going to be some small independent film saying to me "you know, you're full of bull", but you know, today we've got an interesting idea of "now, the end, then the end and then the end, and by the way here's the other end", right and I always wanted to close the lid and then suddenly let it out again, babbam, okay. So when Ripley goes into that shuttle, there's a moment when you know that the film isn't over where.. when you're sitting in the seat.(alien anthology/quadrilogy A;ien commentary)
     

Life cycle of the alien

leading from

a) Short Lifecycle
Ridley went along wth the idea that alien creature has a limited lifespace like that of the life cycle like that of a butterfly or an insect. He wanted it to have a sort of timelessness. Once it jumps out of the egg as a facehugger, it has to reproduce and spread as fast as possible, maybe in a cycle of perhaps only four days.

b) Genetic traits
The original scenario was that a Space Jockey was infected and the spores in the basement of the derelict were what became of the other crew of the derelict. The creature lived to reproduce and in reproducing took on the characteristics of its last inhabitant and its new host. Thus the alien on board the Nostromo had the characteristics of the space jockey and Kane, because it was assumed at the time in the background story that the eggs in the chamber at the bottom of the derelict were what became of the other crew of the derelict ship. Thus if the facehugger had hit the cat, it would have been a hybrid of the space jockey and the cat, if it could have been a dog, there would be a dog version of the alien. If it impregnates a man, the you get a man version of an Alien. Eventually the idea became that the space jockey was the pilot of a vessel that had been carrying the spores in its hold since the start of the journey.

c)  A further dimension to the beast
And so Gordon Carrol and Ridley talked about it many times, should they indicated that the alien has intelligence , perhaps even great intelligence. Was it just a sort of a time bomb or even just a war machine. Perhaps it was another form of society adjusting itself like ants,  and as Ridley understood, ants had no sense of beginning or end, which goes back to his idea about the alien having a sort of timelessness. Perhaps they were just born, run around doing this thing like everybody else in the community and then dies, and Ridley thought that this may have been the alien, and if so the alien had no intelligence except pure intuition about survival. But there was the added question of what would you have if you given the fact that this creature that's making use of a man's brain capacity

d)  Getting on with its lifecycle
This idea helped explain why the Alien didn't attack Ripley in the Narcissus, when Ripley kills it, the idea was that it would have died anyway. Like a chameleon, it had found a protective corner in that ship and was working itself in there to die. It has to be provoked to attack because it had to get on with its life cycle. Slime emanated from its body as if it were sealing itself in again like a cocoon.

e) See also: The Creature In The Wall

f) See also: Human to Spore

Source Quote
  1. Ridley Scott: The thing that I was always frustrated about was the absence of sense of smell with the beast. It's a real element with him, because his odor must have been incredibly powerful. I wanted a sense of a timeless, slightly decaying creature that, maybe, only has a limited life cycle of, maybe, four days like an insect. The alien life form lived to reproduce and in reproducing took on the characteristics of its last inhabitant and its new host. Thus the alien on board the Nostromo had the characteristics of the space jockey on the derelict and Kane. If the facehugger had hit the cat, it could have been a hybrid of the space jockey and the cat. When Ripley blasts off from the Nostromo with the alien aboard, it's dying which is why it moves so slowly. She kills it, but it would have died soon anyway. It's like a butterfly (Fantastic Films)
  2. Ridley Scott: A way of explaining what had happened on the derelict [spaceship] and what was now happening on the NOSTROMO. And I think it provided some explanation for the Alien's killing spree -- like a butterfly or an insect, it has a limited lifespan in which to reproduce itself.  It also helped explain why it didn't attack Ripley in the Narcissus.  It's days were over.  Like a chameleon, it had found a protective corner in that ship and was working itself in there to die. ("Creating and Alien Ambience", Alien : The Special Effects)
  3. Ridley Scott: I want to show that the Alien has a limited life cycle, like a butterfly.  And within that period of time once it decides to expose itself - to coin a phrase - once it jumps out of the egg, it has to reproduce and spread fast as possible, maybe in a cycle of only days.  And so in the last sequence, you see slime emanating from the big Alien's body because we're trying to convey that maybe he's sealing himself in again, like a cocoon.  Also, by that point, he has to be provoked to attack, because he has to get on with his life cycle. (book of Alien)
  4. Ridley Scott: So whatever it impregnated, it could have been a dog and you would have had a dog version of alien. Impregnated with a man you get a man version of Alien. Which therefore maybe is even more lethal particularly if you’re picking up on man’s brain capacity as well. Because we never could work out…Gordon Carrol and I talked about this many times, you know, should we indicate the alien has intelligence. Or great intelligence. Or is it just a timebomb, just a time bomb, is it just a war machine? You know,…are those eggs simply war machines or are they ways of…another form of society adjusting itself like ants really…ants have…I think ants have no sense of beginning or end. They just are born, run around doing this thing like everybody else in the community and die. And I think that may have been the alien. So maybe the alien had no intelligence except pure intuition about survival. Right?  (Report from discussion with Ridley Scott for Alien Evolution)

The Creature In The Wall

 
Alien continuity polaroid from blu-ray set
a) One more amazing thing

Originally the alien was to be found in the closet, Ron Shusett thought that it would be a great moment if it was done right, Ripley would run, get to the safety boat, and its launched, the ship explodes and it's in the boat with her in the closet, this would have been the payoff
After Dan O'Bannon had returned to the US, Ron and Ridley were having a chat , perhaps two thirds through the movie production. The command module of the Nostromo as seen in the opening sequence had been economically converted and redressed so that it became the interior of the Narcissus which was the escape pod.

Ridley said to Ron "You know, wouldn't it be great if we had one more surprise because you've got a chestburster, and the robots head coming off. If we could have one more amazing thing in the lifeboat"

And the obvious answer came up "she's somewhere, he's somewhere and she is there, but it's with her and we don't see it, it's camouflaged so well!"

"Right, okay, so where's the alien going to be?"

"The roof?",

They agreed "no, that's too easy because people don't look at the roof, it should be hiding in plain sight"

Besides that Ridley had already filmed the scene where the alien comes down like a bat on Brett, and wouldn't have been able to tolerate repeating himself

Ridley's view was " It should be that the audience can see it, but they don't know where they're seeing it."

Ron said "Ridley you're absolutely right"

Ridley replied, "okay, let's work on this"

Ivor asked "What if the alien is like a chameleon, and he's going into another stage? Giger's concept was biomechanoid, so if you front lit the alien, so the audience could see it, that would be an amazing coup. "

Alien continuity polaroid from blu-ray set
Alien continuity polaroid from blu-ray set
Alien continuity polaroid from blu-ray set


b) The creature in the wall
This idea went down well, was further developed, and so Ridley went with this idea because he figured out that like an insect. this biomechanoid alien would go for the cold pipes, and it was like a chameleon,  and it would have the sense was to look around and ask where it was the most safe, and so crawl into a place where it could be the most safe like all chameleons, and a chameleon will lie on the ground and change his colour according to the terrain, and so the alien would integrate itself with the surrounding machinery and the top of its head would be indistinguishable from the surrounding pipes even close to.

By this time, it towards the end of the September,  and on the 21st and 22nd, according to the  schedule, they had filmed the scene when Ripley remembers the cat and goes to collect it, heads for the engine room and then heads towards the Narcissus with flame thrower and catbox, hurls the catbox into the corner in the shuttle and then hits the launch button. The alien was originally going to come out of the closet. Now when Ripley blasts off from the Nostromo with the alien aboard, it was dying which is why it moved so slowly. Like a chameleon, it had found a protective corner in the ship and it was working itself in there to die. So while she killed it, it would have died soon anyway.

So with the new idea, there was only one wall in the background that had to be changed , they had the alien hidden in there and they kept redressing it.





c)  Shot by their own arrow
They agreed "okay, this is what we'll do, let's have the alien lay down in here longways, he's seven feet tall."

They kept building the wall up so that it looks like the alien, and every night at the end of a days shoot, they would shoot the wall with him in it and see if they could see the alien hidden in there.

On October 2nd, it comes to a point where they are about to shoot the Alien creature imbedded in the wall of the Narcissus and it so happens that the instruction that Ridley Scott gave was completely wrong, so Giger had to come up with an alternative solution to deal with the problem but others are not happy with the solution since it means more work.

For about a week they made fools of themselves because every time they shot it. She was standing there, and they could see in front of her , a foot way, is the alien

They were saying "it's ridiculous!"

They knew that they couldn't chance it, it had to be invisible or they were going to make complete fools out of themselves. If they couldn't get it to work perfectly, they would have to have it come out of the closet again or from the roof and the viewer didn't see see it. But the best thing was to make it work here, and they kept rebuilding it every day and they would sit there for hours. Ridley and Ron would look at the wall separately and Bolaji would sometimes get so tired that he'd go on a coffee break in the monster suit.

Finally they had one version of the wall that they thought might work. They realised this because together Ron and Ridley were looking at it and Ridley said to Ron "Looks good to me, I think once Bolaji gets in there, it's going to be completely invisible. Let's put him in there now and then maybe we'll shoot it"

And so they called him, they yelled for him but to their surprise, he was in the wall next to them. They were indeed shot by their own arrow

Their response was "God! Jesus, he's there, oh my god, it worked!"




d) Evolution of The Filmed Scene
They got around to shoot it on Wednesday 4th October, Giger painted up another costume for Bolaji to wear and it worked just as it was on the screen. It wasn't any particular person who discovered the solution to the person, it evolved, they figured it out, the set people figured it out. The secret though was the alien creature's head. They put air ducts that were shaped enough like the head, two above it and one below it, and its mouth turned in so it couldn't be seen. When the viewer saw these air ducts, it was full of biomechanical patterns and ribbed pipes, and so on, and suddenly the first thing that one saw was the arm come out and over. It was as if the alien was behind the pipes but when the viewer looked, they'd find it was inside the pipes as one of the air ducts suddenly one of the air ducts turned and it had a mouth on it and that was that.

e) Bolaji in the suit
As they filmed the scene, bursting out of that compartment wasn't easy.  It put a lot of strain on the suit Bolaji must have ripped it two or three times coming out and each time he'd climb down from the bulkhead, the tail would rip off! But it wasn't much of a problem for them, because they had more suits.  He did about fifteen takes of the shit and it got to a point where he finally said "No more!" There was a lot of smoke, it was hard for him to breathe, and it was terribly hot.  But as Sigourney watched Bolaji in his alien suit coming out from between the cooling pipes, she thought it was like seeing something coming out of a chrysalis.

f) See: Sex and the Alien




source quotes
  1.  See October 4th and 5th in HR Giger's Alien Diaries
  2.  Ridley Scott: When Ripley blasts off from the Nostromo with the alien aboard, it's dying which is why it moves so slowly. She kills it, but it would have died soon anyway. It's like a butterfly (Fantastic Films)
  3. Ridley Scott: .... like a butterfly or an insect, it has a limited lifespan in which to reproduce itself.  It also helped explain why it didn't attack Ripley in the Narcissus.  It's days were over.  Like a chameleon, it had found a protective corner in that ship and was working itself in there to die. ("Creating and Alien Ambience", Alien : The Special Effects)
  4. Cinefantastique: Did you ever contribute to the plot or the script of Alien in any way?

    Ivor Powell:  I can very discreetly claim some credit for the film's ending. In most forms, the ending of the script had Ripley in the shuttlecraft, leaning in the back of the chair relaxing, when suddenly the alien's hand appears over the back of the chair.. She runs into the locker but the alien gets distracted by the cat box and begins to rip it to shreds. Ridley could never bring himself to film the Alien sequences in the way he had done before. He always resisted that sort of shock effect, where a door opens and there's the alien. When Ridley had the idea of the alien coming down from above like a huge bat, that took the film up another notch for me, and that ending had the same kind of approach.. They both fall out of the airlock, both hanging on a cord,  Ripley scrambling to get in, the alien leaking acid everywhere.  It gets its hand caught in the door as she closes it. You couldn't do that logically - the acid would eat through the airlock.

    So I said, what if the alien is like a chameleon, and he's going into another stage. Giger's concept was biomechanoid, so if you front lit the alien, so the audience could see it, that would be an amazing coup. I got team points for that idea, though the tragedy is that so few people realise it's there, amongst the machinery. 
    (CFQ vol9:1,  p32)
  5. Interviewer: what about hiding him in the wall? How did you hid that guy in the wall?

    Ridley Scott: I figured he’d go for…like an insect he’d go for either cold pipes, everything was cold, and he…it was like a chameleon. The idea of being a chameleon where he would crawl into, because he’s biomechanoid. So his sense of also being a chameleon was to look around and say where can I, where am I most safe? Like all chameleons. And so a chameleon will lie on the ground and change his colour according to the terrain. And so that was the idea. (Alien Evolution)
  6. Ron Shusett: Yeah, there’s a great serendipity that goes with the ending of the movie. We never had the idea when the script was written or even halfway through the filming, that idea was not in the movie that the creature would be disguised as part of the wall. Originally it was in the closet, it was a great classic moment that works if you do it right, where you run, you get to the safety boat, and it gets off, the ship explodes and it’s in the boat with her in the closet. And that would have been good enough we thought for a pay off. But halfway through the movie Ridley and I we’re just talking about it one day, Dan had already gone back, I’d say maybe two thirds of the way through the movie, and Ridley was saying, you know, wouldn’t it be great if we had some kind of a one more surprise because you’ve got the chest-burster, unquestionably the chestburster and the robot’s head coming off and being hooked up were the two most amazing things, if we could have one more amazing thing in the lifeboat and we were thinking yeah, what could it be and the obvious thing was well, she’s somewhere, he’s somewhere and she is there, but it’s there with her and we don’t see it’s camouflaged so well! And we said well where can it be and we thought the roof first, we thought, no, that’s too easy because people don’t look at the roof, it should be hiding in plain sight. It should be that the audience can see it, but they don’t know they’re seeing it. So I said, Ridley you’re absolutely right, he said ok, let’s work on this. Let’s say, and we’d already shot I guess part of this scene, but it was only one wall - the backdrop we had to change. We’d shot a lot of other action in it. And it was gonna come out of the closet. But the one wall, although it was shot, we could change it any way we wanted that one wall, we just had the alien hidden in there, so we kept redressing it.
    We said ok, this is what we’ll do, let’s have the alien lay down in here. Longways, he’s 7 feet tall, I played him, and build and keep building the wall so that it looks a lot like him and every night at the end of shooting, regular shooting, we’ll shoot it. The wall with him in it and see if we can see it. So for about a week we made fools of ourselves cos every time we shot it it was like Mad magazine. She’s standing there, you can see right in front of her, a foot away, is the alien. She’s going hmmmm, all this stuff, you’re saying you boom, it’s ridiculous! So we knew really that we couldn’t chance it it had to be invisible or it was we were complete fools out of ourselves and at the last moment fumbling at the goal line. So we thought it’s a great idea but if we can’t get it to work perfectly we’ll have to have it come out of a closet rather than - or from the roof and you just didn’t look. But the best thing, if we could only make it work here. And we kept rebuilding the wall every day and we would sit in there for hours. And Ridley and I would look at the wall separately and sometimes he’d get so tired he’d go on a coffee break in the monster suit.
    And so we finally had one version of the wall that we thought might work. I’ll tell you why it did later. It worked perfectly, but this is how we found out if worked. So we were looking at it and Ridley said looks good to me, he said I think once he gets in there it’s going to be completely invisible. Let’s put him in there now and then maybe we’ll shoot it. And so we called him. I think Badejo was his name, I forgot the name. Something like that. So we yelled for him and he was in the wall, he was next to us, not, as close to where you are to me now and he just kept right on the wall and we were shot by our own arrow. We’d go oh God! Jesus, he’s there, oh my God, it worked. And sure enough, we shot it and it worked just like you saw it on the screen! He was completely invisible and disguised, even in real life if you were two feet away. And the secret was one thing. I don’t know,  no one person discovered it, it just evolved, we figured it out finally, the set people figured it out. The secret was his head. We put air ducts, shaped like his head, two above it and one below it and his mouth turned in so you didn’t see it. And you saw these air ducts, it was full of these biomechanism things, and you saw this, first thing you saw was the arm come out and over. But you thought he was behind it and he shoved his arm - where is he? He’s back there! But then it was like double twist. And then all of a sudden one air duct turned and it had a mouth on it and that did it. And that was the only way we got it to work.
    Every day we thought we were gonna make fools of ourselves and we were about to give up on the idea until it worked on us in real life and it worked perfectly and that was serendipity. It was some inspired, sometimes the stars are all in the right place. Sometimes you do that and you do it wrong again and that wrecks the end of the movie. Or you never think of that one idea. So that was a mutual contribution creatively of Ridley and I both and the team made it work, they disguised it so well.
    (Report from the conversation with Ron Shusett for Alien Evolution documentary)
  7. Wmmvrrvrrmm: Okay, I've got a question, but... in the Alien comic book story, um, at the end there's a scene where the alien has kind of curled up into like a box shape, and um, nobody actually has seen any photographs of it, I wondered if you know anything about it?
    Ivor Powell: No I don't know anything about it, in Alien or anything that happened to a box., no i don't

    The only story I know about the alien at the end, we were all standing having converted very economically, the erm the command module of the ship that you see in the very opening sequences, we converted that and redressed it into the Narcissus which is the escape pod, and we were all standing there thinking "right, okay, this is, so where's the alien going to be', and I remember just very timorously saying, "what if it's like a chameleon?" or something like that, and er, it was one of my few good ideas that got actually picked picked up upon on development and so they made the alien basically sort of like integrate itself, because it was biomechanoid, it was part organic, part... that was Giger's thing, so I guess it became part of the machinery, so as it, it wasn't a box, it was actually a chameleon (Alien Q &A, Genesis Cinema, August 23rd 2014))
  8. The shuttlecraft sequences at the end of the film were some of the most interesting and difficult shots of Bolaji, and provided most of the useable Alien footage. Climbing into the cramped shuttlecraft bulkhead and then out again for each take put a lot of strain on the suit, which kept splitting. "Bursting out of that compartment wasn't easy" exclaims Bolaji"  I must have ripped the suit two or three times coming out and each time I'd climb down, the tail would rip off! But it wasn't much of a problem for them, because they had more suits. I remember that I had to repeat the action for about fifteen take. Finally, I said "No more!" There was a lot of smoke, it was hard to breathe, and it was terribly hot." (Cinefantastique vol 9, no.1, p30)

Ash the Robot

Leading from: 
Alien

Ian Holm as Ash the robot

Having the android idea
a) Giler and Hill conceive the idea,
 b) Ron's approval, c) Dan's disapproval

The Russian Spy Idea

 Development of Ash via Six Million Dollar Man

Unleashing Human Disguised Androids
i). The Future Eve, ii). Metropolis, iii). Westworld,
iv). The Six Million Dollar Man: Day Of The Robot,
 v). The Million Dollar Man: The Return Of The Robot,
 vi). The Stepford Wives, vii). Maskatron action doll, viii).  FutureWorld

The Unraveling of Ash
i). Convulsion , ii). Response,  iii). Malevolance,
 iv). Do humanoids have sexual urges?, v). Show of Strength, vi). The Head

Having the android idea

Leading from Ash the Robot

a. Giler and Hill conceive the idea
Hill and Giler introduced into the story of alien a character who was an android named Ash. They don't actually remember which of them had come up with the idea but it came as a joint decision and a cheap ideaHowever as Giler remembered it, Walter Hill said, "I have what I think is a dreadful idea or a really good one. What do you think of this? Suppose , in this part, whack! his head comes off and he's a robot."

Giler replied "Well terrific, let's do that, and we'll put it on a table and  we'll have the head talk."

So they went back and made the subplot work for that, David Giler actually wanted the first words from the robot on the table to the the Kipling open" If you could keep your head about you."

b) Ron Shusett's approval
Ron Shusett loved the idea and would be eternally thankful to David Giler and Walter Hill for adding that idea. He felt it was the next thing that one needed after the shock and horror of the chestburster scene he thought it was close to being as amazing, and it kept the third act from being a let down.

c) Dan O'Bannons's disapproval 
The general idea of what constitutes a suspense story was an issue of some contention amongst the producers and Dan lost a couple of those battles. There was no Ash in his original script and Giler and Hill added it in his opinion just for the sake of a sub plot because having a single plot was by itself for them inadequate. However Dan thought that Ian Holm gave a brilliant performance and it was brilliantly directed by Ridley but Dan saw nothing so interesting about the revelation that someone was a robot.

 source quote
  1. Fantastic Films: He's not an ordinary robot is he?

    David Giler: Walter Hill and I were writing the script - we were working the script and we had invented the subplot of this dodging character. And Hill said,  I have what I think is a dreadful idea or a really good one. What do you think of this? Suppose , in this part, whack!, his head comes off and he's a robot. " Well terrific ," I say, "let's do that. And we'll put it on a table and then we'll have the head talk." So we went back and made the subplot work for that. Actually at one time I wanted the first words from the robot on the table to be the Kipling poem, "If you could keep your head all about you..." (Fantastic Films #13, p60)
  2. Ron Shusett: They contributed one thing that was one of the best things in the movie and I will eternally be thankful to them, not only for starting the ball for financing but to contributing this to the movie, what they invented was the robot, that was not in the movie,  but the robot, Ash is a robot and his head comes off, that whole idea and scenario was theirs  (Developing The Story, Alien Quadrilogy DVD) 
  3. Ron Shusett: This is Giler and Hill's concept , it's the only thing that wasn't in the orginal script of Dan's and mine and the reason I knew it'd work because you needed something after the chestburster that was at least close to it as amazing and that is this, when the head is knocked off and you don't realise he's a robot and that kept the sec... the third act from being a let down. Oh god, shit, Jesus christ   ( Bluray version of the Alien Quadrilogy commentary at 1:21:10,)
  4. Dan O'Bannon: "The general idea of what constitutes a suspense story was an issue of some contention amongst the producers and I lost a couple of those battles. There was no Ash in my original script, they added that, the idea being here that all...all scripts must have a sub plot, simply to have a single plot by itself is inadequate, all stories must have subplots. So they created a subplot. Ian Holm gives a brilliant performance, it's brilliantly directed by Ridley, but if you stop and think about it, if it wasn't in there what difference would it make one way or the other, who gives a rat's ass, so somebody is a robot. (Alien commentary, Quadrilogy, 01:17: 29 - 01:18:29.)

Development of Ash via Six Million Dollar Man

leading from Ash the Robot

As it goes the idea was semi fresh. No one said anything about it but it was basically a reused idea from the Six Million Dollar Man TV series from an episode in 1976 called "The Return of the Robot Maker".

Dr Chester Dolenz has created a new robot more advanced than the previous, and this one has been created to look like Oscar Goldman, we see the entity without its face but with exposed circuitry before the face is finally fitted onto the front of the head. Dolenz kidnaps Oscar Goldman at his OSI office and takes him back to his laboratory in a trailer to have all the memories from his brain extracted by a computer. He has placed in his office the android that has already started to take up its role as Oscar Goldman.

Dr Chester Dolenz: This robot eats and drinks, I've installed an incinerator to burn up all of the fuels and foods ingested by the body. It blinks and it can even simulate breathing

Everything it sees with its eyes, such as documents, it can transmit that to a computer elsewhere. The android almost appears to work as a physical extension to a computer back in Dolenz's trailer.

The robot tells Steve Austin that he has to test out the defense system of the Brahmin because a computer says that he is most likely able to break through the defenses, and he requires Steve Austin to divert the attention of the security people while it photographs the Rahman blueprints. The robot maker also wants to eliminate Colonel Steve Austin because he's the only person who could expose the robot as a robot.

Steve is brought faced to face with the robot and Oscar Goldman, and with his bionic eye notices a specific detail that shows the difference, the robot and Steve Austin enters a fight with the machine. The battle is ended when the robot is decapitated with a karate chop delivered by Steve Austin. The decapitated head remained inanimate using a fake head and also the real actors head with the rest of his body remaining invisible, the effects look cheap but good enough for television and in Alien, they brought up to a much more superior level in relation to the time. 

Oscar Goldman: By the way, out of curiosity, how did you know which one of us was me?

Steve Austin: Very simple Oscar, robots don't sweat when they're nervous.

Oscar Goldman: Hmm! 

Indeed Ash the android appeared to be a very much more advanced machine who sweats, but being a milk like fluid it is not the right sort of sweat for a human and once again a giveaway













Unleashing human disguised androids

Leading from Ash the Robot

a) The Future Eve
Starting off with in 1886, the term android was made popular by the French novelist Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam in his book, "The Future Eve" or "L'Ève Future" (1886) about a female android that is created to replace a man's fiancée who although had a bothersome personality. 



b) Metropolis
The idea was brought into cinema in 1927 through the movie Metropolis, a robot was created and soon she would have the outward form of a physical human to impersonate the preacher Maria in the film creating mayhem.

c) Twilight Zone episode "The Lonely".
In 1959, an episode of The Twilight Zone about a convict, living alone in an asteroid, who receives from the police a realistic woman-robot. When comes the time to leave soon afterwards since the prisoner has been pardoned, he can not take the robot back with him so he shoots it in the face with a gun to terminate it revealing a mass of wire and broken circuitry which repeats the word "Corry". (see wikipedia page for more details)



d) Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode "The Cyborg"
Admiral Harriman Nelson visits the cybernetics laboratory of the obese Dr. Tabor Ulrich, where he is forced to make an involuntary donation to a "Memory Bank."  Ulrich creates an android duplicate of Nelson that returns to the Seaview in his place to carry out Ulrich's plan to blackmail the world with nuclear destruction, While the SEAVIEW is pursued by navies of the world, the real Nelson needs the help of pretty female cyborg, Gundi, to escape and save the world from nuclear war.

Destroyed android aboard the Seaview
  1. Airdate, 17th October 1965. Robotic scientist Tabor Ulrich creates an android duplicate of Admiral Harriman Nelson, programmed to blackmail the world with nuclear destruction. While the SEAVIEW is pursued by navies of the world, the real Nelson plans his escape from Ulrich (Starlog 33, p 38)
  2. Nelson visits the cybernetics laboratory of the obese Dr. Ulrich, where he is forced to make an involuntary donation to a "Memory Bank." As his cyborg double returns to Seaview to carry out Ulrich's plans, Nelson needs the help of pretty female cyborg, Gundi, to escape and save the world from nuclear war. (http://www.iann.net/voyage/episodes/season_2.htm)
e) Westworld
In 1973, Westworld was released, it was a movie written and directed by the famous novelist Michael Crichton who sold over 150 million copies of his books worldwide and many of his novels have been adapted into motion pictures , well remembered ones are The Great Train Robbery, Jurrassic Park and Andromeda Strain to name but a few that have been turned into successful big budget motion pictures. It starred Yul Brynner as a robot designed to be a lifelike cowboy in Western themed section an adult amusement park, and here Yul reprised his Magnificent Seven person. Soon all the robots begin to kill the themepark's visitors and Yul Brenner with the ability to shoot with his gun becomes a very dangerous robot that needs to be stopped. It is said to have been inspired by the Pirates of the Carribean theme park attraction that opened in 1967 in Disneyland.




f) The Six Million Dollar Man: Day Of The Robot
In 1974, The Six Million Dollar man starring Lee Majors as a human cyborg came to the television and in an episode called "The Day of the Robot" (Series 1, Episodes 4, February 1974) looking as if it had been very much inspired by the Westworld movie, the concept of complete androids had been introduced to the TV series, androids that were disguised as humans, the original human would be kidnapped and the robot disguised as the kidnapped person would fill in his place.
 In the episode a robot designed by Dr Chester Dolenz, then a scientist Major Frederik Sloan (played by John Saxton) is kidnapped and is replaced by an identical robot in order to steal missile secrets and this results in a fight between the robot and Steve Austin the bionic man results in the robot being destroyed when Steve Austin thrusts a girder through the robots chest.


g) The Million Dollar Man: The Return Of The Robot
On the 26th January 1975, another episode of the Six Million Dollar Man called "The Return of the Robot Maker" that came onto the TV screen

By the time they turned the character named Ash into a robot, the idea of a villainous robot designed to be disguised as a human being already had been fairly recently seen in the TV series, the Six Million Dollar Man (based on Martin Caiden's novel Cyborg), about an astronaut who has been turned into a cyborg after a space shuttle test flight crashed.

In the "Day of the Robot" and "Return of the Robot Maker" episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man, (Series 1, Episodes 4, February 1974 &  Series 2, Episode 15) features a humanoid robots designed by Dr Chester Dolenz, a scientist Major Frederik Sloan (played by John Saxton) is kidnapped and is replaced by an identical robot and in the following and Oscar Goldman (played by Richard Anderson) is kidnapped and also replaced with an identical robot. In the end fight the robot is decapitated by Steve Austin.



h) The Stepford Wives
In 1975, the Stepford Wives came out into the cinema based on a 1972 novel, where a group of men's wives are replaced by androids.



i) Maskatron
This character was also to be turned into an action doll named Maskatron by 1976 soon to be found in many children's toy cupboards with mask for the robot to assume the liknesses of Major Frederik Sloan, Oscar Goldman and Steve Austin
j) FutureWorld
In August of 1976, a sequel to Westworld called FutureWorld was released. The story features a named Delos that creates the androids a plan to replace all the world's leaders with android copies.

k) Logan's Run TV series
In the 1977 series lasting fourteen episodes, Logan 5 with Jessica 6 escapes the city of domes where humans have names with numbers and and are vaporised when they reach a certain age, androids disguised as humans turn up in the surrounding landscape. Co-Author of the original Logan's run book, William Nolan wrote the pilot introducing the character Rem, a 200 year old android from the City of Stones where humans were dead but robots still operated. He acted as a sort of a metallic version of Star Trek's Mr Spock who acted as a character with wisdom for the inexperienced Logan and Jessica .And so Rem is built in the form of a male human being and he joins the hero Logan on his quest, and at the end of the series, he is seen with parts of his body removed.

Source quote
William F Nolan: I think we created some interesting things," Nolan remembers of his pilot script.  "The Stone City was a place where all the humans were dead, but robot servants still operated.This is where Rem came from.   He was my metallic Mr. Spock, someone with the wisdom to temper Logan and Jessica's inexperience. (http://www.johnkennethmuir.com/)





Self Awareness

leading from: 

Ridley Scott gave a fictitious background for the character Ash as if he thought he was a human being with. They wondered whether they should let Ash know whether he was a robot or have him programmed to think that he was a human. If they had kept it from him, there were all kinds of things that they could have done from programming him to know at a certain point, like an emergency, or even putting a complete memory tape in him that would give him a complete background , background involving where he was born parents, schooling, which university he went to,  brothers and the whole thing but kept off the years because Ridley didn't really know which year Alien was set in 2075 when they might have space colonies but they never pinned it down. But in this instance Ridley decided that Ash knew that he's a robot and perhaps he has been woken first by the Company and then goes through the theatre of pretending to be who he was.

source quotes
  1. Fantastic Film: What did you give to Ian Holm for Ash?

    Scott :For Ash, I created a fictitious background

    Fantastic Film: : Did he know he was a robot?

    Scott: That was a consideration I had to deal with. There are a number of ways of approaching it, but the possibilities come down to either letting him know or programming him so he thinks he's human. All the space in between was open, but we went with letting him know. If we had decided to keep it from him, there were all kinds of things we could have done, from programming him to know at a certain point, like an emergency, or even putting a complete memory tape in him that would give him a complete background - parents, schooling, brothers, the whole thing

    Fantastic Film:What did Ash know about his past?

    Scott: I told him the university he attended, what he read in, where he was born and so forth, I tried to keep off the years because I didn't quite know what year Alien was set in. Maybe it was about 2075, when we'd have space colonies, but it was never pinned down. We should have colonies by then, and it'll escalate from there.

    Fantastic Film: But Ash definitely knows he's a robot

    Scott: He does in this instance

    Fantastic Film: Did Ian Holm go along with your suggestions?

    Scott: They all did.
    (Fantastic Film #13, Ridley Scott interview pt 2, p28-29) 
  2. [Ridley] "and his writers debated whether Ash actually knew he" himself "was a  robot. "He does in this instance, ' was Scott's conclusion. In fact the director pictured him sitting alone in the Nostromo, sleeplessly awaiting a message from another civilisation. "Or he could have been woken first by The Company.' he speculates, ' then goes through the theatre of pretending to be who he was..." (Alien Vault by Ian Nathan, p75, it's possibly from the authors personal interviews with the director but really the book doesn't go into that sort of detail)

Industrial Paranoia

leading from



a) Mother's Revelation
The corporation in the film is revealed to be even more than the alien, the villain of the film, It's top priority becomes the alien and it couldn't care less about the danger that this causes the crew. The mother computer shows itself to be very unhelpful towards the Captain Dallas and then Lt. Ripley when they ask it questions, and it eventually informs Ripley that the Nostromo has been "rerouted to new co-ordinates to investigate the life form" and "gather specimen",  "insure return of organism for analysis", "all other considerations secondary" and "crew expendable". It is only here that Ash the science officer turns up behind her without explanation in the computer room, and is found looking over Ripley's shoulder as she goes through company records, and he suddenly goes all peculiar on Sigourney as he tells her "I can explain everything" and Ripley realises that he is not what he seemed to be


b) The Company's Cynical attitude 
The Mother computer shows the cynical attitude that a multi-national corporation might face given the situation of the discovery of an alien and indeed it's the industrial-government complex is responsible for the attitude that allows such an alien to be brought on board the Nostromo.

Ridley thought in hindsight that Earth would have previously received messages, realised they were coming from an intelligent source, but for economy reasons, perhaps have postponed the preparation of an investigatory spacecraft. 

Then one day Nostromo is in the vicinity and the order is given for the crew to bring back the alien, good or evil, without any real thought given to the consequences. And so they thought that the presence of a robot virtually guarantees in principle the success of the mission.


c) Future predictions from 1979 

Back in 1979 when the film was made, the assumption was that in fifty years time, it would be likely that the world would be converted into the property or two or three large conglomerates whose sources of energy are provided by the exploitation of deposits in space. The super cargo spaceships that link Earth and the planets would transport enormous loads of minerals - gas, oil and the like.

d) Robot myths 
To dissuade the crews from rebelling and to protect their own interests, these companies might place spies aboard, or at least would make the crews believe in the presence of such spies. Gradually a legend would evolve that these people, whose identities remain unknown, are in fact robots. Furthermore, nobody would ever have proof. This would reinforce legends already currently among astronauts. In fact, it is already responsible for the paranoia prevalent on all the ships because of its insistence on placing a company man/ corporate suit that was in effect a spy, aboard each vehicle. Gradually a legend would be evolving that these people, whose identities remain unknown, are in facts robots. No one would have ever have proof and this would only reinforce the legend amongst the space craft crews. And so in this vehicle, The Nostromo, indeed the spy takes the form of a robot that is also humanoid.



e) Protecting their interests 
This would seem to be the normal development of a huge corporations trying to protect its interests. In this particular future. Corporations with have to find ways to assure that vehicles carrying minerals or vital information will not be hijacked, it would be very easy for "pirating" to exist, perhaps the crew themselves might even decide to go off and sell the cargo  to somebody, and therefore the Company have their own security blanket as part of the crew.


f) The company's response to the alien  
Ridley thought in hindsight that Earth would have previously received messages , realised they were coming from an intelligent source, but for economy reasons, perhaps have postponed the preparation of an investigatory spacecraft. Then one day Nostromo is in the vicinity and the order is given for the crew to bring back the alien, good or evil, without any real thought given to the consequences. And so they thought that the presence of a robot virtually guarantees in principle the success of the mission.


source quotes

i) Danny Peary: I see the corporation, even more than the alien, as being the villain of the film. It's top priority becomes the alien, and it could care less about the danger that this causes the crew. 

Ridley Scott: This industrial-government complex is responsible for the attitude that allows such an alien to be brought  on board the Nostromo. In fact, it is already responsible for the paranoia prevalent on all the ships because of its insistence on placing a company man on each vehicle. In this vehicle, he takes the form of a robot, Ash. This would seem to be the normal development of a huge corporation trying to protect its interests. In this particular future, it would be very easy for "pirating" to exist. Corporations will have to find ways to assure that vehicles carrying minerals or vital information will not be hijacked.  ("Omni Screen Flights, Screen Fantasies", an interview with Ridley Scott by Danny Peary p295-296)


ii) Interviewer: Could you explain the rather enigmatic attitude of "Mother", the ship's computer when faced with the discovery of the alien?

Ridley Scott: We try not to give a detailed explanation in order to preserve the suspense and in order not to stray from the main theme. Mother's behaviour shows the cynical attitude that a multi-national of the future might take, faced with a similar situation. Let's assume that, in fifty years time, the world has been converted into the property of two or three large conglomerates, whose sources of energy are provided by the exploitation of deposits in space. The super cargo spaceships that link Earth and the planets would transport enormous loads of minerals - gas, oil and the like. To dissuade the crews from rebelling and to protect their own interests, these companies might place spies aboard, or at least would make the crews believe in the presence of such spies. Gradually a legend would evolve that these people, whose identities remain unknown , are in fact robots. Furthermore, nobody would ever have proof. This would reinforce legends already currently among astronauts

Interviewer: Had "Mother" foreseen from the start that the Nostromo would meet the alien?

Ridley Scott: Again , this is only a supposition made in hindsight. I would have thought that Earth would have previously received messages, realised they were coming from an intelligent source but, for economy reasons, perhaps have postponed the preparation of an investigatory spacecraft. Then, one day, Nostromo is in the vicinity and the order is given for the crew to bring back the alien, good or evil, without any real thought being given to the consequences. The presence of the robot virtually guarantees, in principle, the success of the mission. (Film Illustrated. v9. n99, Nov 1979, "Duelling with Death, The Alien World of Ridley Scott")

iii) Ridley Scott: The Ash thing was interesting was Ash was implant of the corporation, having a robot on board, so instead of just having a spy, you've got a biomechanoid human being

Sigourney Weaver: It's a very modern idea (Alien Quadrilogy commentry)


iv) Ridley Scott: Ash was the real master stroke, I think, in that he as completely, that was a one off wasn't it, that was the first time, you know, you have corporate paranoia, right, than in there you've got a corporate suit on the ship. The difference is that the suit is a robot is a humanoid, so when Ash suddenly became peculiar, he goes peculiar on Sigourney, and erm, he says, "I can explain everything", he's over the shoulder in Mothers womb, and erm, she's suddenly spooked by him, realises he's not what he seems to be.
 (Shepperton Studios 1978 documentary (The Making of Alien ) )

v) Ridley Scott: So now we're probably trying to work out all... you know, you don't have to explain it that craft, has, have droids on board, you know big corporations... maybe the rumour has always been from the big corporations do out of paranoia for their own investment of their huge craft from the cargo and their knowledge always plant a spy within the crew on board just in case they, the crew decide to go off and sell it somebody and therefore they always have their own security blanket as part of the crew and he of course is one, I think that was ano... a really nice idea, a new idea which ugh, then gets used again, again, again, again, you know (Alien Quadrilogy commentary at 1:23:51 and BluRay version at 1:23:46 )

vi) Ridley Scott: Always this scene is peculiar because you wonder how Ash got in behind her. So now she has a block. She's not going to get any more information, and uh, she's dipping into basically company records and is not going to get the right answer. So this is where you get the duplicity of the company that has protection on all of its ships, and this is what I thought was really a great original idea, would plant a humanoid or robot to protect its interests, which is about to be revealed, and there, there he is. (Alien 20th Anniversary DVD director's commentary)