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)

The unravelling of Ash


a. Convulsion
Gordon Carroll didn't seem to quite answer the question he was asked but here at least gave an answer that was near enough correct. But it is first here that something about Ash seems strange in his response to being thrown against the wall by Ripley.

Fantastic Films: Why does Ash go into convulsions after Sigourney slaps him. Does she loosen his circuits of something?

Gordon Carroll. He started to spin out. He started to go crazy 
(Fantastic Films #13, p60)


b) Response
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 it's interests, which is about to be revealed, and there, there he is. Now what was interesting here, I liked Ash reacting to human emotion by, he wasn't frightened of her, he didn't understand why she was crying, probably because he had never seen that before, so that was what that.... you got that rather peculiar reaction from Ash as she shrinks away from her because it's not.... why would be be fearful, right

c. Malevolance
1)Ridley Scott: Now we have malevolence, which is even stranger by just adding one simple thing which just came out in the day, there it is.
(Alien 20th Anniversary Commentary)

2) Ridley Scott: And then he goes strange, he sweats with milk, here (pointing to his own forehead tracing the trail where sweat would be dripping down) and then he has to go, goes at her....
 (Shepperton Studios 1978 documentary (The Making of Alien ) )

3) 
Fantastic Films: He is a very organic robot. There were even scenes where he was drinking milk 

Gordon Carroll: Glad you noticed that. First time you see it again, it's on one of the temples.
(Fantastic Films #13, p60)

4)
Interviewer: Just before assaulting Ripley, the robot starts to sweat....

Ridley Scott: This is one of the humorous touches in the film. At the end of the previous scene, you've seen it drink milk, or some liquid with which it feeds its circuits. The drop that appears on its forehead is an alarm signal, a way of warning the audience that something is going wrong
 (Magazine Source yes to be identified)

d Do humanoids have sexual urges?
1. ) Ridley Scott: .... and I always thought that it was interesting that er, do humanoids have sexual urges, what would be nice is that this is the closest he gets to sexual relationhsips (smirk (Shepperton Studios 1978 documentary (The Making of Alien ) )
 
2) Sigourney Weaver: "He said well come on downstairs, it's gonna be great, Ash is gonna pick up this sex magazine and he's gonna stick up your hooter. And I didn't know cockney, and I thought, hmm, my hooter. Erm, and so, luckily when we got downstairs, it was up my mouth, "the short way (?)" but it was funny, it was one of those things, you know I didn't actually think, "well Ridley would never do... " (laughter)



Ridley Scott: Yeah exactly, I figured that

Sigourney Weaver:That thing would have surprised ....

Ridley Scott: I figures that robots had to have, if they're sophisticated, had to occasionally have the urge, so I said to Ash, "how do you feel about sexual drive?". He said "great". (Sigourney laughing) So I said "rather than just beating her up, isn't it more interesting that he actually has always wanted to, and here's his opportunity but he doesn't have that part"

Sigourney Weaver: Oh, he doesn't

Ridley Scott: And therefore it's a magazine

Sigourney Weaver:  Ahh, I didn't understand the Freudian overtones of the scene

Ridley Scott: I hope there aren't any kids listening to all this

Sigourney Weaver: Well, if kids can watch...

Ridley Scott: It's pretty abstract

Sigourney Weaver (cont'd) :...these movies they can hear this stuff

Ridley Scott: Exactly
(Alien DVD commentary, Alien Quadrilogy DVD)

3)  Interviewer: Until that final moment it was possible to think that it was reacting sexually to Ripley

Ridley Scott; If you create a model as perfect as that, it will have, almost of necessity, a form of "emotional life." You don't have only a physical and mental mechanism, but a machine that is capable at any moment of uncontrollable emotional reactions and which will take certain decisions by itself. Like HAL in 2001. Here no one has considered that in building a robot, it had been given a psychological life, with worries and problems. This perfect machine starts to have feelings when faced with the behaviour of humans. It starts to be interested in the women and to have desires that can not be expressed. Behind the assault on Ripley is an attempt to solve these tensions, a sort of rape

e. Show of Strength

Ash attacks Ripley, throws her about, and then looks down at her unconscious body and begins to roll a magazine up to orally rape her, Ash begins to put the magazine into her mouth and she struggles. Ash uses the other hand to grab Yaphet's chest

Ridley Scott: I need to have some show of strength which was simple but violent. And I think here comes one of the really great ideas in the film which is having the character that you had on board who you had no idea what he really was, and here it's to be revealed, and it also makes sense if you have interests, financial interests like this, you've got to have something on board that makes sure you are protected. So he's like a walking transmitter. You hear the death of Ash and the winding down of the whatever's driving him, Jimmy Shield's great sounds.
(Alien 20th Anniversary Commentary)

f. The Head
Ridley Scott: "When Ash goes beserk and attacks Ripley, Parker, just trying to knock him out, really, hits him in the head with a bat or something. Ash's head was knocked off his body at this point, and he tries to put it back on. But when that failed, he just out it down on a table and talked to them." (Fantastic Films #11 , Ridley Scott interview pt 1, p35)


Ridley Scott:We used up one of those cattle prods and also we left his interior to really be an organic choice rather than having, you know, steel pipes 'nd things like that so I requested that it would really look like the food table, and I loved the glass marbles on the strands and the teeny bits of fibreoptics and of course his blood.
Not a bad cut between a head, not bad to getting a head of Ash actually coming through a hole in the table .

Great voice, yeah we worked on that forever trying to find out what would the voice be of the dying robot. It's obviously the doppler effect... spooky. (20th-anniversary-dvd-commentary-edited.html)

The Russian Spy Idea

Leading from
 Ash the Robot

Donald Pleasence as the Russian spy in Fantastic Voyage
Dan O'Bannon: It annoyed me when they did it because it was what I called The Russian Spy. It was a tendency in certain types of thrillers, when people are on an interesting mission to stick in a Russian spy. One of them is a spy and they don't know which one, he's trying to screw up the mission, Fantastic Voyage had that. When I saw Fantastic Voyage, I thought it annoying, you're just about getting ready to head off into the..er... body of this person and have this fantastic mission to go through his blood stream , get to his brain, save him when you're informed that one of them is a Russian spy and he's going to, er, stop the mission from its completion, and instead of it adding any genuine suspense, it did was annoy me and made me think, "Oh I see, so maybe now I
don't get to see what I want to see in the movie because the Russian spy will prevent it. It's a tensioning device which is commonly resorted to and doesn't work because it doesn't provide any real suspense, it doesn't do anything except provide, um, finger exercise for the writer who thinks that all stories must have subplots, so I think its an inferior idea of inferior minds, well acted , well directed, and fortunately it occupies little enough screen time that it doesn't disrupt the main plot."
(Alien commentary, Quadrilogy, 01:18:29 - 01:19:29.)

Fantastic Voyage poster

The robot head speaks

Leading from

 
a.) An article in the Alien laserdisc showed parts of certain rewrites of the Alien script displaying the changes in the dialogue dealing with the bodiless head of Ash the android now forced to speak. Here in various versions he has talked briefly about his enigmatic discoveries or perspectives about the alien life form that were sometimes interesting but could be viewed as too much information for the audience when in the final movie they kept it to a minimum. However in the article, actual information about which scripts various pieces of dialogue were taken from was not supplied.
  1. It is mentioned that in one script, Mother had stated that "The alien had already competed with the civilization which inhabited the planet" as if in the script the remains of a civilisation had been found upon the planet and the alien was seperate from that race.
  2. Ash is introduced introducing his role as a Company robot looking out for Key Products. Where exactly they took the interesting term Key Products is another question presently unanswered. In regards to to the Company and the robots, Ash said  " They put them on all deep space vessels to watch for the discovery of key products. The company has found that under certain circumstances, crews refuse to bring back key products. A key product is any substance capable of changing the course of human evolution. The Alien is a key product. The Alien utilizes other species in this reproductive cycle. In so doing, it crosses itself with the host."
  3. Here he reveals something about the creature that they have loose aboard the ship and in the final film we have a brief half formed utterances that sounds like "Kane's son" that could be mistaken for "Gained some" by Ash after Brett has been taken by the alien. "The Alien on the ship is carrying human chromosones. It is Kane's child. It may be that the alien is not useful. That is not for me to decide. It is a key product. It will soon die of its own accord. It's life cycle is almost over.                                                                                                                             This individual will die but its spores will live indefinitely. The spores that it has layed in this ship"
  4. Ash responded "yes" when Ripley asked "when it dies, will it decompose. And gallons of acid pour out. But the spores can survive in a vacuum and Mother takes the ship back to Eartth"
  5. In a later rewrite, the android Ash describes it as "An intergalactic parasite, capable of laying dormant for thousands of years, perhaps for all time, who knows, its sole purpose to destroy other species merely to recreate itself, for life and anti-life
b) However Veronica Cartwright was able to reminisce on what  Ian Holm as Ash's earlier dialogue before it was rewritten where he asked the rest of the crew if anyone else had tried to communicate with it and it appeared that the creature was part of an experimental program which in a way made the creature less evil but Veronica wasn't able to go into any more about the whole matter.
  1. Veronica: The original scene had more grapey things and stuff and so I guess they took in, erm, I talked to Ian later, he said they went back and reshot with more tubey looking odds and ends, and they also changed the dialogue, that wasn't what it was originally. Well that whole thing about how nobody'd bothered to try to communicate with it, I mean maybe if we gave it a chance, it was part of an experimental program which in a weird way didn't make him as evil. Originally this is where he brought up "has anybody tried to communicate with it?", and we were all standing around, you know, and listening to him, he was so touching when he was doing it and and then Ridley shouts "Cut!" because he had milk, and he had grapes and he had little, he hated the little silver balls that were like on the c.... so here we are, we were all like sitting there with bated breath listening to Ian, he's got his head in the middle of the table, you know with grapes and all sorts of stuff hanging off his head and then he uh, he shouts cut because he didn't like the silver balls so, what you see is Ian with that months later and redid it, but I r.. I loved his ideas. he, Ian had this twitch through the thing which you don't get to see very much, he had like, he starts out fine, but as he starts to get, why, this left eye, would like, twitch all the time as he starts to break down. (Blu-Ray commentary 1:23:12 )   
  2. Veronica Cartwright: Well, part of the whole thing was that, um, Ian's character , remember he, he asked us whether or not we tried to communicate with it, and none of us ever did. We just assumed it was big ugly and nasty. So now. Nobody ever bothered to communicate with it or tried. 
    Harry Dean Stanton:With the monster 
    Veronica Cartwright:With the monster  
    Harry Dean Stanton: What the fuck am I going to say to him   
    Veronica Cartwright:Well no, it's like a beauty and the beast thing.  
    Tom Skerrit: We didn't communicate with it , it felt ignored it got pissed with people. It wanted a hug probably  
    Harry Dean Stanton: It didn't look like something that would be articulate in English. What are you talking about? Communicating...  
    Veronica Cartwright:That's what... That's what he said "had anybody tried to communicate with it"

    Harry Dean Stanton: What, Ian says that?

    Veronica Cartwright:Yeah. When he's a robot. The whole thing is nobody tried to

    Harry Dean Stanton: I hate Ian in this   
    Veronica Cartwright: nobody tried to communicate with it. They just assumed it was , it was awful. Who knows, maybe it wasn't necessarily out to hurt us, but nobody bothered to try, see if there was any difference

    Tom Skerrit: It was out to hurt us, yeah  
    Harry Dean Stanton:We should have cuddled him and pet him all over

    Tom Skerrit: He's got hydrochloric acid running through its veins, it's out to hurt us

    Veronica Cartwright: It's out to get us. But that's part of the whole thing.
(Alien Director's cut DVD/bluray commentary (1:54:17)