Alien (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature that stalks and kills the crew of a spaceship. Dan O'Bannon wrote the screenplay from a story by him and Ronald Shusett, drawing influence from previous works of science fiction and horror. The film was produced through Brandywine Productions and distributed by 20th Century Fox, with producers David Giler and Walter Hill making significant revisions and additions to the script. The titular Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger.

By featuring a strong heroine, the film itself also proved unconventional (by Hollywood standards) for the action genre. While the Alien (referred to in spin-offs as a "xenomorph") proved a popular aspect of the film, the story of Ellen Ripley became the thematic thread that ran through the series. Some observers believe that the film helped to popularize the body-horror subgenre. Publicity for the film used a tagline which became famous: "In space no one can hear you scream."

Chestburster

The head and tail of an alien creature is emerging from the ruptured chest cavity of a dead man. The small eyeless creature is beige in color, has sharp metallic-looking teeth and a long segmented tail. A significant amount of blood covers the creature and the man's body. The "chestburster" was shoved up through the table and a false torso by a puppeteer. The scene has been recognized as one of the film's most memorable.

The design of the "chestburster" was inspired by Francis Bacon's 1944 painting Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. Giger's original design resembled a plucked chicken, which was redesigned and refined into the final version seen onscreen. Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon credits his experiences with Crohn's disease for inspiring the chest-busting scene.

For the filming of the chestburster scene the cast members knew that the creature would be bursting out of Hurt, and had seen the chestburster puppet, but they had not been told that fake blood would also be bursting out in every direction from high-pressure pumps and squibs. The scene was shot in one take using an artificial torso filled with blood and viscera, with Hurt's head and arms coming up from underneath the table. The chestburster was shoved up through the torso by a puppeteer who held it on a stick. When the creature burst through the chest a stream of blood shot directly at Veronica Cartwright, shocking her enough that she fell over and went into hysterics. According to Tom Skerritt: "What you saw on camera was the real response. She had no idea what the hell happened. All of a sudden this thing just came up." The creature then runs off-camera, an effect accomplished by cutting a slit in the table for the puppeteer's stick to go through and passing an air hose through the puppet's tail to make it whip about.

The real-life surprise of the actors gave the scene an intense sense of realism and made it one of the film's most memorable moments. During preview screenings the crew noticed that some viewers would move towards the back of the theater so as not to be too close to the screen during the sequence. In subsequent years the chestburster scene has often been voted as one of the most memorable moments in film. In 2007, the British film magazine Empire named it as the greatest 18-rated moment in film as part of its "18th birthday" issue, ranking it above the decapitation scene in The Omen (1976) and the transformation sequence in An American Werewolf in London (1981).




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Alien (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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