7 things you didn't know about the Alien franchise

Posted Mar 17, by Jose Duarte

An early script for Alien 3 took place on a planet made of wood populated by technophobic monks!

It’s really no secret that Alien 3 was a disaster of a production. They went through three directors and the one who finally saw the project through has since disowned it. They went horribly over budget costing twice as much as Alien and Alien 2. Several people tried to erect a third Alien flick, but either lost interest or were affected by a writer’s strike in the 1980s. An idea evolved of having the Aliens on Earth and a sect is created that rejects all technology beyond a certain date.

The ruling forces say to the sect that they can take a satellite out and live in space the way they want to, knowing that they’ll eventually die. The satellite is completely made of wood, a mile in diameter with 16 floors. They can grow wheat and have orchards and windmills. The idea was an early script for the Aliens 3 film, however they decided to go in a different direction in the end.

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The Alien costume included real vertebrae; Rolls Royce auto-parts, latex and K-Y jelly!

It's hard to imagine a more iconic space monster than the so-called Xenomorph from Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien. The design of the creature was made specifically to evoke feelings of horror and sexuality. In fact, Fox was hesitant to let the designer, surrealist artist H.R. Giger, work on the movie because they thought his designs would be too disturbing for audiences. 

The costume was built using some rather strange materials. They used plasticine, parts from a Rolls-Royce motor, real vertebrae from dead snakes. Ironically, they also used latex and K-Y jelly, which ties nicely with the sex undercurrent that runs throughout the Alien franchise. The K-Y jelly was used not just to make the costume seem slimy, but also for the creature's saliva.  

Still, despite the horror that the design inspired, there was still a man underneath. A casting director saw a Nigerian design student named Bolaji Badejo while he was out for a drink in a bar. Badejo was 7'2", which was perfect for the dimensions they wanted the alien to be. They made a full plaster of his body and created the costume around it. He also attended t'ai chi and mime classes to create better movements for the alien. 

Via: fancydresscostumes.co.uk

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The birth scene from Alien was inspired by parasitic wasp embryos!

That’s right; the infamous birth scene from the 1979 horror movie ‘Alien’ was actually derived from something right down here on planet Earth! Parasitic wasp embryos are injected into caterpillars by their mothers, and use a virus in their DNA to paralyze their host. 

For 14 days they peacefully develop. Then, they bite their way out of the caterpillar, and without a second glance begin spinning cocoons. Instead of getting out of there as fast as they can, the brain-addled caterpillars build blankets over their attackers to defend them against predators until they emerge as fully-formed wasps ready to create parasitic babies of their own. 

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Only one man has been killed onscreen by a Terminator, a Predator, and an alien!

Bill Paxton can lay claim to having many death scenes, including those in which a Terminator, a Predator, and an alien slaughtered him. His character has been dead by the end of at least 9 movies! Paxton has had many roles, small and large, in movies such as The Terminator, Tombstone, Apollo 13, and True Lies. 

Paxton moved to Los Angeles when he was 18. He began his career as a set dresser. His first movie was Crazy Mama in 1975, a Corman film directed by Jonathan Demme. From Los Angeles, he moved to New York where he studied acting under the tutelage of Stella Adler. 

He spent much of his time acting in small-budget movies and TV shows, the first of which was Stripes in 1981. He also wrote and directed Fish Heads, which was shown on Saturday Night Live. He would get larger roles after his starring role in One False Move. He was also one of the three astronauts in Apollo 13. Game over man, game over!

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Moray eels have a second set of jaws like in Alien!

 Moray eels have a strong sense of smell and use it to ambush their prey. They have a large jaw and their mouth is camouflaged on the inside.

Their second jaw is located in their throat, because their heads are too narrow to create the negative pressure most fish use to swallow their prey.

Their second jaw does have teeth. When they catch their prey, their second jaw shoots into their mouth to capture the prey and pulls it down the throat and into the digestive system.  

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The movie Alien is all about rape.

The 2002 documentary The Alien Saga went behind the scenes of the iconic science fiction movie series, and the findings are quite shocking! Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon is quoted as saying:
"One thing that people are all disturbed about is sex... I said \'That\'s how I\'m going to attack the audience; I\'m going to attack them sexually. And I\'m not going to go after the women in the audience, I\'m going to attack the men. I am going to put in every image I can think of to make the men in the audience cross their legs. Homosexual oral rape, birth. The thing lays its eggs down your throat, the whole number."
O'Bannon also convinced director Ridley Scott to have Swiss artist H.R. Giger design the alien itself. It doesn't take much to deem Giger's designs and artwork as, well, extremely phallic. This goes along quite nicely with the sexual themes O'Bannon had been discussing - a penis-shaped alien impregnating humans on a spaceship...you get the picture.

Other interpretations go on to speculate that the Alien is a metaphor for women's refusal to bear children or that it is even symbolic of the id - the part of the mind in which our instinctual urges lie (read: SEX).

However you slice it, it is clear that the team that produced this film did not hesitate to make their subliminal message known. O'Bannon probably put it best when he said, "This movie is about interspecies rape. That's scary because it hits all of our buttons."
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The famous chestburster scene in Alien was shot in one take and only 2 actors knew what was going to happen!

It's one of the most iconic scenes in horror. After exploring the alien planet and having a member of the crew attacked by a facehugger, the crew gathers to have breakfast. Then all hell breaks loose. You've probably seen that sequence. Actor John Hurt thrashes around the table and eventually an alien baby burst his chest open to the surprise and horror of the rest of the crew. Did you know most of those reactions were real?

Most of the actors were kept in the dark. The only 2 people who knew were John Hurt (who had to be prepped for the scene), and the actor who played Dallas. The cast was kept away from the set for 4 hours before the scene was shot. They recall walking onto the set and they were shocked to see the crew in raingear and with buckets in hand.

Perhaps the most famous reaction is Veronica Cartwright's: when the alien pops out, she gets sprayed in blood and her scared reaction is very natural. In fact, not only was it natural and real, she passed out!

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