The small crew of a deep space towing vessel are awakened to investigate a strange signal from a planet. Тhey discover it was a warning, not an SOS. They land, explore a hive of eggs, and one member is attacked and infected. Back in the ship, a creature bursts out of the infected member’s belly, grows, and begins killing off the crew one at a time. Crew discovers their company knew of creature, and wanted it captured. Ripley emerges as leader, and eventually sole survivor.
Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon
Story by Dan O’Bannon & Ronald Shusett
Outline adapted from
Introduce the characters of this rusty ship. Each has a role, and a distinct personality. Ripley is clearly a loner. The leader talks to the mission computer in secret. The SOS might be a warning, which is ignored by the leader. Something fishy is going on.
They land on the planet, and find a hive of eggs. Kane gets an alien in the face, and the team tries to bring him onboard, despite Ripley attempting to enforce proper quarantine. Eventually, they get him onboard, the creature falls off and dies, and all seems well…
At dinner, a new creature bursts from Kane’s chest, and scurries off. Shit just got serious! Ripley looks to evasive Ash for an explanation. Creature kills off the crew one by one, as they struggle to survive with makeshift weapons.
Even the “leader” Tom dies. Ripley is finally in charge, learns the truth about the mission (recover alien to use as bioweapon), about Ash (he’s a robot). Seems that there’s no way out…
The crew decide to get into the escape pod and destroy the ship. The two remaining crew members die, Ripley gets in the pod alone, but the alien slips in while she goes back to rescue the cat. Still, she manages to kill it by pushing it out of the airlock. Finally safe, sole survivors, Ripley and the cat go into hypersleep.
A space cruiser rumbles through the void. A computer named “Mother” wakes the crew of seven from hypersleep.
The crew gathers around the breakfast table, and banters.
The themes of X, Y, and Z are hinted at.
Each person on-board represents a different class of this society. Dallas is the leader, Ash is the Science Officer, and on the periphery, observing, is Ripley. She is kind of a loner. The other characters are revealed through the banter. Tom gets up to go the the computer only he can access. Something is up.
Tom tells the crew they’ve been called to a strange planet by a distress signal. Crew complains, but is told they’ll lose their “shares” if they don’t go on the rescue.
Ripley investigates signal, worries it might be a warning to stay away. Dallas decides to land anyway.
The crew discovers a hatchery, Kane gets a face-hug from an alien. They try to bring him back to the ship, but Ripley refuses to let them in, due to Quarantine procedures. She argues with Ash, who overrides the decision.
The face-hugger is onboard, and plays games with the crew. First, not letting go of Kane’s face. Then, acid blood. Finally, hide-and-seek. Eventually, they find the creature dead, and Kane seems to have recovered. All is well?
The interactions between Ripley and Ash serve as the B Story in this film. He is a strange individual… we’ll see why, later.
The “stakes are raised” at when, as the crew eats dinner, the creature explodes out of John’s chest and skates away like a big, ugly baby. The “fun” is over. A and B stories cross as Ripley looks to Ash for an explanation.
One by one the creature kills off the crew, and tension builds. The crew is always one step behind this monster. Brett is next, and the leader Tom is killed in an air duct.
Finally in charge, Ripley learns the truth from “Mother”. The company knew the alien was a killer, but sent The Nostromo to retrieve it because of its value. Ripley also discovers that Ash is a robot.