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The Xenomorphs are a parasitoid alien race that serve as the main antagonists of the Alien film franchise as well as being portrayed as at war with the Predator in the Alien vs. Predator film and shown more recently in the final scene in the Alien prequel Prometheus.
Unlike many of the alien invaders that came before them, the Xenomorphs did not seek conquest or human slaves, instead Xenomorphs were depicted as animal-like killers of the highest order - extremely intelligent and cunning but guided by a desire to hunt, kill and breed rather than anything more complex.
Unfortunately for any species that gets in their way the Xenomorphs can't reproduce without a very gruesome method of parasitic infection in which alien "face-huggers" attach themselves to a victim and inject them with a Xenomorph seed that grows inside their stomach, eventually bursting out of the victim as a "chest-burster" - this is, of course, fatal to the host - the "chest-burster" then proceeds to grow into a full-grown Xenomorph a short while after being "born".
Xenomorphs have several adaptations that make them even more terrifying - thick exoskeletons and amazing speed are only the start as their blood is highly acidic and they can use their tails as effective whips or stabbing impliments plus they have an extendable tongue with a set of teeth on it that can be fired out with enough force to pierce a human's skull.
Xenomorphs also absorb a small amount of DNA from their host bodies before being born and this can result in unique breeds of Xenomorph being formed - such as the "dog xenomorph" or the powerful Predator/Alien hybrid the Predalien that served as the main villain of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.
Another creature (presumed a Xenomorph) known as the Deacon was also a cross of Engineer and Trilobite DNA born in the Alien prequel Prometheus. If the Deacon was a Xenomorph, then it was most likely the creator/predecessors of the rest of the species and will probably be the main villain in the rumored Prometheus sequel.
A final note on Xenomorphs is that they are usually portrayed as having a matriarchal system ruled by a single Queen, the Xenomorph Queen is gigantic and powerful - seen as the most powerful of all Xenomorphs, though there may be more than one Queen as several have appeared in the movies and associated media - all varying slightly in size and appearance. In comics, there are also Queen Mothers, type of Xenomorph Queen that regarded as some sort of goddess of Xenomorphs due to her telephatic powers enable her to controlled every single existing xenomorphs around the whole universe, or at least that was she capable to do.
The Alien design is credited to late Swiss surrealist and artist H. R. Giger, originating in a lithograph called Necronom IV and refined for the series' first film, Alien. The species' design and life cycle have been extensively added to throughout each film.
Origin Story Theories
Xenomorphs' origins is mystery: There are no solid facts as to the origins of their kind ; instead, there are many assumptions which cannot be confirmed. Based on the limited information we have, the most commonly accepted hypothesis is that they are an artificially created species, although another hypothesis says that they evolved naturally on a planet much different than our own. Another Theory is the Deacon from Prometheus evolved into the first primitive Xenomorph, though there is evidence stating that this is false.
In Prometheus, Xenomorphs may created via Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 that found in Engineers' spaceship, which also the same starship model that contained Xenomorph eggs that discovered by Ripley and his friends years later. This implied that Xenomorphs may a bio-weapon produced via the said chemical. To be specific, the android, David, infected Charlie Holloway with a drop of the mutagen and Charlie then impregnated Elizabeth Shaw, process that creating a Trilobite, creature that may a first pre-Xenomorph lifeform. Elizabeth in pain from the lifeform growing within in her, then removes the Trilobite by entering the automated surgery table on board Meredith Vicker's exclusive ship. The Trilobite later encounters an Engineer and seeds him much like a facehugger; thus, creating Deacon, creature that may serve as prototype/beta version of Xenomorph following the known cycle of life.
Long story shorts, following proofs that implies creatures in Prometheus film and Xenomorph being related bio-weapons are:
- All are associated with Engineers.
- Hammerpede's acidic blood are similar with Xenomorphs'
- Trilobites's ability to impregnating other creatures to create Deacons are reminiscent with Facehuggers' for creating Chestbursters.
- Deacon's own characteristics that looked like primitive/alternate version of Xenomorphs'.
Should this theory proved true, Xenomorph could be the result of genetic manipulation by Engineers as a terraforming mechanism about ten million years ago, but apparently it went horribly wrong. As a result, over the years, the Xenomorph has become an entirely new species in the galaxy. This theory has been twisted slightly by Prometheus, when the Mala'kak brought containers filled with an unknown substance (it closely resembles Xenomorph secretions in hives). This substance mutated harmless organisms into somewhat hostile creatures. When humans "infected" with this substance mate with one another it produced a different subspecies of "octo-facehuggers" that can grow incredibly large.
Although, in upcoming film Alien: Covenant, the possibility of xenomorphs originated as bio-engineered project by Engineers that went wrong is possible, and whether this proved to be true or not would be confirmed in upcoming film.
Apex Predator Theory
Another theory, commonly accepted, touched on in the expanded universe, is they were the alpha predator of their own ecosystem on a nightmarish and harsh planet (some assume it to be Xenomorph Prime, but there is no solid evidence). Without their native ecosystem to keep them in check, they have since infested their own kind, and developed into a separate dominate species. Other parts of the universe began to take notice in this interesting species and began them.
Concept and creation
The script for the 1979 film Alien was initially drafted by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Dan O'Bannon drafted an opening in which the crew of a mining ship are sent to investigate a mysterious message on an alien planet. He eventually settled on the threat being an alien creature; however, he could not conceive of an interesting way for it to get onto the ship. Inspired after waking from a dream, Shusett said, "I have an idea: the monster screws one of them," planting its seed in his body, and then bursting out of his chest. Both realized the idea had never been done before, and it subsequently became the core of the film. "This is a movie about alien interspecies rape," O'Bannon said on the documentary Alien Evolution, "That's scary because it hits all of our buttons." O'Bannon felt that the symbolism of "homosexual oral rape" was an effective means of discomforting male viewers.
The title of the film was decided late in the script's development. O'Bannon had quickly dropped the film's original title, Star Beast, but could not think of a name to replace it. "I was running through titles, and they all stank", O'Bannon said in an interview, "when suddenly, that word alien just came out of the typewriter at me. Alien. It's a noun and it's an adjective." The word alien subsequently became the title of the film and, by extension, the name of the creature itself.
Prior to writing the script to Alien, O'Bannon had been working in France for Chilean cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky's planned adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic science-fiction novel Dune. Also hired for the project was Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger. Giger showed O'Bannon his nightmarish, monochromatic artwork, which left O'Bannon deeply disturbed. "I had never seen anything that was quite as horrible and at the same time as beautiful as his work," he remembered later. The Dune film collapsed, but O'Bannon would remember Giger when Alien was greenlit, and suggested to director Ridley Scott that he be brought on to design the Alien, saying that if he were to design a monster, it would be truly original.
Giger's Alien, as portrayed by Bolaji Badejo in Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien. After O'Bannon handed him a copy of Giger's book Necronomicon, Scott immediately saw the potential for Giger's designs, and chose Necronom IV, a print Giger completed in 1976, as the basis for the Alien's design, citing its beauty and strong sexual overtones. That the creature could just as easily have been male or female was also a strong factor in the decision to use it. "It could just as easily fuck you before it killed you", said line producer Ivor Powell, "[which] made it all the more disconcerting." Fox was initially wary of allowing Giger onto the project, saying that his works would be too disturbing for audiences, but eventually relented. Giger initially offered to completely design the Alien from scratch, but Scott mandated that he base his work on Necronom IV, saying that to start over from the beginning would be too time-consuming. Giger signed on to design the adult, egg and chest-burster forms, but ultimately also designed the alien planetoid LV-426 and the Space Jockey alien vessel.
Giger conceived the Alien as being vaguely human but a human in full armor, protected from all outside forces. He mandated that the creature have no eyes, because he felt that it made them much more frightening if you could not tell they were looking at you. Giger also gave the Alien's mouth a second inner set of pharyngeal jaws located at the tip of a long, tongue-like proboscis which could extend rapidly for use as a weapon. His design for the creature was heavily influenced by an aesthetic he had created and termed biomechanical, a fusion of the organic and the mechanic. His mock-up of the Alien was created using parts from an old Rolls Royce car, rib bones and the vertebrae from a snake, molded with plasticine. The Alien's animatronic head, which contained 900 moving parts, was designed and constructed by special effects designer Carlo Rambaldi. Giger and Rambaldi would both go on to win the 1980 Academy Award for Visual Effects for their design of the Alien.
Scott decided on the man-in-suit approach for creating the creature onscreen. Initially circus performers were tried, then multiple actors together in the same costume, but neither proved scary. Deciding that the creature would be scarier the closer it appeared to a human, Scott decided that a single, very tall, very thin man be used. Scott was inspired by a photograph of Leni Riefenstahl standing next to a 6'4" (1.93 m) Nubian. The casting director found 7'2" (2.18 m), rail-thin graphic designer Bolaji Badejo in a local pub. Badejo went to tai chi and mime classes to learn how to slow down his movements.
Giger's design for the Alien evoked many contradictory sexual images. As critic Ximena Gallardo notes, the creature's combination of sexually evocative physical and behavioral characteristics creates, "a nightmare vision of sex and death. It subdues and opens the male body to make it pregnant, and then explodes it in birth. In its adult form, the alien strikes its victims with a rigid phallic tongue that breaks through skin and bone. More than a phallus, however, the retractable tongue has its own set of snapping, metallic teeth that connects it to the castrating vagina dentata."
This creature has no specific name, and has been referred to most often onscreen, and in the credits of each film, simply as the Alien. It was called an alien, and an organism, in the first film. It has also been referred to as a creature, a serpent, a beast, a dragon, a monster, or simply, a thing. The term xenomorph (lit. "alien form"—from Greek xeno- or "strange" and -morph, shape) was used by the character Lieutenant Gorman in Aliens and by Ellen Ripley in a deleted scene from Alien 3. This term has been adopted by fans and used in merchandising as a convenient name. The species' binomial names are given in Latin as either Internecivus raptus (meant as "murderous thief") in the Alien Quadrilogy DVD or Lingua foeda acheronsis (meant as "foul tongue from Acheron") in some comic books. The main Alien from Alien vs. Predator is listed in the credits as "Grid", after a grid-like wound received during the film from a Predator's razor net.
Continuing advancements made in the field of special effects technology as the series progressed have led to numerous variations in the creature's design, including varying numbers of fingers and limb joints and varying head design. Characteristic that explained in this section mainly focus on Drones or Warriors.
When standing upright, Xenomorphs are vaguely bipedal in form, though they adopt a more hunched, quadrupedal stance when walking or sprinting. They have a skeletal, biomechanical appearance and are usually colored in muted shades of black, blue or bronze. Xenomorphs do not radiate heat, as their body heat matches the ambient temperature of the environment in which they are found. In most of the films, adult Xenomorphs have the ability of running and crawling along ceilings and walls. They have great physical strength, having been shown to be capable of breaking through vent covers and welded steel doors, and even of breaking down reinforced pressurized doors.
The Xenomorphs' primary weapon is their inner pharyngeal jaw, which is capable of shooting from their mouth like a piston with sufficient power to smash through bone and metal. In fact, a common tactic used by the creatures to eliminate prey is to restrain the victim with their hands, immobilizing them, before killing them with a precision jaw strike to the head, piercing through the skull and penetrating the brain; this form of attack is colloquially known as a "Headbite". On several occasions, Xenomorphs have been seen to suspend those that they kill from the ceiling through unknown means
Xenomorphs have segmented, blade-tipped tails. The sharp tip was initially a small, scorpion-like barb, but from Aliens onwards the blade design increased in size and changed in appearance to more closely resemble a slashing weapon. From Alien Resurrection onwards, the tails have a flat ridge of spines at the base of the blade. This was introduced to help them swim convincingly, and was left intact in the subsequent crossovers. The original shooting script for Aliens and the novelization both featured a scene in which Lieutenant Gorman is "stung" by the barb tail and rendered unconscious; in the final cut of the movie, Gorman is instead knocked out by falling crates. As a weapon, the strength of the tail is very effective, having been shown to be strong enough to impale and lift a Predator with seemingly little effort. They are also adept at using their tails as blunt weapons, sometimes to deadly effect, as seen in Alien.
They have elongated, cylindrical skulls, but possess no visible facial features other than their mouth, though in the original Alien film, the top of the creature's head was translucent, with a human skull forming the front, including empty eye sockets visible within (although this is hard to distinguish on-screen). This element was re-used for the "Predalien" in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem 29 years later. How the creatures see or otherwise rationalise their environment is uncertain. In Alien3, a fisheye lens was used to illustrate the Xenomorph's point of view. In the novelization of the movie Alien, the creature is held mesmerized by a spinning green light for several minutes. In Aliens, the adult creatures have a more textured head rather than a smooth carapace. In the commentary for Aliens, James Cameron states that this change is a part of the maturation of the creatures, as the creatures in the film had been alive far longer than the original Alien. The smooth design of the carapace would be used again in Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection. This design would be kept in Alien vs. Predator, and abandoned in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem in favor of the ribbed design.
Throughout their appearances, human-spawned Aliens have been shown to have a fluctuating number of fingers. In Alien, the creature has webbed, six fingered hands. In Aliens, the number of fingers is reduced to three (two "paired" and a single, opposable thumb), and they are shown to be much longer and more skeletal. In Alien Resurrection, the number of digits is increased to four, with two long middle fingers and a pair of thumbs. This design is kept in the Alien vs. Predator films, though the hands were made bulkier in order to make the Aliens seem more formidable against the Predators.
The spines on the Xenomorph's back provide protection from attacks from the rear.
Aliens have been alternately portrayed as both plantigrade and digitigrade organisms, usually in accordance to their host. Human-spawned Aliens were usually portrayed as having humanoid hind limbs, while in Alien 3, the featured Alien sported double-jointed legs due to its quadrupedal host. This characteristic would be continued in Alien Resurrection for the human-spawned Aliens. Tom Woodruff, who had previously played the "dog-alien" in Alien 3, described the human-spawned Aliens in Resurrection as feeling more like a dog than the previous creature, despite having been born from human hosts. The human-spawned Alien warriors would revert to a plantigrade posture in Alien vs. Predator.
Blood and secretions
Xenomorph blood is an extremely potent molecular acid that can corrode on contact almost any substance with alarming speed. It is dull yellowish-green in color, and seems to be pressurized inside the body so that it spurts out when punctured. Shusett suggested the idea that the creature have acid blood as a plausible means to make the creature "unkillable"; given the starship setting, if one were to use traditional firearms or explosives to attack it, its blood would eat through the hull of the ship. In later films in the series, the Xenomorphs are shown to be conscious of the effects of their acidic blood, and even use it to their advantage — in Alien Resurrection, two Xenomorphs escape a cage by killing a third so its acid melts through the cage floor; in Alien vs. Predator a queen being held by chains apparently instructs several Xenomorphs to slash and cut her, thus corroding the chains. Had this tactic not her idea, it would have been Grid's, a Drone whom discovered corrosive nature of his kind's blood.
Xenomorphs Drones can produce a thick, strong resin (vomited from their mouths) that they use to build their Hives and to cocoon their victims. These resins known as Hive webbing, and aside for constructing Hive and cocooning process, its non-uniform, bio-organic appearance also allows adult Xenomorphs to camouflage themselves when at rest, to the extent that humans have stood directly beside hiding Warriors and had no idea of the imminent threat. In the case of Hives set up inside existing non-Xenomorph structures, webbing helps to disguise existing visual cues in the environment, turning the area into a disorientating maze and making escape from and/or assaults on the Hive all the more difficult. However, whether this is considered by the Xenomorphs during construction is unclear. The structure of a Hive also appears to have a disrupting effect on motion tracker operation, generating a host of false readings that imply the entire area is awash with sporadic movement, making genuine readings harder to spot. The exact cause of this is unclear.
In Alien vs. Predator: Extinction, it was shown that in order to start these resin's construction, Drones secretes mass of bio-organisms that formed Hive Nodes, that in turn secretes the Hive webs and spread them across the hive, which allow any injured xenomorphs within the reach regenerates until fully healed. The Hive Nodes also functions as core/heart of these resins, as had all of them destroyed via powerful artillery attack or incineration, these Hive webbings would be withered and thus, useless. These traits however, were the game exclusive only.
In the original Alien, the Facehugger is shown to be able to "spit" acid, melting the faceplate of Kane's helmet and allowing the creature immediate access to the inside. This ability is also exhibited by adult Xenomorphs in Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection; much like a spitting cobra, the creatures use this ability to blind and incapacitate their victims rather than kill them outright. This also serves as long range weapon as means to fight against foes/potential hosts that armed with guns and prefer to fight from distance.
Despite their own immunity to their blood, they are vulnerable to hydrofluric acid which was used against them to great effect on LV178.
Intelligence and communication
During events in Aliens on the LV-426 colony and in Alien Resurrection on the USM Auriga, the species displayed observational learning and problem solving skills, and in both cases the Aliens learn how to operate machinery at a very basic level. On LV-426, they were able to cut power in a section of the complex to gain access to the humans, and the Alien Queen learns to board an elevator by observing Ripley and Newt escaping in the one beside it. The novelization of the film notes that the queen establishing her 'nest' at the base's main power plant could have been chosen either for the feral, animal reason of the warmth that it would provide or for the intellectual reason of selecting a location where any attackers would be unable to destroy her without destroying the entire facility. In the director's commentary for Aliens, James Cameron noted that the creatures in Aliens had been alive for far longer than the Alien in the original, and had more time to learn about their environment. On the USM Auriga, the Aliens kill one of their own, using its blood to melt through their enclosure and escape; in Alien vs. Predator, they use a similar strategy to free the queen from her chains. An Alien also uses acid spurting from its severed tail as an improvised weapon, indicating they are fully aware of the effects of their acid blood.
Aliens are eusocial life-forms with a caste system ruled over by a queen. Their life cycle comprises several distinct stages: they begin their lives as an egg, which hatches a parasitoid larval form known as a facehugger, which then attaches itself to a living host by, as its name suggests, latching onto its face. In the Alien 3 novelization, Ripley commented that this parasitoid would likely be able to use a host as small as a cat, or as large as an elephant (like Oswocs in Alien vs. Predator: Extinction).
The facehugger then "impregnates" the host with an embryo known as a "chestburster", which, after a period of gestation, erupts violently from the host's chest resulting in the death of the host.
The chestburster then matures to an adult phase, shedding its skin(entering cocoon state in Alien vs. Predator: Extinction) and replacing its cells with polarized silicon. Due to Horizontal gene transfer during the gestation period, the Alien also takes on some of the basic physical attributes of the host from which it was born, allowing the individual alien to adapt to the host's environment.
The adult phase of the Alien is known by various different names. The adult Aliens have been referred to as "drones," "warriors," "workers," and sometimes "soldiers," similar to the way ants have been defined. The names of the adult phase have also been used to name different types of adult phases of the Alien in numerous sources including video games, comic books, novels, and, of course, the films, but only in the commentaries by the team who created the films. No official name has been given to the adult stage of the Alien in the films themselves.
Egg-laying Alien queens possess an immense ovipositor attached to their lower torso, similar to a queen termite's. Unlike insect queens, there appears to be no need for drones to fertilize an Alien queen's eggs. When attached to its ovipositor, the queen is supported by a "biomechanical throne" that consists of a lattice of struts resembling massive insect legs.
In the original cut of Alien, the Alien possessed a complete lifecycle, with the still-living bodies of its victims converted into eggs. However, the scene showing the crew converted into eggs was cut for reasons of pacing, leaving the ultimate origin of the eggs obscure. This allowed Aliens director James Cameron to introduce a concept he had initially conceived for a spec script called Mother, a massive mother Alien which laid the eggs and formed the basis for the Aliens' life cycle. Cameron conceived the Queen as a monstrous analogue to Ripley's own maternal role in the film. In that vein, some critics have compared it to Grendel's mother.
The design of the queen was created by Cameron in collaboration with special effects artist Stan Winston, based upon an initial painting Cameron had done at the start of the project. The Winston Studio created a test foam core queen before constructing the full hydraulic puppet which was used for most of the scenes involving the large Alien. Two people were inside working the twin sets of arms and puppeteers off-screen worked its jaws and head. Although at the end of the film the queen was presented full-body fighting the power-loader, the audience never sees the legs of the queen, save those of the small-scale puppet that appears only briefly. In Aliens, Cameron used very selective camera-angles on the queen, using the 'less is more' style of photography. Subsequently the movie won an Oscar for Visual Effects. An adult queen was to reappear in Alien Resurrection. The original mechanical head previously used in Aliens was provided by Bob Burns, and was an altered design. It was repainted with a blend of green and brown, giving it a shimmering, insect-like quality (due to the said queen are actual clone from the original version like her children). This color concept would be abandoned in Alien vs. Predator in favour of the original black color scheme.
In the climax of the 2004 film Alien vs. Predator the queen's basic design was altered to make it more "streamlined" in appearance and its over-all size was increased to 6 meters (20 feet) tall. Additional reason for this was due to Queen in the movie are far older than the one in Aliens. Other changes include the removal of the "high-heel" protrusions on its legs, including additional spines on its head and making its waist thinner because there was no need for puppeteers inside its chest. The animatronic laying queen had 47 points of hydraulic motion.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) introduced a younger form of the full grown queen, albeit with traits inherited from its Predator host. Recalling the facehugger's method of embryo implantation, the Predalien uses its inner mouth to directly deposit multiple chestburster embryos into pregnant female hosts, also using its mandibles to latch on the faces of said hosts. This is explained by the Brothers Strause as a means of quickly building an army of Aliens before the young queen evolves into its sedentary, egg-laying state.
EggThe eggs laid by the queen are ellipsoidal leathery objects between two to three feet high with a four-lobed opening at the top. As a potential host approaches, the egg's lobes unfold like flower petals, and the parasitic facehugger extracts itself from the egg and attaches itself to the potential host. Giger initially designed the eggs with a much more obviously vaginal appearance, complete with an "inner and outer vulva". The producers complained that Catholic countries would ban the film if the allusion was too strong, so Giger doubled the lobes to four, so that, in his words, "seen from above, they would form the cross that people in Catholic countries are so fond of looking at." The interior of the original egg was composed of "Nottingham lace", which is the lining of a cow's stomach. In the first film, the quick shot of the facehugger erupting from the egg was done with sheep's intestine. Initially the egg remained totally stationary save for the hydraulic movement of the lobes; however, by Alien Resurrection the entire egg was made to ripple as it opened.
There's another method in creating egg without any need of Queen's presence which called eggmorphing. Though this method of reproduction was ignored by official sources after it's early shots of the scene that shows how this method works were cut (though partially reinstated in Director's Cut version of Alien), the novelization of the Alien 3 states that both forms of reproduction are typical of the species, and that either can be used to create more Xenomorphs, dependant on the situation. For instance, had a drone arrived in foreign lands/planet where it was only one of it's kind that present with that lands/planet, it would immediately use this method for creating a Queen.
The process was unclear, but it's obvious that victim that would turned into an egg not need to morphed alive, but rather killed first. Quotes from Ridley Scott seem to imply that Eggmorphing actually involves the human 'host' serving simply as a source of nutrients or 'yolk' for the growing Egg(which feed on the host like a parasite), rather than physically becoming the Egg itself, as is typically assumed.
FacehuggerThe facehugger seen in Alien. A facehugger is the second stage in the Alien's life cycle. It has eight long finger-like legs which allow it to crawl rapidly, and a long tail adapted for making great leaps. These particular appendages give it an appearance somewhat comparable to chelicerate arthropods such as arachnids and horseshoe crabs.
The facehugger is a parasitoid; its only purpose is to make contact with the host's mouth for the implantation process, by gripping its legs around the victim's head and wrapping its tail around the host's neck. Upon making contact, the facehugger tightens its tail around the host's neck in order to render it unconscious through oxygen deprivation. The facehugger then inserts a proboscis down the host's throat, supplying it with oxygen while simultaneously implanting an embryo. Attempts to remove facehuggers generally prove fatal, as the parasitoid will respond by tightening its tail around the host's neck, and its acidic blood prevents it from being safely cut away. In addition, its grip on the host's head is strong enough to tear the host's face off if it is forcibly removed.
Once the Alien embryo is safely implanted, the facehugger detaches and dies.
Giger's original design for the facehugger was a much larger creature with eyes and a spring-loaded tail. Later, in response to comments from the filmmakers, Giger reduced the creature's size substantially. At first Giger assumed that the facehugger would wrap around the outside of the astronaut's helmet, but Scott decided that it would have far more impact if the facehugger were revealed once the helmet was removed. Scott and Giger realised that the facehugger should burn through the helmet's faceplate with its acid blood; subsequent redesigns of the space helmet included a far larger faceplate to allow for this. Dan O'Bannon initially conceived the facehugger as somewhat resembling an octopus, possessing tentacles. However, when he received H. R. Giger's designs, which substituted tentacles with fingerlike digits, he found Giger's design concept to be superior. Since no one was available at the time, O'Bannon decided to design the facehugger prop himself. The technical elements of the musculature and bone were added by Ron Cobb. Giger's initial design for the smaller facehugger had the fingers facing forward, but O'Bannon's redesign shifted the legs to the side. When the foam rubber sculpture of the facehugger was produced, O'Bannon asked that it should remain unpainted, believing the rubber, which resembled human skin, was more plausible.
In Aliens, the facehuggers were redesigned by the late Stan Winston so that they would be capable of movement. Unlike the creatures in the first film, the creatures would take a much more active role in impregnating their victims. When Ripley throws one off her, the facehugger was now capable of scuttling across the floor and leaping at its prey, wrapping its tail around the victim's throat. Due to the film's budget, only two fully working facehuggers were built.
In Alien 3, another addition, a "super-facehugger" that would carry the embryo of the queen Alien, was planned but ultimately dropped. The super-facehugger is briefly glimpsed in the Assembly cut of Alien 3, but not identified as such. This face-hugger's role in carrying the Queen embryo are equivalent with Praetorian Facehuggers, though instead carrying embryo that grown into the queen straight away, the said embryo would grown into Praetorians, the miniature version of the queen.
ChestbursterAfter implantation, facehuggers die and the embryo's host wakes up afterwards showing no considerable outward negative symptoms. Symptoms build acutely after detachment of the facehugger, the most common being sore throat, slight nausea, increased congestion and moderate to extreme hunger. In later stages where the incubation period is extended in preparation of a queen birth, symptoms will include a shortness of breath, exhaustion, and hemorrhaging (detectable through biological scanners and present in nosebleeds or other seemingly random bleeding incidents), as well as chest pains inflicted either in lack of chest space due to the chestburster's presence, or even premature attempts to escape the host. The incubating embryo takes on some of the host's DNA or traits, such as bipedalism, quadrupedalism or possessing the mandibles of a Predator and other body structure changes. Over the course of 1–24 hours, indeterminable in some cases, and sometimes up to a week, in the case of some queens, the embryo develops into a chestburster, at which point it emerges, violently and fatally ripping open the chest of the host. There is no on-screen explanation of the reasons for the different incubation times.
The chestburster was designed by Alien director Ridley Scott and constructed by special effects artist Roger Dicken. Giger had produced a model of a chestburster that resembled a "degenerate plucked turkey" and was far too large to fit inside a ribcage. Much to Giger's dismay, his model reduced the production team to fits of laughter on sight. Scott drafted a series of alternative designs for the chestburster based on the philosophy of working "back from the adult to the child" and ultimately produced "something phallic." The chestburster in the original Alien was armless but arms were added in Aliens to facilitate the creature crawling its way out of its host's corpse. This concept would be abandoned in Alien Resurrection and subsequent films.
Growth and maturity
When a chestburster erupts from the body of its host, it is less than 1 foot (30 cm) tall. However, it soon undergoes a dramatic growth spurt, reaching adult size in a matter of hours; in Alien the chestburster had grown to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height by the time the Nostromo crew located it again. The chestburster is shown to have molted before reaching maturity. In Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem Alien warriors are shown who are still growing, showing shedding skin. In the unrated cut, the Predalien is shown actively wiping off its final molted skin at the film's start.
Aliens take on various forms depending on the characteristics of their hosts. Most of the Aliens seen to date have been human-spawned, but a number of Aliens born from other hosts have also been seen. This also includes those that exclusively seen in video games and comic book series of both main franchise or AVP franchises.
The quadrupedal Alien variant from Alien 3. The "Dog Alien" (also jokingly referred to as the "Bambi burster", or "Runner Alien" in the expanded universe stories), was introduced in Alien 3. The creature itself shares the same basic physical conformation and instincts as the other Aliens shown in the previous films, although there are several differences due to the host it was spawned from (a dog in the theatrical cut, an ox in the DVD assembly cut). The Dog Alien in its Chestburster form is a miniature version of the adult, unlike the larva-like human spawned chestbursters. The adult is primarily quadrupedal, has digitigrade hind legs and lacks the dorsal tubes of the human-spawned variety.
Concept and credit controversy
Originally, H. R. Giger was approached on July 28, 1990 by David Fincher and Tim Zinnemann, and was asked to redesign his own creations for Alien 3. Giger's new designs included an aquatic face-hugger and a four-legged version of the adult Alien. Giger said in an interview; "I had special ideas to make it more interesting. I designed a new creature, which was much more elegant and beastly, compared to my original. It was a four-legged Alien, more like a lethal feline – a panther or something. It had a kind of skin that was built up from other creatures – much like a symbiosis." However, when Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis of Amalgamated Dynamics told Giger that they had their own design, Giger expressed himself as "very upset" and that the creature he had especially designed was his "baby". Even after the production severed contact, Giger continued to fax suggestions to Fincher, and made full-scale drawings and a sculpt of the Alien, all of which were rejected.
David Fincher neglected to inform me that Woodruff and Gillis were also contracted to take care of the redesign of the Alien – I found out much later... I thought I had the job and that Woodruff and Gillis would work from my plans. On their side, they were convinced that it was their job and accepted my 'suggestions' with pleasure. They believed that all my effort was based on a huge love for the matter, because I worked hard even after my contract was over.
Giger would later be angered by the end credits of the released film presenting him as merely the creator of the original creature, and the fact that ADI personnel gave a series of interviews that minimized Giger's contribution. Fox eventually reimbursed Giger, but only after he refused to be interviewed for their behind-the-scenes documentary of Alien 3.
The Academy Awards overlooked Giger's contribution to Alien 3. However, Ridley Scott included Giger's name along with nominees Carlo Rambaldi and Richard Johnson. Fox, at the time Alien 3 was released, pointed out that studios are precluded from submitting nominees in the effects category directly to the Academy. This upset Giger so much that at one point he sent Academy president Karl Malden a fax with this closing comment: "I am under the strong impression that my contribution to the visual effects of the nominated movie has been intentionally suppressed", signing the letter with a large black pentagram.
Giger however would comment that he thought the resulting film was "okay" and that the Alien was "better than in the second film."
In Alien Resurrection, due to significant genetic tampering in an attempt to recover DNA from the deceased Ellen Ripley and the Alien Queen within her, the resulting cloned Aliens show a number of minor human traits. The cloned Queen inherits a womb, and as a result it ceases to lay eggs and gives birth to a humanoid mutant. Physically, the human-Alien Newborn is very different from its brethren, being larger, with pale, translucent skin, a skull-shaped face with eyes, a human tongue and complete absence of a tail. The Newborn fails to bond with its Alien Queen mother, and kills it. Instead, the Newborn sees the Ripley clone as a surrogate parent.
The Newborn creature was originally scripted by Joss Whedon as being an eyeless, ivory-white quadruped with red veins running along the sides of its head. It had an inner jaw, with the addition of a pair of pincers on the sides of its head. These pincers would have been used to immobilise its prey as it drained it of blood through the inner jaw. The creature was also meant to rival the Queen in size. Jean-Pierre Jeunet later asked ADI to lean towards making the human-Alien hybrid, known as the Newborn, more human than Alien. The Newborn's eyes and nose were added to improve its expressions to make it a character, rather than just a "killing machine", and give it depth as a character. Jeunet was adamant about the Newborn having genitalia, a mix of both sexes. However, Fox was uncomfortable and even Jeunet felt "even for a Frenchman, it's too much." The genitalia were digitally removed in post-production. The Newborn animatronic required nine puppeteers and was the most complex animatronic in the film.adult hybrid makes its first movie appearance.
The Predalien shares many characteristics with its host, such as long hair-like appendages, mandibles, skin color and similar vocalizations. It is a large, bulky creature, and possesses physical strength greater than that of human-spawned Aliens. Like human-born Aliens, it is also shown to be stronger than its host species, as evidenced by its ability to pin, push, and knock a Predator away with ease.
The Predalien seen in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem was also a Queen, as it also possessed the ability to impregnate human hosts with multiple Alien embryos before molt into a true Queen.
Other Versions of PredaliensOther versions of predaliens however, instead depicted as a young Queen like the one in Gunnison, are instead portrayed as heavy shock troopers. This was due to them, unlike Gunnison Predalien, lacks ability to impregnate other species nor a Queen. Instead, they use their strengths for dealing the heavy blow upon their enemies
Notable alternate versions of Predaliens that portrayed like this are the Abomination and Predalien in AVP: Extinction.
When discussing the film's connection to Alien, co-writer Damon Lindelof asked: "Do you need to see a xenomorph bursting out of the human body? And how do we do it in a way that you haven't seen before?" Lindelof stated that whether the creature is a queen Alien, or the progenitor of the eggs found by the crew in the original Alien, is open to interpretation, but said, "I felt that the punchline of Prometheus was going to be that there is human DNA in what we have come to know as the human xenomorph."
Neomorphs are new variant of Xenomorphs which unlike Deacon, more closely related to original Xenomorph race. Not much information about them known up to this point.
PraetoriansAlternate form of mature xenomorph that so far, only appeared in video games. In appearance, Pretorians can be considered as miniature version of the Queen due to their similar colour and physical structures. Unlike Queens, however, Praetorians do not possess a second pair of arms on their chest, and their jaws, filled with metallic teeth, are comparable to lower Xenomorph castes. Like Queens, Praetorians typically possess longer dorsal tubes that end in a sharp point when compared to other Xenomorphs that possess these appendages. Praetorians are dark in color, typically black but sometimes black-blue, and stand over 10 feet tall, towering over their fellow Xenomorphs on the battlefield. Despite this size, they are almost as fast and agile as their smaller Xenomorph siblings, although Praetorians seem to remain in a permanent bipedal position, and owing to their bulk, they cannot scale walls or ceilings.
As is befitting of their size, Praetorians are incredibly strong and their thick skin, known to be bulletproof in some cases, enables them to shrug off damage that would be terminal several times over to most other Xenomorph castes. They are capable of defeating entire squads of human Marines single-handed and are even a match for Yautja in close-quarters combat. Praetorians can spit acid in far larger quantities than other Xenomorphs, and will also use their claws and long blade-tipped tails as slashing and stabbing weapons, making them deadly at any range. In Aliens vs. Predator, the Praetorian's upper jaw protrudes slightly, giving them an overbite.
In AVP: Extinction, Praetorians can be upgraded so they can molt into 2 specialized breeds as their alternate life cycle: Carriers and Ravagers:
CarriersCarriers are alternate lifecycle of Praetorian that purposed for field infestation. Should be noted that in spite of majorities of xenomorphs could subdue their foes/preys that can be used for impregnation by facehuggers, it doesn’t guarantee that they always succeed in doing so, as sometimes they ended up killed before able to took the said potential hosts back into their hive. Other problems would be the facehugger themselves, though able to travel from the hive into the outside world, are vulnerable and can be easily killed. Carriers’presence within the hive would could counteract this, as they could bring around 6 to 12 facehugger for instantly subdued potential hosts on the field without truly need for bring them back into the hive.
Carriers are resembles Drones in appearance, but three times taller and lacks clawed fingers. Instead, they possesses a single blade on each arm much like a praying mantis. Also, they possesses 3 pairs of dorsal tubes that seemingly have joints on them, and generates nutrients for facehugger to feed on board. Carriers also use these tubes to propel the facehuggers on their foes' face like catapult. Had Carriers facing enemies that cannot be infested, whether while carrying facehuggers or not, they uses their blades instead.
RavagersRavagers are presumed to be the Xenomorph evolutionary response to the heavier military equipment brought to bear by more advanced species. This massive beast towers above other Xenomorphs, short of the queen, and has a uniquely terrifying presence in battle. Instead of just having hands, its upper extremities terminate in "hull blades" capable of easily slicing through even advanced armors and metals. Their appearace are depicted as a taller and more muscular version of warriors.
Unlike other forms of Xenos, purpose of a Praetorian molting into one of these are solely for combat alone, as it can only killed their foes outright instead subdue them: Ravagers's attacking methods often in form of beheading any enemies that they encountered.
A mutated Alien variant incapable of maturing past its larval stage, the mutated chestburster resembles a large black Chestburster. Hatched from a pink egg among an ordinary clutch, the mutated chestburster's egg was smuggled to the pleasure planet Celeste, where the resulting hatchling, after escaping from a human host, caused havoc among the population with its diseased slime trail, which caused people to go delirious and detonate.
In Aliens Colonial Marines's story published by Dark Horse Comics, a group of marines ends up on a colony planet known as 'Bracken's World', a primarily oceanic planet that grows large amounts of sea kelp. Having become stranded on one of the kelp beds following an APC breakdown, the group is attacked from the water by large xenomorphs resembling queen aliens from the top half, and a more whale-like structure below the waist with a lateral tail fin and several trailing tentacles.
The hybrids are a race of Aliens created by a corrupted computer system called "Toy". The hybrids possess the traits of Aliens, Predators and humans. Like Aliens, they are a eusocial species with acid for blood (though it is less acidic than that of the ordinary strain) and like humans, they are capable of speech and can use firearms. They are led by a hybrid king which generates facehuggers capable of impregnating ordinary Aliens.
Eloise is a vat grown prototype Alien/humanoid android hybrid created using Queen DNA on Sybaris 503, who escapes from the destruction of the facility after an attempted 'hostile' take over. She later settles on the planet LK176 with her group of 'implanted' lepers (whose condition prevents their chestbursters from maturing) and a pack of Alien warriors. She and her army successfully beat back both Predator and human forces (at the cost of most of her leper friends), and she gives the latter an ultimatum to leave her people alone, or be destroyed.
In the comic Aliens: Rogue, a mad scientist engineered the Rogue Alien: a male alien designed as a weapon to rival the queen caste and thus help rid the Earth of its alien infestation (see Earth Hive, Nightmare Asylum, Female War, and Genocide). However, the engineered Alien King escapes and wreaks havoc until it is killed by the Queen that had been nesting in a separate and secured section of the installation.
In the book of the same name, the Rogue is believed to be more powerful than the Queen, but Dr. Ernst Kleist, the scientist who created the Rogue, is shocked to find the Queen is in fact the superior specimen. While the Rogue is larger and stronger, the Queen's superior speed and intellect enable her to easily dodge the Rogue's brutish attacks while she slowly wears it down and finally slaughters it. Kleist is subsequently killed when he uses a sound cannon (a sound device he designed to [and that did] instantly freeze the movements of xenomorphs) on the Queen until it goes critical, destroying the asteroid-base he is on. The Rogue is seemingly much more aggressive and mercilessly attacks the smaller castes of Aliens. This is illustrated when Professor Kleist finds the crushed corpses of the elite Praetorian guard of the queen. The Rogue's recklessness is shown when it destroys the barrier that separates the Alien sector and the Human sector, thus allowing any Alien drones that escaped the Rogue's notice to pour into the Human sector, and when it confronts the queen by crushing the eggs in its way while the queen carefully steps around them to outmaneuver the Rogue.
The Empress is a later stage in the xenomorph life cycle not specifically stated. When a hive expands to the point of having multiple queens that dwell in it, the "Empress" is the queen that the subsequent queens had spawned from, making the Empress the "queen of queens." The Empress is somewhat larger than most other queens and boasts a larger crest than the rest. The crest of an Empress has an addition pair of straight spines that flank the three spires of its crest, and there appears to be not as many curves to the crest as there are with the crests of other queens; there are much more geometric lines and angles.
The queen dubbed the "Matriarch" is the oldest known alien queen. It is unknown how old the Matriarch is specifically, but many speculate that she could be thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands of years old. The Matriarch's flesh has yellowed and wrinkled with age, giving the creature a subtle softness to its exterior. The crest of the Matriarch has also expanded with age: two pairs of spires fan out to the sides of the crest in addition to the three that all queens seem to have at maturity, and a bony ridge of spines runs down the center of the crest sweeping towards the end of it. The face of the Matriarch is extensively scarred as well and missing chunks of flesh from around the mouth and the carapace that protects the face when it is retracted has holes in it that resemble being eaten away by acid.
A strong purple and black brood that uses powerful jump attacks. They are assumed to be special variants of the Warrior and Stalker aliens created through experimentation, much like the Chrysalis and Razor Claws minibosses. They are sometimes seen curled up on the ground as they wait for enemies.
A very large (around the same size as a Praetorian) Xenomorph with a greyish-green exoskeleton and a hard, tan carapace on its head, back, and forearms. It sometimes moves/attacks by rolling itself along the ground in a ball. It gets its name from the chrysalis that it is seen gestating in when it first appears. The Chrysalis's head can actually extend a short distance from underneath the carapace over its head when biting its prey, in addition to the extension of the inner mouth. More Chrysalis are also seen defending the Queen during the final battle. These have a reddish or blue coloring.
A variation of the Chrysalis appears in the second level of the Konami "Aliens" arcade game, but it looks considerably different and has a different attack pattern.
A bluish brood with an apparently hardened carapace on its arms and head that can defend itself against most projectiles and hand-to-hand attacks.
A lighter colored variation of the Runner from Alien 3; a "Super" Dogburster also appears as a much tougher version that launches purple balls of acid from its mouth.
Castes of Xenomorphs that born with ability to flight by the wings. They can be seen in Konami's Aliens, the arcade game Aliens: Extermination as a boss under the name Alien Dragon, in the Super Nintendo game Alien vs. Predator as an end-level boss (this one having gestated in a giant species of bat and taken on the arm-wings and overall appearance of a bat), as well as a Flying Queen in the Kenner toy line.
A human implanted by a type of facehugger altered as a bioweapon. Instead of being sedated, they are put in a zombie-like state, and move around the nesting area, attacking any intruders (presumably either hypnotized by facehugger that implanted them through chemical secretions or possessed by chestburster inside them). If the same type of facehugger implants a Predator, the Predator is instead driven into a berserk state, and will attack anything that moves. Similar zombie-like humans controlled by aliens are found in the Female War comic book, the Aliens arcade game and Alien trilogy for Playstation.
In Aliens Verses Predator: Extinction, a variation of the original xenomorphs are created by Dr. Samuel Kadinsky. This group is called "The K-Series". They are almost identical to normal xenomorphs in ability but have white and yellow pigmentations to their exoskeleton rather than the dark colors usually seen. They were eventually wiped out in a hive war to keep the species of xenomorphs "pure" (being that they weren't naturally created, but were instead clones).
It eluded the rest of the Tarkatan soldiers and eventually killed them with both of it’s inherent powers and and the newfound one, retractable blades that it gained from it’s Tarkatan host. The creature now roams Outworld, looking for more hosts to build the hive and amasses more powerful Xenomorph breeds to take over Outworld.
In spite of their notorious nature, xenomorphs do have some weaknesses and therefore, not invincible:
- Due to their dependance with the hosts for multiplying, the hive won’t able to repopulate had potential hosts in their territory are scarce or no longer available. Had this happened after the hive sustained huge damaged after invasion done by either human soldiers or predators and the surviving xenomorphs’ number became scarce, they will have major disadvantages.
- Majorities of known Xenomorph breeds are fighting in close quarters, which means firearms are efective weapons against them, though the recommended firearms must either nitrogen weaponries, napalm weaponries, or guns with equal firepower with either M4A1 Pulse Rifle or better. (It’s ill advised to only used hand guns or combat knifes, even if it works for kill the weakest xenomorph forms like facehugger or chestbursters!)
- Napalm weaponries (like flamethrowers) however, are far more effective as their bodies are weak to fire.
- Heavy weaponries with firepower that equivalent with either rocket laucher, plasma weapories, or laser guns are also effective for dispatching multiple xenomorphs at once, but is recommended to kept for used against stronger breeds/castes like queens or predaliens.
- In either way, one must ensure to both keep their distance (3-4 meter are recommended) away from the xenomorphs as well as not positioned themselves right in front of them for these reasons:
- Warrior xenomorphs’ pressurized bloodstream will cause it to burst apart upon killed by guns, drenching nearby enemies in acid blood.
- Some castes like drones or runners could spit acid as means to counteract their weaknesses in close-range combat.
- Queens are primary source of eggs within the hive as without her, the hive would suffer the huge loss. Things would be worse had there are no surviving eggs/facehuggers after their hive attacked as well as no xenomorphs that capable to mold into replacement queen.
- The last, but not least, xenomorphs' caustic blood are useless fighting against another member of their kind or in least extent, predators' weaponries that constructed from acid-resistant materials. This forced them to resort to fight with their bladed tails, claws, and inner jaws.
A memorial to the Alien in Vladivostok, Russian Far East. In the years since the release of Alien, the Alien has become one of the world's most recognized movie monsters and a pop-cultural icon. In 2003, the Alien was voted as the 14th most memorable screen villain by the American Film Institute. Blondie co-founder Chris Stein, who is a friend of Giger, pondered in an interview:
|“||I'd like to see someone even vaguely compile how many versions of the Alien are floating around the world in models and stuff; there must be close to 100,000–little toys, things. All the Japanese horror comics just plunder his style.||„|
|~ H.R Giger|
Examples of Alien-inspired works include the classic video games Contra and Metroid.
- The Aliens have appeared in many crossovers (including a large number of intercompany crossovers) in comic books and other media such as novels, toys, and video games. Crossovers include encounters with Terminators, Judge Dredd, Green Lanterns, Batman, and Superman. The largest of these crossovers is the Alien vs. Predator franchise, in which the Aliens battle the Predators. This was an idea that came to comic book artist Chris Warner in early 1989. He and other people at Dark Horse Comics were trying to come up with a good character combo for a new comics series. Dark Horse had been publishing Aliens comic book under license from 20th Century Fox since 1987. In 1990, the first depiction of the idea in film appeared in Predator 2, when an Alien skull, sculpted by Kevin Hudson, appeared as one of the trophies in the Predator spacecraft. Because Dark Horse possessed the rights to the franchise in comics, it has been able to feature likenesses of the alien in its other licensed comic books. For example, it did this in a mini-issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine which was billed in the media as an Alien crossover.
- Giger's Alien was iconic enough to have an audio-animatronic version of it appear in The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. The Alien appeared with the attraction's opening in 1989 and remains there to this day. An Alien-based attraction at the Magic Kingdom entered early development stages before being reworked into ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.
- In Red Dwarf episode Polymorph, the Polymorph turns into a form that looks similar to the Xenomorph in one scene.
Other Appearnces in Media
A Xenomorph appears in the episode Taming of the Screwy, The Xenomorph attempt to attack Dot Warner, but Dot released her pet (red monster with horns) from her box to protect her. The Xenomorph and Dots pet monster fell in love with ease other and lead Dot.
A Xenomorph appears in South Park's Imaginationland Trilogy, The Xenomorph was among with the other evil imaginary characters who break through the barrier which destroyed by the terrorists using Rockety Rocket causing the evil imaginary characters to be free. The Xenomorph kill the Mayor of Imaginationland and later join up with the other evil imaginary characters in the war against the good imaginary characters.