It has been twenty years since the original release of Alien--the movie that spawned three sequels and a host of frightening characters.
For those of you who may have missed these movies, or for those who need an Alien refresher course, we have compiled a primer to help introduce you to these strange creatures—these aliens and androids and Ellen Ripleys and Weyland-Yutanis.
Alien: Ellen Ripley, believe it or not, wasn’t always an asskicking bug stomper. In the first installment, Ripley was a Warrant Officer co-piloting a cargo ship. Distrustful, Ripley spent a good portion of this movie questioning the Captain, the Engineers and, especially, the Science Officer, Ash. She was also highly vulnerable, as evidenced by the inordinate amount of time she spent crying. But, I suppose, if I was fighting a seemingly indestructible Alien species armed only with jerry-rigged motion detectors, cattleprods, and flashlights, I might spend an inordinate amount of time crying, too. After Ripley killed the Alien, she went into a hypersleep chamber, wearing extremely unflattering underwear.
Aliens: After fixty-six-years of hypersleeping and floating around in space, Ripley was no longer prone to all that girlish crying--even after being wholly discredited, stripped of her flight status and forced to operate heavy machinery at a loading dock. Her lack of crying may be due, in part, to the fact that Ripley was now armed with smart guns, pulse guns and heavy machinery as she battled a seemingly indestructible Alien species. After killing all kinds of Aliens, including an Alien Queen, Ripley went into a hypersleep chamber, wearing a much more flattering underwear style.
Alien3: Two months later, the hypersleeping Ripley’s ship crashed on a penal colony planet—Fury 161—and unleashed an Alien on a monastic religious order comprised of dangerous criminals. Armed with a bald head, pulse guns, a squad of expendable prisoners and an Alien Queen growing inside her, Ripley battled a seemingly indestructible Alien species. After killing Aliens, Ripley martyred herself in a baptism of molten iron ore, wearing a sexy tanktop.
Alien Resurrection: Two hundred and ten years in the future, Ripley has been genetically cloned. Armed with superintelligence, telepathic abilities and massive firepower, the Ripley Clone battled a seemingly indestructible species of Alien Clones. After killing Alien/Human hybrids, Ripley Clone, fully clothed, headed for Earth, ostensibly to negotiate more sequels.
Alien: In the first installment, androids are represented as seemingly innocuous British gentlemen named Ash. Ash is a Science Officer, but as we come to find out, he is not very good at what he does, misdiagnosing the condition of those for which they are responsible. Blatantly disobeying the Science Division’s basic quarantine laws, Ash is also wont to disregard the chain-of-command, part of his program to turn treacherous. Ash also possesses the ability to turn rolled-up magazine’s into implements of death. (Naughty dogs, beware!) In the film, Ash was eventually deactivated for his incompetence and disobedience, but this was not as simple as flipping a switch. He was violently beaten with a canister of liquid nitrogen until his head snapped off of his neck and his body began to spew blood—although Androids have milk for blood. He was rewired and converted into a machine for delivering important exposition that clears up plot points.
Aliens: During the fifty-six years that lapsed between the first and second installment, great strides were made in the area of artificial intelligence. In Aliens, “Bishop,” one of the latest Android models, possessed phenomenal hand-eye coordination, which complimented his fondness for mumbledy-peg wonderfully. Bishop was also proficient at piloting spacecraft remotely, sounding gravelly-voiced and being ripped in half.
Aliens3: Bishop, now only a torso, has absolutely no purpose in this sequel. Whereas, the rewiring and conversion of Ash into an Exposition Unit was crucial, that purpose in Alien3 is absolutely unnecessary and unwarranted. The information conveyed by Bishop—that Aliens had stowed away on the Sulaco and were now running amok on Fury 161—was more than obvious as, for the last hour, Aliens had been running amok on Fury 161.
Alien Ressurection: Two hundred and ten years later, the advancements in synthetic replicants led to the development of a new Android line referred to as Autons. Although, at first glance, the Auton in this film, Annalee Call, doesn’t seem too terribly different from Bishop, a closer inspection reveals that they are extraordinarily distinctive. For instance, while Bishop was a rather unattractive middle-age man played by Lance Henriksen, Annalee Call was a strikingly pretty young woman played by Winona Ryder. Autons no longer bleed milk.
Aliens begin their lives, non-threateningly enough, as eggs. The eggs are not necessarily attractive—not that I’m an egg fetishist—at 3-feet-tall, two-feet-wide, with flower-petal labia and tendrils extending from the base, filled with icky fluids, proteins and enzymes …and, of course, a Xenomorph Alien larva. But they certainly aren’t terrifying beasties--until a potential host wanders by. The egg then becomes translucent, the lips unfurl and the larva is launched out of the egg and at the face of the unsuspecting passerby.
Hence, the name, “Facehuggers.” Facehuggers have eight legs and corrosive white acid-blood (which is apparently highly selective, as sometimes it eats through several floors of metal and, in other instances, it doesn’t corrode any of the surroundings). Facehuggers possess an outer layer of protein poly-saccarides and the ability to shed cells and replace them with polarized silicon. They also cram their tube-like mouths down the throats of victims and deposit Alien embryos in their chests. After about two hours of gestating behind the breadbasket, the embryos begin punching the sternum from the inside out until they erupt from the chest in a bloody, heinous mess.
Hence, the name “Chestbursters.” The Chestbursters, small-headed, tan-skinned beasties with nasty teeth and no limbs, scurry off somewhere, apparently to continue metamorphosising because they leave behind shedded reptilian skin all over the place. Within three or four hours, an eight-foot-all Alien with a black exo-skeleton, dorsal spines, giant smooth head, two mouths, nasty teeth, no eyes, oily drool and six creepy fingers starts wreaking havoc.
Hence, the name, “Adult Male.”
Across the span of two-hundred-and-sixty-seven years, the Company Men who work for the megacorporation, Weyland-Yutani have changed very little. They are sycophantic, conniving weasels who orchestrate nefarious plots on the behalf of the Company.
Hence the name, “Company Men.”