When they screened the movie in Dallas – an usher fainted. People were reported leaving the theater sick. One theater owner said he cut that famous scene in the cafeteria out of the film to save his bathrooms. At the time, it was one of the most frightening things to ever be put on screen. But as it turns out, people love to be scared – The film set 51 house records across the U.S. grossing $3.5 over the 4-day Memorial Day weekend. Ultimately, it would gross 143 million worldwide on an 11 million dollar budget. It was also released on VHS, which grossed it an additional $40,300,000 in the United States alone.
What was the now classic tagline for the Alien posters and trailer? A: In Space Nobody Can Hear You Scream. One of the best movie taglines ever.
How many films – including crossovers and prequels are in the Alien series: A: 8. Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, Alien vs Predator, Alien vs Predator Reqiuen, Prometheus, Alien: Covenant.
What is the name of the ship where the majority of the story takes place? A: The Nostromo. It’s a commercial space tug, pulling along a mining rig. An ore refinery to be exact.
Despite this being a cast of predominantly older, experienced actors – whose first major film role was in this film? A: Sigourney Weaver. She was a theater actor and her only film part til then was a tiny blink and you’ll miss appearance in Annie Hall. She was apparently a bit nervous and the rest of the cast didn’t think she was doing a very good job and she especially sparred with Yaphet Kotto. That tension in real life is credited for some of the tense performances in the film.
What is the name of our feline survivor? A: Jones. Jones was played by 4 identical cats.
What is the name of the ship’s onboard computer? A: Mother. Voiced by actress Helen Horton.
Hollywood pitches are a common cliche – this movie is “Die Hard in a Submarine.” Even Lost Boys was pitched as “Goonies with Vampires.” Writers O’Bannon and Shusett presented their script to several studios pitching it as “what in space.”? A: Jaws. Jaws in Space was the pitch.
The films writer Dan O’Bannon was in USC film school with John Carpenter – he worked on John Carpenter’s master’s thesis student film that became a theatrical film called what? A: Dark Star – 1974. O Bannon said they went from having the most impressive student film ever made to the least impressive professional film ever made. It had an alien beachball. And O Bannon left that film wanting to create a realistic frightening alien – so the seed of Alien came from there. When you dig into it, there are alot of Dark Star connections.
The second film to have deep alien connections is a failed one – Aejandro Jodorowksy’s attempt at Dune. During O Bannon’s 6 months working on that film in Paris – he met sci fi illustrator Chris Foss who took a crack at designing the Nostromo and what Swiss artist who would design the xenomorph? A: H. R. Giger – Hans Ruedi Giger. The actual piece that inspired the xenomorph is a lithograph called Necronom IV which he created in 1976. That lithograph was chosen for its beauty and strong sexual overtones.
The title Alien was given to the film late in the process, what was the original title of the film? A: Star Beast. Star beast sounds like some Roger Corman stuff. Or a SyFy channel original from the 90s when SyFy channel wasn’t as cool.
For shots that needed a human in the alien costume, The casting director found a skinny 6’10” graphic designer named Bolaji Badejo. Where did the lucky casting director discover this man? A: A local pub. They made him take tai chi and mime classes.
Alien couldn’t actually get the green light from 20th Century Fox because they weren’t confident in financing a science-fiction film. What other sci fi films massive success changed all that? A: Star Wars 1977. O’Bannon said that “They wanted to follow through on Star Wars, and they wanted to follow through fast, and the only spaceship script they had sitting on their desk was Alien”.
I haven’t talked about Ridley Scott yet… that’s because Alien was only Ridley Scott’s second film. What was his first? A: The Duelists. A movie about two guys who dueled constantly during the napoleonic era in France, starring Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine. I don’t know how that qualified him for sci fi horror, but the biggest fear of the producers was that they were going to get a director that would treat it like a B Budget sci fi movie. So they had to try something else. And Duelists had just won Ridley the Best Debut Film award at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival. Scott was keen on emphasizing horror in Alien describing the film as “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” of science fiction.
Veronica Cartwright who played Lambert was originally set to play Ripley – ahem probably not also part of the tension between the actors. She referred to Ridley’s less is more approach to the Alien as Alfred Hitchcock like – which is appropriate because Cartwright had a role in which Hitchcock film? A: The Birds. She was Cathy, Mitch’s little sister. Cartwright was also Beaver Cleaver’s first kiss.
Writer Dan O Bannon made his directorial debut on what 1985 zombie cult classic? A: The Return of the Living Dead. Personally, I think that’s the best zombie movie of all time.
John Hurt reprised his role as Kane for what Mel Brooks Sci Fi spoof? A: Spaceballs. Hello ma baby, hello ma honey…
What did the crew nickname the giant dead creature/pilot in the down alien craft? A: Space Jockey – which took off and is now the popular way that being is referred to.
To make some of his sets that he felt didn’t look big enough look larger, Ridley Scott put what in the space suits? A: He put kids in the suits. For scenes showing the exterior of the Nostromo, Ridley’s two sons and the son of the cinematographer were used.
The alien needed to constantly be very wet and shiny and drippy. What did they use to achieve this effect? A: KY Jelly. Veronica Cartwright said she has never seen such large amounts of KY jelly. I kind of feel bad for her then.
When the egg in the ship opens and John Hurt’s character Kane looks inside, he sees a veiny viscous object, what real life thing is he looking at? A: Cow stomach lining. Delicious.