Log Line

A crew member returning home to Earth on an interplanetary mining vessel attempts to rid the vessel of a vicious alien creature that has inadvertently been brought onboard.

Overview

Medium: Film

Writer(s): Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett

Director(s): Ridley Scott

Production Co.(s): Brandywine Productions; Twentieth Century-Fox Productions

Story by: Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett

In the science fiction film Alien, the crew of a deep-space commercial towing vehicle named Nostromo is on its way home to Earth, carrying millions of tons of ore, when its hibernating crew is awakened by the ship's computer (called "Mother") to investigate a radio transmission that is emanating from a nearby planetoid. Although the crew are generally resentful of the interruption to their journey, they are required by company rules to investigate any such transmission.

After a rough landing on the planetoid, which causes minor damage to their landing vehicle, the ship's captain, Dallas, and two other crew members don pressure suits and venture into the toxic atmosphere outside the craft to investigate the source of the transmission—whereupon they find a huge alien spacecraft that seems to have crash-landed a very long time ago. In the depths of the alien craft, one of the crew members (Kane) finds a field of leathery egg-like objects surrounded by a strange, low-lying mist. And when he attempts to get a better look at one of the objects, it opens up and launches a small, strange-looking creature that breaks through his helmet visor and attaches itself to his face.

Against the efforts of the ship's warrant officer, Ellen Ripley (the main character), to protect the rest of the crew by quarantining the search party, the three crew members are allowed onboard by the science officer, Ash. And when the repairs to the landing vehicle are complete and it returns to the Nostromo, the entire crew that landed on the planetoid, including Kane, the comatose crew member who suffered the attack, are along for the ride.

Onboard the Nostromo, the captain and science officer attempt to study the creature that has attached itself to Kane's face and to see if it can be removed. But a simple attempt to do so by cutting through one of its legs nearly exposes the crew to the vacuum of space when the creature's acid-like blood eats through several decks of their vessel—and they resolve themselves to the idea that they are incapable of safely removing it.

When the creature detaches on its own a short time later, and Kane appears to be fully recovered and feeling fine, the crew is relieved, believing their troubles to be over. But when a new, vicious-looking creature with rows of sharp teeth bursts from his belly and runs off into the depths of the ship, they realize that their real difficulties may have just begun.

From that point forward in the story, the chief aim of most of the crew (with the notable exception of Ash), is to find and destroy the alien creature and to purge the ship of the infection that the creature represents. In their efforts to do so, however, the crew members fall prey to it one-by-one as it grows in size and power—until only Ripley remains. But when she abandons ship in the emergency shuttle craft and destroys the Nostromo in an attempt to rid herself for good of the alien creature, she discovers that it has accompanied her onto the shuttle craft—and that the work to free her life of the alien presence is not yet complete.

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