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11. ALIEN Frequently asked questions (Movies: Alien)


This article is from the Alien Movies FAQ, by Darryll Hobsonand Eelko de Vos E.W.C.deVos@TWI.TUDelft.NL with numerous contributions by others.

11. ALIEN Frequently asked questions (Movies: Alien)

Q: Is there a fan club I can join?
A: Depending on when you read this FAQ, these clubs may have dissolved:

    The British Aliens Fan Club             The Dropship
    PO Box 11                               19 Compton Crescent
    Liskeard, Cornwall                      Northolt, Middx
    PL14 6YL                                UB5 5LS
    England                                 England

Q: What is the "Narcissus" ?
A: The Narcissus is the name of the shuttle Ripley uses to escape from
the Nostromo.

Q: Who is the "Space Jockey"?
A: This is the name given (by the technical staff) to the remains of
the creature found on the derelict space craft.

Q: What is written on Brett's cap?

Q: Why is there a "self-destruct button" on the Nostromo?
A: This question refers to the control panel (labeled "Emergency
Destruct System") that Ripley uses to cause the destruction of the
Nostromo. [possibly] the "emergency destruct system" exists to
protect company secrets in case the Nostromo is hijacked by a
competator. (this would be a similar principle to espionage: when an
enemy spy gets caught, he takes poison to kill himself so he cannot be
tortured into giving away secrets). Or, a 20 million ton ship flying
through space at very high speed tends to become a great danger when
it gets off course by some malfunctions. If it's on collision course
to some space station or colony, and there is no possibility of
redirecting or stopping it, it would be very reasonable to put it on
self-destruct and get away with the small shuttle.

Q: The crew is awakened early out of their hypersleep to explore the
planet from which the beacon is being transmitted, HOW early are they
A: 10 months as indicated by Lambert (after the shuttle returns to the

Q: Did the entire crew go down to the surface of LV-426?
A: Yes. The Nostromo is a towing device for the 20,000,000 tons of
ore. The entire crew went down to the planet's surface in the
Nostromo (which detached itself from the cargo it was towing).

Q: After the Nostromo blew up, and Ripley discovers that the alien is
on board the escape capsule, why does the alien take SO long to attack
A: [possibly] the alien was coming to the end of its life cycle, when
Ripley happened to disturb it. It was slow to attack because it was
dying. This theory is supported by an older version of the "ALIEN"
script where Ash reveals that the alien had made a nest and ensured
the continutation of its species (cocooned Dallas and transformed
Brett into an egg) at which time the alien itself would approach the
end of its lifecycle; curl up and die.

Q: Does the alien have eyes? How does it see?
A: No. The alien was designed (by H.R. Giger) to "see" entirely by
instinct. The chase scene in "ALIEN^3" would appear to contradict
this as it shows the chase through (what would appear to be) the
alien's eyes. However, it is likely that this cinematic technique was
used to show the chase, not through the aliens eyes, but through its
"perception". (it is also likely that this alien, being so different
from the ones we've already seen, has some kind of eyes)

Q: How could I get a longer version of "ALIEN" ?
A: Easy. You'll need a laserdisc player with frame advance, a 4-head
VCR with frame advance (frame advance allows for nice editing), the
"ALIEN" box set (on laser disc of course) and a 160 min tape (130 min
would work too). Now, all you need is to know where the "extra"
scenes (on the 3rd disk) can be re-added into the movie:
- Kane prepares breakfast - don't bother, there's a fade between the
hypersleep chamber and the breakfast scene... this is where you'd
place the scene, but the fade makes it impossible to do a good job.
- Crew listens to alien transmission - right after Parker agrees to going
down to the planet's surface, and right before the shot of the ship
approaching the planet.
- Lambert confronts Ripley - some of the scene already exists, just cut
THAT part out, and replace it with the longer scene.
- After the acid - add this scene right after Dallas tells Brett to get
back to work, and right before the scene where Parker and Brett are
repairing the ship.
- Ripley radios Parker - Add this right after the "post-acid" scene.
Place it right before the scene where Parker and Brett are repairing
the ship.
- Discussion of what to do (after Kane's death) - originally, this scene
was right before Kane's funeral, but it makes alot more sense to put
it in immediately AFTER Kane's funeral.
- Brett's death - difficult to place, you have to replace some of the
film, all you miss out on is a few cuts back to Jones. (if you're
really skilled, you can re-integrate them). Put it right before the
scene where Parker is drinking coffee. [WARNING: the suspense
building heart-beat sound in the background is not present in the
extended death scene]
- Alien in the airlock - don't bother with these two scenes, they don't
fit in the movie very well.
- Ripley talks to Lambert - add it as Ash walks out of the room (after
Dallas's death). But before Ripley looks at Lambert (you'll have to
cut that bit out.)
- Lambert's death - too bad, there's no sound, don't add it in.
- Cocoon scene - originally, it was after Ripley started running for the
shuttle (no wonder it created a pacing problem). If you add it in
after she discovers Parker and Lambert's bodies, but before she starts
running, then it doesn't affect the pacing.
That's it. The movie is now about 2 hrs and 8 minutes long.

Q: I recall seeing extra scenes in the movie when I saw it in the
theaters, am I imagining things?
A: Probably. However, during December 1978 a rough cut of "ALIEN" was
screened in London, England (it was 2 hours & 45 minutes long) and
it included ALL of the completed "cut" scenes (as described earlier
in the FAQ).

Q: When the crew first sets out to search the ship for the alien:
* Ash has made a "detection" units (motion tracker)
* Ripley asks "how do they work?"
* Ash VERY hesitantly replies "micro changes in air density"
* when searching, Ripley detects something on the OTHER side of an
airtight door (after all, they ARE in a spaceship) which turns out
to be Jones.
* Ripley makes the comment "micro changes in air density my ass"
This point never gets raised again in the film, what is its significance?
A: [possibly] Ash's hesitation in explaining the operation of the motion
detector was because the "real" mechanism would be difficult to
explain and he was assuming that she wouldn't understand him anyway...
so he pauses before he finds the words to form an "adequate" but not
very detailed description. The tone of Ash's voice in response to
Ripley's question was somewhat condescending.
Ripley's later comment, "micro changes in air density, my ass" was
a foreshadow to show that Ash was hiding something and that she was
onto him (cf: she realizes that he didn't give the full explanation of
the motion tracker's operating mechanism)
Taking into account that Ash knew what he was going into, he could easily
have thought about the possibility that the creature could escape and hide
on the ship. Therefore, he could've "invented" this device long before they
needed it.

Q: How come Ripley managed to survive in the shuttle without the coolant
that Lambert and Parker were collecting?
A: [possibly] since there was only one hypersleep chamber in the shuttle,
Lambert, Parker and Ripley would have to stay concious while waiting to
be rescued. Since Ripley was the only survivor, she went into
hypersleep and didn't need the coolant due to her hybernation.

Q: When the remaining crew discusses Brett's death, what does Ash say?
A: It is uncertain, but it could sound like two different things:
1. "Kane's son..."
2. "Gained some..."
He refers to the alien creature, which they saw leaving chestburster-size,
and kill Kane as a eight-foot creature. Both explanaitions are possible.
In a spanish subtitling version of Alien, the subtitling translates it as
option 1. In a Dutch version, it translates as option 2. The alien script
also states that Ash should say option 2.


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