background to Alien



I've been watching the Alien SE bonus DVD yesterday I borrowed from my brother. There are some interesting features on there concerning the development of the script/story. Dan O'Bannon, the screenwriter, provides his view on the whole process and where the ideas came from.

I have for a long time been under the impression that one of the main influences for Alien had in fact been a story from A.E. VanVogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle, a sci-fi story from the 1930s which I quite liked. However, O'Bannon claims that this is not so, that he had other sources (which are given on the DVD), and that VanVogt approached him after the movie was out, apparently in a lawsuit.

It made me wonder though whether we can really clearly distinguish where our ideas come from. For me, VanVogt's story was Alien, a very robust organism enters a space ship after floating through space for ages, and the crew have to deal with its abducting crewmen to use them (here I'm not 100% sure anymore) as a brooding place for his eggs.

Also, from what the responsible producers/designers/writers had to say, Alien was only inches away from being made into a b-movie (just look at the names of the crew O'Bannon had had in mind initially...makes you chuckle). Which again made me wonder what makes this movie so great. Same goes for Predator. One has to admit, the storylines both stink of b-movie. While I think that Predator is less widely known, at least Alien has become an instant classic, the word being forever tied to this creature. So is it that alone, the creature design and properties, like acidic blood? Would the same movie (same actors/suspense/shots and all) have been as well received with a different creature design? Or would the Predator be as cool without bio?

What lifts those both movies above b-movie level in your opinion?


I think what raises those two movies(Alien and Predator) above the common rabble is the believablity of the creatures.

I feel that the Alien and Predator have a depth to them and were well-thought out in their appearance, biology and intent.



I think for alien its defining moment was when the Chestburster exploded from the guys chest.

THAT is the kinda thing i always thought about as a first time watcher of that movie (way back when). And i think alot of people refer to it that way and remember that scene specifically.

I think that set alien apart and brought it into history.

As for predator. The one thing i always remembered wondering (as a first time watcher way back when) was how they made the pred invisible the way they did in the movie.

That was a piece of movie history in itself, making him invisible the way they did.

So maybe its a combo of a descent script and excellent cinmeatic moments that break the boundries.