Alien sees the titular monster evolve through several different forms, with Ridley Scott having to cut one creepy stage out during filming. The original Alien was inspired by old ’50 b-movies, but trying to conceive a unique monster for the film was no small task. The solution lay in the disturbing, biomechanical work of artist H.R. Giger, with Scott aiming to bring his painting Necronom IV to life. The Xenomorph was unlike anything that had previously been seen on a big screen, and while the initial impact of the monster has long since faded, it’s still one of the most unique monster designs in film history.
The lifecycle of the alien is well documented in the film; it moves from facehugger to chestbuster and then to the drone stage that stalks The Nostromo’s crew. In fact, it was searching for a unique way the creature could get onboard the spaceship that co-writers Dan O’Bannon and Ron Shusett decided to base its biology on that of a parasitic wasp. This insect would lay eggs in a spider, which would later hatch and consume the spider alive. This was the basis for the iconic chestbuster sequence, and that insectoid nature inspired the alien’s lifecycle throughout.
Ridley Scott’s Unused Alien Lifecycle
During an interview with the AFI, Alien director Scott detailed the lifecycle of the “Beast,” and mentioned an intermediary stage he was forced to drop. This step in its evolution came between the chestbuster scene and the drone attacking Brett, and Scott described this stage as “… a rather obscure thing we’d see on internal camera.” According to the director, this would stage would resemble a “black egg,” except it would be moving around before it would “unfold.” Scott claims the production never got to create this sequence, as Alien’s bond completion company was “… breathing down my neck.”
Scott’s conception of this deleted Alien scene does raise some questions. Would audiences have gotten a look at the grown creature before it later attacked Brett, or would its form have been obscured still? The scene also sounds like the mythical box sequence that was allegedly filmed but eventually cut. This would have taken place during the finale, with Ripley encountering a mysterious box in The Nostromo’s corridors; she moves to inspect, only to flee when the box starts to unfurl and it’s revealed to be the Alien in disguise. This scene appears in Alien’s comic adaptation but was seemingly never filmed.
Ridley Scott’s Other Unused Alien Plans
In the process of refining Alien’s story and paring down the budget, Scott dropped some other concepts. Probably the most well-known was his bleak alternate ending, where the alien bit Ripley’s head off – and then recorded a distress message using her voice. There was another alternate ending where it was revealed the alien had planted either an egg or a second alien on the escape shuttle that was also never filmed. One of the most significant ideas that Scott conceived that were dropped completely was that the beast itself is dying throughout the story.
The original plan for Alien was that the creature would be transparent at the beginning, but its skin would change to a darker hue as the story progressed. This was to symbolize it was rapidly aging, and the reason it appears so lethargic in the finale is that it’s already near death. When Giger was unable to construct a transparent suit that worked, the concept was abandoned. The fact the beast appears so listless during the ending does suggest it’s dying, especially as it only attacks when provoked. Maybe that short lifespan idea was still in Scott’s mind, even though the alien didn’t get to live to old age.