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Who Inspired Alien?

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Alien is a 1979 science-fiction film. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature that stalks and kills the crew of a spaceship.
Creator(s): Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon
Type: Movies/TV/Stage
Genre(s): Science-fiction horror
Year Released: 1979

While studying cinema at the University of Southern California, Dan O'Bannon (screenplay writer) had made a science fiction comedy film with director John Carpenter and concept artist Ron Cobb entitled Dark Star. The film included an alien which had been created using a spray-painted beach ball, and the experience left O'Bannon "really wanting to do an alien that looked real."[1]

Though the Dune project ultimately fell through, it introduced screenwriter O'Bannon to several artists whose works gave him ideas for his science fiction. He found H.R. Giger's work "disturbing": "His paintings had a profound effect on me. I had never seen anything that was quite as horrible and at the same time as beautiful as his work. And so I ended up writing a script about a Giger monster."[2]

H.R. Giger's design for the Alien was inspired by his painting Necronom IV and earned him an Oscar in 1980.[3]

In writing the script, Dan O'Bannon drew inspiration from many previous works of science fiction and horror. He later stated that "I didn't steal Alien from anybody. I stole it from everybody!" The Thing from Another World inspired the idea of professional men being pursued by a deadly alien creature through a claustrophobic environment.[4]

Forbidden Planet gave Dan O'Bannon the idea of a ship being warned not to land, and then the crew being killed one by one by a mysterious creature when they defy the warning.[5]

Planet of the Vampires contains a scene in which the heroes discover a giant alien skeleton; this influenced the Nostromo crew's discovery of the alien creature in the derelict spacecraft.[6]

Dan O'Bannon has also noted the influence of "Junkyard,” a short story by Clifford D. Simak in which a crew lands on an asteroid and discovers a chamber full of eggs.[7]

The screenwriter was also influenced by Strange Relations by Philip José Farmer, which covers alien reproduction, and various EC Comics horror titles carrying stories in which monsters eat their way out of people.[8]

Ridley Scott created detailed storyboards for the film in London, which impressed 20th Century Fox enough to double the film's budget from $4.2 million to $8.4 million. His storyboards included designs for the spaceship and space suits, drawing influences from Star Wars. [9]

When writing storyboards, Ridley Scott was also influenced by a major sci-fi blockbuster at the time, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.[10]

Ridley Scott was keen on emphasizing horror in Alien rather than fantasy, describing the film as "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre of science fiction".[11]

The final name of the ship was derived from the title of Joseph Conrad's 1904 novel Nostromo. [12]

Ridley Scott's story concept was partially inspired by Chariots of the Gods?, Erich von Däniken's work about the theory of ancient astronauts that hypothesizes that life on Earth was created by aliens. Scott said, "NASA and the Vatican agree that [it is] almost mathematically impossible that we can be where we are today without there being a little help along the way... That’s what we’re looking at [in the film], at some of Erich von Däniken’s ideas of how did we humans come about."[13]

H. P. Lovecraft's 1931 novella At the Mountains of Madness served as an inspiration for the film.[14]

Sigourney Weaver nicknamed her role in the Alien sequel "Rambolina", referring to John Rambo of the Rambo series, and stated that she approached the role as akin to the titular role in Henry V or women warriors in Chinese classical literature[15]