The xenomorph’s other unforgettable entrance…
It’s raining xenomorphs!
“Jonesy!” cries Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), the Nostromo’s engineer taking a break from moaning to collar the onboard cat in the “Claw Room”. The scene’s lent a surreal ambience by the clinking chains and profuse condensation, which falls like rain. Ridley Scott had to fight studio bean counters to include both.
Getting A Head
Rather than fear, Brett reacts with awe after laying eyes on Giger’s biomechanical beauty. His death was partially improvised. “How are you going to kill me?” Stanton asked Scott. His reply: “I’ve no idea.” Instead of going straight for the kill, the xeno inquisitively holds Brett’s head, before punching a hole in his brain.
Off Th e Cha in
Dan O’Bannon’s original script called for Bolaji Badejo’s man in an alien outfit to menace Brett on foot. “But I was staring at the guy in the suit. He just didn’t look right,” says Ridley Scott. “He was standing there with a cigarette. I said, ‘Can we hang him upside down?’”
Th e Sound Of Silence
Music is notable by its absence for most of the sequence, but Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic score plays a crucial role in the xenomorph’s first kill. Brief bursts of strings, slowly building horns and avant-garde warbles (technical term) are abruptly cut off by screams, leaving only the clink-clank of the hold’s chains.
Death Fro m Above
Chestburster no more! As Jonesy the cat hisses (provoked by an off-camera German shepherd), H.R. Giger’s fully grown xeno makes its on-screen debut, dropping into frame with grace. Scott holds a profile shot of its slimy, partially lit dome so, like Brett, “you don’t know what you’re looking at”.
Ma king Th e Cut
In the theatrical cut the only witness to Brett’s death is Jonesy, who looks on with passive curiosity as Brett’s lifeless corpse is dragged up through the air vents. Scott’s director’s cut adds a shot of Ripley and Parker entering the hold in response to Brett’s screams, but it’s his lonely demise that sticks in the memory. JF