15 Greatest Alien Moments

Jonesy

The Moment: Ripley, Parker and Brett go in search of the runaway chestburster, stopping at a locker from which they hear movement. With a net held in position and a cattle-prod at the ready, Parker opens the door, only for Jonesy the cat to spring out. Having successfully made everybody jump out of their skin, the pesky critter scampers off down the hallway, leading Brett into even bigger trouble...

Why It’s Great: Jonesy is an excellent narrative device, giving the crew-members reason to split up and put themselves in jeopardy. He’s also extremely cute, and sensible too. Witness the way in which he backs away from the Xenomorph way before Brett cottons on...

Knife Trick

The Moment: Bishop shows off his party trick by darting a knife between his and Hudson’s fingers. Shortly after, he realises he’s nicked himself, as a trickle of white fluid escapes from his pinky. Ripley recognises him as an android and promptly loses her shit...

Why It’s Great: As well as providing a fair amount of amusement at Hudson’s expense, the scene also acts as a neat callback to the first film. “Ripley’s last trip out, the artificial person malfunctioned,” explains Burke. “There were problems and, uh... a few deaths were involved.” That's one way of putting it...

Burn Baby Burn

The Moment: Alien Resurrection ’s most powerful scene comes when the cloned Ripley stumbles upon a room marked “1-7”. Inside, she finds seven failed hybrid clones, all of which fall somewhere short of looking either alien or human. Repulsed by what she’s found, “Ripley” fires up her trusty flamethrower and torches the lot.

Why It’s Great: While Alien Resurrection is rightly criticised for its uneven tone and misjudged bouts of comedy, this is still one of the more horrifying sequences of the quadrilogy. It’s certainly an image you’ll struggle to shake for a few days.

Tongue-Lashing

The Moment: Ripley gives sickly company man Burke (“I’m really an okay guy”) a thorough dressing down, having realised that she’s been screwed over by his bosses once again. “You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse,” she spits, witheringly. “You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.”

Why It’s Great: She might be great at kicking alien arse, but what we really love about Ripley is her unwavering belief in doing the right thing. She expresses it in the first film when she insists that quarantine procedure be observed, and she’s at it again here, putting the slippery Burke firmly in his place.

Sacrifice

The Moment: Ripley proves herself a hero to the end, making a last-gasp grab for the chestburster and clutching it to her breast as she plunges into a vat of molten steel. The way in which she cradles the baby alien is almost akin to mother and child. In a way, that’s exactly what they are.

Why It’s Great:
Alien 3 might not have been a great success, but it does at least offer a poignant finale, in which our long-suffering hero finally makes the ultimate sacrifice for her species. A quiet and peaceful rest was beckoning, until Resurrection unwisely brought her back for one more round.

Cocoon

The Moment: In this deleted scene (cut by Scott so as not to detract from the tension of the film’s climax), Ripley discovers the bodies of Brett and Dallas, trapped in hideously oozing cocoons and apparently morphing into eggs. “Kill me,” wheezes Dallas, desperately. After a moment’s hesitation, Ripley obliges, turning her flamethrower on the hideous tableau.

Why It’s Great:
You can understand Scott’s reasoning on pacing issues, but for our money, it’s probably the ickiest scene in the entire film, and worthy of restoration. Being killed by the alien outright suddenly seems like a vastly preferable option.

Space Jockey

The Moment: The exploration team of Dallas, Kane and Lambert encounter a derelict ship, seemingly piloted at one time by a giant figure, now a skeleton slumped at the controls. No explanation is given as to the figure’s origin or identity, but answers may be at hand in Prometheus ...

Why It’s Great: As well as providing the jumping-off point for Prometheus , the sequence also serves as a marvellously eerie introduction to the other-worldly terror that awaits. H.R. Giger’s designs really come into their own here, with the interior of the derelict exuding a sense of menace from its very walls. Turn back, team. Turn back...

Paranoid Android

The Moment: Ripley discovers that Ash has been operating under different orders to the rest of the crew, having been instructed to ensure that an alien organism is brought back to Earth at the expense of all else. Realising he’s been rumbled, Ash attempts to kill Ripley, only for Parker to intervene, attacking Ash and revealing him to be a robot!

Why It’s Great: Ian Holm is a supremely hissable character throughout, and the moment at which he shows his true colors is truly disturbing. And speaking of disturbing, the sequence in which he is revived as just a talking head is enough to provoke a few sleepless nights.

Ambush

The Moment: Ripley and the marines head out in search of the colonists, only to find the planet deserted. Eventually they discover an alien hive, filled with reams of cocooned humans. Just as they’re adjusting to the horror of their discovery, the aliens attack and all hell breaks loose...

Why It’s Great: James Cameron’s sequel ramps up the action to war-like proportions, and this opening skirmish sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the film. Plus, the cocoon imagery is every bit as gross as it was the first time round. Yuck.

Surprise

The Moment: Having safely escaped the Nostromo via the shuttle, and having tucked little Jonesy up for a few months of hypersleep, Ripley is all ready to get some shut-eye when she notices the alien has managed to stow away unnoticed in her escape vessel. Cue an incredibly tense few minutes as Ripley slowly backs away towards the airlock controls...

Why It’s Great:
You’re kind of expecting one final twist, but to see the alien just lying there is still a hell of a shock! Throw Ripley’s skimpy white underwear into the mix, and you’ve got a truly iconic sequence.