For forty years the creatures of the Alien franchise have terrified and mesmerized us. The Alien franchise has always been unique in its ability to serve as key franchise in the horror, science fiction, and action genres, but it all started with one quietly terrifying film forty years ago. Alien (1979) presented audiences with horrors they had never seen before. The isolated environment and impeccable practical effects make every creature presented to the audience more chill inducing than the previous one.
It is rare to see a film franchise successfully span so many different genres, while not losing any of the core elements of those genres. One of the franchise’s constants has always been it’s dedication to unique and impressive creature design. The creatures of the Alien franchise inspire horror and scientific fascination. You are terrified of them, but you want to know more about them. From the Facehugger and original Xenomorph of the original 1979 film, the universe has expanded to include stranger and creepier beings to remind us all that in space no one can hear you scream. Here’s a look at the top ten creatures from the Alien franchise.
Originally dubbed the “space jockey” after their minor appearance in 1979’s Alien, the Engineers were fully introduced into the Alien franchise in 2012’s Prometheus. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) dub these ancient creatures “Engineers”, believing them to be the ones who created the human race. Little is known of this race other than they are believed to be terraformers and were most likely reviled as gods by the beings they created. In the franchise, the Engineers are first encountered on LV-223 by the crew of the USCSS Prometheus. We see them later on Planet 4 in Alien: Covenant (2017), and then finally, in one of the most memorable images from Alien (1979), we see the crew of the Nostromo find the dead remains of an Engineer on LV-243.
The Predalien is what happens when a facehugger meets a Predator. Introduced at the very end of Alien vs. Predator (2004) as a teaser, the Predalien is back in full force for 2007’s Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). While their appearance is frightening enough, it is the mode of impregnation the Predalien uses in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) that is most disturbing. The Predalien uses its mandibles to attach to a woman’s face and then inserts its inner jaw into the woman’s throat and depositing multiple embryos. This might actually be more disturbing than a good ole’ fashioned chest burster.
Discovered on LV-223 by the Prometheus crew, the Hammerpede is the result of worms infected by Chemical AO-3959X.91-15. The Hammerpede has a serpent-like body and move like a hooded cobra. It has constrictor abilities, as well as acid blood and the ability to regenerate. In Prometheus (2012) we see the Hammerpede make its way into Millburn’s (Rafe Spall) suit and go down his throat. We later see the Hammerpede escape his dead body. While we do not see much of these creatures they are unsettling every second they are on screen.
7. Runner Alien
The Runner Alien of Alien 3 (1992), also known as the Dog Alien or Ox Alien, is the result of a Xenomorph infecting a quadrapedal animal, such as a dog. Runners are extremely fast and able to spit acid from their mouths. Unlike the typical Xenomorph chestburster, Runners emerge fully formed and only grown larger. Let’s just say if you thought the regular Xenomorphs were fast you’re going to want to avoid these guys.
The most unusual of the Alien franchise creatures, the Trilobite appears after Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), unknowingly infected with Chemical AO-3959X.91-15, has sex with Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace). Shaw realizes she has been impregnated with the creature and in one of the most gruesome scenes in the franchise, has the creature aborted via laser cesarean section. The Trilobite has an octopus-like physiology with massive tentacles and acts much like a Facehugger, on a much larger scale. Attaching itself to and infecting an Engineer, the Trilobite brings about the next creature on our list, the Deacon.
The Deacon is another creature we do not get to see much of in the films, however it’s appearance is memorable. The Deacon uses its pointed skull to burst through the chest on the infected Engineer, being born a fully formed creature. The Deacon is different from the traditional Xenomorph as it is “born” with arms and legs, and instead of two sets of jaws, it has an extendible upper jaw. The birth of the Deacon comes at the end of Prometheus (2012) and presents audiences with the closest creature to resemble the traditional Alien of original film. The Deacon is an unusual creature as it originates via two humans as a trilobite and then finally an Engineer, giving it a unique physiology.
4. Alien Queen
The Alien Queen is by far the largest and most imposing of the creatures on this list. First depicted in Aliens (1986) and then later in Alien vs. Predator (2004), the Alien Queen, or Xenomorph Queen, rules over the Xenomorph hive. The Alien Queen is gigantic in stature and has a large ovipositor attached to her abdomen allowing her to lay dozens of eggs. Upon being threatened in Aliens (1986), we see the Queen detach from the ovipositor and move freely as she takes on Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) for the film’s climactic battle on LV-426. The final battle between the Alien Queen and Ripley shows the immense strength of these creatures and thankfully Ripley comes out on top, shooting the Queen out the airlock.
After the events of Prometheus (2012), we learn that the android David (Michael Fassbender) brought Chemical AO-3959X.91-15 with him to Planet 4 where he conducted his experiments. This is also where the fated crew of the USCSS Covenant decides to land. The presence of the chemical in the ecosystem cause fungus-like spores that when inhaled infect the individual. The Bloodburster is then born, which matures into the Neomorph. Neomorphs are physically distinctive due to their white skin. They ferociously use their whip-like tail and are most aggressive and feral than other creatures in the franchise. Their introduction in Alien: Covenant (2017) brought back much of the horror elements of the franchise that had been missing since the original film.
The original nightmare inducer, the Xenomorph of Alien (1979) is by far one of the most terrifying monsters of all time. Physically, the appearance of the Xenomorph is credited to artist H.R. Giger and until 1979 horror and science fiction fans had never seen a creature quite like this one. The Xenomorph is large, fast, and stealthy making it easy to maneuver through its location and sneak up on people. With its acidic blood and extendable jaw, every detail of this creature is memorable. The Xenomorph laid the groundwork for this franchise and helped established Alien (1979) as a masterpiece of horror cinema.
1. The Facehugger
While the Xenomorph is iconic, the most memorable and spine tingling (or throat tingling) creature in this dearly beloved franchise has to be the Facehugger. This is where it all started. From the moment the Facehugger flies at Kane’s (John Hurt) face and attaches itself we are all glued to the television. And the scene where Kane is discovered without the Facehugger attached anymore is one of the most suspenseful scenes in the franchise. The little guys are so frightening and the sound they make when the launch themselves is like nails on a chalkboard. Everytime we see the appearance of the Facehugger we know bad things are about to go down.
After forty years of scaring us, the Alien franchise continues to bring us fantastic new and original creatures to terrorize us. The design and characteristics of these creatures are so meticulously crafted it is impossible to not be impressed by evolution of creature creativity in this franchise. Did any of these creatures terrify you? Are their any of these you would like to see more of in future films? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and in the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook group!
This is Huppert, last survivor of this list, signing off.