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Screengrab via CineFix/YouTube

The story behind the chest-bursting scene in ‘Alien’

A closer look at the scene that made audiences say "nope" to space travel.


Joey Keeton


Posted on Jan 23, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 5:03 pm CDT

Alien did a lot of things space films hadn’t done before. It combined the Apple Store aesthetics of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the worn-in feel of Star Wars to provide a new look to spaceships. It featured a strong female protagonist that ultimately saved the day (more or less). And it featured a creature that reproduced via a human’s mouth. 

It’s that last item that led to Alien‘s achievement that still shocks audiences the most, regardless of how many times they’ve seen it: the famous chest-bursting scene. Yes, outer space had been scary before on film, but it had never been anywhere close to being this brutal and blood-soaked. The historical context and technical mastery of the scene is extraordinarily rich: Did you know the cast had no idea what the baby xenomorph looked like or how the scene would play out? Did you know that a lot of the creative team behind Alien wouldn’t have been involved if Jodorowsky’s ill-fated Dune adaptation hadn’t been canned? Luckily, CineFix has released a video that explains all of this, and much more, in just under nine minutes:

The craziest takeaway from the video might be that screenwriter/film legend Dan O’Bannon was inspired to pen the scene after some fast food made him sick. So, the next time somebody chastises you for eating Jack in the Box, just tell them you’re doing it for inspiration. 

Screengrab via CineFix/YouTube

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*First Published: Jan 23, 2015, 4:23 pm CST