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Sci-Fi Scenes: Chestburster, Alien, 1979

Alien was another movie that was not spoiled by the internet.  In 1979 audiences going in only knew three things about it:  there was an alien, it was set in space, and “in space no one can hear you scream.”  That’s pretty much it.

So what does a science fiction obsessed kid do in 1979 when he’s too young to see an R rated movie?  He sneaks in of course.  And that’s exactly what I did.  Alien has gone on to become one of my favorite movies of all time, definitely in my top 10 list, and most likely taking a spot in my top 3 if I were to sit down and try to rank them.

The one scene that stands out for many, including myself, was the chestburster scene.  It was one of those cinematic “what the fuck?!” moments that no longer exist today thanks to studios pretty much telling you everything about the movie before its released (See Prometheus).  I remember sitting in the dark theater with a sense of foreboding building in me after the medical bay scene with Ash, and after Kane awakes from his facehugger induced coma.  I knew something was coming, but when it did happen it was a literal “holy shit!” moment that was shared by many in the theater.

The beauty of the scene is that most of the actors didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, or how much blood was going to spray on them.  Their reactions are mostly honest, especially from Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) who received a shot of blood directly in the face.

Here it is in all its glory, back when special effects were done by real men . . . without computers.

What is a Sci-Fi Scene? These scenes are memorable because they touch the soul, show amazing visions of the future, or broke ground in film technology. All these scenes are so great that they are in no particular order, just the order that they come to me. Enjoy!

About Neal Ulen

Neal Ulen
Editor/Webmaster - Engineer by training, nerd by passion. Speculative fiction has influenced me since I was a kid, guiding me to the career I have now, and likely saving me from myself during times in my young life when the path was fraught with a minefield of choices. I dabble in tech, game, film, fiction, and writing. These are my true passions, and have been since the summer of '77.