Dear Sci-Fi nerd nation, apparently my Alien knowledge is less substantial than I thought. The film is edited with extreme precision, and that’s without question or hesitation when you watch the deleted scenes (which I never did until recently). Most of the scenes were worth cutting and would have created lengthy, extended sequences. BUT, there are a few that I singled out as significant to the film’s monster and Ridley’s ability to slice footage creating greater suspense and molding together the ultimate nightmare.
It’s a surprise that Veronica Cartwright’s character (Lambert) nearly made the great escape–she was the emotionally weakest character of the crew. If only she had moved out of the way as Parker insisted before meeting her grim fate. Lambert’s death is one of the more chilling death sequences, because we all know she won’t make it, but her paralyzed reaction felt like a nightmare where you scream and nothing comes out. Cartwright genuinely appeared petrified on camera; however, her sequence is cut short and wraps quickly…for good reason.
The extended version of this scene is a wide shot of Lambert tossing the oxygen tanks toward Parker in preparation for the shuttle evacuation. Here we see a closer look at the creature–it’s lanky body, it’s whipping tail and an awkward crawl sequence that is almost laughable. The deleted scene kills the ultimate terror of suspense that the edited version creates– the shadow of the creature, Lambert’s slow turnaround to the inevitable and a quick glimpse of the creature drooling it’s acidic slobber before it coils it’s tail around her. The less you show, the more terrifying the expectations become. Less = More.
The Cocoon Cave
Ash classifies this creature as the perfect species; the perfect specimen with an acidic blood-like defense mechanism that renders it impossible to kill without killing yourself. The crew figures this out quickly after attempting to remove the parasitic face-hugger entangled around Kane’s face…that blood ate through three floors of advanced spaceship construction! What we don’t learn about the creature is the reproductive cycle through the human host; We only understand that they come from eggs, attach to their victims and implant something through the face that causes the animal to grow and pop out.
Ridley completely omits a scene toward the end that gives further insight to the reproductive cycle with the usage of human hosts. Ripley climbs down to a lower level of the ship trying to escape the alien where one question is answered–what happened to Brett and Dallas? We see them get captured, but there’s no sign of death. The scene gives a glimpse into the reproductive life cycle of the xenomorph where Dallas and Brett, barely alive, are glued into eggs as hosts. I’m not sure if this scene should have necessarily been cut, since it gives closure to what happened to lost members of the crew, but the less = more theory still holds true. Plus, omitting this left James Cameron ample means of interpretation for the sequel.
Brett’s Death [Updated: 9/29/16]
One of the greatest components of Brett’s death is that it’s the first time we (almost) see the full-grown alien…and he’s BIG. In the theatrical sequence, Brett turns around abruptly to be faced with the alien. What happens next is very quick and (apparently) heavily edited where we barely get a glimpse of Brett being taken upward to one of the tunnels where he presumably cocoons him. But we don’t know.
In the original cut, the encounter is much more violent, graphic and unsettling. The alien strikes Brett’s chest and removes his heart. Parker and Ripley then find Brett dead with the open cavity in his chest.
“Also, at this time I didn’t have the alien take Brett away. I wanted it to remove his heart. When the others find him and turn him over, there’s a huge cavity in his chest, reminiscent of the hole in the Space Jockey. But that was too much like Kane’s death, so we eventually changed it.” Ridley Scott via Scified
The scene that was filmed, that would later be heavily cut, showed the alien touch Brett’s head inquisitively, then begins to crush Brett’s skull as blood pours down his face.
Most of the cut footage, including Brett’s death, was cut to refrain from revealing too much of the creature. Ridley’s less is more tactic proved to be scarier in the long run.