Screenwriter Dan O’Bannon suffered from Crohn’s Disease, though it would be years before he knew exactly why his bowels were so tangled up, why he could never eat without experiencing massive bouts of pain. As Jason Zinoman writes in Shock Value, his history of 70’s horror movies, “The idea of an alien violently bursting out of a stomach was of course very personal for O’Bannon; that’s what his sickness felt like…As soon as he knew how the monster would emerge, O’Bannon thought the victim should be a man….’Having the victim in a horror film always be a woman was a cheap shot…I want to see a man get it because I knew it would make the men uneasy.” Of course, he succeeded. As filmed by Ridley Scott in this gothic sci-fi/horror movie, the chestburster scene is shocking now matter how many times you’ve seen it. It’s a profane birth — neither the audience members nor the crew of the Nostromo can fathom exactly what it is they’re seeing.
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