The so-called “xenomorphs” of the Alien franchise are easily one of the most terrifying creations even to grace the movie screen. Cooked up in collaboration with Swiss surrealist artist and all-around weirdo H.R. Giger, the xenomorphs are every body-horror nightmare you can think of, blended together into a perfect killing machine that, if you’re lucky, will tear you apart instead of deciding to cocoon you as host for a chestburster. But it turns out that Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon’s ideas about the nature and culture of the xenomorphs were very, very different from how they have been developed in the films that followed.
We all know the life-cycle of the xenomorphs from the films. They begin as leathery eggs, waiting patiently until an organic being gets close enough, then boom, a facehugger pops out and drops an embryo down your throat. After a while the facehugger drops off, you seem fine for a while, and then a tiny chestburster bites and tears and claws its way out of your chest cavity. Off it scampers to grow into a full warrior drone or, occasionally, a queen. In O’Bannon’s original conception of the aliens, things start out the same way, but after the chestburster, we get something else entirely.