We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
The release of Prometheus, and the film's success, breathes new life into the 33-year-old Alien franchise. From the beginning, the hallmark of the Alien films has been their jaw dropping surprises. These are the TOP 7 scenes that made these movies truly memorable for me. No AVP here people, just pure Alien flicks.
7. "Game over man!" from Aliens (1986)
Recap: Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) returns to LV-426, the site of her traumatic alien encounter with a ship full of Marines, ready to blast the aliens to smithereens. But their bravado turns to terror after their first alien encounter, leading to Hudson's (Bill Paxton) infamous "Game over, man!" line. Reason: If you saw the first movie, you know how this thing will turn out. So there's a slightly sweet feeling of "I told you so" when these overconfident Marines come face to face with a force that they weren't expecting. Poor Ripley is the Cassandra in this movie, trying to warn everyone about what will happen when they contact these things, though they refuse to believe her. It's also a dark moment, when the Marines realize what they're up against. Even though Hudson's exclamation is laughable, it's also poignant, in a way.
6. The room of mutant Ripleys in Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Recap: As the cloned Ripley and the crew of the Betty search the ship, they find a lab full of failed clones, combinations of Ripley and the alien queen trapped in formaldehyde (or some future preserving liquid). Most troubling is a version that's been left alive despite being deformed almost beyond recognition. Reason: Alien: Resurrection is better than Alien 3, but it's still clearly not as good as the first two films. This scene, which is reminiscent of the fourth on this list, shows something horrible and repellant. This version of Ripley looks horrible, it shouldn't be alive. This scene, more than any other, shows how awful the scientists who created the clone were, who refused to let this thing die.
5. The Alien snake-like creature attack Prometheus (2012)
Recap: Fifield (Sean Harris) and Millburn (Rafe Spall) are trapped in the alien cavern during the sand storm when they encounter a new life form. Reason: Prometheus doesn't try to scare its audience by having things jump out at you, it mainly focuses on developing characters and creating a complex (if not entirely scientific) story. There is one moment though, when biologist Millburn gets up close and personal with the first sign of life found in the cave. Throughout the film, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) keeps repeating "Don't touch anything." Despite this, and every horror film convention known to mankind, Millburn insists on touching. And the moment right before it pounces on him is excruciating. The moments afterward, where it kills him and causes Fifield's helmet to melt, aren't much better.
Recap: Ripley finds Dallas (Tom Skerritt) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) cocooned by the alien. Dallas begs to be killed and she uses the flame thrower on them. Reason: This scene wasn't in the original release of the film, but was added to subsequent editions, including the first time I ever saw this movie. Ripley sees her former crewmates cocooned by the alien and half alive. It's horrible to see the heroic Dallas begging to be killed. The scene traumatized me when I first saw it, I felt nauseous. I still have a hard time watching it, even though I've become harder in my old age. But still, couldn't Ripley have found a nicer way to put them out of their misery than burning them alive?
3. Alien C-section from Prometheus (2012)
Recap: When David (Michael Fassbender) tells Elizabeth that she's pregnant, she immediately realizes something is wrong. When he refuses to remove her "growth," she goes to the automated surgery machine and manually enters the commands to get it to remove the alien, while she's awake. Reason: As an audience familiar with Alien movies, we know things won't end well if Elizabeth can't remove the alien quickly. I don't know that she realizes how it will end, but either way I imagine knowing you have some weird alien creature growing in you (especially since she was actually, physically impregnated by her boyfriend presumably) must be really disturbing. But the next step, programming a machine to give you a C-section and staying awake the whole time is pretty horrifying. The worst moment is when the alien placenta ruptures and splashes into the abdominal cavity. That can't be healthy.
2. Mom battle: Ripley vs. Alien Queen Aliens (1986)
Recap: Ripley, Newt (Carrie Henn) and Bishop (Lance Henriksen) manage to escape, but not without a stowaway in the form of the alien queen (who ends up on the ship through a rather haphazard process). When Ripley sees the queen followed them on board, she straps herself into an exosuit and has a knock down, drag out match to see who will survive. Reason: Every fight in both alien movies up to this point has been forced, with the humans trying, and often failing, to get the upper hand. But when Ripley straps herself into the exosuit and calls the queen a "bitch," finally the humans are fighting back. Poor Ripley has had her life destroyed by these creatures and the fight is great fun to watch, in part because it feels like the culmination of all the deaths have led up to this point. The end of the film is hugely cathartic. Up until Alien 3 anyway, which didn't even make this list.
1. The alien chest-buster Alien (1979)
Recap: After being attacked by an alien face hugger, Kane (John Hurt) seems to be back to his old self. But while the crew is sitting around and eating, they get a big surprise when Kane suddenly starts screaming before an alien bursts out of his chest. Reason: The first Alien film works by subverting the audience's expectations at every turn. Dallas seems to be the main character, until Ripley steps up in the second half of the film. But the biggest surprise comes bursting out of Hurt's chest. This scene shocked the audience completely and is partially responsible for the success of the subsequent franchise. Being host to a parasitic species is creepy in real life, in the film it's revolting. The actors look completely shocked too, in part because the scene wasn't rehearsed with the puppet beforehand so they weren't entirely sure how it would play out. It became one of the most memorable scenes of any science fiction film ever.