It's been over 30 years since James Cameron's follow-up to the original Alien, aptly titled Aliens, to show how the film will up the ante on the xenomorph creatures. Whereas the original Alien is a quieter, more secluded film that mostly takes place on a single spaceship, Aliens has much more room to roam, including within a giant facility that has been built on the planet that also houses the alien spacecraft.
Though initially hesitant due to the events of Alien, Ripley reluctantly returns to the place that gave her horrible nightmares and PTSD. And what ensues is an epic series of alien battles, action, and tense moments that only James Cameron could truly deliver. So, let's countdown the scariest moments of Aliens.
10 The Colonists' First Contact
It's a moment that comes earlier on in the film. When Ripley awakens from her long nap and tells people about her experiences, she is at first not believed due to the stories sounding rather insane. One of the reasons for this is that colonists have been on the planet she mentioned for upwards of twenty years now, and they haven't had any trouble so far.
Cue the colonists taking center stage. A family, including the young Newt, encounter an all-too-familiar sight: The looming alien spacecraft. While Newt and her brother wait for her parents to investigate, we grit our teeth and wait for what we know is bound to happen. And sure enough, they return, though with an untimely visitor along with them. A facehugger is attached to Newt's father's face, and we know that is the beginning of what's to come.
9 Ripley's Dream
Ripley has woken up after being in hypersleep, and she is still out of sorts from her experience. After being told that she has been asleep for 57 years, though, she almost can't believe it. Suddenly, she starts convulsing, and a shape appears in her stomach, expanding outwards, just as the alien did to Kane in the first movie. Ripley soon awakens, though, as the latest in a series of nightmares as a result of her experiences.
Regardless of the scene being a dream, seeing the alien burst out of a chest again is still a terrifying image. Ripley's fear of being infected are clear and, even more so, she is still not quite over her experience. This will eventually lead, though, to her decision to return, as she knows she has to face her demons head-on.
8 The Dropship is Ambushed
It's a moment that happens after a scary series of events; just when we think everyone is safe, well, this is Aliens we're talking about. The dropship that is about to pick up the remainder of the crew that survived the first alien attack, allowing the audience to finally breathe a sigh of relief. Just before the two pilots embarked, though, one of them had found a strange sticky substance on the cabin deck, and we know what that means.
The ship had been ambushed by a xenomorph. With both crew members dead, it haphazardly flies at the people on the ground, forcing them to duck and cover. It's a scary moment, not only with the ship's impending impact but because it signifies that the survivors no longer have an easy ride back to their ship. It also gave rise to the now iconic line, said by Hudson (played by the late Bill Paxton): "Game over, man!"
7 Newt Gets Captured
The resourceful Newt had managed to avoid the aliens for quite some time before the military crew and Ripley arrive. Yet, once the military does enter the base, the aliens recognize them as a threat, in addition to the potential to use them to reproduce. Now, Newt might be in even more danger than she was previously.
At this point, Newt and the survivors had been on the run and had almost made it to their spaceship. Newt gets unfortunately caught in a rotating gear and falls down a pipe into a dungeon filled with water. Ripley and Hicks attempt to save her, but suddenly a xenomorph rises out of the depths. With one final scream from Newt, it latches onto her.
6 Ripley and Newt Versus the Facehuggers
If there's one thing the Alien films always deliver on, it's that at least one of the crew has nefarious intentions when it comes to the aliens. In the first Alien, it was the android Ash. In Aliens, though, it's Burke, played by Paul Reiser. Ripley had threatened him prior to this moment, as she knows he was responsible for getting the colonists to visit the alien spacecraft, which subsequently led to all of them being infected, as well as their current situation. She claims that she's going to tell everyone, before deciding to go take a nap with Newt. Bad idea.
Ripley suddenly awakes, and she realizes her situation is dire. The two live facehuggers that had been trapped in tubes were free in the room with her and Newt, and the door is locked. In addition, her gun is missing. She waves her arms at the camera, but Burke quickly turns it off. Ripley, though, ever-resourceful, lights the room's sprinkler, triggering a fire alarm. The two have to survive until help can arrive, while the facehuggers are still crawling around the room. The spidery creatures leap at them, and Ripley just about holds one at bay until Hicks and Hudson are able to shoot it off.
5 First Attack of the Aliens
It's scenes like that show James Cameron's talent for developing tension. While Hicks, Hudson, Vasquez, and more go to investigate the missing colonists, who have all been traced to this location, they see mysterious structures on the walls, but no aliens. Suddenly, one of the colonists awakes and, screaming in pain, an alien bursts from their chest. The soldiers reacted by flaming broiling the beast. But that has unintended consequences.
Using their motion tracker, movement is sensed from all around. Where are they? The walls literally seem to be coming alive, as the aliens slowly reveal themselves and carry each of the soldiers away. Firing ensues, but panic soon overtakes them, and one by one the soldiers are overpowered. It's up to Ripley to save the day, and she swoops in at the last moment to pick up the remaining crew.
4 The Aliens Find Their Way In
The aliens have been stood off for some time, as the remote sentry guns have worked and, in addition, the remaining crew has sealed up every possible entry into the compound. However, once again, the aliens are getting closer and closer - where could they be? Ripley glances up and realizes where the aliens are approaching. With one glance upwards, the ceiling appears to be crawling with the monsters, and the crew is fighting for their lives once again.
In the ensuing escape, several more of the soldiers fall, including Lieutenant Gorman, Vasquez, and Hudson, though all go out bravely. That is, other than Burke, who fittingly goes out as a coward. So, after all that, it's down to only four people left: Ripley, Newt, Hicks, and Bishop. Though soon, even Newt is captured by the aliens.
3 Ripley Re-enters the Alien Nest
Among her many attributes, it's Ripley's word that is perhaps one of her most praiseworthy. She is determined to not leave people behind if she can help it, going out of her way to save others when some, such as Lieutenant Gorman, have tensed up in similar moments.
In this scene, Newt has been captured by the aliens, but Ripley knows she still has a chance to save her. With only twenty minutes before the compound explodes, she knows her time is limited. Nevertheless, she is determined to keep her word to keep Newt safe. With sirens blaring, she descends seemingly into the fiery pits of hell, armed with as much firepower as one person can yield.
It's an iconic moment. Considering all they had been through, Ripley is willing to singlehandedly reenter the place they had just narrowly escaped. Ripley will not stand down that easily.
2 Ripley and Newt Narrowly Escape
Ripley frantically searches for Newt, using her wrist tracker to find her location. But Newt appears to have lost it on the way, and Ripley reluctantly realizes that this might be her time to head back. Newt starts to scream, though, and we realize she is still alive. Ripley rushes over and saves Newt, but now she has to face the wrath of the queen.
On their way back to where the ship is waiting, Ripley and Newt encounter an unexpected sight: The nest of the xenomorphs with the queen laying eggs. She tiptoes around them, expecting to just sneak past to their ship. Unfortunately, one of the eggs opens up and Ripley realizes she will have to torch the place. She blows up some eggs, shoots at aliens approaching her from the sides, and all while backing away and protecting Newt. It's truly a badass moment for the character, as one mother faces off against another.
1 Ripley Versus the Alien Queen
Just as in the original Alien, just one epic final scene isn't enough. The ship has escaped before the explosion, albeit just barely, and we think all is well. Suddenly, the mucus of a xenomorph drips from above, and Bishop is torn in half. The alien queen had stowed away on their ship, and so ensues the final battle of the film.
Ripley tells Newt to go hide, while she goes off into a side room. Soon, she emerges, strapped with a cargo-loader suit, with her first words being yet another iconic line: "Get away from her, you bitch!"
Ripley and the alien fight, and she catches it in her hold, before attempting to shove it down the ship's hatch. As she opens the hatch, nearly everything and everyone is blown out, including, finally, the alien queen. Ripley closes the door, and finally, the war has been won.