The Alien franchise has given us eight feature films in the past four decades that have gone on to collectively gross over $1.4 billion at the worldwide box office. The latest installment, Alien: Covenant, hit theaters on May 19th, and finds Ridley Scott back in the director’s chair for his third Alien film. So far, reviews have called Covenant a worthy addition to the franchise, which delivers on the scares that were largely absent from 2012’s Prometheus.
Though the original 1979 film and its direct sequel are often regarded as some of the greatest sci-fi films ever made, there are a number of films in the Alien franchise that are less than stellar. Unfortunately, when a movie proves to be profitable, studios continue to push out sequels with little regard to character or story. And when it comes to horror movies, it’s all too easy to fall into the tropes of other scary movies and simply opt for jump scares as opposed to slow-burning terror.
Prometheus came under fire for trying to be too philosophical while many of the characters seemed like full-fledged idiots. And yes, even the original film and the direct follow up-have a number of head-scratching moments. So before we see if Covenant can right the wrongs of its predecessor, lets take a look back at the 15 Most Dumbest Moments In The Alien Series.
15 Taking off their helmets (Prometheus)
Prometheus came under particular scrutiny for how unintelligent many of its characters seemed — especially considering that most of them were scientists. Instead of taking their time to fully analyze a situation, the crew of the Prometheus more often acted on foolish impulses, which are on full display when they set out for their first expedition of LV-223.
After receiving a single reading that the atmosphere is breathable, archaeologist Holloway immediately decides to whip off his helmet and see/smell for himself. Okay, so maybe Holloway is the one careless crew member in the movie; after all, every sci-fi thriller needs at least one cocky character. But then everyone else decides to remove their helmets as well after seeing that Holloway has survived a whopping ten seconds while breathing the air.
But what about microorganisms? Bacteria? Or an undetectable alien diseases? You are on a planet that is eerily void of life, if you didn’t notice. Apparently one quick test is all these scientist need before they risk their lives for basically no reason whatsoever.
14 Handing over their ammo (Aliens)
The Weyland-Yutani Corporation has a bad track record of hiring incompetent leaders. In the original Alien, the ship’s captain is the first person who insists on breaking quarantine regulations and bringing a facehugger on board. And in the follow up film, the Marines’ commanding officer, Lieutenant Gorman, is extremely inexperienced when it comes to live combat.
When the Marines are doing their first sweep on LV-426, Lieutenant Gorman unknowingly leads his men into the colony’s atmosphere processor. Ripley and Burke inform the lieutenant that any open fire could result in a massive thermonuclear explosion. Instead of pulling his men out of the area to reassess the situation, however, Gorman has the Marines hand over their ammunition!
The lieutenant doesn’t even fully explain the situation, and allows his men to inadvertently walk into a trap. So when the xenomorphs finally begin to swarm, the soldiers aren’t well equipped to fend them off, leading to multiple casualties before the remaining Marines are able to retreat to safety.
13 Not running any tests on Kane (Alien)
Though the first Alien film may be a sci-fi masterpiece, that doesn’t mean that there’s still not a few idiotic moments within the movie. Of course, we know that the Nostromo was a commercial vessel, and their crew wasn’t comprised of Marines or scientists who were specifically selected to deal with extraterrestrial life. But that doesn’t mean that they should totally lack common sense.
After the facehugger inexplicably detaches itself from Kane’s face, everyone aboard seems to just take his word that he feels fine. Admittedly, they are all being deceived by Ash, the science officer aboard the Nostromo who’s also secretly an android working on a secondary mission for Weyland-Yutani. But even Ripley, the only crew member who’s shown a lick of common sense up until this point, doesn’t insist on running some test or putting Kane in quarantine for a few days to observe. Nope, instead they all decide to share a meal together with the guy who may have just been infected by an unknown alien organism. It’s not like sharing food and drinks is a good way to get sick or anything!
12 Why Weyland lies about being dead (Prometheus)
After archeologist Elizabeth Shaw discovers multiple star maps that she believe to be an invitation from their creators, she contacts Peter Weyland in hopes that he will help fund a mission to LV-223. Weyland, who’s nearing the age of 100, believes his creators may hold the key to eternal life, and decides to fund the mission. However, around this same time, Weyland reportedly “dies” while orbiting Mars, and leaves his company to his daughter.
In reality, Weyland is snuck aboard the Prometheus and was put into cryo-sleep. Maybe he believed that he would die before the crew returned, or maybe he just wanted to meet his makers face to face. Whatever the reason, there’s no good explanation as to why Weyland had to fake his own death. The billionaire already had the resources to safely hide aboard the spaceship, and as long as he’s funding the mission and paying the crew handsomely, why should they care if he’s seeking the elixir of life?
Much like Mereditch Vickers being revealed to be Weyland’s daughter, this is another twist in Prometheus that feels totally forced.
11 When Ripley asks to be executed (Alien 3)
Ellen Ripley has undoubtably been through a lot, and we don’t blame her for feeling like the entire universe is out to kill her. By the time Alien 3 came around, we expected the warrant officer to be more than a little frustrated when she crash lands on a prison colony and discovers that she has a xenomorph forming inside her. But we never expected the action heroine to ask to be put out of her misery.
Instead of fighting off the xenomorphs until her dying breath, Ripley asks one of the prison inmates to execute her. This comes as a giant slap in the face to everything we’ve come to expect from the character, who has always been the most head-strong and common sensical character within the series. It’s fine if Ripley struggles to accept her impending death after she gives “birth” to the alien queen, but shouldn’t she at least consider sacrificing herself while trying to take down the living xenomorph while she still has the chance?
10 Leaving the door open when searching for a facehugger (Alien)
The first idiotic moment in Alien is when the crew of the Nostromo decides to breach quarantine regulations and bring an alien organism on board. This is a largely thanks to Ash, who is programmed to believe that the crew is expendable. But when the facehugger goes missing, it’s Ripley and Dallas who have seemed to lose regard for the lives of their fellow crew members.
When they enter the medical room to search for the facehugger, they don’t don any protective equipment and fail to even shut the door behind them! Just moments ago, there was a freaky alien arthropod attached to Kane’s face, and now they’re risking it glomming onto their faces or setting loose in the massive spaceship.
We soon discover that the facehugger has died and that it wouldn’t be hugging on more faces in its lifetime — but for all the crew knew it had detached itself so it could find a new host.
9 Running in a straight line (Prometheus)
You don’t even need to have an understating of the Alien series to know that this moment is truly idiotic. Just watching the thirty second sequence is enough to make you wonder what the characters (and filmmakers) were thinking.
When the remaining crew aboard the Prometheus decides that they will thwart the Last Engineer's plan of destroying Earth, they sacrifice themselves by crashing into the alien spaceship. This results in the horseshoe-shaped spacecraft crashing down on LV-223, where it begins to roll toward Shaw and Vickers, who attempt to outrun the the rolling ship.
Of course, the question this moment had all of us asking was “Why don’t they just run sideways?” The way this moments plays out makes escape from impending death seem like a no-brainer. How much better could this moment have been if Vickers ran left and Shaw ran right, and the massive ship began to teeter in Meredith’s direction — finally putting the irritable mission director out of her misery.
8 Not killing Burke (Aliens)
In the original Alien, when Ripley discovers that Ash has been working against them, she does everything to stop the android from wreaking more havoc. This leads to Ash becoming decapitated and the remaining crew try to extract any last information from the android before it's rendered inactive. However, when the crew in Aliens finds out that the traitor is Burke, they fail to kill or imprison him, despite the fact that he’s already gotten a number of their fellow crew members killed.
Carter Burke is an executive at Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and is more interested in bringing the xenomorph back for experimentation than he is in saving lives; he even releases a facehugger into the medical lab with Ripley and Newt in the hope that he can smuggle the specimen back in their bodies.
As soon as this information is discovered, it’s a wonder that they don’t shoot Burke on sight. Despite the fact that xenomorphs are closing in, it would’ve only taken a second for the survivors to rid themselves of Burke. Instead, they leave him alive where he can continue to put everyone's life at risk.
7 Killing off the most interesting characters with an hour left in the movie (Alien 3)
It might be easy to look back now and write off Alien 3 as a total failure, but the first half of the film actually had a promising start. Sure, it was nowhere near as good as the first two movies, but it introduced a new and distinctive setting and a number of new obstacles for Ripley to deal with. (Not to mention that Sigourney Weaver looked like a total badass with a shaved head.) But the movie went downhill fast when two of the main characters are killed off back-to-back.
Once Ripley gets her bearings on Fiorina 161, she finds herself growing close to Jonathan, a former inmate who serves as a doctor to the prison colony. On the flip side, Ripley is at odds with the prison warden, who wants Ripley to be isolated until she’s picked up. This power-struggle between the amiable doctor and stubborn warden sets the stage for the first half of the film, but when both of these characters are killed off within minutes of each other we’re forced to refocus on a bunch of character we have no emotional connection to, leading to a less than satisfactory second half of the story.
6 Fifield and Millburn (Prometheus)
While many of the scientists in Prometheus seem like they might not be at the top of their field, the characters of Fifield and Milburn definitely take the cake in the idiocy department. After chickening out big time during their first expedition on LV-223, the two decided to head back to the spaceship after the discovery of a decapitated alien head. Though we certainly don’t blame them for seeking safety (they specialize in geology and biology, after all), somehow they manage to get lost on the way back to the ship... Despite the fact that they had orbs mapping the area and were in constant contact with the ship!
The one moment that was wildly criticized is when the two stumble upon to a hammerpede, a cobra-like creature that is a result of some indigenous worms mixing with the Engineers’ black liquid. You would think these two scaredy cats would run for cover, since nothing about the appearance of the hammerpede suggests it’s cute and ready to cuddle. Instead, these super professional scientists decide they want to pet the alien life form, which inevitably leads to their demise.
5 The xenomorph puppet (Alien 3)
The runner in Alien 3, specifically referred to as the Dragon, is actually the most deadly xenomorph in the entire franchise — killing 15 individuals in Fiorina 161, along with one dog (or ox depending upon which cut of the film you watch)-- which makes it a shame that the creature looks downright laughable by the end of the movie.
Alien 3 is notorious for going through production hell, with first-time director David Fincher in a constant tug of war with the studio. This no doubt impacted the quality of the film, and lead to a rushed shooting schedule. While the Dragon looks great in the first half of the film, it literally looks like a cardboard cut-out during the film's climactic chase scene.
Though it's easy to mistake the effect as shoddy CGI, the xenomoprh was actually still created through mostly practical effects, accomplished by filming a rod puppet in front of a blue screen and superimposing it over the actual footage. We give them credit for trying to keep it practical, but the poor end result still sucks all the tension out of the movie’s third act.
4 Trying to save a sassy cat with a xenomorph on the loose (Alien)
While trying to track down the alien, Brett, Parker, and Ripley find the ship’s cat, Jones, hiding in one of the ship's lockers. (Which really begs the question, how exactly did the cat end up in a closed locker anyway?) Brett ends up chasing the cat into the engine room, where the technician is snatched up by the now fully-grown alien and pulled into the ceiling while the cat watches with a look of smug superiority (see above).
Before you call us dog people, just imagine that all of your crew have been killed off by an alien, and the ship you’re standing on is about to self destruct. Would you really risk your life for a cat? Don’t get is a wrong, Jonesy is one cute cat, but their are plenty of other adorable tomcats back on Earth -- a planet where there isn’t a blood-thirsty xenomorph trying to kill you at every turn.
Even with the clock ticking down, Ripley somehow comes to the conclusion that the cat’s life is just as precious as hers. She takes the time to go back and grab Jones, which gives the xenomorph just enough time to sneak onto the escape vessel.
3 Re-writing everything we know about evolution (Prometheus)
In the opening scene of Prometheus, we watch an Engineer sacrifice himself to begin life on Earth. He drinks a mysterious liquid which causes his DNA to break down, where it mixes and reforms with the water on our planet. Then, much later on in the film we’re told that the Engineers’ DNA is exactly the same as ours. The problem here is that that’s not how evolution actually works.
If the Engineers started life on Earth, there would have been a few billion years between the Engineer sacrificing himself and the emergence of homo sapiens. What are the chances that through all that natural selection and adaptation that human DNA would circle back around to being identical to that of the Engineers? Not very likely. This inconsistency could have been minimized if the DNA wasn’t a 100% match — which would seem more likely anyway since humans and Engineers still look quite different.
2 The entire Alien vs. Predator spin-off series
Whether it be Freddy vs. Jason or Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, when two sci-fi or horror franchises cross over it usually means trouble. It’s as if the studio knows they must cobble together two dying fan bases in order to have any chance of making their money back, and the Alien vs. Predator series is no exception.
The first AVP film came out in 2004 and was met with largely negative reviews thanks to its ridiculous storyline and cast of disposable characters. What may have been even more offensive is the PG-13 rating, which solidified that the studio had little interest in pleasing fans of either the Alien or Predator series, and were just interested in making money. Unfortunately, the studio got what they wished and AVP went on to gross over $170 million at the box office, and spurred another ridiculous spin-off; Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, which went on to receive even worse reviews than its predecessor.
1 All of Alien: Resurrection
If Alien 3 is when the franchise started to go downhill then Alien: Resurrection is when it hit rock bottom. Even with Joss Whedon (The Avengers) penning the script, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) serving as the director, the fourth Alien film proved to be a disappointment of massive proportions. Everything felt over-the-top in the worst way possible, from the characters to the cinematography to the creatures. Alien: Resurrection even managed to make the xenomorphs seem no longer scary by placing them in glass cages and showing them too often and in too much light.
It’s clear now that the writer and director had two very different ideas for what they wanted the movie to be. But since Neill Blomkamp’s update of the Sigourney Weaver side of the Alien series is now reportedly dead in the water, we’re suck with accepting the idiotic Alien: Resurrection as the conclusion of a once iconic series.
What do you think is the absolute dumbest moment in the Alien franchise? Sound off in the comments!