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ALIEN (project formerly titled STARBEAST)

Story by Dan O'Bannon & Ronald Shusett | Screenplay by Dan O'Bannon | 1976

"SNARK" - OUTER SPACE: The great dish antenna on the SNARK folds down against the main body of the ship, and other parts flatten out, until the ship has assumed an aerodynamic form.

BRIDGE / STANDARD: Dell, set a course and bring us in on that beam.

SPACE: The SNARK's engines cough into life, and send it drifting toward the distant dot that is the planetoid. CAMERA APPROACHES THE PLANETOID, until it looms large on screen. It is turbulent, completely enveloped in dun-colored clouds. The SNARK drops down toward the surface.

BRIDGE / STANDARD: Activate lifter quads.

BROUSSARD: Activated. Vertical drop checked. Correcting course. On tangential course now, orbiting. (brief pause as he studies his instruments) Crossing the terminator. Entering night side.

"SNARK" - IN ORBIT: Beneath the orbiting SNARK, night's curtain rolls across the planet. Descending at an angle, the SNARK drops down into the thick atmosphere of the planetoid.

BRIDGE / ROBY: Atmospheric turbulence. Dust storm.

STANDARD: Turn on navigation lights.

"SNARK": Hydroplaning down through the pea-soup atmosphere, a set of brilliant lights switches on, cutting through the dust, but hardly improving visibility.

BRIDGE / BROUSSARD: Approaching point of origin. Closing at 20 kilometers, 15 and slowing. Ten. Five. Gentlemen, we are directly above the source of the transmission.

STANDARD: What's the terrain down there?

BROUSSARD: Well, line of sight is impossible due to dust. Radar gives me noise. Sonar gives me noise. Infrared -- noise. Let's try ultraviolet. There. Flat. It's totally flat. A plain.

STANDARD: Is it solid?

BROUSSARD: It's... basalt. Rock.

STANDARD: Then take her down.

BROUSSARD: Drop begins... now! Fifteen kilometers and dropping... twelve... ten... eight and slowing. Five. Three. Two. One kilometer and slowing. Lock tractor beams.

There is a LOUD ELECTRICAL HUM and the ship shudders.

ROBY: Locked.

BROUSSARD: Kill drive engines.

The engines fall silent.

ROBY: Engines off.

BROUSSARD: Nine hundred meters and dropping. 800. 700. Hang on gentlemen.

SURFACE OF PLANET - NIGHT: The night-shrouded surface is a hell of blowing dust. The SNARK hovers above it on glowing beams of light, dropping down slowly. Landing struts unfold like insect legs.

BRIDGE / BROUSSARD: And we're... down.

SURFACE OF PLANET - NIGHT: The ship touches down, heavily; it rocks on huge shock absorbers.

BRIDGE: The whole ship VIBRATES VIOLENTLY FOR AN INSTANT -- then all the panels in the room flash simultaneously and the LIGHT'S GO OUT.

BROUSSARD: Jesus Christ!

The lights come back on again.

STANDARD: What the hell happened?

ROBY (hits a switch): Engine room, what happened?

FAUST (over, filtered): Just a minute, hold it, I'm checking.

ROBY: Has the hull been breached?

BROUSSARD: Uh... (scans his gauges) No, I don't see anything. We've still got pressure.

There is a BEEP from the communicator. Then:

FAUST (over, filtered): Martin, this is Jay. The intakes are clogged with dust. We overheated and burned out a whole cell.

STANDARD (strikes his panel): Damn it! How long to fix?

ROBY (into microphone): How long to fix?

FAUST (over, filtered): Hard to say.

ROBY: Well, get started.

FAUST (over, filtered): Right. Talk to you.

STANDARD: Let's take a look outside. Turn the screens back on.

Melkonis hits buttons. The screens flicker, but remain black.

BROUSSARD: Can't see a blessed thing.

NIGHT: Only a few glittering lights distinguish the ship from the absolute darkness around it. THE WIND MOANS AND SCREAMS. DUST BLOWS IN FRONT OF THE TINY GLIMMERING LIGHTS.

BRIDGE / STANDARD: Kick on the floods.

SHIP: A ring of FLOODLIGHTS on the ship come to life, pouring blinding light out into the night. They illuminate nothing but a patch of featureless grey ground and clouds of blowing dust. The wind shrieks.

BRIDGE / ROBY: Not much help.

Standard stares at the dark screens.

STANDARD: Well, we can't go anywhere in this darkness. How long till dawn?

MELKONIS (consults his instruments) Well... this rock rotates every two hours. The sun should be coming up in about 20 minutes.

BROUSSARD: Good! Maybe we'll be able to see something then.

ROBY: Or something will be able to see us.

They all look at him.

SHIP (MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE): The floodlights on the SNARK fight a losing battle against the darkness and the storm.




Gradually, the screen begins to lighten as the SUN RISES. The silhouette of the SNARK becomes visible, like some strange insect crouching motionless on the barren plain. The floods shut off. Dense clouds of impenetrable dust shriek and moan, obscuring everything and reducing the sunlight to a dull orange.


BRIDGE - DAY: CLOSE ON A SCREEN - it shows nothing but swirling clouds of orange dust. PULL BACK FROM SCREEN. The men (Standard, Roby, Broussard, and Melkonis) are sitting and standing around the room, drinking coffee and staring at the screens, which reveal only the billowing dust.

ROBY: There could be a whole city out there and we'd never see it.

BROUSSARD: Not sitting on our butts in here, that's for sure.

STANDARD: Just settle down. Sandy, you get any response yet?

MELKONIS (pulls off his earphones): Sorry. Nothing but that same damn transmission, every 32 seconds. I've tried every frequency on the spectrum.

BROUSSARD: Are we just going to sit around and wait for an invitation?

Roby gives Broussard a black look, then stabs a button on his console and speaks into the mike.

ROBY (into mike): Hello, Faust!

FAUST (over, filtered): Yeah!

ROBY: How's it coming on the engines?

ENGINE ROOM: Faust is seated at an electronic workbench, brightly lit, speaking into a wall intercom.

FAUST: I never saw anything as fine as this dust... these cells are all pitted on a microscopic level. I have to polish these things smooth again, so it's going to take a while. Okay?

BRIDGE / ROBY: Yeah, okay. (puts down the mike)

STANDARD: Sandy... how far are we from the source of the transmission?

MELKONIS: Source of transmission is to the northeast... about 300 meters.

ROBY: Close...

BROUSSARD: Close enough to walk to!

STANDARD: Martin, would you run me an atmospheric?

ROBY (punches buttons and consults his panels): 10% argon, 85% nitrogen, 5% neon... and some trace elements.

STANDARD: Nontoxic... but unbreathable. Pressure?

ROBY: Ten to the fourth dynes per square centimeter.

STANDARD: Good! Moisture content?

ROBY: Zero. Dry as a bone.

STANDARD: Any microorganisms?

ROBY: Not a one. It's dead.

STANDARD: Anything else?

ROBY: Yeah, rock particles. Dust.

STANDARD: Well, we won't need pressure suits, but breathing masks are called for. Sandy -- can you rig up some kind of portable unit that we can use to follow that transmission to its source?

MELKONIS: No problem.

BROUSSARD: I volunteer for the exploration party.

STANDARD: I heard you. You want to break out the side arms?

MAIN AIR LOCK: Standard, Broussard and Melkonis enter the lock. They all wear gloves, boots, jackets, and pistols. Broussard touches a button and the inner door slides silently shut, sealing them into the lock. They all pull on rubber full-head oxygen masks.

STANDARD (adjusting the radio on his mask): I'm sending. Do you hear me?

BROUSSARD: Receiving.

MELKONIS: Receiving.

STANDARD: All right. Now just remember: keep away from those weapons unless I say otherwise. Martin, do you read me?

BRIDGE / ROBY: Read you, Chaz.

MAIN AIR LOCK / STANDARD: Open the outer door.

Ponderously, the outer lock door slides open. ORANGE SUNLIGHT streams into the lock, and clouds of dust swirl in. We hear the MOANING OF THE WIND OUTSIDE. A mobile stairway slides out of the open hatchway, and clunks as it hits the ground. Standard walks out into the storm, followed by the others.

PLANETOID: The three men trot down the gangplank to the surface of the planet. Their feet sink into a thick layer of dust and loose rock. The men huddle together, looking around. The wind screams and tugs at their clothes. Nothing can be seen.

STANDARD: Which way, Sandy?

Melkonis is fiddling with a portable direction-finder.

MELKONIS (pointing): That way.

STANDARD: You lead.

Melkonis walks into the blinding dust clouds, followed closely by the others.

STANDARD: Okay, Martin. We're on our way.

BRIDGE: Roby is the sole occupant of the bridge. He is huddled over his console, smoking a cigarette and watching three moving blips on a screen.

ROBY: Okay, Chaz, I hear you. I've got you on my board.

STANDARD (over, filtered): Good. I'm getting you clear too. Let's just keep the line open.

PLANETOID: The three men plough their way through a limbo of yellow dust and shrieking wind. With their rubbery masks and deliberate movements, they look like deep-sea divers at the bottom of a murky ocean. Melkonis leads the column, following the compass on the direction finder.

STANDARD (CONT'D): Can't see more than three meters in any direction out here. We're walking blind, on instruments.

They wade on, following Melkonis. Abruptly he halts.

STANDARD (CONT'D): What's wrong?

MELKONIS: My signal's fading.

He studies the direction finder.

BRIDGE: Roby is listening intently to the dialogue from the helmet radios.

MELKONIS (CONT'D) (over, filtered): It's the dust, it's interfering...

His concentration is so great that he does NOT NOTICE HUNTER COMING UP BEHIND HIM.

MELKONIS (CONT'D) (over, filtered): ... Hold it, I've got it again. It's over that way.

Standing DIRECTLY BEHIND ROBY, Hunter speaks.

HUNTER: What's happening?

Startled out of his wits, Roby GASPS and whirls around to face Hunter.

ROBY (startled silly): Hell!

Hunter stares at Roby, whose momentary terror dissolves into embarrassed anger.

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