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I’m the Monster’s Mother: Favorite Ripley Scenes

Here at Horror Obsessive, we handle a lot of heavy lifting. Analysis, interpretation, deep discussion, introspective interviews…you name it; we’ve got it. “Favorites” takes a lighter approach to the material we normally cover. Each week, we will take you through a list of favorites—whether it’s moments, scenes, episodes, characters, lines of dialogue, whatever!—in bite-sized articles perfect for your lunch break, a dull commute, or anywhere you need to take a Moment of Zen. So, sit back and enjoy this week’s offering as part of our month Celebrating Women on screen and behind the camera: Anthony Divers’ favorite Ripley scenes from the Alien franchise.

Ellen Ripley has always been, and will always be, my top movie icon. I have loved the Alien films since being far too young to watch them (thanks Dad!) and Ripley has always been the character I adored above any others. Sigourney Weaver’s iconic performances have helped establish Ripley as one of the most badass women in sci-fi history, and she has paved the way for women stepping out of the supporting roles. Ripley helped women break away from being the love interest of the main male character, and step into the spotlight as the leading woman. She proved that women don’t need a man to protect them; they can fight for themselves. And after being the last one standing more than once, she has proven that sometimes men need to be protected by a big strong woman. She does all of this whilst still remaining beautiful, maternal, compassionate and feminine, and that is not an easy thing to achieve. Ripley is an icon: she is the face of sci-fi film in my opinion, and she has had it with these xenomorphs. Officially! So, strap yourselves in and join me as I discuss my favorite Ripley scenes. T-minus zero seconds until spoilers.

Ripley finds her clones, Alien Resurrection

Now I do have many issues with Alien Resurrection—far too many to list here—but it wouldn’t be right to ignore it completely in this list. The film does still feature Ripley, and it does have some pretty good scenes. As much as I would have liked the Ripley story to end after Alien 3, it didn’t, and we can’t just ignore Alien Resurrection (apparently) so I’m going to instead ignore all the voices in my head that are begging me to list the issues and talk about the one scene I genuinely enjoyed: the clone scene.

The premise of this film is that scientists have been trying to clone Ripley using blood samples from Fury 161 where Ripley died in Alien 3. They know about the xenomorph she had growing inside her when she died, and they want it. Early on in the film we see that Ripley has a number eight tattoo on her forearm, and she has no idea what it means. We have an idea, but it’s not certain. Not until she finds a door with ‘1 – 7’ written above it.

As Ripley enters the room, she discovers what the tattoo on her arm means. She is attempt number eight at cloning Ellen Ripley. And the seven attempts that came before her are now in front of her eyes. It’s a heart-breaking scene, for Ripley and the audience. The first six clones are hideous monsters, different versions of Ripley and Alien DNA spliced together. One has a human body but a grotesque, skin-coloured alien head. Another has a human face but a mangled, alien body. All six appear to be dead, contained in glass cylinders of varying sizes. Ripley is clearly upset by the clones, as she makes her way around the room looking at these deformed mutant versions of herself. But the biggest heartache comes when she finds number seven, the only other clone to still be alive.This clone has Ripley’s head, a somewhat human body, and a clearly visible scar where the scientists have attempted to remove her alien embryo. But her arms and legs are deformed with elements of the alien, and as she lay naked and helpless on an operating table, we see Ripley’s heart breaking before us.

When the abomination sees Ripley, it manages to mutter two words to her. ‘Kill…me’. Tears roll down Ripley’s face as she adjusts the bed sheet to give this clone a bit if decency. The creature repeats the request and Winona Ryder’s character Call hands Ripley a flame thrower. As more tears roll down her cheeks, Ripley aims the weapon at number seven, and it nods its head in agreement. Ripley fires, enveloping the clone in flames. As she backs out of the room still crying, she unloads her weapon on all of the other cylinders too, destroying the failed attempts one by one. It’s a heart breaking scene, and it’s the first time we see any genuine emotion from this version of Ripley. It gives us hope that she is still more Ripley than Alien, and we see a glimmer of a future for our space heroine. The scene is then completely ruined by Ron Perlman and his clichéd macho bullshit, stating it’s a waste of ammo and that it ‘Must be a chick thing’. For fucks sakes. Get in the bin Resurrection.

Newt’s autopsy, Alien 3

Newt's Autopsy in Alien 3

Now onto the much underrated Alien 3, the film that I personally feel ended the Ripley story perfectly. I vividly remember watching this film as a ten year old boy, who had watched Aliens more times than he had watched Robocop, and that was a lot. I remember being completely devastated that Ripley died at the end, and unable to fathom the idea that there would be no more Alien films. (Careful what you wish for kid.) And I also remember being absolutely baffled that Newt and Hicks had died before the film even started.

Now that I’m older, I understand the reasons behind it, but as a kid it was a real head-scratcher. I do fully appreciate why they killed Newt now, and I’m also glad about it as we get the scene with her autopsy. It’s a gripping scene and it really stands out to me due the powerful performance from Weaver. We see Ripley still mourning the deaths of Newt and Hicks, and obsessed with knowing what killed them. She is understandably paranoid that there may have been some kind of Alien interruption whilst in cryo-sleep, and she needs to be sure. So she requests the autopsy, claiming that she is worried that Newt died from cholera.

Despite being told that it is perfectly clear that Newt drowned, Ripley insists. Firstly she asks to see her body, which is being kept in the morgue. When the doctor slowly pulls down the sheet covering her face, we get a quick flash of Newt’s big blue eyes, wide and shining. This makes Ripley look away, and tugs at your heart strings as you feel Ripley’s pain. She asks for a moment alone, whispers ‘Forgive me’ to Newt, and starts to inspect her body for tell tale signs that a face hugger had been there. When the doctor intervenes, she requests the autopsy, claiming it is needed as there is a risk of contagion. The doctor states there has not been a case of cholera reported in two hundred years, but gives in to her pleas. It’s a hard scene to watch purely because it’s Newt, the dirty faced little girl that Ripley promised to protect. And now her dead body lies before her, being torn apart at her request. When he opens Newt’s chest, you expect our familiar alien friend to burst forth, as does Ripley. But it doesn’t. It seems Newt did drown whilst in cryo-sleep. It’s a small relief for Ripley but not a major one. Newt is still dead. Ripley has failed.

Android fight, Alien

Ash attacks the crew in Alien

By the time we reach this tense scene in Alien, we already don’t trust Ash. He keeps secrets from the rest of the crew, he’s insisted they don’t hurt the alien, and he’s a bit too fond of the dead face hugger he’s been studying in his lab. So when he locks the door, stopping Ripley from getting away from him, we were ready for something to happen. What we weren’t ready for, was that bead of sweat that runs down his face. Is it, white? What the hell?

Before we can figure out what the hell it is, Ash attacks. He tears a handful of Ripley’s hair away and then throws her around the room like she weighs nothing. Why is he so strong? He looks old and weak, how is he doing this? He throws her onto a bed, stunning her, as more white sweat appears on his face.

Parker and Lambert appear just in time, and struggle to fight Ash off with a fire extinguisher. As Lambert takes Ripley to safety, Parker watches in horror as Ash whirls around the room, spewing more white liquid from his mouth and making strange squealing noises. As Ash continues vomiting the milk like substance, he lunges at Parker. Parker strikes again with the extinguisher, taking Ash’s head clean off. But there is no blood, only more white liquid. And when Parker continues to beat Ash’s convulsing body on the ground, we see wires and cables were there should be veins and flesh. Parker reacts the same way we do, saying ‘Its a robot! Ash is a goddamn robot!’.

This scene stands out for me as after the initial shock and horror of the chest burster scene, you kind of assume there won’t be any more surprises in store. And then boom, not only is Ash a bad guy, he’s not a guy at all, he’s a goddamn robot! I particularly love this scene because the first time I watched Alien as a young boy, I thought, “Oh, OK, that ladies’ gonna die now.” I was so sure, as many people must have been, that both women members of the crew would die. And this scene was there to trick us into believing that too, pretending Ripley was just another clichéd support character, and not the Uber heroine she actually became.

Ripley’s death, Alien 3

Ripley descends into lava in Alien 3

Onto one of the saddest and most powerful scenes for me from the entire franchise is Ripley’s suicide at the end of Alien 3. I still get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. The entire film is bleak, there’s no mistaking that. The men living on the prison planet are rapists and murderers, Ripley has lost Newt and Hicks, and she has an alien inside of her. But the final scene is heart wrenching for many reasons. By this point Ripley and the men have managed to trap and kill the alien that has been terrorising the cramped, deserted halls of Fury 161. Sadly there is no time to celebrate, as the alien inside of Ripley is due any moment now, and Weyland’s soldiers have arrived to take Ripley away. They know the alien inside of her could be the last one in existence, and they really want to get their hands on it. Ripley has wanted to destroy every last trace of the aliens since she witnessed what they are capable of. So when she sees the soldiers arrive, she only has one option left to her. She must kill herself, destroying the last chance Weyland have of weaponising the hostile alien.

So, after refusing Bishop’s offer to take her away, remove the alien and destroy it so she can have a normal life with children, Ripley closes a gate in his face, as the platform she is standing on moves away from the walkway. Bishop pleads with her, asking her to think of everything we could learn from the alien. His cries fall on deaf ears, as the sad music swells, and she reaches her destination.

She now stands on the edge of the platform, metres above the molten metal used to kill the Alien earlier in the film. She tells Bishop he is crazy, takes one last deep breath, and falls backwards off the platform. Cue 10 year old me sobbing like a baby. Bishop screams, “No!” as her body slowly falls towards the lava below. And as the music reaches its crescendo, we see the alien burst out of her chest. She holds on to it as it moans and squirms. And as her body reaches the lava, we don’t see pain or fear on her face, we see release. She has won.

This scene is powerful to me on many levels. First of all, Ripley is dead. No more Ripley. That was heart-breaking enough for me as a child. But re-watching it as an adult I get a lot more from it. Ripley dying is her finally being free of the alien that’s been in her life so long its all she can remember. She has won. And she’s beaten the company, who have already put her through so much horror and pain in their attempts to get the alien in their possession. It’s almost her reward for fighting for so long. Now she can rest. I also love the way she holds onto the alien. She may have lost her daughter Amanda, she may have lost Newt, but this baby, this one’s staying with Ripley forever. It is a heart breaking scene, but I think it’s the logical conclusion to Ripley’s story. In death she gets the peace and quiet she never had in life.

Queens nest, Aliens

The xenomorph queen looks menacing in Aliens

Aliens is a fantastic film—everyone knows this. And when faced with a decision of choosing favorite scenes from the film, I struggled. There are so many great scenes: the initial alien attack beneath the core, the face huggers in the med bay attacking Ripley and Newt, the ship crash, there’s too many to mention. But for me, when forced to pick favorites, my first would be the scene were Ripley comes face to face with the queen for the first time.

Just to set the scene, at this point in the film, Ripley has Hicks safely on board the ship, piloted by Bishop. She has made her way back to Newt, and now carries her in her arms back to the ship so that they can escape. But as she rushes through dark passageways gripping Newt to her body, she stops, a shocked expression on her face. And as the camera moves around her we understand why she is shocked. She has stumbled into a room filled with alien eggs, which we know by now contain the deadly face huggers. But that’s not all, as Ripley slowly turns around, we see the thing that’s been laying the eggs. A gross, slimy nozzle is laying an egg as the camera pans across revealing what this nozzle sack is attached to: the queen.

This scene would be one of my favorites just because of the queen. She is amazing. Gigantic, powerful and terrifying, she puts the standard aliens to shame. But it’s not just her that makes the scene so great, it’s the subtle communication between her and Ripley, Mother to Mother. As the queen hisses angrily, two alien soldiers appear at her sides. Ripley sees this, and fires her flame thrower into the air to show that she means business. She then lowers her flame thrower towards the nearest egg, telling the queen her intentions. The queen sees this and hisses to her soldiers, who retreat. It’s like Ripley has an agreement with the queen: let us go or I’ll kill your babies. So the queen lets her go. Or so we think. As she and Newt step backwards out of the nest, one of the queens eggs slithers open to release the face hugger inside. Riley glances at the queen, tilting her head in a way that says ‘Really bitch?’ before opening fire on the eggs.

She sets them all alight as the queen screeches and growls. The soldiers reappear and Ripley tears them up with her assault rifle. As she runs out of ammo, she fires grenades into the queen’s egg sack, ensuring no more eggs are lain today. The queen continues to squeal and hiss as Newt shouts ‘Let’s go!’ and pulls Ripley toward the exit. Ripley throws the belt holding her remaining grenades into the flames as they run from the nest, and we see the queen break away from her egg sack, leading to the final fight. I absolutely love this scene—the connection between Ripley and the queen is fantastic. I love the idea that Ripley could have just left if the queen had stuck to their silent agreement. It could have led to a completely different ending. But I love the way it did go down, and seeing Ripley go wild on her eggs is thrilling to watch.

Lucky Star, Alien

Ripley escapes a self-destructing ship in the final scene of Alien

The final scene of Alien is one of my favourite movie scenes of all time. The strobe lighting, the music, the atmosphere: it’s just perfection. And as far as Ripley scenes go, it definitely stands out as one of the best. The way Ripley slowly gets into the space suit inside the glass closet as she watches the alien—its mouth protruding slowly as if aroused by her performance—is seductive and terrifying all at once. When she slowly moves to the pilot seat, softly singing “Lucky Star” in a whispered voice, you feel every step she takes as the tension rises. Then as she starts turning on the air filters, trying to get the alien to move from it’s crouched position inside the wall, the tension becomes unbearable. It’s one of those horrifying scenes you can’t look away from as it’s too interesting and compelling. Will the alien attack? Does Ripley have a plan? Why is she singing?! It’s a great scene that builds perfectly to the finale.

As Ripley turns away to move towards the air lock controls, your heart almost stops beating. As soon as she stops looking at the alien, the audience no longer sees it either. The fear that it could be right behind her is palpable, and when she turns back slightly, screaming as she sees the alien right there, I’m sure the audience was screaming too. She opens the air lock and the alien is sucked out, but it takes one last shot from her harpoon to make it leave completely. The alien tries to get back on board the ship via a large exhaust, obviously unaffected by the lack of oxygen in space. But Ripley fires up the engine, blasting the alien out of the exhaust and into the depths of space. Ripley has won. Against all odds, she has single-handedly destroyed this vicious alien creature and can go home with her cat. It’s such a great and surprising ending to a film, I just love it.

Amanda Ripley, Aliens

This scene wasn’t actually included in the theatrical release of Aliens, which I think is a real shame as it adds so much more depth to Ripley’s relationship with Newt. Before Ripley agrees to go to LV426, she sits waiting in a virtual park beside a wall size screen showing trees and grass, a great nod to future vision of making people feel less home sick whilst on long space travel journeys.

Ripley switches off the screen as Burke arrives. She asks ‘Is there any word on my daughter?’ Erm, what?! Ripley has a daughter?! This was my reaction after seeing the directors cut years after the theatrical release. Ripley had a daughter before she boarded the Nostromo, and now, 57 years later, she needs to know if she’s OK. It blows my mind that this scene wasn’t included in the theatrical release. It’s such a vital part of Ripley’s story. Why wouldn’t we want to know that Ripley was a mother?

Burke, being the arse that he is, dodges the question and tries to brief Ripley on the meeting she is about to have about the destruction of the Nostromo. She interrupts him and calmly repeats her question. He sits down and explains he did want to wait until after the meeting, but yes he had found information. Amanda Ripley-McClaren, a married name he presumes, aged 66 at the time of her death. Gut Punch. Her daughter had had a life, grown old and passed away, all whilst Ripley was floating around space in cryo-sleep.

He hands Ripley a photo of the elderly Amanda, and a fun fact is that this photo was actually Sigourney Weaver’s real life mother. Ripley whispers ‘Amy’ as she strokes the photograph. She tells Burke that she had promised to be home for Amanda’s birthday. Her 11th birthday. She breaks down in tears and the audience is right there with her. It’s such a great scene and gives more insight into why she needs to protect Newt so badly. This scene also led to the smash hit game, Alien Isolation. Which happens to be the topic of my next favorite.

Flight recorder, Alien Isolation

Alien Isolation message to Amanda

Alien Isolation is a fantastic game. It has the claustrophobic, suffocating atmosphere of Alien, and getting to play as Amanda Ripley is a great treat for fans of the franchise. At the start of the game we find that Amanda is in her early twenties, and has spent much of her life trying to find out what happened to her mother, Ellen Ripley. She is about to reach her goal, as she is told a rescue ship has found the Nostromo, the ship Ripley left on when Amanda was ten years old.

As you progress through the game, your initial goal is to find the flight recorder from the Nostromo, in the hopes it holds some clue as to what happened to Ripley. As fans of the films, we of course know exactly what happened. But Amanda has no idea. As this is an Alien game, it gets dark pretty quick. You discover that the team that found the flight recorder decided to check out the ship that the Nostromo crew found, where that first face hugger attached itself to Kane. They went there, found the eggs and you can imagine the rest. So now there is one alien aboard the ship you’re investigating, and the game consists of you sneaking around finding clues and avoiding the terrifying alien.

But the scene I wanted to talk about is when you finally find the flight recorder. We hear the original audio message that Ripley records at the end of Alien, about being the last survivor of the Nostromo. But then we hear an extra recording, a ‘personal message’ never heard in the film. Ripley states ‘This is for my daughter’. It’s a tear jerking message with Ripley explaining to Amanda what had happened but reassuring her that she was OK. The message ends with ‘I’m sure I’ll see you very soon. I love you sweetheart’. Which for a fan like me, is just heart breaking. It’s also voiced by Sigourney Weaver, which just makes it that much more awesome. It was my favourite part of the game and I think any fan of the film franchise who isn’t a gamer should at least listen to the recording on YouTube. It may not be officially classed as canon but it is for me.

This is Anthony Divers, last survivor of Horror Obsessive, signing out.

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Written by Anthony Divers

Anthony Divers is a writer and social media manager for 25YL, and works as a team leader for a group of staff in a service centre. He loves gaming, horror movies and music. Living in the North East of England, he is surrounded by family, cats and his partner, who also works for 25YL. He believes he is the funniest man in England, and collects the souls of his defeated enemies in cute little jars. He has won first prize for the annual Valentine's poetry competition at his work place 3 years in a row, and also took the trophy for Best Wig in 2014* *no one else was judged, or indeed asked to wear a wig, but a trophy's a trophy.

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