Alien (1979) had Dallas’ death scene removed during the final editing. While this made for a suspenseful third act, it compromised the storyline.

Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) had Dallas’ death scene removed during the editing of the final cut. While this made for a more suspenseful third act, the decision greatly compromised the storyline.

When Alien was released in the summer of 1979, the groundbreaking practical effects and compact storytelling won over critics and audiences alike. The simple plot, derivative of several science fiction films of the 50’s and 60’s, was transformed by framing the protagonists as identifiable people performing mundane jobs. Though Dan O’Bannon’s screenplay was inspired, in part, by 1958’s It! The Terror From Beyond Space, the two films could not be more different in tone or intention. Coopting a kiddee matinee movie narrative gave the adult audience a false sense of security, adding another level of suspense to the shocking events.

While Alien was applauded for its “working joe” dynamic, it was also criticized for its lack of character development and confoundingly vague treatment of its title creature. Both of these concerns were explored further, years later, when a director’s cut was released in 2003. The motivation for the Xenomorph’s rampage—and its intriguing lifecycle—was explained in one reinstated scene. Sometimes referred to as “the eggmorphing scene”, it provided a satisfying yet terrifying coda to the narrative. This version, along with additional unincorporated cut footage found on the DVD, offered a more nuanced experience. The cut scenes, never edited into any version, provided further character development and a more combative relationship between Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright).

Dallas’ Cut Death Scene In Alien Left a Huge Plot Hole

Alien: Why Dallas' Death Scene Was Cut (& Why That Was A Bad Decision)
Alien: Why Dallas’ Death Scene Was Cut (& Why That Was A Bad Decision)

In O’Bannon’s original script, during the climax of the film, Ripley comes across the bodies of Dallas (Tom Skerritt) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) who have been cocooned by the Xenomorph. Both are in various stages of transformation into the eggs – the oval objects discovered in the derelict alien ship at the beginning of the film. Using the humans as “nutrition” for the vehicles that eventually create the facehuggers offers a compelling explanation for the Xenomorph’s motives. When Ripley finds the cocooned bodies, Dallas is still barely alive and implores her to kill him. Using her blowtorch, she incinerates the cocoon; destroying the unfinished eggs. While the removal of this scene might tighten the third act, it compromises a well-crafted setup with no pay off.

The intriguing discovery of the Xenomorph eggs at the beginning and the ambiguous lifecycle of the creature teased at a climax that never occurred. Losing the added character development didn’t exactly hurt the storyline, but excising an important plot point did compromise the film’s impact. Scott’s indifference at removing scenes with important information also created narrative problems in his Alien prequel films. Was it a bad decision to remove the eggmorphing scene? Many fans argue that it was. However, the iconic alien queen from Aliens, James Cameron’s beloved 1986 follow-up, might not have existed had Scott decided to use the scene.

Cameron gave a nod to the cut material in his follow-up film when a cocooned host is discovered alive by the Colonial Marines. The woman implores them to kill her before a Xenomorph tears through her chest. In Aliens, humans were cocooned by the Xenomorphs in order to keep them immobile through the incubation period. This plot point also suggests motive for the creatures to attack and collect humans. There are (unused) drafts of Alien sequels and film offshoots where the Xenomorphs create new eggs with both a queen and through human transformation when necessary. Scott’s prequels have further muddled the lifecycle, but fans are hopeful a long-rumored third installment will clear up these inconsistencies.

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Dallas: Complete Series 1-14

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