Alien (creature in Alien Franchise) - Life Cycle - Facehugger

Facehugger

A facehugger is the second stage in the Alien's life cycle. It has eight long finger-like legs which allow it to crawl rapidly, and a long tail adapted for making great leaps. These particular appendages give it an appearance somewhat comparable to chelicerate arthropods such as arachnids and horseshoe crabs.

The facehugger is a parasitoid; its only purpose is to make contact with the host's mouth for the implantation process, by gripping its legs around the victim's head and wrapping its tail around the host's neck. Upon making contact, the facehugger tightens its tail around the host's neck in order to render it unconscious through oxygen deprivation. The facehugger then inserts a proboscis down the host's throat, supplying it with oxygen while simultaneously implanting an embryo. Attempts to remove facehuggers generally prove fatal, as the parasitoid will respond by tightening its tail around the host's neck, and its acidic blood prevents it from being safely cut away. In addition, its grip on the host's head is strong enough to tear the host's face off if it is forcibly removed.

Once the Alien embryo is safely implanted, the facehugger detaches and dies.

Giger's original design for the facehugger was a much larger creature with eyes and a spring-loaded tail. Later, in response to comments from the filmmakers, Giger reduced the creature's size substantially. At first Giger assumed that the facehugger would wrap around the outside of the astronaut's helmet, but Scott decided that it would have far more impact if the facehugger were revealed once the helmet was removed. Scott and Giger realised that the facehugger should burn through the helmet's faceplate with its acid blood; subsequent redesigns of the space helmet included a far larger faceplate to allow for this. Dan O'Bannon initially conceived the facehugger as somewhat resembling an octopus, possessing tentacles. However, when he received H. R. Giger's designs, which substituted tentacles with fingerlike digits, he thought Giger's design concept superior. Since no one was available at the time, O'Bannon decided to design the facehugger prop himself. The technical elements of the musculature and bone were added by Ron Cobb. Giger's initial design for the smaller facehugger had the fingers facing forward, but O'Bannon's redesign shifted the legs to the side. When the foam rubber sculpture of the facehugger was produced, O'Bannon asked that it should remain unpainted, believing the rubber, which resembled human skin, was more plausible.

In Aliens, the facehuggers were redesigned by the late Stan Winston so that they would be capable of movement. Unlike the creatures in the first film, the creatures would take a much more active role in impregnating their victims. When Ripley throws one off of her, the facehugger was now capable of scuttling across the floor and leaping at its prey, wrapping its tail around the victim's throat. Due to the film's budget, only two fully working facehuggers were built.

In Alien 3, another addition, a "super-facehugger" that would carry the embryo of the queen Alien, was planned but ultimately dropped. The super-facehugger is briefly glimpsed in the Assembly cut of Alien 3, but not identified as such.

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