Alien to Celebrate 40th Anniversary with Official Short Films

The Alien franchise is set to unveil six shorts, expanding upon the official continuity, in celebration of the original film’s 40th.

Xenomorph in Alien: Covenant

As surreal as it may seem, we’re coming up on the four-decade mark since moviegoers were relayed the ominously iconic tagline, “In space no one can hear you scream.” That’s right, director Ridley Scott’s Alien, the game-changing film that, for all intents and purposes, created the sci-fi horror genre as we know it, is turning 40 this year – May 25, specifically. To celebrate the milestone, Twentieth Century Fox is cooking up something special in the form of official short films!

The Alien franchise will roll out a total of six shorts, each showcasing a unique story that’s set in the acknowledged canon of the film universe. Check out the teaser trailer for them just below!

The first four shorts will be unveiled at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle on Friday, March 15, subsequently showing at C2E2 in Chicago on Saturday, March 23. The final two offerings will premiere at the end of the month at WonderCon on Saturday, March 30 at the Anaheim Convention Center, where it will be followed by a panel with the directors. However, you need not attend the cons (or suffer through grainy uploads) to catch these Alien shorts, since they are bound for IGN, where each one will premiere on a weekly basis, starting on Friday, March 29.

Here’s the official list of the Alien 40th Anniversary short films, along with their synopses and directors.

ALIEN: Alone – Hope, an abandoned crew member aboard the derelict chemical hauler Otranto, has spent a year trying to keep her ship and herself alive as both slowly fall apart. After discovering hidden cargo, she risks it all to power up the broken ship in search of human life.  Written and Directed by Noah Miller.

ALIEN: Containment – Four survivors find themselves stranded aboard a small escape pod in deep space. Trying to piece together the details around the outbreak that led to their ship’s destruction, they find themselves unsure to trust whether or not one of them might be infected.  Written and Directed by Chris Reading.

ALIEN: Harvest – The surviving crew of a damaged deep-space harvester have minutes to reach the emergency evacuation shuttle. A motion sensor is their only navigation tool leading them to safety while a creature in the shadows terrorizes the crew. However, the greatest threat might have been hiding in plain sight all along.  Directed by Benjamin Howdeshell.

ALIEN: Night Shift – When a missing space trucker is discovered hungover and disoriented, his co-worker suggests a nightcap as a remedy. Near closing time, they are reluctantly allowed inside the colony supply depot where the trucker’s condition worsens, leaving a young supply worker alone to take matters into her own hands.  Written and Directed by Aidan Breznick.

ALIEN: Ore – As a hard-working miner of a planet mining colony, Lorraine longs to make a better life for her daughter and grandchildren. When her shift uncovers the death of a fellow miner under mysterious circumstances, Lorraine is forced to choose between escape or defying management orders and facing her fears to fight for the safety of her family.  Written and Directed by the Spear Sisters.

ALIEN: Specimen – It’s the night shift in a colony greenhouse, and Julie, a botanist, does her best to contain suspicious soil samples that have triggered her sensitive lab dog. Despite her best efforts the lab unexpectedly goes into full shutdown and she is trapped inside. Little does she know, an alien specimen has escaped the mysterious cargo, and a game of cat and mouse ensues as the creature searches for a host. Directed by Kelsey Taylor.

The Alien 40th Anniversary shorts arrive by way of a talent-corralling event that combines the diamond-in-the-rough ethos of Project Greenlight with an endeavor to expand upon its classic continuity for the fans. Indeed, Fox’s talent search endeavor dangled the opportunity for up-and-coming filmmakers to leave their handprint in the cement of the one of the most famous film franchises ever. After fielding 550 pitches from would-be directors, six filmmakers were chosen and provided with official access to the franchise’s elements such as storytelling, creatures and characters, allowing the directors to pay homage to the soon-to-be 40-year-old original film, while adding their unique takes.

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Of course, the influence of 1979’s Alien can’t be overstated. Brandishing a heretofore unimaginably nightmarish creature – created by H.R. Giger – in the Xenomorph, Ridley Scott’s film was a terrifying master class of filmmaking technique that told a grandiose story in the claustrophobic setting of commercial salvage ship the Nostromo. It also gave the zeitgeist the equally valuable gift of a new kind of female protagonist in Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, a character who successfully balances resourcefulness and dogged determination with the vulnerabilities we recognize within ourselves.

Forty years, three direct sequels, two crossovers and two prequels later, the Alien franchise is as relevant as it’s ever been, continuing to spawn other-media offerings in comics, toys, video games and even recent digital animated series Alien: Isolation; a pop-culture-proliferating force that’s about to add six more intriguing offerings in the Alien 40th Anniversary Short Films!

Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.