Do you hear that? It’s your heavy breathing after watching the Alien: Covenant trailer.
How has the biomechanical Xenomorph, designed by legendary Swiss artist H.R. Giger, been able to keep so bone-chillingly scary after 38 years? Let's find out.
It's always watching...
By far the creepiest thing about the Xenomorph is that you can never be sure whether it’s watching you. If the likes of Godzilla were after you, you’d know when they were still a good mile away. Sure, it’s scary to know that a skyscraper sized monster is heading right for you, but it’s more terrifying to think that the Xenomorph could be hiding in the vents right above you.
In fact, how do you know there isn’t one hiding under your bed right now? Despite its size, the Xenomorph can move silently and fit into the tiniest of openings. Plus, its dark outer body means it can stay hidden in the darkness. The unnerving suspense is hard to bear for even the bravest, but make one false move and the wait will be over.
That horrible hiss...
The one clue that suggests there’s an Xenomorph nearby is its hiss. Unfortunately, it will probably be the last noise you’ll ever hear if one is indeed pursuing you.
It’s an iconic sound that’s hard to describe. Almost like a pig squeal, but ten times scarier, the Xenomorph sound is so unique that you’d instantly recognise it if you were walking down a street, although you wouldn’t likely stay long enough to hear it all.
Think of the most intimidating sounds from the animal kingdom: a lion’s roar, a bear’s growl, a snake’s hiss, and not one of them comes close to the horrible noise of a Xenomorph.
They can kill you from the inside...
A face-to-face view of a face-hugger is a traumatic experience alone, but once it finally detaches you’re given the false hope of safety. In truth, it’s slowly killing you from the inside. But once your death approaches, the Xenomorph doesn’t have the compassion to kill you quickly and painlessly.
Oh no. Instead, it opts to burst out of your chest cavity, leaving behind a shattered ribcage and a blood-soaked room. Is there a worse way to go? So the next time you think you have digestion, consider how long ago you last ate and whether you’ve come across some strange looking eggs recently. Saying that, any attempt to remove the parasite will likely be futile, so ignorance is bliss, eh?
The Xenomorph’s whole appearance looks utterly terrifying from its huge head to that long, deadly tail. The worst feature of all though? The mouth.
This alien doesn’t have a normal mouth. Instead, it has a second one lurking inside which resembles that of a tongue with teeth. But it’s not just its appearance that freaks us out. While it’s the main mouth for consuming its prey, the inner mouth can also be used as a weapon having the power to shatter some creatures’ skulls.
At least it’s just fictional, right? We’re sorry to say that the Alien creators used a real animal for inspiration of this anatomy design: the Moray Eel has a similar jaw, which is used to pull its prey into its gullet. Yikes. Nature is scary.
They're smarter than your average alien...
Usually monsters in films are pretty dumb. That gives the hero the chance to outsmart them and flee to safety. Unfortunately, there’s not as much luck with the Xenomorph. When it's lurking in the vents, the alien isn’t just stalking you, but encouraging you to walk straight into a trap.
The Queen of the species has previously operated a lift whilst in pursuit of Ripley too, although the Queen is said to possess considerably more cognitive ability than the standard drone. That’s not to say the standard Xenomorph is stupid though. They always know the perfect time to pounce, or when its best to retreat so it can time its next attack better. While they might not be as intelligent as a human, our brainpower means little when they’re such an efficient killing machine.
They're hard to kill...
Any monster that is easy to kill soon loses its fear factor. But the Xenomorph is so invulnerable that your only option is to run from them. While it possible to wound or kill them with close-quarters gunfire, their exoskeleton can withstand a ridiculous amount of force. And if you do wound them, they’ll start bleeding acidic blood which will instantly burn through your skin.
In the original film, Ripley was forced to send it into space to get rid of it, but even then, the Xenomorph could survive the conditions which would be fatal for any human. If you're devoid of a machine gun your best bet is to scare it off with fire, but who carries a flamethrower every day?
Fortunately, the Xenomorph is fictional (as far as we know at least), so when you click here to book your Alien: Covenant tickets you're safe in the knowledge that one won't turn up in Cineworld.
That won’t stop us screaming when Alien: Covenant hits the big screen on 12th May, though.
Ryan Jones is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.