Film: Species

aka: Species III
Remind us again why this is bad.

Species is a 1995 Sci-Fi Horror film directed by Roger Donaldson, and starring Natasha Henstridge, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Forest Whitaker, Alfred Molina and Marg Helgenberger.

For thirty years, SETI has been scanning outer space, looking for signs of alien intelligence. In 1974, scientists sent out a message containing human DNA and the location of our planet. In return, they received two messages: one contains a catalyst for methane that allows the creation of cheap and efficient fuel, and the other contains a sample of alien DNA and instructions for how to combine it with human DNA. It is not long at all before scientists follow the instructions, creating the female human/alien hybrid Sil. She matures quickly, resembling an 11-year-old-girl after only a few weeks. She is intelligent, strong and agile - but the head of the research team thinks she might be dangerous to humanity and tries to terminate the experiment. Big mistake. Sil breaks out of her little habitat and escapes into Los Angeles, where she matures fully with two things in mind: survival at any cost, and reproduction with a human male.

This film has much to recommend it: A fine ensemble cast perfomance, a terrifying yet sadly sympathetic villain, thoughtful social commentary, very tight direction, designs by the legendary H. R. Giger, special effects that set a new standard for the depiction of alien creatures, and boobs. The last one is what most people remember.

It was followed by three sequels of declining quality.

This film series provides examples of following tropes:

Series Wide

  • Alien Hair: In her full-alien form, Sil's hair resembles Predator dreadlocks.
  • Alien Invasion: Via reproduction with humans. The method of gestation in the second movie is particularly violent.
  • Art Major Biology: The hybrids are a major example, particularly in the sequels (also see the below entry). The first film could handwave it as ignorance of the aliens nature.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    • When their true nature is not manifesting, the alien beings display such traits as the ability to regenerate body parts (including heads) within seconds. Losing and regrowing a head does not affect their memory.
    • Despite apparently conceiving their children in their pubic region (Sil gets Arden to feel their child growing, in her belly, just before she kills him), the aliens birth their children through a concealed orifice on their chest cavity. No doubt a callback to H. R. Giger's previous iconic creation.
    • Breasts seem to be solely for our enjoyment (Thank you, oh mighty alien overlord Xenu!), or more specifically, to make the aliens more attractive to human mates, as their offspring move immediately on to a solid-food diet (not requiring breastmilk), and in alien-form the nipples are weapons, not glands. Though, given the length of the tentacles, the breasts could just be there to hold the spooled tentacles when they're not in use.
    • Once the professor "harvests" Sarah's egg cells, she is rendered infertile. Which means that just like human women, her stockpile of reproductive cells is created exclusively in gestation. (As opposed to men who generate new supplies of sperm every time they get lucky). This is unusual, considering the aliens can "grow back" most other body parts as needed (like fingers), which we can't.
  • Boldly Coming: Inverted, the aliens have come to us, while simultaneously double-inverting Mars Needs Women.
  • Chest Burster: Why some people ONLY watch Species 2 ONCE. It made what happened to John Hurt look pretty tame.
  • Combat Tentacles: Which seem to be prehensible, to boot.
  • Conceive and Kill: Naturally, this is the standard MO of the aliens.
  • Creepy Child: Sil's son in the original movie and the infected astronaut's numerous offspring in Species II.
  • Determinator: Do not get between the hybrids and their desired booty. They will kill you.
  • Expanded Universe:
    • Dark Horse Comics had a four-issue comic miniseries entitled Species: Human Race while Avatar Press had the one-shot Species Special.
    • The novelizations also give a lot of backstory.
    • There's a Species sourcebook for West End Games' Masterbook system.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The infected astronaut in the second film plays it straight, but the original is actually an inverted example, as the alien wants a face full of human wing-wong. The second film double-subverts it, with an alien who wants it from the other alien.
  • Fan Disservice: Okay, imagine you're in bed with a hot specimen of your preferred gender. Now imagine that it senses danger and starts turning into a green, armored, clawed scaly thing...
  • Fanservice: The series is fueled on sex...
  • Gorn: ...and blood.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The various alien menaces.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The aliens have plenty of prehensile parts to impale their victims.
  • Interspecies Romance: Well, this is the main premise.
  • Male-to-Female Universal Adaptor: The alien beings are half human hybrid shapeshifters. We don't know what their "equipment" really looks like. They do seem to have a prominent tentacle motif going...
  • No Ontological Inertia: The aliens tend to turn back to human from their true form when they die. Doesn't happen in the first film, but does in the sequels.
  • Out with a Bang: The aliens are horny, but don't feel like the partners need to be alive after sex.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Part of why Natasha Henstridge was cast involved her 5' 9" (1,77 m) frame making her more alien-esque. Sunny Mabrey and Helena Mattsson, both 5' 8" (1,73 m), also fit.
  • Tragic Monster: The leading alien hybrids in the films tend to have sympathetic traits.
    • Sil. For the most part she doesn't seem to be acting out of deliberate malice rather self-preservation and natural instinct. That said her natural instincts lead her to brutally murder a "rival" female.
    • Species II has the infected astronaut Patrick Ross. It's unclear where his human and alien self truly begin and end but he does show genuine distress over the things he's doing, eventually opting to kill himself. However despite blowing most of his head clean off, it regenerates and it's strongly implied from that point on the alien side is firmly in control. One could even argue that the alien side influenced Patrick to shoot himself in the head, killing his human side; from when the head grew back onwards the alien side would call the shots.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Possibly, it's hard to tell if switching from human-form to xeno-form is anything more than an instinctive reaction to threats.

  • Building of Adventure: Inexplicably linked are a ritzy hotel, an elaborate scaffolded sewer network, and some kind of... oil well catacomb.
  • Anti-Villain: Sil is a surprisingly sympathetic antagonist. She clearly has human-like emotions, including to some extent a desire to be loved ("she liked him"), and if you look at things from her perspective she's basically a young child completely alone on a world full of hostile Starfish Aliens. She's a genetic freak tormented by dreams of a world and people she doesn't know, and over the course of the film seems to realise that she will never fit in anywhere. Yes she's a killer, but she seems to be acting more out of instinct than conscious malice, from her point of view she's just defending herself or preserving her Masquerade which she absolutely has to maintain among the hostile Starfish aliens that surround her. And her goal of having children and propagating her own species are hardly in and of themselves evil. Plus if she had anything like the feelings toward her offspring that a human mother would you can't help cringing a little imagining her witnessing the heroes incinerating her infant son with a flamethrower at the end. You can see how she's a threat to people that needs to be contained or neutralized, but at the same time you can sympathize with her.
  • Blank Slate: Sil was raised in a lab, so she starts with little concept of money and no moral compunction against killing. However, she is intelligent and cunning, so she's able to adapt pretty quickly. The killing thing stays, though.
  • Captain Obvious: Preston, pointing out a dead body and saying "she went this way".
    • Dan Smithson, the resident "empath". The notion that any of his supposed paranormal sensitivity is more useful than random guesses and looking around is one of the harder parts of the franchise to swallow. And that's including the hypersexual aliens with thermodynamically impossible biology.
  • Cat Scare: From a squirrel.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The hair dye commercial that gives Sil the idea to change her hair colour after faking her death comes on TV again when Dan is watching and helps him realise she is still alive.
  • Children Are Innocent: Why the train conductor cuts Sil a break. She doesn't even ask her name or where she's going to. Doubles as The Guards Must Be Crazy.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Sil kills a train operator with a strangling arm out of her cocoon, a woman in a club by ripping her spine, and her first prospect by making her prehensile tongue go through his head (though the latter only happens when she changes her mind about him but he won't take no for an answer).
  • Death by Sex: Stephen Arden gets killed after having sexual intercourse with Sil.
  • Dye or Die: Sil colors her hair black and cuts it short late in the movie after faking her death, see the next two entries to hide from the researchers hunting her. Only Dan had some idea to see through that, after he somehow watched the same hair dye commercial on the TV that Sil watched.
  • Enhance Button: Averted. They get a blurry still from a video camera and freely admit that it's the best image they can get from it.
  • Faking the Dead: Sil pulls off a complex one. With a car, lots of gasoline, and a live victim.
  • Fingore: The scene where Sil cuts her own thumb off (it regenerates) before moving onto to her female captive's hand.
  • Follow the Leader: While not a full-on Alien rip-off, H. R. Giger complained that there were too many similarities, starting with his involvement in designing the creature (he even suggested changing the ending, which he felt as similar to both Alien 3 and Terminator 2).
  • Hot Scientist: Marg Helgenberger, from this film and the second.
  • Informed Ability:
    • Stephen Arden is supposedly an uber-smart person, yet after a horny, attractive female alien in human form 'dies' in questionable circumstances, he doesn't think twice about sleeping with a horny attractive woman that suddenly appears before him. To be fair he probably didn't know she had the ability to regrow her thumb, and perhaps some blood left his head and went elsewhere.
    • Everyone on the team is supposedly intelligent, yet most of their lines are shouting out the obvious. The lines: "something bad happened here" and "she must have come through here" were both said after finding a dead body.
    • Preston Lennox is supposedly a talented and sought-after mercenary, yet for most of the film he just stands around looking tough.
    • Xavier Fitch is the top dog, yet his only skill seems to be being an ass.
    • Dan's psychic sensitivity never outstrips basic common sense and observation skills. Not once.
  • Jerkass: Fitch. Particularly halfway through the lab scene citing quarantine protocol (like Ripley, but unsuccessful) and the sewer confrontation towards Dan.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In the sewer chase, although he was being a complete Jerkass about it, Fitch was correct that Dan was just guessing due to pressure and therefore leading everyone in the wrong direction.
  • Karmic Death: Fitch in the first film, given how he had instigated the events to start with.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Sil's son dies. Sil almost goes the same.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Stephen Arden's look on his face and what he's thinking when he realized he have just been used as an Unwitting Pawn for Sil to get her impregnated.
  • Neglectful Precursors: It's not clear what the aliens wanted humans to do with their DNA, but either way giving it (and instructions on how to combine it with ours) was at best poorly thought out, if not downright malicious.
  • Oh Crap!: Stephen Arden says something along the lines of this when he found out he was having sex with Sil. Right before she claws him to death.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Preston at the end: "Let go, you motherfucker." Cue an M203-launched grenade into Sil's face.
  • Sequel Hook: The first movie ends with a rat eating Sil's remains, and using a tongue similar to hers. The following one somehow ignored it.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: There's practically no resistance to Sil's escape. She runs straight out an exit door and right off the premises. The only things between her and freedom were the glass of her containment cell and a chain-link fence.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Sil ends up in a hot tub with the guy who she was falling for. Unfortunately, the strike force arrives before anything can happen and Sil is reluctantly forced to kill the guy.
  • Villain Protagonist: Everything that occurs is because of Fitch's messing around with alien DNA, to say nothing of his incredibly jerkass attitude, which almost gets Preston and Laura killed.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A more literal example than usual, the infected rat from The Stinger is an unused Sequel Hook.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Sil is able to avoid capture and ultimately fake her own death by approaching a woman fully nude and pretending to be a rape victim.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Arden has sex with Sil to accomplish her goal of getting impregnated, Sil offs him when he started to realize who she really is and what he has done.

Species II
  • Came Back Wrong: Patrick Ross is distressed by the weird urges he's been having and the horrific things he's done, the final straw being the murder of his fiancee. So he decides to commits suicide by eating a a blast from a shotgun and blowing off most of his head. Which then grows back. Afterwards, he's noticeable less distressed about the things he's done and more actively seeking out women. The implication being he only succeeded in killing off his humanity.
  • Cardboard Prison: Eve's prison is ridiculously escapable. The glass isn't strong enough to stop her, just like the last film. The doors can't stop her, just like the last film. The walls can't stop her, just like the last film. The guards can't stop her, just like the last film. Objectively, they've learned nothing. This is especially bad because they've been extensively testing her and should know how to stop her. The only improvement, a poison capsule in her neck, can only be activated from a single console right outside her prison which she disables on the way out.
  • Cloning Blues: Eve, a clone of Sil, is raised in a lab with no male contact at all and she's used as a guinea pig as to avoid a repeat of the first movie's incident.
  • Death by Childbirth: A rather literal and gruesome example, as the alien hybrid's offspring gestate in a matter of minutes before tearing their way free of the human mother's abdomen.
  • Driven to Suicide: After killing his fiancee, Patrick realizes he is a monster and blows his own head off to put an end to his actions. However his head grows back and it's clear from that point on his human half is dead.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The mating of the two hybrids at the end appears to be equal parts French Kiss and forced mouth rape by his mouth tentacle.
  • Ironic Echo: Not seen in the cinema release. The little sister of the bad guy's first babymomma says an unbelievably ironic, unbelievably cheesy line as she climbs into bed with him.
    Debutante's Sister: Forget safe sex. You're dangerous!
  • Jive Turkey: Dennis has shades of this.
  • Lady Land: In the second movie, Eve is raised in a female-only environment, so that mating urges won't make her uncontrollable. It doesn't work. Nor should they have expected it to, considering they let her watch television and The Dukes of Hazzard is one of her favorite shows.
  • Oh Crap!: The second lady to get pumped with alien juice in the threesome scene, as she realizes the guy boinking her has a bunch of weird tentacles growing out of his back.
  • Refusal of the Call: Preston Lennox, having retired from freelance hunting to making a counter-terrorism security firm. He basically doesn't want to do anything if the government became idiots by making another Sil (though the writers didn't think he'd be effected by Fitch and Arden dying by Sil's hands and being nearly killed himself with Dan and Laura), and only gets talked into dealing with the new threat by being offered a million dollars.
  • Sequel Hook / What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of Species II one of the infected astronaut's sons is shown to have survived and Eve is pregnant with the infected astronaut's baby, with the implication that the baby will be female and they will mate. Eve's baby plays a prominent role in Species III, but the implied scenario doesn't happen because she deems the astronaut's offspring unfit for reproduction.
  • A Shared Suffering: In Species II, the male and female hybrids (one each) sense each other and try to hook up. Eve (a clone of Sil) even goes into psychic heat when she senses him, despite the fact that she was raised in a female-only environment.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Eve is kept in a Cardboard Prison because the plot calls for her to escape and the writers apparently either couldn't think of any better way to do it or didn't want to bother. The villain uses a house that his family owns as a hide-out, reasoning that the fact that it's owned in his mother's maiden name will surely stump the FBI, CIA, and whatever other agencies might have an interest in capturing a superstrong near-immortal evil alien that's going around impregnating women with lethal chestbuster rip-offs. He drags a random woman out of a supermarket to rape her in his van right in the parking lot in broad daylight (Though that leads to his capture. Doesn't explain why he ignored several other women he walked past in the shop). When the heroes find him instead of sending a team of trained professionals armed with weapons that worked fine in the first movie they send a scientist and an astronaut (granted, along with one trained professional) and take no weaponry that would be effective against the creatures besides something that requires you to all but shove it into the target's face.

Species III
  • Continuity Snarl: The doctor from the university said that the infected astronaut's half-human children had defective immune systems due to being hybrids. They were also implied to be sterile (the female one certainly seemed to be). This means the premise of the original movie was never possible in the first place.

Species: The Awakening
  • Came Back Wrong: With Melinda dying, her creator Tom tries to save her and seemingly succeeds in rejuvenating her, though at the cost of another human life. It soon becomes apparent that the once sweet Melinda is now almost completely gone, her once dormant and contained alien side having taken over.
  • Eye Scream: A doctor gets Miranda's tongue through the back of her head and out the eye.
  • South of the Border: For most of the film.

Alternative Title(s):

Species The Awakening, Species II, Species III