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

Species is a 1995 science fiction thriller 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

  • Abusive Precursors: Given what a pure sample of alien DNA turns into, it's a fair bet that the charitable donors planned Genocide By Supermodel.
    • Although if you wanted to exterminate humanity there are much better ways of doing it. A disease disguised as advanced medical biotechnology would have been a better idea.
      • There are implications that it was Sil's growth in a lab as a test subject that made her sociopathic - or even just the inclusion of human DNA itself.
  • 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).
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: When their true nature is not manifesting, the alien beings display such traits as regeneration.
    • To be more precise they can regenerate limbs. And heads. In seconds. And the memories are still there after you destroy the head. We really have to assume they're more like utility fog constructs than life as we know it. Either that or they're magic. There's no way they can work with sane conventional biology.
    • Also, despite apparently conceiving their children in their pubic region (Sil tells Arden to feel their child growing, in her belly, just before she kills him), the aliens birth their children through 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.
    • 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.
  • Bloody Murder
  • Body Horror
  • Boldly Coming: Inverted.
  • Chest Burster: Why some people ONLY watch Species 2 ONCE. It made what happened to John Hurt look pretty tame.
    • A non-violent version is Sil giving birth in the first film.
  • Combat Tentacles: Which seem to be prehensible, to boot.
  • 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 a the one-shot Species Special.
    • The novelizations also give a lot of backstory.
    • And there's a Species sourcebook for West End Games' Masterbook system.
  • 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...
    • Let's not even get started on the threesome scene in Species II. Squick and Gorn is shoved down the viewer's throat in gratuitous quantities.
  • Fanservice: The series is fueled on sex...
  • Gorn: ...and blood.
  • Guilty Pleasure - The original is mildly so.... from Species 2 onwards, totally.
  • 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 he 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.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting
  • X Meets Y: Alien meets A for Andromeda

Species
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer
  • 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 a 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.
    • It's debatable whether Sil can really be considered a villain at all. Fitch, on the other hand, is undeniably a Villain Protagonist. Keep in mind that everything that occurs is because of his messing around with alien DNA, to say nothing of his incredibly jerkass attitude, which almost gets Preston and Laura killed.
  • 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: Dan Smithson, the resident empath.
    • and Preston, pointing out a dead body and saying "she went this way"
  • 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 the tentacles that come 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.
  • 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. And later noticed she may be on the same floor as the team.
  • Enhance Button: Averted. They get a 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.
  • Five-Man Band: Everyone but Preston can be The Smart Guy, since he's the only non-scientist on the team.
  • 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.
    • 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 Smithson is a psychic empath who can detect Sil...except, of course, for when she pops up right behind him.
      • Then again, without Dan they never would've known that Sil was still alive (they were about to go their separate ways and Sil could've prevented Arden's death from being discovered until much later), and she could've kept on reproducing and killing people, depending on what happened next.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Once Sil grows into her adult female form, she openly flaunts her sexuality without much concept of shame or modesty - she definitely needs little encouragement to remove her bra.
    • Ahem, well she didn't have much social contact in the first place.
  • Jerk Ass: Fitch. Particularly halfway through the lab scene citing quarantine protocol (like Ripley, but unsuccessful) and the sewer confrontation towards Dan.
  • Jerk Ass 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.
  • 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. Grand total the only things between her and freedom were the glass of her containment cell and a chain-link fence.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Literal example. See Sequel Hook above.
  • 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.

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: The cell Eve is kept in can be broken out of by her running into it. (It's made out of glass, like what contained Sil in the first film.) The rest of the doors aren't strong enough to stop her either. The guards outside her cell are apparently expected to stop a superstrong creature that can survive decapitation with fists and trutcheons. Nor are the any of the rest of the guards armed with weapons actually capable of killing or seriously harming her. Despite the fact they've been testing the effectiveness of weapons on her for some time and you'd think standard assault rifles are one of the first things they'd test on her, and we know from the first movie that flamethrowers work well against them. Oh yes, there's supposed to be a poison capsule in her neck that kills her if she ever leaves the lab/prison ... which apparently either fails to go off, was completely ineffective, or she removed it offscreen. And when the infected astronaut was captured earlier he was able to get out of control and escape with ridiculous ease. The whole thing was a gigantic Idiot Ball.
    • She destroyed the console that activated the poison capsule on her way out, before it manages to go off.
    • Making that Failsafe Failure as it should, reasonably, not require someone to push a button for it to go off.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
    • To their credit, the scientists had established a decently friendly rapport with Eve before this point, and she seemed receptive to the idea of helping them figure out a way to stop an incident like the last movie. It probably never occurred to them that she'd go into heat without the physical presence of a male (see Lady Land). As for the rest of it... yeah, call the movie an entire Wall Banger moment.

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.
    • Would there be a difference whether the father or mother was alien? This is a factor in hybridization, at least between earthly species.

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alternative title(s): Species; Species The Awakening; Species II; Species III
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