Film / Species
aka: Species The Awakening

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/species1_4_largePack_8871.jpg
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.

It was followed by three sequels: Species II (1998), the only one theatrically released, bringing back Henstridge, Madsen and Helgenberger; Species III (2004), released direct-to-DVD and featuring a cameo by Henstridge; and Species - The Awakening (2007), which actually debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel one more before its home video release.


This film series provides examples of following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    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 still 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 tentacle 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" Sara'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. note 
  • Body Horror: Bodily transformation sequences are depicted very graphically, like when Young Sil starts to transform into an alien monster in the first film.
  • Combat Tentacles: Which seem to be prehensible, to boot. The female aliens have two of those in their nipples, and their tongues serve as another.
  • 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.
  • Cute Monster Girl: While the human forms of the hybrids are overall pretty hot, but even their alien forms are fairly appealing, with recognizable secondary sexual characteristics that are designed to appeal to potential human mates. The designers specifically wanted Sil to be beautiful even as an alien.
  • 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.
  • Express Delivery: It is natural for alien hybrids to mature inhumanly fast. In the second film, they do it so quickly, they quite literally go out with a bang.
  • 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.
  • Male-to-Female Universal Adaptor: The alien beings are Half-Human Hybrid shapeshifters. We don't know what their "equipment" really looks like, although 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.
  • Overly Long Tongue: The hybrids have one of these, culminating in a gory example of In One Ear, Out the Other in The Awakening.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Part of why Natasha Henstridge was cast involved her 5' 9½" (1,77 m) frame making her more alien-esque. Sunny Mabrey and Helena Mattsson, both 5' 8" (1,73 m), also fit.
  • 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.

    Species 
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer / Building of Adventure: Inexplicably linked are a ritzy hotel, an elaborate scaffolded sewer network, and some kind of... oil well catacomb.
  • Ankle Drag: Perhaps as an homage to Aliens, Sil grabs Laura's ankle at the end before being tossed back into the fire pit.
  • Ambiguously Evil: It's left unclear if Sil's killing ways are a consequence of being brought up in a laboratory without knowledge of morals or a built-in trait of her genome. The alien civilization that enabled her creation in Earth also counts as ambiguous in their intentions (see Neglectful Precursors below).
  • 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.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: Sil punches through a bathroom stall to rip out a woman's spine. She also manages to break through an entire fire door when Preston and Laura attempt to track her below the hotel.
  • 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.
  • Camping a Crapper: Sil kills the woman in the club by busting through the back wall of the toilet stall and ripping out her spine.
  • Captain Obvious: Dan's psychic sensitivity rarely outstrips basic common sense and observation skills:
    • Dan to Fitch at the boardroom: "She didn't like it when you locked her up".
    • When they find the dead train conductor by the alien cocoon: "Something bad happened here". Preston actually lampshades the uselessness of this observation with a "No shit".
    • They find Sil's car in the middle of the road without gas: "She walked... she walked".
    • While Laura and Press flirt at the bar: "They like each other".
  • Cardboard Prison: The containment facility holding Sil has a security level that barely beats a pinfold, as it seems that everything she has to do in order to escape is running her way through a fragile glass pod, a guardless building, some unwary soldiers and a fence.
  • Cat Scare: A squirrel jumps on Laura's shoulder for a false scare. Also the two bums behind the dumpster who give Dan a good scare.
  • 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.
  • Convection Schmonvection: In the finale when the tar-filled pit catches fire, the temperature in the cavern should have been unbearable. However, the characters don't respond to this fact.
  • 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).
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: The female train conductors who approaches the odd looking alien life-forms with not a trace of fear on her face.
  • Damsel in Distress: During the finale, Laura falls into the tar pitch and has to be rescued by the other characters.
  • Death by Sex: Stephen Arden gets killed after having sexual intercourse with Sil.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: An near-fatal example in which a male bicyclist sees Sil walking down the street and whistles at her, not seeing in his direction that a car is coming right at him and is nearly hit. Sil, however, getd struck by the hit-and-run driver and then rushed to the hospital by the horrified pedestrians watching.
  • Dye or Die: Sil colors her hair black and cuts it short late in the movie after faking her death 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.
  • The Empath: Dan Smithson is an empath, although he's played up as more of a Captain Obvious.
  • Enhance Button: They get a blurry still from a video camera and manage to enhance the image, if only slightly.
  • Escaped from the Lab: Sil escapes from a government laboratory after the scientists who created her try to kill her.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Invoked by Sil when she fakes her own death.
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing: The motel manager mentions to Sil that she doesn't want her credit card (which she took, along with the clothes, from the train conductor) to fall into wrong hands. Next scene has Fitch telling on the phone that they found her via tracing her credit card.
  • Glassy Prison: The young Sil is held inside a confinement area with glass walls. When the project director decides to kill her with poison gas, she breaks through the glass and escapes the laboratory.
  • Healing Factor: At the hospital Sil's back injuries from the car accident heal in seconds, leaving the onlooking doctor speechless.
  • Hot Scientist: Marg Helgenberger, from this film and the second.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Sil's son. Despite being theoretically only 1/4 alien, his alien form is significantly more monstruous than Sil's, featuring hinged legs, a crown-like head, an exposed abdomen, an asymmetric pair of arms and a noticeably malformed mouth.
  • Inescapable Horror: At the very end, after Sil is destroyed we see a rat chewing on a piece of her body. The rat mutates, indicating that it will become another Sil. Interestingly, also a case of a Sequel Hook that went entirely unused (this particular rat is never mentioned in any of the following films).
  • Informed Ability:
    • Everyone on the team is supposedly intelligent, yet most of their lines are shouting out the obvious. Dan's line "something bad happened here" and Preston's line "she must have come through here" were both said after finding a dead body.
    • 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.
    • Preston Lennox is supposedly a talented and sought-after mercenary, yet for most of the film he just stands around looking tough or wielding a gun.
    • Dan's empathic powers are limited by the needs of the script. At one point his sensing of Sil is foiled by a wooden fence behind which Sil hides. Also he fails to sense those two bums behind the dumpster who give him a Cat Scare.
    • Xavier Fitch is the top dog, yet his only skill seems to be being a Jerkass.
  • 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, given how he had instigated the events to start with.
  • Kick the Dog: Sil cutting off the fingers of her captive. The victim would have very likely tried to explain that she couldn't regenerate like Sil could, and after the first finger, that would have been evident. Didn't deter Sil from continuing, though.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Sil's son dies. Sil almost goes the same.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Preston is introduced thanking a next-door neighbour for minding his cat while he's out of town.
  • Kiss of Death: Sil kills someone while kissing him by sticking her tongue out through the back of his head.
  • Lecture as Exposition: Fitch gives a lengthily exposition of the SETI project and the failed DNA experiment to the summoned group in his boardroom.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Fitch orders the group to split up when they are down at the Absurdly Spacious Sewer.
  • Mistaken from Behind: Preston believes he spotted Sil at a bar, but when he approaches the blonde girl and she turns around, it is somebody else completely. Watch the scene here.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Sil does this to any female competitor whom she sees as sexual competition to any male suitors she desires to reproduce with.
  • 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. The film seems to indicate that it was actually a malicious plan (one of the characters speculates that Sil is an ideal biological weapon if some alien race decided that humanity was a weed in need of plucking), while the role-playing game supplement suggests the aliens thought it was really interesting (and more than a little amusing) watching humans blunder around with biotech beyond their understanding and seeing how we responded to it.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Young Sil has at least two, involving fully grown versions of herself and a male equivalent, and herself pursued by a "ghost train".
  • 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.
  • One Size Fits All: Sil steals clothes from a female train conductor to blend in, yet somehow the overweight, middle-aged woman's clothes fit perfectly on Natasha Henstridge's model body.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: When they try to breed the second embryo, the camera at the lab breaks down. The repair leads to an action scene.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Preston at the end: "Let go, you motherfucker." Cue an M203-launched grenade into Sil's face.
  • Race Against the Clock: Fitch sets a 2 min countdown for the decontamination of the lab when the experiment on the second embryo gets out of hand with Preston and Laura Trapped in Containment.
  • Reading Lips: In the scene where Fitch says "Tomorrow Night We'll go back to the Club", Sil is in a car down the street lip reading him. She'd learned to do that in her Glassy Prison at his lab.
  • Right Through His Pants: Defied. When the group discovers Sil's first male victim as an adult, Fitch has an Oh, Crap! moment as he believes she's successfully mated. Preston is quick to point out "Doesn't look like a successful mating to me. He's still got his pants on."
  • Screaming Birth: At the end Sil screams giving birth to her son (it's almost a Chest Burster, though coming out of the stomach). Apparently, even alien anatomy is not suited for painless child birth.
  • 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.
  • Shapeshifter: Sil can choose between Natasha Henstridge's blond gorgeousness and her alien heritage's tentacled, scaled succubus.
  • Shout-Out: Sil evading capture at L.A. train station by disguising as a train conductor is lifted from a scene in North By Northwest. See comparison here.
  • Single Tear: Fitch sheds a single tear in the beginning while overlooking the gassing of Sil.
  • Soft Glass: Young Sil breaks the thick glass wall of her Glassy Prison at the lab with her bare fist.
  • Stern Chase: After having escaped from the lab, Sil remains in constant pursuit by Fitch and his group.
  • Super-Strong Child: Young Sil displays her super-human strength when breaking the glass of her lab prison and later when she breaks the drawer at the train's dining car with ease.
  • 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.
  • Three-Month-Old Newborn: Justified. Due to his sped-up growth rate, Sil's son is already past baby age shortly after emerging from her womb.
  • Tragic Monster: 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.
  • Train Escape: Young Sil escape her pursuers by jumping on a passing train.
  • Trapped in Containment: They're tooling around with the alien DNA when a camera breaks down in the sealed experiment chamber. Dr. Laura Baker and Preston volunteer to go in and try to replace the camera. Of course an accident happens and they are on their own to fight off the fast growing alien while the other team members are forced to watch from behind safety glass.
  • 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 Can Leave Your Hat On: Shortly after killing a drunken female competitor, Sil slowly strips off her pink sweater and then tosses it to the former male suitor to keep before moving on to the next potential suitor.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Arden has sex with Sil to accomplish her goal of getting impregnated, Sil offs him when he starts to realize who she really is and what he has done.

    Species III 
  • All Men Are Perverts: Abbott believes the trope is in full effect with Dean towards Sara, but he's shown to care for her in a non-sexual manner.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The world is finally free from the hybrid menace and Sara has a partner to live with in the wild. As he's sterile, they will be the last of their species. However, Dean states they will eventually find out, implying they might return to kill him in revenge. Not to mention that, in keeping with the species' habit of exceeding their creators' expectations, it is not unlikely that Sara will somehow be able to naturally heal her own sterility.
  • Clothesline Stealing: How Sara finds her first outfit. It doesn't explain how she gets her shoes, though.
  • Continuity Snarl: Abbott explains the infected astronaut's half-human children had defective immune systems due to being hybrids, and they are also implied to be sterile (the female one certainly seemed to be). This means the premise of the original movie, that Sil's offspring would end up replacing humanity, was never possible in the first place. Although, then again, the way the scientists in the lab produced their embryos and the natural conception by Ross may be the devil in the details here. It may also be relevant that Sil provided the egg in her breeding, whereas the halfbreeds in Species II & III all came from alien sperm. In crossbreeding species, eggs tend to have a greater influence over which traits the offspring will inherit, meaning Sil's halfbreed children would've been naturally more inclined to possess the aliens' strength then Patrick's halfbreeds.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Abbott as a lab equipped with hydrochloric gas, just in case he has to trap and kill a dangerous alien.
  • Creepy Child: Little Sara rejects coldly Abbott's attempts to educate her in human customs, though we get a look of her softer side when she goes to bed and asks him uncertainly if she's really an unique being.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Sara through the film, though very subtly, and ultimately by saving Dean from Amelia.
  • Dirty Old Man: Abbott's superior Dr. Turner is initially polite enough not to stare at a naked Sara, but after becoming delighted by her reproductive advances on him, he tries to rape her when she changes her mind at sensing he hasn't the right DNA.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Sara ends up fighting Amelia with no more covering than her alien form scales.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Sara is initially ignorant about the human considerations towards nudity, which leads her to show herself naked in front of Dr. Turner, which in turns leads to the old bastard's death.
  • Meaningful Name: The previously unnamed military project that created Sil is now named Project Athena. Just like Athena, Sara is adept at both learning and fighting.
  • Parental Substitute: Abbot is fond of Sara as a surrogate daughter, or so he tells her in her child stage, although he also has the interest to use her cells to win a Nobel Prize.
  • Psychic Powers: Both Sara and Amelia, something that had only been hinted at previous installments.
  • Psychometry: Sara learns all the contents of a chess manual by merely touching it.
  • The Quiet One: Both as a child and as a young woman, Sara talks little and only when needed.
  • The Stoic: Sara barely emotes through the film, causing some humor when an older, female UFO expert believes she's a college student with a nasty recent breakup.

    Species: The Awakening 
  • Came Back Wrong: With Miranda 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 Miranda 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 III, Species The Awakening

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Species?from=Main.SpeciesTheAwakening