Every Alternate Death Scene For Alien's Lambert Explained

Throughout the many versions of the script for "Alien," there was one scene that always stayed more or less the same: the "chestburster" sequence where John Hurt's character, Kane, suddenly gives birth to an alien at the dinner table. Initial Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett knew early on that they wanted to have the alien impregnate one of the crew members of the Nostromo, resulting in a truly horrifying demise.

The other characters' fates were less certain. Screenwriters David Giler and Walter Hill extensively revised and rewrote the original script, creating eight more drafts in total. Director Ridley Scott even pitched an ending where the Xenomorph brutally kills Ripley and takes control of the ship, though the idea was quickly shot down by the studio.

Research compiled by the "Alien" fan site Strange Shapes reveals that one of the elements that kept changing throughout these many versions of "Alien" was Lambert's cause of death. Played by Veronica Cartwright, Lambert died on the page in a variety of ways, from being eaten by the alien to being accidentally burned alive. Here's a rundown of the many alternate Lambert death scenes and why, in the end, none of them ended up actually being filmed.

Lambert's head gets twisted off

Originally titled "Starbeast," Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett's 1976 version of the "Alien" script had just six crew members. (Ian Holm's android character, Ash, was added later in the revisions by David Giler and Walter Hill.) The characters had completely different names in this early draft, but while male pronouns were used throughout, the script notes that "the crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women."

Whereas Lambert is the last crew member to die in the version of "Alien" we all know, she was originally killed second. After Kane violently gives birth through his chest, the rest of the crew set out to hunt down what they think is still a small alien creature. They locate the vent with the alien in it, and Lambert opens it up so that they can torch the little sucker. Unfortunately, he's instead confronted with six feet of pure nightmare fuel. As Dallas and Ripley look on in horror...

[Lambert] lets out a horrible shriek, and the thing grabs his head in one claw and twists it off like a man pulling the head of a chicken, then throws it to the floor with an audible clunk. Clutching [Lambert's] body tightly against itself, it turns and bounds down the hall. [Lambert's] headless body is still kicking and struggling as the monster leaps head-first into another air shaft.

Gruesome! But at least it's a quick death, unlike some of the others on this list.

Lambert gets eaten by the alien

One of the scenes that ended up getting cut from "Alien," though it was later included in the 2003 Director's Cut, saw Ripley discovering the cocooned bodies of Dallas and Brett, preserved by the Xenomorph for later use. Dallas is still alive when Ripley finds him in the cocoon, and in one draft of the script he indicates another cocoon dangling from the ceiling — "smaller and darker, with a harder shell" — and tells Ripley, "That was Brett ... it ate Lambert." 

It's a grim piece of exposition that leaves the horrors of Lambert's death largely up to the imagination. In the version of this scene that made it into the Director's Cut, though, Dallas is too far gone to be offering up information about the rest of the crew. Instead he simply moans, "Kill me ... kill me ..." over and over until Ripley puts him out of his misery with her flamethrower.

Lambert is sucked piece by piece through a hole in the hull

The original tagline for "Alien" was, "In space, no one can hear you scream." Because space is a vacuum, it can kill you in all sorts of ways that are too horrible to comprehend. But let's comprehend them anyway!

If you've seen Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 1997 sequel "Alien Resurrection," you may remember that it featured a weird human-Xenomorph hybrid called the Newborn. At the end of the movie, Ripley 8 — a clone of Ripley who herself is cross-contaminated with Xenomorph DNA — uses her acidic blood to burn a small hole in the hull of the ship. The Newborn then gets sucked out through this hole and into space piece-by-piece, like meat going through a mincer.

This gory death was originally designed to be experienced in the first "Alien" movie by — you guessed it! — Lambert. As Ridley Scott explained, "I wanted Lambert to get sucked out of the ship through an opening about the size of a keyhole." Lambert was saved from this particularly awful fate by budgetary constraints, and by the limits of 1970s special effects. "We couldn't afford it," said Scott. "Besides, I couldn't work out in those days how to squeeze a body through a hole that big."

Lambert is accidentally immolated by Parker

Flamethrowers are one of the best ways to kill a Xenomorph, but they're also pretty dangerous for humans as well. In the final version of Parker and Lambert's death scene, Lambert is cornered by the creature and Parker, wielding a flamethrower, yells at her to "get out of the way" so that he can have a clear shot at the alien. But Lambert is frozen in fear, and Parker ends up being pinned and killed with a brutal bite from the Xenomorph's inner mouth.

In one of the later versions of the "Alien" script, this scene goes a little differently. Instead of Parker and Lambert both being killed by the alien, Parker accidentally sets Lambert on fire while trying to barbecue the Xenomorph. There are a couple of lessons to be learned here: one about responsible flamethrower use, and another about getting out of the way when someone tells you to get out of the way.

Lambert dies of fright

In the near-final version of Lambert's death, she simply dies of fright — something that's pretty believable thanks to Veronica Cartwright's performance, which cemented her as one of the all-time great scream queens of horror cinema

"Ridley wanted to do a thing where I freak out and crowded back into one of those lockers that the cat came out of," Cartwright explained to Fantastic Films magazine in 1979. "I sort of crawl up into it and die of fright." Cartwright believed that this was going to be Lambert's fate right up towards the end of filming, but they ran out of time and never got around to filming her crawling into the locker. In the end, her death had to be cobbled together using footage from an earlier scene in the movie ... which brings us to the version of Lambert's death that actually ended up in "Alien."

Lambert dies ambiguously off-screen

Despite the many grim deaths that were cooked up for Lambert, none of them ended up being filmed. The ominous shot of the Xenomorph's tail creeping up between Lambert's legs was actually a spare shot of Harry Dean Stanton's legs from Brett's death scene. "When I was watching the movie I realized, 'those aren't my legs!'" Cartwright later recounted. "It was really weird." 

To offer at least some kind of a payoff for Lambert's death, a last-minute scene was shot to show her dangling, bloodied foot when Ripley discovers the body. Cartwright had to hang from "a jockstrap contraption for a couple of hours" to film the shot, "and then they decided that was what [her] death would be." After reading about all those other grisly deaths it might seem a bit anticlimactic, but sometimes horror is most effective when it's left up to the imagination.