Where does inspiration come from? Well, the short answer is—everywhere. If you observe the world around you, you are bound to find inspiration for a character or a plot or a scene.
I happened to stumble onto this article the other day. It recounts the inspiration behind ten famous horror flicks. Read it, if you have the time. It’s interesting. What really caught my attention was the last entry, number 1 on the countdown—Alien.
Alien is one of my favorite films, for a number of reasons. I could write a blog about that, but today is not the day. What I was focused on was the inspiration behind the film’s most famous scene, the chestburster scene. I could never quite understand why it is referred to as that—the chestburster scene. The alien really comes from Kane’s stomach, not his chest!
The screenwriter for Alien was Dan O’Bannon. He died in 2009 at the age of 63 (way too young). His death had a real impact on me. First, because he wrote one of my favorite films. That in itself was a reason to mourn, but then I found out what his cause of death was—complications from Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed the year before his death, and I remember having mixed feelings over the whole thing. I shared something with the screenwriter who wrote one of my favorite films, yet that something was awful and took his life.
So, of course, the chestburster scene took on a whole new meaning. I just knew it could not be a coincidence. And sure enough, it’s been confirmed over and over. The scene, and the whole concept of how the alien kills it's host, was inspired by Dan O’Bannon’s own experience with Crohn’s Disease. Inspiration? You could say so.
So, is the chestburster scene a good portrayal of the pain of Crohn’s? You bet.
If you can’t stomach (pun intended) the real chestburster scene, watch the tamer YouTube LEGO version here. It's amazing.