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Alien 1979 starts with the journey of the space vessel Nostromo back to Earth. The spaceship carries a group of people in stasis: Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane, Navigator Lambert, Science Officer Ash, Warrant Officer Ripley, and Engineers Parker and Brett. After receiving a cryptic message from a nearby planetoid, the ship’s computer wakes up its passengers. The spaceship lands on the planetoid and Dallas, Kane and Lambert conduct an investigation of their surroundings. They find a downed alien vessel from which the transmission is coming from. When they check the interior of the spaceship, they discover the corpse of an alien.
Meanwhile in the ship, Ripley deciphers the message and realizes that it is a warning. In the alien’s vessel, Kane finds a room full of the alien’s eggs. When he decides to check out one of the eggs, a creature suddenly comes out and attacks him. Dallas and Lambert rescue him and bring him back to Nostromo. Because of the situation, Ripley refuses to let them in but Ash manipulates the ship’s system to let those outside in. The crew try to remove the alien that is still attached on Kane’s face but they can’t. After some time, the creature detaches from Kane’s face and dies.
After repairing their ship, the crew leaves the planetoid. Kane recovers but it is not long after before a small alien bursts from his body and kills him. Meanwhile, the alien scuttles and hides in of the corners of the vessel. Because the creature’s body fluid is corrosive, the crew try to catch it without puncturing its body.
It does not take long before Brett is also killed by the fast-growing alien. The group makes a plan of ejecting the alien from the spaceship. Dallas tries to flush out the alien from the ventilation shafts but it kills him in return. To avoid more killings, Lambert suggests that they use the ship’s shuttle to escape but Ripley explains that the shuttle can’t carry four people. They then decide to pursue their plan of forcing the alien to come out.
When they explore the ship’s computer system, Ripley unveils Ash’s secret mission. It turns out that he is ordered to bring the alien their employer and he can leave everyone on board to die. A confrontation ensues between Ripley and Ash and Ash tries to kill Ripley. When Parker attempts to help Ripley by hitting Ash on the head, they discover that Ash is in fact, an android. They reactivate the robot’s head and Ripley questions him. The head tells them that he is tasked to bring the alien back alive no matter what the costs are. The crew destroys the android completely but not after it has warned them about the “perfect organism.”
Because of what they have learned from Ash, Ripley, Lambert and Parker decide to let the Nostromo self-destruct after they escape using the vessel’s shuttle. While Parker and Lambert are gathering supplies for their journey, the alien comes out of nowhere and attacks them. When she finds out about this, Ripley sets the code for Nostromo’s self-destruction and she starts heading for the shuttle. Before she can aboard the shuttle, the alien blocks her way. She retreats and tries to disengage the ship’s self-destruction code. As she goes back to the shuttle, she can’t see the ship’s pet cat and the alien. She proceeds to the shuttle before the spaceship explodes.
Ripley makes preparation for her stasis but the alien suddenly comes out. She puts on a spacesuit and unlocks the shuttle’s airlock. This causes a decompression that knocks the alien into the shuttle’s doorway. Ripley tries to shoot the alien with a grappling hook but the gun gets trapped on the door, hooking the alien to the vessel. Ripley then ignites the engines which sends the alien quickly into space. After entering the final log of journey, Ripley sets herself and the cat under stasis.