When I was 11, my dad let me watch an R-rated movie. It had been a few years since Alien 3, and he was still riding a H.R. Giger high. So after renting Species on VHS from a little pod-shaped space inside the local Kroger, we watched it in the family living room. I’ve never been the same.
What’s great about Species is the fact that it’s a true mid-90s sci-fi movie. Who cares how unbelievable it is? The creative thinking, compelling acting, and great storytelling make the movies so just insanely fun to watch. Over 20 years after watching Species, I’m still drawn into this saga of an alien refugee, scouring the Earth for peace and quiet. In the beginning of the movie, the alien says she’s 12 years old. Maybe, the first time I saw Species, I felt like a refugee in the dawn of my tortured adolescence. But having seen the movie at least a dozen times since, I think it’s just a blast.
Sil, the alien girl that serves as the antiheroine, is actually a hybrid: both alien and human. And she’s growing up way too fast. So the plot enlists a team of mismatched humans who must juggle science and reason to figure out how to stop her after Sil, the hybrid in question, has cocooned and become a full grown woman, eager to reproduce. The cast—Benjamin Kingsley flanked by Forrest Whitaker, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, and even a young Michelle Williams—represents a tour de force of acting, mere years before their prime. The delivery of the eccentric script is superb, matched only by the absurdity of a fugitive hybrid alien slaying humans to grow stronger.
That story, though. A beautiful alien-human hybrid on the run looking for a mate so that she can spawn a whole race of alien-human hybrids? It’s golden. The plot is driven by the fear that a superior species could procreate and stomp out us feeble humans. Yet as much as I love the story and as much as I love the acting, I love the script the most. Here are a few of my favorite lines from all of my favorite characters—and actors!
Michael Madsen (Preston Lennox, a truly great character name)
- “We’ve created a monster with some kind of formula you got from outer space. The damned thing got away. Now, you want us to hunt it down and kill it. Now is that pretty close?”
- “No one ever asked me to find anything they didn’t want dead.”
Forrest Whitaker (Dan Smithson)
- “She didn’t like being locked up. She didn’t like being alone like that.”
- “She’s a predator. Her eyes are in front. Her eyes are in front so she can gauge the distance between her prey.”
Ben Kingsley (Xavier Fitch, another great name)
- “Of course, Los Angeles is perfect for her. It’s a city of the future. Anything goes. Totally mobile population. Everyone’s a stranger. Very little is taboo or unacceptable. Whatever she does, no one will notice her.”
- “They’re heading into the hills. We’ll need the helicopters.”
Alfred Molina (Dr. Stephen Arden)
- “So what you’re saying is that she’s the cure and we’re the disease.”
- [to Sil, after they finished having sex] “Oh my dear... I enjoyed that immensely!”
Natasha Henstridge (Sil, the alien-human hybrid antiheroine)
- “Do you ever have nightmares? I do. I think they tell me who I am, why I’m here.”
- “Don’t go. Please. I want a baby.”
Michelle Williams (Young Sil)
- [mouthing] “I’m sorry.”
Like I said, it’s a true mid-90s sci-fi movie.