Ridley’s Scott’s Alien test screening audience reacts to the chest burster, 1979
When an early test screening convened in Dallas, Texas (the second one after the sound didn’t work at the initial screening in St. Louis), Ridley Scott was so nervous, that he couldn’t even stay in the theater. More than that, he had to get a little sloshed.
“I kept having to talk around the block,” he told Empire Magazine for its definitive history of the Alien franchise, adding that he would grab an alcoholic beverage at a local watering hole. He’d return to the theater and ask, “Where are they now?” before leaving again.
When he came back with half an hour of the movie left, he found the theater in complete disarray: the theater manager was white as a sheet, the women’s bathroom was coated in puke, an usher had fainted, and one enterprising individual had “even stuffed a towel against the speaker to shut out the sound piped in from the auditorium.” It’s a story Scott has talked about before, but it was the moment that all of his fears melted away; the reaction of the audience and theater staff confirmed that he’d made a legitimately scary film.