Pop Culture: Crohn’s Disease Inspiration in Alien

Did you know that Crohn’s disease was the inspiration for the 1979 science fiction horror film Alien?

The iconic film put filmmaker Ridley Scott on the map and was an international blockbuster hit. It was written by Dan O’Bannon, who was a screenwriter who also spent a short time working with George Lucas as a computer animator on the Star Wars films.

Written By O'Bannon Who Had Crohn's Disease

O’Bannon’s experience with Crohn’s disease from a very early age and according to a book, Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror, by New York Times journalist Jason Zinoman.

O’Bannon, who passed away in 2009, was very secretive about his Crohn’s disease. After experiencing the debilitating digestive distress that often accompanies Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, O’Bannon reportedly felt, "the digestion process felt like something bubbling inside of [O'Bannon] struggling to get out." This gave him the idea for one of the most iconic scenes of the Alien film where the alien punches its way out of John Hurt’s chest during dinner.

This Film Arguably Defined A Whole Genre

For many suffering from these conditions, it may also feel like their bodies are not their own, as if something inside is foreign and torturous, taking control of their lives. O’Bannon used his struggle with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis and channeled it into his creative work, creating a film which arguably defined a whole genre, and resulted in numerous films in the franchise.

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