'Alien' Franchise Celebrates 40 Years of Xenomorphs with 6 Terrifying Shorts

This year marks the 40th anniversary of one of the very best science fiction movies ever made — "Alien" — and fans have lots of reasons to celebrate. 

Only a few days ago, we reported that a New Jersey high school production of "Alien" went viral over the weekend. "Alien" director Ridley Scott wrote the theater group a letter, and even Sigourney Weaver, star of the original movie, passed praised the production on social media. 

Tom Skerritt, John Hurt and Ian Holm starred alongside Weaver in the movie, which spawned a sequel seven years later, after which the floodgates opened and an entire franchise was born.

Related: 'Alien' Horror: 9 Terrifying Extraterrestrials from the 'Alien' Movies

And beginning today (March 29), 20th Century Fox is launching the "Alien 40th Anniversary Shorts Series," starting with "Alien: Containment," the first of six terrifying new tales set in the "Alien" universe. 

The shorts were developed by emerging filmmakers selected from 550 submissions to the online platform Tongal, and the anniversary initiative focused on finding the biggest fans of the sci-fi franchise to create new, thrilling stories for the "Alien" fan base and expand the terrifying world imagined by Scott, artist H.R. Giger and writer Dan O'Bannon, according to the trailer description.

The shorts will roll out weekly at 12 p.m. EDT (1936 GMT) exclusively on IGN at first. Then, beginning May 3, they will be available on the official @AlienAnthology social channels and AlienUniverse.com, along with exclusive behind-the-scenes content. You can keep up to date on social media with #Alien40th.

The official synopses for the shorts are below, as reported in Collider:

March 29: "Alien: Containment" — Four survivors find themselves stranded aboard a small escape pod in deep space. Trying to piece together the details around the outbreak that led to their ship's destruction, they find themselves unsure to trust whether or not one of them might be infected. Written and directed by Chris Reading.

April 5: "Alien: Specimen" — It's the night shift in a colony greenhouse, and Julie, a botanist, does her best to contain suspicious soil samples that have triggered her sensitive lab dog. Despite her best efforts the lab unexpectedly goes into full shutdown and she is trapped inside. Little does she know, an alien specimen has escaped the mysterious cargo, and a game of cat and mouse ensues as the creature searches for a host. Directed by Kelsey Taylor.

April 12: "Alien: Night Shift" — When a missing space trucker is discovered hungover and disoriented, his co-worker suggests a nightcap as a remedy. Near closing time, they are reluctantly allowed inside the colony supply depot where the trucker's condition worsens, leaving a young supply worker alone to take matters into her own hands. Written and directed by Aidan Brezonick.

April 19: "Alien: Ore" — As a hard-working miner of a planet mining colony, Lorraine longs to make a better life for her daughter and grandchildren. When her shift uncovers the death of a fellow miner under mysterious circumstances, Lorraine is forced to choose between escape or defying management orders and facing her fears to fight for the safety of her family. Written and directed by the Spear Sisters.

April 26: "Alien: Harvest" — The surviving crew of a damaged deep-space harvester have minutes to reach the emergency evacuation shuttle. A motion sensor is their only navigation tool leading them to safety while a creature in the shadows terrorizes the crew. However, the greatest threat might have been hiding in plain sight all along. Directed by Benjamin Howdeshell.

April 26: "Alien: Alone" — Hope, an abandoned crewmember aboard the derelict chemical hauler Otranto, has spent a year trying to keep her ship and herself alive as both slowly fall apart. After discovering hidden cargo, she risks it all to power up the broken ship in search of human life. Written and directed by Noah Miller.

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Scott Snowden

When Scott's application to the NASA astronaut training program was turned down, he was naturally upset...as any 6-year-old boy would be. He chose instead to write as much as he possibly could about science, technology and space exploration. He graduated from The University of Coventry and received his training on Fleet Street in London. He still hopes to be the first journalist in space.