Species is a 1995 American science fiction horror film directed by Roger Donaldson, and starring Ben Kingsley, Forest Whitaker, Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina and Marg Helgenberger. It was given an R rating for "sci-fi violence, strong sexuality and, and some language".
This film produced one theatrical sequel in 1998, Species II, which had Henstridge, Madsen, and Helgenberger respise their roles. It was followed by the direct-to-video Species III in 2004 and Species - The Awakening in 2007 which stands as a separate film, not as an official follow-up of the three previous films.
The film is about a group of people who try to track down and trap a killer alien seductress before she successfully mates with a human alien.
The alien is the result of the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) program. Earth's scientists sent out transmissions with information about Earth and its inhabitants, DNA structure, etc.,in hopes of finding life beyond Earth. They then receive transmissions from an alien source on how to create endless fuel effortlessly. Therefore, the scientists assume that this is a friendly alien species. But from a second alien transmission, the scientists receive information about an alien DNA along with instructions on how to splice it with human DNA. A government team led by Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) goes forward with the genetic experiment hoping to induce a female with "more docile and controllable" traits. One of the hundred experimental ova produces a girl named Sil. who looks like a normal human but develops into a 12-year old in three months.
Sil's violent outbursts during sleep make the scientists consider her a threat. They try to kill her using cyanide gas but instead she breaks out of her containment cell and escapes out into the world. The government assembles a team composed of anthropologist Dr. Steven Arden (Alfred Molina), molecular biologist Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger), empath Dan Smithson (Forest Whitaker) and mercenary Preston "Press" Lennox (Michael Madsen) to track and destroy Sil.
While sleeping, Sil has another dream of an alien train running her down. When she wakes up, tentacles start emerging from underneath her skin and mass to form an organic cocoon around her.
While transforming within the cocoon, Sil kills a train warden before emerging as a blonde, twenty-something adult woman. Also, when Sil emerges she is naked, the reason for which is unknown. It can be assumed that the cocoon that enveloped her destroyed her clothes but it can also be assumed that she removed them during the process, though if the latter is correct it is unclear why. Sil waits in the train until it has arrived at Los Angeles. This makes tracking her extremely difficult. She is incredibly strong and intelligent with amazing regenerative powers. The scientists fear she may seduce someone to copulate with her in order to reproduce and any offspring could eventually exterminate mankind. Sil lacks inhibitions when it comes to harming or even killing people who get in her way and wants to reproduce as soon as possible.
She tries first to mate with a man she meets at a night club, but she rejects and kills him after sensing he is diabetic. She then tries to mate with a man she meets after a car accident, this is interrupted by Press and Laura. While attempting to keep him from alerting them, she rapidly transforms into her natural form (a bipedal, humanoid creature with silted pupils, no hair, dark/colored skin and a pair of flexible tentacles both of which she keeps stored inside one of her breasts and can retract at will) and attempts to restrain him with her tentacles, forcing one of the tentacles into his mouth to keep him from screaming; inadvertently killing him. Sil then flees into the forest without being seen by the team but does not have enough time to retrieve her clothes, forcing her to flee naked.After cutting and dying her hair, she takes an attraction to Press. She eventually partially disrobes to seduce Arden. This succeeds and she and Arden remove the rest of their clothes before she copulates with him, becoming impregnated. Sil then quickly kills Press when he realizes who she is and flees naked into the sewers where she gives birth to her son. The rest of the team follows her. Sil kills Fitch. Dan lights Sil's son on fire; the son then falls into the pool of oil, killing him. Enraged, Sil attacks Press but he shoots her into the burning pool, where she grabs onto Dan's leg. Press shoots Sil with his grenade launcher, instantly killing her. The last scene shows a rat chewing on one of Sil's severed tentacles; it mutates a long tongue and attacks another rat with it.
- Ben Kingsley as Xavier Fitch
- Forest Whitaker as Dan Smithson
- Natasha Henstridge as Sil
- Michael Madsen as Preston "Press" Lennox
- Alfred Molina as Dr. Stephen Arden
- Marg Helgenberger as Dr. Laura Baker
- Michelle Williams as Young Sil
- Frank Welker as Voice of Sil
- Whip Hubley as John Carey
- Kurtis Burow as the baby
- Nick Vota as child in an ambulence
The creature was created and designed by Swiss artist H. R. Giger, who also created the creatures in the Alien films.
Species received mixed however mainly negative reviews. It currently holds an approval rating of 40% at Rotten tomatoes based on 30 reviews (12 positive, 18 negative). Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, criticizing the film's plot and overall lack of intelligence. Cristine James from Boxoffice magazine gave the film 2 out of 5 stars, describing it as "...'Alien' meets 'V' meets 'Splash' meets 'Playboy's Erotic Fantasies: Forbidden Liaisons', diluted into a diffuse, misdirected bore." James Berardinelli gave the film 2 and a half out of 4 stars, stating "as long as you don't stop thinking about what's going on, Species is capable of offering its share of cheap thrills, with a laught or two thrown is as well".