Aliens


2h 17m 1986

Brief Synopsis

Space marines mount a mission to rescue a colony invaded by deadly creatures.

Film Details

Also Known As
Aliens - Le retour, Aliens - Ã…terkomsten
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Horror
Thriller
Sequel
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1986
Distribution Company
20th Century Fox Distribution
Location
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom; London, England, United Kingdom; Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom; Marina Del Ray, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 17m

Synopsis

Space marines mount a mission to rescue a colony invaded by deadly creatures.

Crew

Terence Ackland-snow

Art Director

Michael Anderson

Camera Operator

Jonathan Angell

Special Effects

Norman Baillie

Special Effects

Eleanor Bertram

Stunts

Doug Beswick

Other

Adrian Biddle

Director Of Photography

Adrian Biddle

Dp/Cinematographer

Peter Boita

Associate Editor

Nigel Booth

Production

John Brown

Special Effects

Ron Burton

Special Effects

Trevor Butterfield

Production

Julian Caldow

Production

James Cameron

Story By

James Cameron

From Story

James Cameron

Screenplay

Gordon Carroll

Executive Producer

Michael A Carter

Sound

Ron Cartwright

Special Effects

Roy Charman

Sound

Robin Clarke

Music Editor

Michael Clifford

Music Editor

Ron Cobb

Other

Mo Coppitters

Unit Production Manager

Ken Court

Art Director

David Cracknell

Assistant Director

Derek Cracknell

Assistant Director

Simon Crane

Stunts

Sue Crosland

Stunts

Bert Davey

Art Director

Philomena Davis

Production

Leslie Dear

Photography

Steve Dent

Stunts

Michael Dunleavy

Special Effects

Jane Feinberg

Casting

Stuart Fell

Stunts

Mike Fenton

Casting

Gregory Figiel

Production

Nick Finlayson

Special Effects

Randall Frakes

Other

Paul Frift

Visual Effects

Robert Garrett

Other

Robert Gavin

Special Effects

H.r. Giger

Visual Effects Designer

David Giler

Story By

David Giler

From Story

David Giler

Executive Producer

David Giler

Screenplay

Alec Gillis

Effects Coordinator

Dev Goodman

Sound Editor

Hugh Harlow

Production Supervisor

Graham V Hartstone

Sound

Louise Head

Stand-In

Richard Hewitt

Video

Graham High

Production

Walter Hill

Story By

Walter Hill

From Story

Walter Hill

Screenplay

Walter Hill

Executive Producer

Fred Hole

Art Director

James Horner

Music Arranger

James Horner

Music Conductor

James Horner

Music

Peter Horrocks

Sound Editor

Gale Anne Hurd

Producer

Jazzer Jeyes

Stunts

Brian Johnson

Special Effects

David Keen

Production

Jack T Knight

Sound Editor

Chris Knowles

Visual Effects

Michael Lamont

Art Director

Peter Lamont

Production Designer

Richard Joseph Landon

Effects Coordinator

Rick Lazzarini

Effects Coordinator

Rick Lazzarini

Production

Nicolas Lemessurier

Sound

Melvin Lind

Assistant Director

David Litchfield

Camera Operator

Ray Lovejoy

Editor

Ray Lovell

Production

Archie Ludski

Sound Editor

Shane Mahan

Art Department

Sean Mccabe

Stunts

Patrick Mcclung

Miniatures

Lindsay Mcgowan

Production

Greig Mcritchie

Original Music

Syd Mead

Art Department

Digby Milner

Special Effects

Roy Moores

Photography

John Morris

Special Effects

Ken Morris

Special Effects

Tiny Nicholls

Costume Supervisor

Stephen Norrington

Production

Phil Notaro

Other

Dan O'bannon

Characters As Source Material

Shaun O'dell

Camera Operator

Harry Oakes

Photography

Chrissie Overs

Production

Alan Paley

Sound Editor

Rocky Phelan

Foley Editor

Peter Pickering

Special Effects

Emma Porteous

Costume Designer

Eddie Powell

Stunts

John Richardson

Special Effects Supervisor

Peter Robb-king

Makeup Supervisor

John S Robertson

Production

Ian Rolph

Production

Matt Rose

Production

John Rosengrant

Effects Coordinator

Peter Russell

Visual Effects

Crispian Sallis

Set Decorator

Mary Selway

Casting

Kiran Shah

Stand-In

Don Sharpe

Sound Editor

Ronald Shusett

Characters As Source Material

Dennis Skotak

Visual Effects Supervisor

Robert Skotak

Visual Effects Supervisor

Brian Smithies

Miniatures

Stuart St Paul

Stunts

Charles Staffell

Photography

Bill Sturgeon

Production

Judy Taylor

Casting

Paul Tivers

Visual Effects

Eric Tomlinson

Sound

Paul Tucker

Production Associate

Joyce Turner

Production Coordinator

Ian Underwood

Other

Malcolm Weaver

Stunts

Chris Webb

Stunts

Bill Weston

Stunts

Paul Weston

Stunt Coordinator

Gil Whelan

Unit Production Manager

Jason White

Stunts

Tony White

Titles

Tony White

Video

Willie Whitten

Production

Paul Whybrow

Special Effects

Joss Williams

Special Effects

Mark Williams

Production

Stan Winston

Special Effects

Tom Woodruff Jr.

Effects Coordinator

David Worley

Camera Operator

Film Details

Also Known As
Aliens - Le retour, Aliens - Ã…terkomsten
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Horror
Thriller
Sequel
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1986
Distribution Company
20th Century Fox Distribution
Location
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom; London, England, United Kingdom; Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom; Marina Del Ray, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 17m

Award Wins

Best Sound Effects Sound Editing

1986

Best Visual Effects

1986
Stan Winston

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1986
Sigourney Weaver

Best Art Direction

1986
Peter Lamont

Best Editing

1986
Ray Lovejoy

Best Original Score

1986
James Horner

Best Score

1986

Best Sound

1986

Articles

Aliens


Fourteen years before Titanic (1997) swept up eleven Academy Awards, a thirty-year-old James Cameron locked himself up for four days in 1983 to show 20th Century Fox that he had what it took to commandeer Alien, the 1979 Ridley Scott sci-fi blockbuster, and take it to the next level. In those four days Cameron listened to nothing but Gustav Holst's composition for "The Planets Suite," subsisted on a steady diet of junk-food, and in this time produced a treatment for Aliens (1986) that was 45 pages long and single-spaced. Cameron had also been working on other projects around this time that would help nurture his place as the next mid-wife to the Alien mythos; 1984 saw both Rambo, for which Cameron wrote the script, and The Terminator, which he directed, become surprise hits. These successes helped Cameron and then-wife and producer Gale Anne Hurd find themselves working in London and giving birth to an $18 million dollar science-fiction/horror film that was destined to grace a 1986 cover of Time magazine and win two Oscars® for Best Sound Effects Editing (Don Sharpe) and Best Visual Effects (Robert Skotak, Stan Winston, John Richardson, and Suzanne M. Benson). Aliens also garnered five other Oscar nominations for Best Original Score (James Horner), Best Film Editing (Ray Lovejoy), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Peter Lamont, Crispian Sallis), Best Sound (Graham V. Hartstone, Nicolas Le Messurier, Michael A. Carter, Roy Charman), and one for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Sigourney Weaver). Aliens would go on to gross over $180 million dollars worldwide, ensuring that Ripley's outer space nightmares would continue for many years to come.

With the first Alien, writer Dan O'Bannon wanted to transplant elements from his early collaborative work with John Carpenter in the comedic student film Dark Star (1974) into something serious and bleak. Roger Corman was interested, but then the Brandywine production team at 20th Century Fox, which included Walter Hill, glommed onto it with a special interest that was sparked by anything sci-fi thanks to the success of Star Wars (1977). When Ridley Scott was paired up with Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger to work on what would become one of cinema's most famous monsters, what was originally assessed as a B-movie outing soon was transformed into an A-list release. As Toby Young, writing for The Guardian (8/20/92) notes: "Giger was approached by screenwriter Dan O'Bannon at the film's inception, and it was his illustrations of H.P. Lovecraft's demons in his book Necronomicon which convinced 20th Century Fox to finance the project. Giger brought his obsession with female genitalia to every aspect of the film's design, at one point causing the crew to fall about with laughter because the design he'd just unveiled was 'lovingly endowed with an inner and outer vulva.'" Small wonder, then, that much of the ensuing production would find itself lathered, literally, in K-Y Lubricant Jelly (just in case you were wondering what all that squishy, alien drool was made of). Such designs, along with whatever baggage O'Bannon brought to the table as a scriptwriter, and Young, who was reminded of "a horrific sexual experience he'd once had," all helped configure the first Alien experience as a true Freudian nightmare where all sexual signifiers are turned inside out and made truly threatening to the order of things. What's interesting is how this order (aside from Scott's voyeuristic portrayal of Weaver in undies at the end of the first film), is refreshingly far from the patriarchal norm seen in most Hollywood films. Aside from the fact that Weaver's heroine survives well past all her male compatriots, the original impetus was gender-blind because in early script form everyone had assumed Ripley was going to be a man and only later was it clear, thanks to inspired casting, that Sigourney Weaver would be given the lead. Her role was greatly expanded by Cameron in Aliens, and Weaver's influence further increased when she became the producer of the next two films that followed.

For the Time magazine cover article (July 28, 1986), Richard Schickel fawningly promotes Aliens as an improvement over the original in part due to the introduction of a traumatized child, Newt (played by Carrie Henn); "The first film had merely mobilized Ripley's basic fight-or-flight instincts. The presence of Newt allows her to discover stronger, higher impulses, gives her positive rather than negative emotions to act upon. The audience too has a much stronger rooting interest in Ripley, and that gives the picture resonance unusual in a popcorn epic." Cameron himself admits to trying to pay respect to Ridley's original aesthetic by making sure to fill the scenes with plenty of smoke, backlights, textures, crowded frames, and personable characters, but admits to then veering his focus toward issues relating to parental love, protectiveness, and a sense of duty.

The other significant permutation from Alien to Aliens occurs with the shift from a progressive and liberalistic paradigm in Alien, where working-class grunts are the primary focus as their numbers are thinned down in a slow boil, to a slightly more gung-ho "bring-in the marines/action film" paradigm in Aliens that invests more of its chips in fast cuts (surprisingly fast for its pre-digital cutting days), explosive edits and a higher body count. It was Walter Hill, perhaps cannibalizing some of his own ideas as expressed in his film, Southern Comfort (1981), that had pitched the idea to Cameron for turning Alien II (as it was then called) into a Vietnam analogy that pits a weary military force against a more dangerous, primitive power. Cameron wanted his cast for Colonial Marines to read Robert A. Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers, and encouraged them to tackle their roles like disgruntled Vietnam vets on the tail end of their duty where "technologically advanced soldiers succumb to a technologically inferior but much more determined enemy that they don't know how to fight."

Upping the macho maneuvers originally rubbed Weaver the wrong way, and she protested handling a gun in Aliens due to what Cameron described as her very liberal and nurturing mindset (Video Watchdog Issue 106 even notes that she was contributing to anti-gun legislation at the time), but Cameron turned her around by personally taking her out to a firing range, and there was able to persuade her to adapt a more aggressive role for the sequel. Cameron still makes sure that Ripley's employers, The Company, continue along as the morally bereft motor of mayhem that made it pivotal in the original film. Attentive viewers can see the company's name "Weyland Yutani" (based on some old neighbors that Scott hated) at the bottom of a computer screen during the landing sequence in the first film, and Cameron gives their name slightly more prominent status in the sequel and keeps the expendable Company representative (here played by comedian Paul Reiser) while subverting the use of the android as a manifestation of The Company. Of course, changing killer robots into guardian angels is something Cameron would do again with his own Terminator series, which also made use of a strong female lead and featured Michael Biehn as a would-be protector.

The Alien mythos underwent slight permutations from film-to-film, but it has always managed to revolve around strong maternal forces, both human and alien, and it introduced women as bankable stars for films normally targeted to male audiences. Cameron, quoted in the 1986 Time magazine, might have revealed why he embraces strong female leads when he said "I've been told that it has been proved demographically that 80% of the time, it's women who decide which film to see." Maybe for this reason, the gender politics of the Alien franchise is a serious matter that has even been selected for attack by right-wing groups. Scott DeNicola, writing for Citizen magazine which is put out by Focus on the Family, in his article Hollywood's Hidden Immorality chastises Weaver for being an outspoken champion of abortion rights and adds that "No one would mistake the sci-fi Alien series as pro-family but, when it comes to attacking the pro-life ethic, the most recent installments fall into the `subversive' category." What's odd about this statement is that it's at odds with how much energy Weaver personally invested into having her character, Ripley, be the consummate mother who risks her own life to protect Newt (in Aliens), and later on actually does sacrifice her life to keep from spawning an alien monster. (Give Focus on the Family points for consistency, at least; they don't want abortion for women even if it means killing an alien spawn that could destroy all mankind.)

On the related note of gender politics, Weaver's co-star in Aliens, Bill Paxton, says in the DVD audio commentary of the film that "It's interesting to note that she was nominated for an Academy Award in a genre that the Academy never recognizes; science fiction, fantasy, and horror." Well, almost never, The Exorcist (1973) got a fair shake at it, but it wasn't until The Silence of the Lambs (1991) that a true horror film won an Oscar® for Best Picture and gave kudos to another strong female lead with Jodie Foster.

Producer: Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill, Gale Anne Hurd
Director: James Cameron
Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill
Cinematography: Adrian Biddle
Film Editing: Ray Lovejoy
Art Direction: Ken Court, Bert Davey, Fred Hole, Michael Lamont
Music: James Horner
Cast: Sigourney Weaver (Ellen Ripley), Carrie Henn (Rebecca Jorden), Michael Biehn (Cpl. Dwayne Hicks), Lance Henriksen (Bishop), Paul Reiser (Carter Burke), Bill Paxton (Pvt. Hudson).
C-137m. Letterboxed.

by Pablo Kjolseth
Aliens

Aliens

Fourteen years before Titanic (1997) swept up eleven Academy Awards, a thirty-year-old James Cameron locked himself up for four days in 1983 to show 20th Century Fox that he had what it took to commandeer Alien, the 1979 Ridley Scott sci-fi blockbuster, and take it to the next level. In those four days Cameron listened to nothing but Gustav Holst's composition for "The Planets Suite," subsisted on a steady diet of junk-food, and in this time produced a treatment for Aliens (1986) that was 45 pages long and single-spaced. Cameron had also been working on other projects around this time that would help nurture his place as the next mid-wife to the Alien mythos; 1984 saw both Rambo, for which Cameron wrote the script, and The Terminator, which he directed, become surprise hits. These successes helped Cameron and then-wife and producer Gale Anne Hurd find themselves working in London and giving birth to an $18 million dollar science-fiction/horror film that was destined to grace a 1986 cover of Time magazine and win two Oscars® for Best Sound Effects Editing (Don Sharpe) and Best Visual Effects (Robert Skotak, Stan Winston, John Richardson, and Suzanne M. Benson). Aliens also garnered five other Oscar nominations for Best Original Score (James Horner), Best Film Editing (Ray Lovejoy), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Peter Lamont, Crispian Sallis), Best Sound (Graham V. Hartstone, Nicolas Le Messurier, Michael A. Carter, Roy Charman), and one for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Sigourney Weaver). Aliens would go on to gross over $180 million dollars worldwide, ensuring that Ripley's outer space nightmares would continue for many years to come. With the first Alien, writer Dan O'Bannon wanted to transplant elements from his early collaborative work with John Carpenter in the comedic student film Dark Star (1974) into something serious and bleak. Roger Corman was interested, but then the Brandywine production team at 20th Century Fox, which included Walter Hill, glommed onto it with a special interest that was sparked by anything sci-fi thanks to the success of Star Wars (1977). When Ridley Scott was paired up with Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger to work on what would become one of cinema's most famous monsters, what was originally assessed as a B-movie outing soon was transformed into an A-list release. As Toby Young, writing for The Guardian (8/20/92) notes: "Giger was approached by screenwriter Dan O'Bannon at the film's inception, and it was his illustrations of H.P. Lovecraft's demons in his book Necronomicon which convinced 20th Century Fox to finance the project. Giger brought his obsession with female genitalia to every aspect of the film's design, at one point causing the crew to fall about with laughter because the design he'd just unveiled was 'lovingly endowed with an inner and outer vulva.'" Small wonder, then, that much of the ensuing production would find itself lathered, literally, in K-Y Lubricant Jelly (just in case you were wondering what all that squishy, alien drool was made of). Such designs, along with whatever baggage O'Bannon brought to the table as a scriptwriter, and Young, who was reminded of "a horrific sexual experience he'd once had," all helped configure the first Alien experience as a true Freudian nightmare where all sexual signifiers are turned inside out and made truly threatening to the order of things. What's interesting is how this order (aside from Scott's voyeuristic portrayal of Weaver in undies at the end of the first film), is refreshingly far from the patriarchal norm seen in most Hollywood films. Aside from the fact that Weaver's heroine survives well past all her male compatriots, the original impetus was gender-blind because in early script form everyone had assumed Ripley was going to be a man and only later was it clear, thanks to inspired casting, that Sigourney Weaver would be given the lead. Her role was greatly expanded by Cameron in Aliens, and Weaver's influence further increased when she became the producer of the next two films that followed. For the Time magazine cover article (July 28, 1986), Richard Schickel fawningly promotes Aliens as an improvement over the original in part due to the introduction of a traumatized child, Newt (played by Carrie Henn); "The first film had merely mobilized Ripley's basic fight-or-flight instincts. The presence of Newt allows her to discover stronger, higher impulses, gives her positive rather than negative emotions to act upon. The audience too has a much stronger rooting interest in Ripley, and that gives the picture resonance unusual in a popcorn epic." Cameron himself admits to trying to pay respect to Ridley's original aesthetic by making sure to fill the scenes with plenty of smoke, backlights, textures, crowded frames, and personable characters, but admits to then veering his focus toward issues relating to parental love, protectiveness, and a sense of duty. The other significant permutation from Alien to Aliens occurs with the shift from a progressive and liberalistic paradigm in Alien, where working-class grunts are the primary focus as their numbers are thinned down in a slow boil, to a slightly more gung-ho "bring-in the marines/action film" paradigm in Aliens that invests more of its chips in fast cuts (surprisingly fast for its pre-digital cutting days), explosive edits and a higher body count. It was Walter Hill, perhaps cannibalizing some of his own ideas as expressed in his film, Southern Comfort (1981), that had pitched the idea to Cameron for turning Alien II (as it was then called) into a Vietnam analogy that pits a weary military force against a more dangerous, primitive power. Cameron wanted his cast for Colonial Marines to read Robert A. Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers, and encouraged them to tackle their roles like disgruntled Vietnam vets on the tail end of their duty where "technologically advanced soldiers succumb to a technologically inferior but much more determined enemy that they don't know how to fight." Upping the macho maneuvers originally rubbed Weaver the wrong way, and she protested handling a gun in Aliens due to what Cameron described as her very liberal and nurturing mindset (Video Watchdog Issue 106 even notes that she was contributing to anti-gun legislation at the time), but Cameron turned her around by personally taking her out to a firing range, and there was able to persuade her to adapt a more aggressive role for the sequel. Cameron still makes sure that Ripley's employers, The Company, continue along as the morally bereft motor of mayhem that made it pivotal in the original film. Attentive viewers can see the company's name "Weyland Yutani" (based on some old neighbors that Scott hated) at the bottom of a computer screen during the landing sequence in the first film, and Cameron gives their name slightly more prominent status in the sequel and keeps the expendable Company representative (here played by comedian Paul Reiser) while subverting the use of the android as a manifestation of The Company. Of course, changing killer robots into guardian angels is something Cameron would do again with his own Terminator series, which also made use of a strong female lead and featured Michael Biehn as a would-be protector. The Alien mythos underwent slight permutations from film-to-film, but it has always managed to revolve around strong maternal forces, both human and alien, and it introduced women as bankable stars for films normally targeted to male audiences. Cameron, quoted in the 1986 Time magazine, might have revealed why he embraces strong female leads when he said "I've been told that it has been proved demographically that 80% of the time, it's women who decide which film to see." Maybe for this reason, the gender politics of the Alien franchise is a serious matter that has even been selected for attack by right-wing groups. Scott DeNicola, writing for Citizen magazine which is put out by Focus on the Family, in his article Hollywood's Hidden Immorality chastises Weaver for being an outspoken champion of abortion rights and adds that "No one would mistake the sci-fi Alien series as pro-family but, when it comes to attacking the pro-life ethic, the most recent installments fall into the `subversive' category." What's odd about this statement is that it's at odds with how much energy Weaver personally invested into having her character, Ripley, be the consummate mother who risks her own life to protect Newt (in Aliens), and later on actually does sacrifice her life to keep from spawning an alien monster. (Give Focus on the Family points for consistency, at least; they don't want abortion for women even if it means killing an alien spawn that could destroy all mankind.) On the related note of gender politics, Weaver's co-star in Aliens, Bill Paxton, says in the DVD audio commentary of the film that "It's interesting to note that she was nominated for an Academy Award in a genre that the Academy never recognizes; science fiction, fantasy, and horror." Well, almost never, The Exorcist (1973) got a fair shake at it, but it wasn't until The Silence of the Lambs (1991) that a true horror film won an Oscar® for Best Picture and gave kudos to another strong female lead with Jodie Foster. Producer: Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill, Gale Anne Hurd Director: James Cameron Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill Cinematography: Adrian Biddle Film Editing: Ray Lovejoy Art Direction: Ken Court, Bert Davey, Fred Hole, Michael Lamont Music: James Horner Cast: Sigourney Weaver (Ellen Ripley), Carrie Henn (Rebecca Jorden), Michael Biehn (Cpl. Dwayne Hicks), Lance Henriksen (Bishop), Paul Reiser (Carter Burke), Bill Paxton (Pvt. Hudson). C-137m. Letterboxed. by Pablo Kjolseth

The Alien Saga


"Quite a shock, really. I'm mean we were looking at this, sort of, gray penis...can I say that?" Actress Veronica Cartwright says it anyway in reference to a seminal moment in post-Vietnam horror/science-fiction cinema, the chest-bursting scene from Alien (1979). Co-star Yaphet Kotto suffered from "the creeps" for two weeks after shooting the scene, while Tom Skerritt reacted in an equally visceral way to the cow intestines that were used to make the unexpected even more horrifying and gory. These bon mots and other behind-the-scenes facts can be found in the documentary, The Alien Saga, now on DVD from Image Entertainment. Produced by Prometheus Entertainment, The Alien Saga tells the complete history of the influential, lucrative, and highly effective horror series, starting with Alien, followed by the sequels Aliens (1986), Alien3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997).

Alien burst onto the pop cultural scene when alien entities were looked on with favor, wonder, and goodwill. Think of the lanky sightseers in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), or the eccentric oddities in the Star Wars (1977) cantina, the intergalactic place where everybody knows your species. It was Alien that restored the palpable horror in extraterrestrial encounters that began in The Thing from Another World (1951) and continued throughout the 1950s and into the 60s. But the difference between the experience of Alien and, say, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), is the national trauma of seeing the blood and guts of Vietnam close encounters on the six o'clock news.

The documentary begins with the birth of the idea, a brainchild of filmmaker Dan O'Bannon, who was sparked onto the idea of a parasitic alien creature by H.R. Giger's conceptual artwork created for an aborted pass at Dune. The documentary gives equal weight to each step of the project's gestation, from several script drafts penned by O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, to nibbles of interest from Roger Corman, and finally, to 20th Century-Fox's conclusive participation, headed at the time by Alan Ladd, Jr., a dead-ringer for his father. Initially interested in the unprecedented chestbursting scene, Fox and its production partner Brandywine Films commissioned a final script by Brandywine's Walter Hill and David Giler. The Brandywine team made several major adjustments from O'Bannon and Shusett's script, including changing Ripley from a male into a female character.

The Alien Saga touches briefly on the first film's influence on the horror/science fiction genres, but develops fully the production history of the Alien's spawn, namely its three sequels. Each sequel, from the blockbuster Aliens to the critically misunderstood Alien3 and the pretentious, over-the-top Alien Resurrection, is given a complete historical analysis, from casting to shooting to critical and popular reception. Cast members like Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Tom Skerritt, Carrie Henn and Ian Holm discuss their experiences, while Michael Biehn, Ripley's love interest and hard-nosed grunt in Aliens, discusses his displeasure at his character being unceremoniously killed off for Alien3. Ridley Scott and James Cameron, directors of the first two films, appear in archival interviews, but there's not a peep from directors David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, helmers of the last two.

Aside from candid and insightful interviews, The Alien Saga offers theatrical trailers, featurettes and other unseen material, including H.R. Giger's bio-mechanical conceptual artwork, on-the-set footage of the productions in process, and even rare screen tests of Sigourney Weaver, directed by Ridley Scott on elaborate sets built in London. The Alien Saga DVD is a great primer for Fox's upcoming Alien Quadrilogy, the comprehensive set of all four films. On the other hand, the DVD could stand as a reason not to invest in the sure-to-be hefty boxed set. Either way, The Alien Saga is worth a look, not just for the fascinating history behind a popular franchise, but a reminder to just how unique and daring the Alien series was - and still is.

For more information about The Alien Saga, visit Image Entertainment. To order The Alien Saga, go to TCM Shopping.

by Scott McGee

The Alien Saga

"Quite a shock, really. I'm mean we were looking at this, sort of, gray penis...can I say that?" Actress Veronica Cartwright says it anyway in reference to a seminal moment in post-Vietnam horror/science-fiction cinema, the chest-bursting scene from Alien (1979). Co-star Yaphet Kotto suffered from "the creeps" for two weeks after shooting the scene, while Tom Skerritt reacted in an equally visceral way to the cow intestines that were used to make the unexpected even more horrifying and gory. These bon mots and other behind-the-scenes facts can be found in the documentary, The Alien Saga, now on DVD from Image Entertainment. Produced by Prometheus Entertainment, The Alien Saga tells the complete history of the influential, lucrative, and highly effective horror series, starting with Alien, followed by the sequels Aliens (1986), Alien3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997). Alien burst onto the pop cultural scene when alien entities were looked on with favor, wonder, and goodwill. Think of the lanky sightseers in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), or the eccentric oddities in the Star Wars (1977) cantina, the intergalactic place where everybody knows your species. It was Alien that restored the palpable horror in extraterrestrial encounters that began in The Thing from Another World (1951) and continued throughout the 1950s and into the 60s. But the difference between the experience of Alien and, say, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), is the national trauma of seeing the blood and guts of Vietnam close encounters on the six o'clock news. The documentary begins with the birth of the idea, a brainchild of filmmaker Dan O'Bannon, who was sparked onto the idea of a parasitic alien creature by H.R. Giger's conceptual artwork created for an aborted pass at Dune. The documentary gives equal weight to each step of the project's gestation, from several script drafts penned by O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, to nibbles of interest from Roger Corman, and finally, to 20th Century-Fox's conclusive participation, headed at the time by Alan Ladd, Jr., a dead-ringer for his father. Initially interested in the unprecedented chestbursting scene, Fox and its production partner Brandywine Films commissioned a final script by Brandywine's Walter Hill and David Giler. The Brandywine team made several major adjustments from O'Bannon and Shusett's script, including changing Ripley from a male into a female character. The Alien Saga touches briefly on the first film's influence on the horror/science fiction genres, but develops fully the production history of the Alien's spawn, namely its three sequels. Each sequel, from the blockbuster Aliens to the critically misunderstood Alien3 and the pretentious, over-the-top Alien Resurrection, is given a complete historical analysis, from casting to shooting to critical and popular reception. Cast members like Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Tom Skerritt, Carrie Henn and Ian Holm discuss their experiences, while Michael Biehn, Ripley's love interest and hard-nosed grunt in Aliens, discusses his displeasure at his character being unceremoniously killed off for Alien3. Ridley Scott and James Cameron, directors of the first two films, appear in archival interviews, but there's not a peep from directors David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, helmers of the last two. Aside from candid and insightful interviews, The Alien Saga offers theatrical trailers, featurettes and other unseen material, including H.R. Giger's bio-mechanical conceptual artwork, on-the-set footage of the productions in process, and even rare screen tests of Sigourney Weaver, directed by Ridley Scott on elaborate sets built in London. The Alien Saga DVD is a great primer for Fox's upcoming Alien Quadrilogy, the comprehensive set of all four films. On the other hand, the DVD could stand as a reason not to invest in the sure-to-be hefty boxed set. Either way, The Alien Saga is worth a look, not just for the fascinating history behind a popular franchise, but a reminder to just how unique and daring the Alien series was - and still is. For more information about The Alien Saga, visit Image Entertainment. To order The Alien Saga, go to TCM Shopping. by Scott McGee

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Released in United States 2016

Sequel to "Alien" (USA/1979) directed by Ridley Scott.

Broadcast over CBS March 14, 1989 with footage not seen in the original theatrical release.

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States Summer July 18, 1986

Released in United States Summer July 18, 1986

Released in United States 2016 (Masters (30th Anniversary Screening))

Completed shooting February, 1986.

Began shooting September 30, 1985.