In space, no one can hear your scream. What a great tagline. Hi everyone. Last time I devoted some time to the RoboCop trilogy (http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/4400/) and this time I want to take a look at another classic trilogy that wowed me as a kid, as still wows me today. I'm talking about the Alien Trilogy, excluding Resurrection which came much later and which, in my opinion, completely destroyed the franchise showing what was once a terrifying monster in the shadows as pets caged and trained. And shown in full bright light. But enough about that abomination of a movie which i don't even take as canon, let's focus on the trilogy
So let's go
Hard to imagine the movie was made in the 70's!! Right after Saturday Night Fever and Grease, can you imagine that? There's nothing in the movie that would give away that it was shot and worked on in 1978, I find it really fascinating.
What's great about those times are bizarre and surreal designs in the movies. What did they do in those 70's that they were coming up with such great, yet other worldly stuff ;)
Anyway, we all know the movie wouldn't be what it is without the European artist, HR Giger. Fascinated with erotics and death, he stitched both topics together in his art with abstraction, and that's how the most iconic monster of the modern cinema came about.
Giger touching up the Alien costume
Just look at this picture, wouldn't something like that standing in the room scare the life out of you? The design is phenomenal and extremely artistic. Also look how amazingly tall It is, truly something horrifying.
For those of you wondering about the face behind the mask, here's the actor who portrayed Alien - Bolaji Badejo with Giger
Bolaji wasn't even an actor. They saw him in a disco and he was so tall and so skinny that they had to use him for the portrayal of the monster.
If you can't imagine Alien without Giger, look up the initial production sketches. The alien looked like frog or some friendly guy from Star Wars cantina, and the sets were so typical 70's scifi straight out of Buck Rogers.
Of course, look isn't everything and isn't enough to create an icon. There has to be a personality behind it. Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Schuset wrote a great script but it was Ridley Scott who turned the written pages into a gloomy, quiet and horrific vision. And how terrifying was that movie. You don't know anything and you never find out. You know only what you deduct and you learn as you go.
Something attached to the astronauts face...Yeah, i remember that vividly. I remember biting my nails and watching it with my teenage sisters (who loved horrors) and my parents too, all in a big living room, quiet and focused when watching Dallas and Ash trying to take the "hand" off Kane's face
And the chestburster scene. Man! If you've never seen that movie before, and you don't know what's gonna happen or what to expect, this is just pure horror! And that thing escapes!Just the idea of some larva that just ripped through someone's chest, being out there somewhere in those dark corridors growing into who knows what was enough to give you nightmares. very soon we see the alien fully grown taking it's victims one by one. "Kane's Son" as Ash called it. I always thought and still think that this is a black humor that comes off as really creepy.
What's terrifying about it is that it has no eyes, and you don't have anything to latch on to. Some say that eyes are the window of the soul, and yet here we have no eyes. if someone's wondering, Scott said the entire head could 'sense'.
Also, the original Alien life cycle was different. There's a scene cut from the released version explaining much more. Basically, the alien has a very short life span. It knows that if it wants to ensure the survival of the species, it has to act fast and he doesn't kill anybody - he takes their bodies and places them in the cocoons with some weird goo that transforms them into eggs! Yes, that's right. I think that fact makes it even scarier when you think back to the spaceship and remember that there were hundreds of eggs there, so each one of them had to be a victim at some point.
Brett melting into egg
You really feel the isolation and no escape. It's like being in a haunted house but not being able to get out of there. And the shots of huge space shown between the scenes show how really lonely those people were.
The movie doesn't rely on hot chicks, blood, boobs, huge explosions or FX. It's all based on slow pace and the feel of tension, fear and claustrophobia. You feel as if you're a kid and someone had closed you in a dark closet and you can hear something is with you. Brrr *shivers*
It's hard to imagine, but it would slide into obscurity if not for one young and brilliant American director who made it a household name and a major blockbuster...
Seven years later the franchise was revitalized in a BIG way. James Cameron's "Aliens" kickstarted the franchise and it hasn't stopped ever since. A whole new fanbase was born, and the very popular Aliens comic book hit the stores for the very first time. It was first published in 1988 and its still published today!Games and merchandise followed, and even a cartoon series was in the works! To this day, this is the most profitable movie in the alien franchise and the definite fan favorite.
Jim took a different approach here. He was absolutely right about doing a sequel that will be nothing like the first one - why keep remaking the same thing? Instead he made it his own movie and even change the genre to action. He never said or intended it to be a horror movie.
But he did more than that - he reworked the franchise almost from scratch and developed alien biology and changed some of the aspects of its life cycle so it will make room for James' very own creation - the Alien Queen! The Queen was designed by Jim himself. He always designed his own characters, terminator endoskeleton included.
Cameron, who majored in physics and recently received a Dr. title in UK, was always obsessed with logic and reality in his movies. That's why every part has it's own reason and practical use. Jim wanted aliens to be more logical and real life form, so he took the inspiration from the real nature and based their biology on ants, wasps, bees and termites, making them much more animalistic and much less human-like. Hence the idea of Queen laying eggs, hives and workers protecting the species, preparing cocoons and providing hosts. Cameron also changed their movement. They were crawling on the walls, ceiling, and were almost never standing straight on two legs. That truly dehumanized them.
The changes to their appearance were very subtle, except for the head - Cameron simply wanted to remove the dome of the alien and embrace what was inside, which he said he always found more interesting than the simple dome itself.
In the first movie, we've only seen the alien for microseconds here and there, and here Cameron took a new approach which is just as effective. We see them more as shadows, we rarely see the details. Cameron puts the lights behind them so we only see the shape and the beam of lights and shadows coming from behind it.
And also I have to mention the characters of course. The first movie had equally strong characters that felt extremely real. Here there are very unique and what now is consider a Hollywood classic action heroes. Ripley here truly becomes the first true female action movie hero, with Hicks as another strong leading person. And just about everybody is great and a character on their own - from scared and whining Hudson to the serious and stoic Bishop played by the great Lance Henriksen
There's also a great mother-daughter relationship between Ripley, who recently lost her daughter, and little Newt, who recently lost her family. All this, coupled with great FX, tense atmosphere (the use of move detectors is pure genius) and great music from my all time fave James Horner, makes this movie a sure winner.
The alien derelict, which was a source of the eggs, and the hive and the colony were atomized and our characters were saved. I thought the ending was sealed perfectly, and it was the absolute end of the story. But was it...
ALIEN 3 (1992)
Now viewing this one for the first time I remember much clearer. I remember a fairly large promotion about Alien 3. At that time for me alien was the scariest thing that I could ever imagine. I remember looking at the pics from the movie in some magazine and I was even scared to look at the picture of alien for longer than a second. It was that scary. I thought that you can get infected just by getting touched by the alien.Originally, I was so scared I didn't want to see it but I couldn't resist when my horror obsessed teen sister brought it one day just days after it was released on VHS
David Fincher is one of those few directors who have a trademark and very unique and recognizable presentation and look of the movie. Alien 3 is dark, gloomy, depressing and gory, just like most of Fincher's movies.
The movie got some really bad rap ever since it hit theaters, and the biggest and most common complaint seems to be the fact that all the characters from the previous movie sans Ripley, were brutally killed in the accident right at the beginning.
Well, it sure sucks what happened to them, but I personally understand it works within the context of the movie. Right away it sets the tone of the movie in the most brutal way possible. I actually like Alien 3 and always did. Sure its not up to pair with the first two, but its very good nonetheless.
We got yet another additions/revisions to the alien biology, contradicting what was already set in the franchise. Up to then, alien was always alien we know. In A3, it's now said that alien takes a form of it's host. So in this case, when it comes out of a dog (or, in special DVD edition with alternative plot, the ox), it moves much faster and uses four legs to move. It's also smaller and has a different physique.
The so called Dog Alien was designed by Giger himself, who returned for Alien 3 to redesign his own creature. he said the aliens in first and third movies are the best - excluding the second one that he didn't work at. Ah, nice objectivity there Giger...
Anyway, Dave did a fine job in continuing and ending the saga for good (oh, I wish). Ripley dies at the end, and with her dies the last larva of the Queen and the alien species altogether. I also think it was a good idea for the prisoners. We already had the regular people and marines. Prisoners on Fury is a nice and original idea on its own.
Sadly to say, the movie tangled itself in its own web. They did some pretty bad franchise errors and that also didn't sit well with the fans. But personally I think its a very fine addition to the saga and is (ekh, would be) a very good closure
Now, this crap I don't even wanna talk about. It completely ruined the franchise and destroyed alien's image by making it a pet that you can train. Just bad all the way around
I always liked Paul Anderson. He is one of the very few new young directors who I believe is very talented and has artistic vision. Event Horizon was just brilliant, and the first Resident Evil really sucked me in.
Now, I'm gonna be the first guy to stand in AVP's defense. I loved it. I was very surprised that a great horror adventure epic movie can still be done. The movie for me was a nice mix of Aliens and the first Resident Evil with a great feel and edgy action in a very classic way. And seeing Lance Henriksen on a big screen again was very cool.Oh, and naturally, it was great to finally see the Alien Queen in action again!
The plot and characters are heavily based on the original AVP comic book story.
Even thought the movie is set on Earth, its like a distant hostile planet - Antarctica is a very dangerous and solitary place, and a perfect set for a movie like this.
And also the ending was a classic cliffhanger/to be continued scene ala 80's horrors.
This is a movie considered by many as one of the worst movies ever (MYSELF INCLUDED). I mean man! This is that cliche filled, MTV-teen horror filled with corny overreacting, 'Laguna Beach' teenagers and no plot at all. All that make that movie seem like some old, straight to video B horror flick. I mean c'mon - set in some small town, mixed with some plot about teenagers, and then monsters from space come. Critters 2 or Killer Klowns anybody?
Directed by the first time directors (!) who are extremely young and never did a movie before, only FX and music videos. They promised the return to R rating, but don't let that fool you - it's strictly given R for the gory FX sequences, but it's still a dumb movie for MTV teenagers.
Predalien is lame all the way from his visuals to his abilities. It can impregnate women without facehuggers or laying eggs. And it looks terrible - it looks like few different random things pieced together, so it completely lacks any cohesive look and it just sucks. And it creates so many franchise errors and contradictions like nothing in any other movie before.
Are you kidding me? lame
It's sad that yet another franchise ended with an awful excuse for a movie