Alien Trilogy

three times the terror
On
January 28, 2009
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

ALIEN (1979)

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...

ALIENS (1986)


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.


The Queen


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

RESSURECTION
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

AVP
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.

AVPR
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
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Comments
10 years, 7 months ago
Never really a fan of the Alien movies. God bless.
    12 years, 5 months ago
    Great article Achilles! Thumbs up for you
      12 years, 9 months ago
      Great article. I agree with you in every aspect, they were all great movies except resurrection and AVP R.
        12 years, 9 months ago
        AVP would've been better had they'd been more faithful to the Dark Horse comic.
          12 years, 9 months ago
          I enjoy them all i mean being only 23 ive seen all but i still dont mind the second avp cause it wasnt that bad.
            12 years, 9 months ago
            haha logan, cool story and very imaginative game!
              12 years, 9 months ago
              Weird I got logged out/timed out while writing my comment and posted twice one with my avatar and one without. I wonder if it counted two thumbs up.
                12 years, 9 months ago
                I remember watching the first two on VHS. My Dad rented movies for us every other weekend when we went to see him. I was enthralled with the first movie Alien. The chest-burster scene made me look at spaghetti in a whole new way for months. I loved the second movie and vividly remember watching it in the dark with my friends while still in elementary school. I remember adapting playing guns and hide and seek to Aliens the game. In a really dark house one kid was the alien and had to hide. The other kids were marines with squirt guns and flash lights and were seeking the alien. All the alien had to do was touch a marine and the marine became infected and an alien also. I remember hiding in all sorts of places like spanning the walls in the stairwell to be directly above your head as you came up the stairs. I remember taking drawers out of a dresser and draping a bathrobe over the three missing drawers in the middle leaving the other drawers intact and then reaching through the bathrobe and grabbing one of my friends (marine) around the waist and hearing him scream. Me and my brother even pulled kids into the attic by hanging from the attic trap door with our feet pinned under a 2x4 and hanging head down and grabbing them.
                I didn't mind the third movie and thankfully never saw any of the others, which is surprising as determined as my brother was to drag me to see Aliens vs. Predator etc.
                Cool article!
                  12 years, 9 months ago
                  I loveed the first two. 3 was as good,but it did have some good moments. The only thing I disagree with is I thought resurection was better than part 3.
                    12 years, 10 months ago
                    Ok, do not call Alien 3 crap, the people over at fox chapped that movie to shit. if you take the time to watch the theatre version of Alien 3 then watch finchers directors cut you will find that it is a completely different movie. I totally understand you saying that Alien 3 was crap i didn't like it until i saw the directors cut. But nothing will save the last couple of crap movies they put out. AvP was resident evil all over again just with aliens and rated P f*cking G, and i didnt even see AvP2 yah no thanks .
                      12 years, 10 months ago
                      Alien 3 was crap. As well as every movie after it....nuff' said. The first two movies are classics though.
                        12 years, 10 months ago
                        I'm afraid that your opinion and mine differ EXACTLY on the two AVP movies. I thought that the FIRST one sucked, and the SECOND one was the one done right.
                          12 years, 10 months ago
                          matacron:
                          everybody has a different taste, thats for sure

                          I feel very strong about AVP tho. I think it got everything right, theres so many subtle or hidden nods to the original alien trilogy in the movie, like Alien3 poster art in sacrificial chamber. The location seems like LV planet, the idea of claustrophobia and isolation is preserved. FX are fantastic done mostly with old school methods, Queen looks terrific. I also see some Jurassic Park elements in it, as in that a team of specialists and scientists go on a journey heading to uknown. And then theres the fact that it stays so close to the original AVP comic book story which was so great that it started the whole franchise with video games etc
                          AVP:R for me was a reflection of everything thats bad in modern cinema. It was flat, relied on blood and boobs like most of today's mindless movies. And it also sucked that it sacrificed so much franchise rules for the shock value. The overall subplots with teeny boppers and soldiers etc were pointless since they had no relevance to the overall movie story.

                          But like I said, we all like different things. Its just that I was extremely surprised by AVP and couldnt wait for the sequel. Once I saw it I couldnt believe how bad of a movie it was and that it was so full of cliches (school bullies? poor pizza boy and a hot chcik that likes him? that was already corny by the end of the 80's) Oh well
                            12 years, 10 months ago
                            Good article a shame you didnt mention Alien 5 htough.
                              12 years, 10 months ago
                              I've never seen any of these (surprisingly), but now I am going to go out and rent them... I did see alien resurection, and I think thats what had made me not want to see the others
                                12 years, 10 months ago
                                AVPR WAS SUCH A DISSAPPOINTMENT!
                                  12 years, 10 months ago
                                  pgnerlich: read the article, its there

                                  There was no queen before James Cameron - James thought it up and designed it. Both actors and Ridley Scott themselves confirmed the different, queen-less original life cycle with egg/body morphing
                                    12 years, 10 months ago
                                    Edit- Seems like these days no one gives a shit about these two franchises (Aliens and Predator) nowdays need someone to restore both to its former glory
                                      12 years, 10 months ago
                                      thats true. I always thought predalien is a cool idea, but it got a really crappy execution. They had such cool, hairless designs and yet the final version is far behind those intial concepts I think, and very dissapointing
                                        12 years, 10 months ago
                                        Also Achilles what are these franchise errors and contradictions for the predalien ?
                                          12 years, 10 months ago
                                          Kazenji:
                                          1. Hybrid - Why is it such a strong hybrid first of all? aliens never had such huge percentage of their host in them. And the hair? where did any alien inhabit any hair or fur of their host? predalien queen looks almost like predator and is clearly an equal mix of alien and predators - why then the normal queen looked nothing like her human host? nothing. She was even far less humanoid than the regular aliens and looked more like T-Rex. Major screwup

                                          2. Growth
                                          The growth speed - it got bigger than predator in few seconds or minutes, then why for two days it didnt grow another inch yet it still remained an adolescent queen?

                                          3. Direct impregnation
                                          doesnt make sense. An alien embryo feeds slowly off lungs and grows very close to heart. the implanted emrios should have been implanted to lungs, just like every other human or animal was.
                                          Also, an alien can grow to full sizes withing an hour or so. A queen takes longer, but not much, its still within hours. It does not and never did need an extra direct method of implantation because she would be able to lay eggs in no time.
                                          What we've seen contradicts what was already shown and makes no sesne. Yet another example of AVPR sacrificing rules and logic for the shock value

                                          4. Behavior
                                          the Predalien looked and acted too much like a Predator. And back to the "Not a Hybrid" point again, it's supposed to be an Alien that came out of a Predator. Its not a result of an Alien and Predator gettin' it on, so why does it look SO much like a Predator? Why does it have that "warrior/hunter" attitude?

                                          And more than that but more trivial
                                            12 years, 10 months ago
                                            I'd blame most of it on the script writers half the stuff that the predalien did in AVP:R did'nt do in the comics and games such as the Direct impregnation.
                                              12 years, 10 months ago
                                              i'm so glad you made this. two years ago i got the whole alien collection, (it's about 12 dvds... or maybe more i cant remember) and i loved it! they truely are amazing movies. and i love sigourney weaver. and to be honest, i didnt mind the fourth one.. well because when i saw that i hadnt seen any of the other ones, but i do agree that the first 3 are way better!
                                              and also, AVP was actually such a good movie, i was surprised as well...
                                                12 years, 10 months ago
                                                These movies were awesome.. but the best to me was "Aliens" I loved the strength of the Character..Ripley, and the famous line.. "Get away from her you Bitch"

                                                HR Geiger is the shit!! A lil weird but the shit!

                                                I hope they dont remake this like they are doing to ROBOCOP..

                                                Great Article!
                                                  12 years, 10 months ago
                                                  scrymusic: That Robocop remake has someone good attached to it


                                                  Seems like these days no one gives a shit about these two franchises nowdays need someone to restore both to its former glory.
                                                    12 years, 10 months ago
                                                    People do not melt into the eggs, the eggs are laid by the queen. The alien from the first movie was not a queen therefore brett was not really in an egg. The slime that was holding him just looked like an egg.
                                                      12 years, 10 months ago
                                                      I agree with taciturnwes in regards to Resurrection and Requiem. I watch movies to have fun, and those two were fun. Elitists...... >_>
                                                        12 years, 10 months ago
                                                        davidyck: Or even better get him to reboot the AVP movies after they finished with the third one.
                                                          12 years, 10 months ago
                                                          vkimo: I know what you mean. A3 is extremely gloomy and leaves you depressed, its not something you'd like to watch often. But I do like it, its very dark. Typical work of Fincher

                                                          jango52577: I know aliens escape but I cannot grasp the fact that theyre showed tamed and in brioght light. In other movies we only see parts of them in the shadwos for brief seconds. Here all the light are on and aliens are just another monsters. And like you said, the humor is there which I think is a horrible idea. Humor does not and never belonged to the alien series. Just like with terminator 3, its proven that adding humor where it doesnt belong isnt a good idea. Imo of course

                                                          taciturnwes: hmm..I actually thought A3 is pretty scary actually. Cannot touch the first two but in its own right it is very dark and has its own feel. Requeim I absolutely despise for being a dub teen movie. This series was much more serious than that

                                                          cgimovieman:damn, i wouldnt be able to sit throught Aliens alone in the basement when I was a kid. Had to be a prety cool experience

                                                          Hoju Koolander: You heretic! You must make up for it immediately! Go rent Aliens now! ;)

                                                          All in all, thanks everyone for the comments!
                                                            12 years, 10 months ago
                                                            The next one will probably AVP 3......D!!. ooo how inventive.
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