I’ve lost contact with the colony on LV-426!

The Alien trilogy (and yes, I mean trilogy… as far as I’m concerned, the fourth movie never happened) is a series I like to revisit from time to time. I always get something new out of my time with it. And now that Fox has put out their stunning Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set, with approximately seventy thousand hours of bonus content, there’s never been a better time to hang out with Sigourney Weaver and her ugly critter-friends. (And no, I don’t mean Bill Paxton or Tom Skerritt.)

This week I rewatched the first two films, and got lost again in them.

In space, no one can hear you scream.

One of the greatest “things that go bump in the night” films ever made, with Ridley Scott’s vision of a dirty, grimy future still the undisputed template. A few of the creature shots have aged rather badly (the only thing keeping this movie from a perfect score), but the great acting, sober direction, and haunting music more than make up for any conceivable shortcomings. Now available in a two-disc special edition that includes both the theatrical cut and a new “special version” with a microscopically different edit. (In a rare bit of marketing honesty, the DVD includes a video introduction by the director, who freely admits that the theatrical cut is superior.)

A great film, but I was sad to realize during my most recent viewing that the titular creature drove me to distraction. I’ve seen this movie dozens of times over the years, and I’ve never gotten hung up on the costume before. But this time, for whatever reason, I simply lost the ability to un-see the fact that our big bad Alien is very obviously played by a tall man in a monster suit. I hope it’s only a temporary setback, because I adore this film and want to lose myself again in its tense atmosphere the next time I watch it.

“They mostly come out at night. Mostly.”

James Cameron’s follow-up to Ridley Scott’s claustrophobic sci-fi classic exchanges tension for action, and in doing so creates the ultimate shoot-em-up adventure. Fifty-seven years after the events of the first film, Ellen Ripley finds herself drawn back to the newly populated colony of LV-426, escorting a group of marines who are trying to determine why contact with the colony has suddenly been terminated. Over the film’s epic running time (especially in Cameron’s “director approved” cut), many bullets will be fired and many aliens and humans alike will be converted into fertilizer. A movie which, although it has different goals, is just as successful as its illustrious predecesser.

Another great disc from Fox, containing both the theatrical version (never before released on DVD) and Cameron’s arguably superior director’s cut. Both are great.

And I can’t wait to re-visit Alien 3 again, just as soon as I get all this Oscar stuff behind me.


P.S. I should mention that the Cool Shite on the Tube podcast provided extensive reviews and behind-the-scenes coverage of all four Alien films in their 100th episode. Well-worth checking out, if you’ve got a couple of hours and don’t mind some raunchy language and Australian accents.


One response to “I’ve lost contact with the colony on LV-426!

  1. Not that you asked for an argument, but if you had I would argue that the theatrical cut of Aliens is the definitive one. If Cameron has one weakness as a film maker its his inability to edit himself. Give him editorial control and you’re in for a long evening at the theater. The things he included in his directors cut don’t add anything but time to the proceedings. I didn’t need to have a scene showing Ripley hanging around the space station mourning her daughter to understand later that Newt brought out her mothering instincts. All that scene did was bog things down. I also didn’t need to spend 15 minutes watching Newt’s family discover the nest when, in the theatrical cut that bit of the plot was covered in 10 seconds of dialogue between Ripley and Burke. For my money the theatrical cut of Aliens is a solid gold masterpiece, Cameron’s indulgences on later versions only water things down and distract from the original’s greatness. It’s a relief that the box set includes the theatrical release.

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