Xenomorph - 1993
'Nuff Aliens - LW Gietzen
Faery - LW Gietzen
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'Nuff Aliens

Yeah, okay, another article on the 'Alien' trilogy, but before you turn the page, this is not going to be one of those in-depth psychological analyses on the 'betrayal-of-motherhood-as-represented-by-the-Aliens'- "cosmic incubation" (as H.R. Giger put it so mad Swiss artistfully) or on the Alien-as-ultimate-rape-intruder (it's black, seven feet tall and has a head shaped like a dick. Clive Barker may think it looks like a dolphin, but, and I hate to disappoint you Clive, it's a dick. You look at Giger's other work, it's a dick). No. I may heavily mention H.R. Giger (there, you see, another one), Bill Gibson's rejected 'Aliens' script and Dark Horse's comic "continuations" of the films, but the deep meaningful stuff is just way out.

So, what is this? Well, just an attempt at the sort of harmless fanzine-ey "what if' speculation which usually gets every fanboy's back up because they assume I'm putting the films down. Which I'm not. So, going right back to the first of the three, 'Alien'.

Ridley Scott, genuflect, genuflect, dark, moody, water drip ping, Sigourney Weaver taking her clothes off. And, of course, the Alien itself. Now there were a lot of good ideas about the Alien which were just not made use of in the film - when Scott was asked to defend the concept of a humanoid Alien, he suggested that the adult form would depend upon the form of the host used by the Alien. This was very recently picked up on in 'Aliens' with the rottweiller Alien. Incidentally, there's a new range of bendy toys featuring a gorilla Alien and a tiger Alien - great stuff. If Robocop can get marketed as a kids' toy, why not Aliens? There was also speculation on the creatures life cycle - apparently Scott wanted to convey the idea that the Alien had a short life span like a butterfly, during which time it steadily grew darker as it bruised, and that it was trying to spread its contagion. How? Well, in a deleted sequence (read the book or buy the special edition laserdisc), Ripley finds Dallas not dead but cocooned in a ventilation shaft, with Brett further along the evolutionary change becoming an Alien egg. Not the hive society posited by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd in the sequel. This original life cycle was much more static for the creature, leading perhaps to the (briefly mentioned) Alien-as-bio-weapon - were these creatures engineered as a form of trap? as a burglar alarm? Bringing back a specimen is a constant theme throughout the films, the big bad Corporations wanting a new money spinner. It's taken to greater extremes in the first comic series by Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson where "the Company" acquires a Queen Alien (this is a sequel to 'Aliens', not 'Alien') which proceeds to infect vast numbers with her progeny, leading to the construction of hives across the Earth. It's all very moody and cyberpunky, with Verheiden likening the Aliens to a disease, a cancer, and the overrunning of the planet being due not to the evil nature of the Aliens but to the greed of men - the Aliens just do what they do, it is mankind who is responsible. In my opinion, Verheiden somewhat ruined this story with the inclusion of a "Space Jockey" alien (the other alien race hinted at in the first film) who just looked, well, silly. But for development of ideas, the series gets my vote. In the second series Verheiden went on (with prettier artwork by Denis Beauvais) to look at a mad general's attempt to use the Aliens as soldiers, but not entirely successfully. A rather peculiar throwaway line by Hicks (Dwayne!) called the Aliens "the next evolutionary step". Interesting, but I'm not quite sure why.

alien

The comics basically degenerated from then on, the only major new idea being the use of the Alien Queen's royal jelly as a drug; the fourth series 'Genocide' sees it as a beserker drug used by the military while the fifth series 'Hive', the other contender for best story, has the central character reliant on the jelly's hallucinogenic effects. There's also an android Alien, putting a novel twist on the overused mistrust-of-technology malfunctioning psycho android.

Forgive me if I haven't mentioned the film 'Aliens' so much, but... well... whilst it is certainly the most entertaining/exciting of the trilogy... I sort of resent it for that. James Cameron is very impressive and had a lot of balls to totally change the genre of the sequel and not just do a remake, but the power of the Aliens is lost. They get killed in their droves whereas the first film's major hook was that the crew couldn't just shoot up the Alien because then they would die too. But, Cameron took the Ripley character and expanded her into more of a person, he added the notion of a queen (and his production sketch beats the hell out of the final design - see illustration) and tuned some things around with the inclusion of a good guy android. 'Aliens' is a terrific film, I'm just a snobby purist who prefers moody psychological films. Watch 'Alien' in 70mm and call me a liar.

And then there were 3, sorry, 3. Didn't you just hate that 3. I grew used to it (film took so damn long to appear), but I don't really see that it adds a new dimension to the 'Alien' story or anything so pretentious. Keeps the symmetry of the title and I suppose it's quite clever. But the film... stunningly directed, big hand all round for David Fincher who is outstanding... Sigourney Weaver is damn fine and damn nice with no hair... Charles Dance is pretty cool too even though during his moment of pathos the Alien drops on him and bursts his head, and Charles S. Dutton likewise fine but the script is atrocious. The prisoners are fodder with no individuality, the plot is illogical (where did the Alien egg in the titles come from? The Queen had her egg sac severed in 'Aliens'), and Ripley dies! No, I liked that part. Although why test audiences insisted on the addon shot of the queen bursting out of Ripley I cannot fathom. Isn't her Christ-symbolic swandive into the furnace enough? Doesn't it spoil her sacrifice to show her death agonies? Still, another director with balls, enough to kill off the central character. We'll gloss over the precredit massacre of all the love and family interest built up in 'Aliens'. But the tides were gorgeous. It was probably all only a hypersleep nightmare, Ripley's still alive, roll on 'Alien IV'. There are still plenty of leftover stories for IV from the crop rejected from 3. Vincent Ward had an artificial planet (made of wood) colonised by monks (echoed heavily in the costumes and sets of 3 as it stands) with a shapeshifting Alien, Bill Gibson brought the Aliens to Earth in a similar way to the first comic series and explored their organic nature versus corporation biology (still no news on the 'Neuromancer' film, but short stories 'Johnny Mnemonic' and 'Burning Chrome' are also being 'considered'), there were bigger, badder King Aliens...

The threat of an 'Aliens vs. Predator' film (check out the comics and the trophy cabinet in 'Predator 2' in case you haven't heard) seems likely, if only in the money grabbing stakes, but I think the trilogy should stand as is. Unless somebody can come up with something better than 'Well, why should being immersed in molten lead kill the baby queen when it didn't kill the dog Alien?' Explore new aspects, bold new characters, not just a tired rehash like the 'Friday the 13th' series.

Personally I'm sticking with the bad dream story.

LW Gietzen

faery by LW Gietzen