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February 20, 2013 2:29 AM   Subscribe

From The Weyland-Yutani Archives:
During Alien's pre-production, Ridley Scott drew up a story board presentation of Alien for 20th Century Fox. These storyboards are known as 'Ridleygrams'. This story board presentation contains scenes and FX shots that were later re-written or dropped due to budgetary reasons.

Take a look at the deleted, unfilmed and alternate Alien scenes from the production storyboards which are based on the June 1978 draft:
It was intended for Ridley to have the cast naked during the awakening sequence. Fox executives deemed this to pornographic and was rewritten. It is believed that some scenes were filmed with the actors fully nude which would have made the film banned in at least five countries, In the end the actors wore white shorts, and the women had surgical tape covering their nipples.
Alien 3: The Lesser Known Deleted Scenes
As prisoner Frank shines his light over the remains of Bishop and Hicks, he see's Newt dead inside a water-filled cryo-tube. A version of this scene appeared in the theatrical cut. However, an alternate shot was filmed and never featured in the assembly cut. The shot is also storyboarded.

Project Formerly Titled STARBEAST

The Opening Sequence of Alien III: Just What the Hell Is Going On Here???

The Mythical Reebok Shoes Scene

Alien Teaser Trailer Creator

The Med-Lab Facehuggers

Why was Ripley's nose bleeding? was it an accident after she grabbed Ash in the computer annex?

The Dog Catcher Commandos of Alien 3

Hudson's Tool Kit
posted by Foci for Analysis (39 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
In space no one can see your junk.
posted by pracowity at 2:58 AM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Lots of awesome info there - thanks, Foci for Analysis! I do love the style of those "Ridleygrams"...

This has put me in a wondering mood about the new video game, Aliens: Colonial Marines. This was being marketed heavily as being a canonical sequel to Aliens, which for those who find canonicity important. But if it is canon, I think that Alien3 cannot be - the two directly contradict each other in their depiction of what happens after the end of Aliens. So... if that means that Alien3 is deprecated from canon, that presumably also means that Alien Resurrection is deprecated from canon? Alien versus Predator was contradicted by Prometheus, but I think it's fair to say that the AvP movies were never assumed to be Canonical, because of the rule of terrible (like the Star Wars Christmas Special...).
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:03 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alien versus Predator was contradicted by Prometheus, but I think it's fair to say that the AvP movies were never assumed to be Canonical, because of the rule of terrible (like the Star Wars Christmas Special...).

The Rule of Terrible, if it exists, would also remove Alien 3 and Resurrection, and possibly Prometheus too.
posted by JHarris at 4:09 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Rule of Terrible would also definitely remove the new video game, Aliens: Colonial Marines.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:17 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Superb post. Thanks!
posted by zarq at 4:17 AM on February 20, 2013


I loved these! Thank you!
posted by Kevtaro at 4:26 AM on February 20, 2013


The Rule of Terrible, if it exists, would also remove Alien 3 and Resurrection, and possibly Prometheus too.

I think that's the Rule of Comparison to Great First Film(s). There was an interesting film in Alien 3 lost between all the different directors and screenwriters, Resurrection was kind of fun (but not in the calibre of the series) and even Prometheus... well, it's not Manos.
posted by ersatz at 4:27 AM on February 20, 2013


I fucking love Aliens.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 4:27 AM on February 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Canon should be defined as the list of stories written by the original author/director. Aliens: Colonial Marines and Alien: Resurrection are poor quality fan fiction sanctified only by the fact that their producers bought the rights.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:28 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


even Prometheus... well, it's not Manos.

That's like the faintest possible praise.
posted by JHarris at 4:30 AM on February 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


The Rule of Terrible, if it exists, would also remove Alien 3 and Resurrection, and possibly Prometheus too.

Wrong! The Extended Cut (it's not called Director's Cut because Fincher didn't cut it, I believe is the story) of Alien 3 is a masterpiece of slow-burning horror and absolutely canon. I'd go so far as to say it's my favourite of the three.

Resurrection, on the other hand, no matter who cuts it and how, is an unrepentant piece of shit.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 4:32 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Dark Horse comics are the canon continuation of Aliens.
posted by Artw at 4:34 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


FOX: You can't show their penises.
SCOTT: Fine, I'll just make everything else look like penises.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:34 AM on February 20, 2013 [23 favorites]


Yes of course. The Ongoing Adventures of Billie and Wilks.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 4:36 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh and there's a new edition of the Alien comic adaptation by Whoever and Walter Simonson - saw it the other day and will be picking it up when I've got a couple of bucks to burn. Lovely-looking book.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 4:37 AM on February 20, 2013


Yes of course. The Ongoing Adventures of Billie and Wilks.

Grmmmph.
posted by Artw at 4:39 AM on February 20, 2013


That's like the faintest possible praise.

Rule of Terrible, right? What's annoying about Prometheus is that it's technically very competent, has an interesting premise (Space Jockey) and then the characters, the Chariots of the Gods and the lack of any tension disappoint sorely. It's still not terrible - terrible is something like This is 40 and all the bumbleheads who rated it 4/5 stars in my cinema never trust crowdsourced reviews.
posted by ersatz at 4:59 AM on February 20, 2013


Canon should be defined as the list of stories written by the original author/director. Aliens: Colonial Marines and Alien: Resurrection are poor quality fan fiction sanctified only by the fact that their producers bought the rights.

That would include Aliens though, right?
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:07 AM on February 20, 2013


That's right, folks; The usual sort of meddlesome studio interference saved us all from having to see Harry Dean Stanton's butt.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:11 AM on February 20, 2013


Weyland-Yutani tee-shirt. Let me buy one!
posted by gen at 5:17 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Rule of Terrible, if it exists, would also remove Alien 3 and Resurrection, and possibly Prometheus too.

Well, hmm ... as discussed above, the Rule of Terrible isn't necessarily the Rule of Bad. You'd struggle to argue that the Weyland in AVP is the canonical Weyland, rather than the Weyland in Prometheus, for example, even if you think they are both terrible, terrible films. Whereas "Han shot first", also for example, is more about an argument around film-making and direction, and the concept of creatorial and curatorial authenticity.

Star Wars is not a bad example, in fact - The Phantom Menace may be cocktrocious, but it is canonical - and indeed its canonical status alters the status of other things which had previously been quasi-canonical or assumed to be canonical. It's bad, but it doesn't fit into the Rule of Terrible.

(You could just about fanwank it if you had to - Charles Bishop Weyland being Peter Weyland's late-spawning father or grandfather, and the events of AvP perhaps being passed down through the family (although generally hushed up), thus convincing Peter W. of the existence of perfect survival machines (Aliens) and technologically advanced interstellar travellers (Predators), and his hope that either the genetic material of the former or the technology of the latter might be the means to secure immortality. But, really, why would one want to?)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:23 AM on February 20, 2013


That would include Aliens though, right?

I hadn't realized there was no overlap between the writing staff, but IMDB says there wasn't. Huh. Well, we can't say Aliens isn't canon. The original author rule is too strict in this case, but what do we replace it with? Buying the rights shouldn't be enough to earn a bad story a place in the canon.

I'm sure that the Aeneid is a canonical sequel to the Iliad, but I'm also sure that there is no precise system of rules that can demonstrate this.

This is 40 and all the bumbleheads who rated it 4/5 stars

It's worth remembering that renowned critic Leonard Maltin gave Laserblast two and a half stars. Apparently it was exactly as good as Amadeus or Unforgiven, also given two and a half stars.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:32 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sure that the Aeneid is a canonical sequel to the Iliad, but I'm also sure that there is no precise system of rules that can demonstrate this.

I would disagree...

If there were a canonical sequel to the Iliad, it would logically be the lost Aethopiad of Arctinus of Miletus (maybe) - and I don't think even that would count. At best, the Aeneid would be Angel to the Iliad's Buffy, with a supporting character getting his own show and guest appearances by characters from the original series (e.g. Helenus, or the flashback episode in book 2). Except Angel and Buffy shared a lot of the same writing staff and initially the same showrunner - so, you get this awkward question of whether "the epic tradition" counts as a writing credit...
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:03 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Whereas, and I may be overthinking this, I can see exactly why Alien3 might not feel like a canon successor to Aliens - primarily because Aliens built on the setup of Alien, where Ripley was the sole, clearly traumatized survivor of the Nostromo, heading back towards humanity but leaving a giant stash of alien eggs on LV-426. It makes perfect sense to go from there to "Ripley overcoming her trauma by returning from human-controlled space to confront the consequences of the giant stash of Alien eggs on LV-426.

Whereas in Aliens the film ended with Ripley, Hicks, Newt and possibly Bishop heading back to human space, with Ripley having achieved closure both with regard to the trauma of Alien and the trauma introduced in Aliens (the death of her daughter, her inability to connect emotionally with people after the events of the Nostromo, her crippling, disabling fear of the Alien). It's a satisfying way to end the series, if need be, and to end Ripley's story, but it leaves open the possibility of more stories (because it is clear that the Aliens are only a part of the story involving the Space Jockeys, and these eggs need not be the only eggs).

Alien3 throws a curve ball at that - it's the equivalent of an improv actor deciding not to say "yes, and" to the statement by another improv actor that they are both in a shoe store but instead saying "Are you blind? This is a Welsh tourist information centre!" It kills off the characters who represent Ripley's growth as a character, and instead tells us that Ripley's nightmare in Aliens of having been impregnated by the alien - the thing from which Ripley grows and heals over the course of Aliens - is actually happening, and we need to wind our narrative clock back, in effect, to the end of Alien, or rather the first ten minutes or so of Aliens.

And then Aliens: Colonial Marines messes with that further, in a way which actually references, probably unwittingly, the Iliad and Odyssey, Euripides' Helen and Stesichorus' Palinode, but that's getting into spoiler territory.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:25 AM on February 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Resurrection is canonical but occurs so far into the future (and includes zero of the previously-established characters) that it doesn't matter.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:41 AM on February 20, 2013


he is a really solid artist! Great line work and lighting. I would read a comic drawn in exactly this style.
posted by jonbro at 6:45 AM on February 20, 2013


but I think it's fair to say that the AvP movies were never assumed to be Canonical, because of the rule of terrible (like the Star Wars Christmas Special...).


Holiday Special. It was aired just before American Thanksgiving, and was all about Life Day, as I am sure you know.

AVP is a very well-cast B-movie, as we have covered before. And if we are speak of the writing credits affecting canonicity, remember that it stands alone among all the movies after Alien in having a story credited to O'Bannon and Shusett.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:57 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are very neat!

Snapping submouth that extends out the mouth of a tangent: I know people insist that the Alien 3 director's cut is awesome, and to each their own. Everyone's mileage varies, but that's very much not my odometer.

I got the Alien collection on blu-ray quite awhile back, and happily watched the first two because I can watch those any time. (My favorite detail I'd never quite fully realized somehow before in Aliens: the reason Vasquez gets her leg messed up in the air duct escape isn't the alien attack and getting acid-splashed per se; it's that she kicks its head into the wall, pins it there with her foot, and only then empties her handgun into it. Yo Vasquez, kick ass.) But I kept hearing the same thing about the extended cut of Alien 3, that it really made it a better movie, bad rap, etc. So I figured, sure, I'll buy that explanation.

No, not so much. It's just a longer mess that way. I suppose it might be a better mess than the theatrical mess, but I don't see testing that out anytime soon. I know that God is dead and the world is purposeless empty meaninglessness, because of the whole interminable end sequence involving characters running around and yelling in a series of identical corridors this way and that, slamming doors and heaving sighs of relief to cut to another character running around and screaming to slam doors to another character running around another identical stretch of corridor and holy crap there's no sense of place or space or position or progress and it's just godawful inept. I know Alien 3 went through approximately five thousand different scriptwriters and aborted approaches at one pre-production point or another and they stitched a bunch of them together, but jesus. (I kind of wish the treatment involving the entire planet being made out of wood was used, because you may as well go goofy with it if you're doing the unnecessary.)

Alien Resurrection was actually a tiny bit less painful to see again primarily because no one got my hopes up of it actually being a better movie than it was. I mean, sure, the aliens' IQ all sharply dropped since Ripley was away, and by that point the series had entirely lost sight of the fact that their menace wasn't that they were slasher-murderers in giger suits instead of hockey masks, that they weren't going to kill you but paralyze you and give you a horrifying rapedeath by parasite, but at some point everyone writing these things completely forgot what the first couple movies were about, and the less said about Winona Ryder's performance the better (I take exception that she was the next generation to Bishop's), and there was a ludicrous number of survivors at the end and the final alien is...well, it is what it is, the tragic result of no one saying with authority "This sucks, and we need to go back to square one and make it not suck." But that wasn't a surprise, really. Just a reminder of stuff I'd forgotten from the first go-round.

Prometheus was just kind of dumb, but had amazing spectacle moments. I regret not seeing it in the theater for some of the sweeping visuals and sound design--that opening barren waterfalls sequence must have been something special on the huge screen.
posted by Drastic at 7:00 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is there somewhere a casual fan can get thoroughly spoiled on the plot of Aliens: Colonial Marines?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:06 AM on February 20, 2013


Resurrection is canonical but
I say we nuke the entire series from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

FOX: You can't show their penises.
SCOTT: Fine, I'll just make everything else look like penises.


Fox: You can't do that! Let's ask the artist.
Geiger: Penises are too vanilla. We are all insectoid aliens burrowing and pulsing within biomechanic urbaniod bodies.
Fox: ... uh, right. See? Penises are uh, vanilla. These are insectoid... uh... *aside to aide* what the hell does that mean?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:18 AM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oops - quite right. Holiday Special.

AVP is a very well-cast B-movie, as we have covered before.

Well, AVP is a Paul WS Anderson movie. Anderson seems to be an unassuming and very knowledgeable man who understands exactly what he is being asked to do. He has been entrusted with X million dollars, and his duty is to spend no more than X million dollars in creating a product that will pull in 2.5X million dollars or more in theatres, and have a solid life on TV. That's it, and his adherence to it is admirable. If you want a horribly over budget folly which will experience a critical resurrection in 10 years time, he is not your man.

As such, the representative Paul WS Anderson film will be shot in Eastern Europe. Regardless of the setting of the original story, it will take place a few years ahead of when it was filmed, to minimize the number of "futuristic" props required. It will have a couple of American stars, and a supporting cast of British and European character actors, because they are hard-working, professional, cheap and can be flown over inexpensively to Prague. Colin Salmon will be chopped into cubes. The run time will be between 95 and 101 minutes, to maximise suitability to 2-hours blocks of ad-bearing TV time and thus return on studio investment. And so on.

You know what you're getting. But it does lead to some interesting challenges when it comes to integrating a story meeting those requirements with a broader narrative with different aims...
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:18 AM on February 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I finished Aliens: Colonial Marines earlier this week. As a game it's not brilliant and it deserves the negative feedback it's getting (there was a Penny Arcade strip last week that was spot on).

Some of the ideas about the plot are quite solid (I was curious about how they were going to approach the issue of how the Sulaco is back over LV426), although the execution is poor and it's too slavish to the previous AvP template for games. I don't want to get into spoilers for the story but they do something very intriguing about two-thirds of the way in with one familiar character.

The canonicity of the subsequent films is still in place, but they side-step it in an unexpected way. As a film, and with a decent script, this concept would have been quite clever.
posted by panboi at 8:40 AM on February 20, 2013


Back in 92-93, I was so conflicted about Alien3, I wrote my own follow-up story to Aliens.

PAST:
The Sulaco made it back to human space.
Ripley and Hicks drifted apart.
Hicks deployed to new posting and is killed in action.

PRESENT:
Years later, Ripley and grown-up Newt own a freighter/tug and run giant cargo vessels for W-Y.
Mother/daughter conflict.
A science ship comes back in-system infested by aliens W-Y still are intent on weaponizing.
(W-Y were experimenting with clones of Ripley crossed with aliens because she beat them twice.)
A group of mercenaries are secretly sent by W-Y to secure the ship but are wiped out.
Ripley puts together what is going on, realizes she has to stop it from reaching Earth.
Ripley/Newt rendezvous with infested ship.
Newt discovers surviving Ripley-child clone and rescues her from critters.
Older Ripley could escape, but dies destroying infested ship so Newt and younger Ripley can survive.
Newt becomes surrogate mother to younger Ripley.

Watching Resurrection in '97 was an eerie experience, because of all the similarities to what I had written years before.

I still like my version's ending better. Oh, and little Ripley is terrible at basketball.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 8:40 AM on February 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is there somewhere a casual fan can get thoroughly spoiled on the plot of Aliens: Colonial Marines?

Supergreatfriend [prevs] is currently playing through it on youtube, which as far as I'm concerned, is the best possible outcome of such a sordid tale.
posted by SomaSoda at 10:41 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, AVP is a Paul WS Anderson movie...

You know what you're getting.


I have never doubted any of this; Anderson colours inside the lines and knows exactly what he can do. As much as I enjoyed AVP more than most people, there is no escaping the fact that it feels much more like a Resident Evil movie than anything in the canon.

As I have said before on the blue, the Alien movies have been put in the hands of a series of auteurs, and Anderson is the very definition of low-rent auteur (he is more or less this generation's Roger Corman or George A. Romero). When put in the hands of a technician (the Brothers Strause, or latter-day Ridley Scott), the result is mediocre; on the other hand, when an Alienesque movie winds up being made by a low-rent auteur like David Twohy, you wind up with a pretty decent flick.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:37 AM on February 20, 2013


Big studios know that whatever over-hyped sequel crap they shovel out, there will be some who will come around to actually like it, and say it's not so bad, it's really the best they could have done, it's what we deserve, and what do you want really? It's called Stockholm syndrome.
posted by JHarris at 1:42 PM on February 20, 2013


It's called Stockholm syndrome.

I enjoy your assertion that anyone whose tastes in entertainment might differ from yours must suffer some irrational psychology derived from emotional trauma.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:24 PM on February 21, 2013


Hmm... possibly there are variant concepts of what constitutes an auteur. I guess one can identify a WS Anderson film by its style, as one might a Truffaut film - except that I think many of those stylistic characteristics are functions of the available resources - one might see a similar feel in a Brett Leonard film, say. But I guess there is no formal definition of auteur...

(Also, I think auteurs scale, maybe? If you give Peter Jackson a big budget, he creates something very different from Brain Dead, but Jacksonian. If you give David Twohy a big budget, you get The Chronicles of Riddick... it's interesting and possibly telling that Twohy was offered AVP before Anderson.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:25 PM on February 21, 2013


(Incidentally, I heartily recommend the DVD commentary for AVP. It's a great insight into the process of delivering a film on time and on budget, and Lance Henriksson is just such a pro, relentlessly highlighting the positives of every scene.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:01 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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