Alien Quadrilogy : Part 1

In April of last year I finally got myself the Alien Quadrilogy of movies after ignoring the franchise for so long. Well, I was very familiar with the franchise and had seen the first movie many years back and parts of the second movie. It’s no doubt that the Alien franchise is the most popular & probably the best in the scifi-horror genre and it set the bar pretty high. I just wasn’t into it that much for so long. I guess in part was the alien – I can’t think of anything more disgusting looking other than somethings from the Starship Troopers universe. Anyways I decided to watch them, got a copy of each 4 movie (prior to Prometheus being released) but only completed watching them recently.

The franchise started in 1979 with the original Alien movie directed Ridley Scott and starring and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The screenplay was mostly written by Dan O’Bannon inspired by previous works of scifi & horror. The film continues to be popular & set standards all these years later. As most of you know the commercial towing spaceship Nostromo, on it’s way back to earth is alerted by the owners Weyland-Yutani corporation to intercept a distress call on an unknown planetoid. The 7 crew members discover that the signal is coming from a derelict alien spacecraft and find the carcass of a large alien. One of the crew gets an alien creature, which has just come out of an egg like form and which we will come to call as a facehugger, jump onto his head and attach itself onto his face. Once onboard the rest of the crew find that they can’t cut through the alien as it’s blood acts like a corrosive acid. Later the creature appears to be dead and has detached from his face but the crewman, Kane, is killed in a stunning memorable scene where the crew are at dinner, when his chest bursts open and an alien creature comes out and escapes.

The crew search for the creature which grows fully and is a biped, attacks & kills the rest of the crew until only Ellen Ripley the female warrant officer (Weaver) is left. She also finds out that Ash is actually an android and has been ordered to bring the alien back at all costs, even the lives of the human crew. She is able to initiate the ship’s self-destruct and leaves in an escape pod with her cat but the alien has sneaked it’s way in. Putting on a spacesuit, Ripely opens a hatch and the pressure pulls the alien out into space and is killed by the activated engines. Ripley and cat go into statis and head for earth.

7 years later (that’s awfully long to wait for a sequel isn’t it?) James Cameron directed Aliens starring Weaver returning as Ripley along with Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Paul Riser, William Hope, and Bill Paxton (in so annoying a role, you’re actually cheering on the alien to get him). Aliens was more action adventure compared to the horror themed original and picks up where we left off. Ripley and the cat are rescued in space and brought back to earth. At a debriefing at Weyland-Yutani the panel of executives disregard her statements as she has no physical evidence and also tell her that LV-426, the planet where her crew first encountered the Alien eggs, is now home to a terraforming colony. Her actions are deemed badly and she loses her license. However she is later recruited by corporate representative Carter Burke and Lieutenant Gorman of the military to act as a consultant for a mission to the planet as all contact with the colonists has been lost. Her pilot status being reinstated, Ripley decides to join the mission.

Ripley & Burke are introduced to the marines & the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen) against whom Ripley will show fear & hatred due to her experience with Ash. The expedition reaches LV-436 to find the colony seemingly abandoned except for a little girl, Newt, who hid in the ducts. They find two facehuggers in containment tanks in the medical lab and a large Alien nest filled with the cocooned colonists clustered in the nuclear-powered atmosphere processing station. The aliens start attacking picking off the marines one by one. A stowaway alien also gets into the dropship and kills the pilots and destroys the ship that came to pick up the surviving humans. Ripley discovers that it was Burke who ordered the colonists to investigate the derelict spaceship where the Nostromo crew first encountered the Alien eggs, and that he hopes to return Alien specimens to the company laboratories where he can profit from their use as biological weapons. Bishop crals through several 100  meters of piping ducts to get to a transmitter so he can remote pilot the remaining dropship to get them out of there. Burke meanwhile lets the two facehuggers lose as Ripley & Newt sleep in the lab but they are rescued by the other marines.

The electricity goes out as the aliens attack killing off most of the marines, injuring Hicks and capturing Newt. Ripley gets him to Bishop at the dropship but goes back for Newt and encounters the alien queen and her egg chamber. Ripley destroys most of the eggs, enraging the queen, who escapes by tearing free from her ovipositor. The queen stows away as the drop ship reaches their spaceship and impales Bishop and tears him in half. Using a mechanizes huge suit Ripley attacks the alien queen and expels it through an airlock. Ripley, Newt, Hicks and the still-functioning Bishop then enter hypersleep for the return to Earth.

I’d give Alien and Aliens an 8.5 each. The first sequel is probably my favourite of the 4 films. We shall look at the other two sequels in a few days.

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