The discussion of the Alien series of films and the props used in them is the aim, but if it's got Big Bugs and Big Guns, then they are welcome too!





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 Post subject: VINTAGE ARTICLE: The Lost Worlds of Alien³
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:40 am 
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THE LOST WORLDS OF ALIEN³
by
Dr. John L. Flynn

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Credits:

1992 - ALIEN THREE - 20th Century Fox, in association with Brandywine Productions, 115 min, Panavision (released in 70mm, Dolby Stereo). Director: David Fincher. Producers:Gordon Carroll, Walter Hill and David Giler. Associate Producer: Sigourney Weaver. Screen Story by Vincent Ward. Screenwriters: Hill, Giler and Larry Ferguson. Based on characters by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Music Composer: Elliot Goldenthal. Director of Photography: Alex Thompson. Film Editor: Terry Rawlings. Special Effects Supervisor: Richard Edlund. Alien Creature Design by H.R. Giger. Alien Effects by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. Production Designer: Norman Reynolds.

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Lance Henriksen, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Paul McGann, Brian Glover, Pete Postlethwaite, and Ralph Brown.

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Released on May 22, 1992

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Returning from her death struggle on Acheron, LV-426, Ellen Ripley relaxes comfortably in her hyper sleep chamber aboard the military carrier Sulaco as it traverses the cold darkness of space. The former Warrant Officer is suddenly roused from her dreamless slumber to again face her worst nightmare . . . aliens . . . in a retrofitted New York City of the future . . . in an abandoned shopping mall in space . . . on a man-made planetoid inhabited by hillbilly farmers . . . aboard a wooden fourteenth century spaceship from earth, crewed by monks . . . or in a run-down penal colony . . . Eleven years after the original ALIEN, and less than four years since its rousing sequel ALIENS, the Twentieth Century-Fox franchise had finally reached a creative impasse. Not only had the many plot lines under consideration for the new sequel finally revealed just how clearly derivative of other genres the series had become but also how dramatically limited the whole concept was from the very start. Nevertheless, Fox was determined to release a third (and possibly fourth) film, aware that the first two installments in the series had combined grosses over $200 million. Planned for an Easter 1990 release, the troubled sequel eventually went through three directors, eight screenwriters, innumerable script drafts and rewrites, a Writers Guild strike, the gulf war, criticism about massive cost overruns, a change in studio leadership, a problematic production, expensive reshoots and a power struggle over creative control before debuting to negative reviews and lukewarm box office receipts. The project seemed doomed to failure from the start.

"Money men now seem to be in control of the studios rather than filmmakers," said a disgruntled crew member who chose to remain anonymous. "They know if they release ALIEN 3 people are going to see it out of pure curiosity. They're going to make millions of dollars, so they don't care what the picture's like."

Much like the mythical, malevolent "Company" of the series, some evidence does seem to suggest that Twentieth Century-Fox was motivated more by profit margins than creative integrity. But perhaps that opinion is far too simplistic or naive. Perhaps the blame for ALIEN 3's failure belongs clearly with the creative brain-trust who have nurtured the series from the beginning. Others seem to find fault with the unsatisfactory screenplay. Though carefully engineered to plunge audiences into a maelstrom of terror and suspense, the relentless death-struggle between Ripley and the cosmic creature may have simply become too familiar. Still others choose to blame the novice director whose work, though stylish, lacked the proper focus. The answers lie somewhere between that first story idea and the motion picture that finally debuted in movie theatres.

The final motion picture of ALIEN 3 evolved from dozens of scripts, treatments and story conferences involving many successful writers and directors. While few in the industry will publicly acknowledge it, the film suffered through a process known as "development hell" on its way to the big screen. In their quest to make a movie which packs a huge box office wallop, the executives at Fox and the producers at Brandywine went through a dizzying array of Hollywood's talented visionaries, often at the expense of true genius and genuine vision. That process first began in 1987 with the first discussions of a sequel . . .

DISCUSSIONS OF A SEQUEL

The overwhelming and unexpected success of ALIENS prompted Roger Birnbaum, president of worldwide production at Twentieth Century-Fox, and other key executives to begin referring to the ALIEN series as "the franchise." Both Ridley Scott's stylish thriller and James Cameron's rousing action-adventure had not only proven to be money-spinning crowd-pleasers but also that the concept was potent enough to survive sequel after sequel. Science fiction and horror films were continually demonstrating their versatility at the box office and on home video, raking in over $800 million annually in profits. Like George Lucas' epic space saga STAR WARS and Paramount's perennial favorite STAR TREK, their series had seemingly managed to capture that same magic in a bottle. Executives at Fox were convinced that they could continue to profit from ALIEN, and approached the partners at Brandywine Productions with the notion of one, possibly two, films.

Accordingly, producers David Giler, Walter Hill and Gordon Carroll began exploring the possibilities of a sequel. They all agreed that a different approach was clearly necessary to distinguish from the horrific aspects of the first movie or the all-out warfare of the second if audiences were going to embrace the franchise, but none of them could agree what approach to take with the new film. They considered such story ideas as having the aliens come to New York and fuse into a giant, Godzilla-like monster that threatens the city, and another in which Ripley and the orphan are trapped in a BLADE RUNNEResque metropolis with the creature. They ultimately acknowledged that bringing the alien creature to earth was probably not a good idea. Giler explained it best, by saying, "Drop the alien in Death Valley and you drop a nuke on him--end of story." The partners knew that the storyline worked best in a dark, claustrophobic setting. They also reasoned that a continuation of the story would have to feature the character of Ripley in some capacity, while at the same time being completely different from her previous encounters with the creature in order to avoid simply rehashing past events. They soon found themselves turning to Sigourney Weaver for input. Over the years, she had become friendly with both Gordon Carroll and David Giler, and that friendship eventually led to a key role in the decision process.

"There wasn't any given time where the masterminds just said, 'Oh, let's just do another one,'" Sigourney Weaver explained her new role as co-producer. "It was a very slow process and a long struggle. The impetus for the third film was primarily due to the huge success of ALIENS. Clearly audiences wanted more. But we approached it with a lot of trepidation because the first two movies were so successful and so well done--well, in my opinion--that everyone was worried a third wouldn't measure up to the standards set by Scott and Cameron. It took a long time figuring out what story we should tell and what elements we would try and duplicate. We decided early on Cameron had done guns so brilliantly that it would be best not to reprise that aspect. Only when we could come up with an original idea and a wonderful director to match, did we all agree to go ahead with work on the sequel."

Hill and Giler each labored on several highly original concepts before settling upon a complex, two-part story in which the "Company" must confront a separate, space-faring earth culture (of a socialist or communist bent) that was developing the alien as a weapon of war. The first film (ALIEN 3) would merely feature a cameo appearance of Ripley with Hicks in the lead role, and the second (ALIEN 4) would re-establish her character as she battled the creatures in an earth-like setting. Weaver particularly liked the political allegory, and consented to the diminishment in her role. "I felt Ripley was going to become a burden to the story," she concluded. "There are only so many aspects to that character you can do."

Although somewhat skeptical about their plans to demote Ripley to cameo status, Twentieth Century-Fox agreed to front some development money for the new film--with one or two provisions. The first provision was that the partners at Brandywine approach Ridley Scott to direct ALIEN 3, and the second was that both films be produced concurrently to keep down mounting production costs. "We talked to Ridley briefly," said Weaver. "There was an idea at one time to film ALIEN 3 and 4 back to back. Ridley was going to direct one of those but he could never get it together."

Scott had just completed SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME (1987), and was preparing BLACK RAIN (1989), with Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia. He was also scheduled to shoot THELMA AND LOUISE (1991), the controversial picture for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and later 1492 (1992). Ridley was simply too busy with other projects to commit to the unscripted sequel.

After their attempt to enlist Scott had failed, Gordon Carroll and Walter Hill made a list of suitable directors who were, at the same time, available. Their list included Vincent Ward and David Fincher, among others. But Fox was pushing a young Finnish director, named Renny Harlin, based on the box office success of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988). David Giler arranged a screening of the film, and the partners all agreed that his work was exceptional. Harlin was subsequently contacted by the partners at Brandywine, and following an enthusiastic first meeting, he was signed to helm the new sequel. Less than two years later, Harlin would drop out of the project to make DIE HARD 2 (1989) and THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE (1989) for Fox.

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 Post subject: Re: VINTAGE ARTICLE: The Lost Worlds of Alien³
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:21 am 
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WILLIAM GIBSON AND THE FIRST SCREENPLAY

Late in September 1987, while they were still searching for a suitable replacement for Ridley Scott, David Giler recommended acclaimed science fiction novelist William Gibson to Hill as a possible screenwriter for ALIEN 3. Giler had read Gibson's Nebula and Hugo award-winning novel Neuromancer (1985) while relaxing on a beach in the south of Thailand soon after the release of ALIENS, and felt that his grasp of cyberpunk sensibilities was just the kind of touch that was needed. The central assumption of Gibson's writing (including Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive and the short story collection Burning Chrome) was that mankind, though trapped in some vaguely post-apocalyptic ruin, could be radically reprogrammed or redesigned through artificial evolution to become more useful as an instrument of technology and less a product of humanity. Hill agreed to meet with the Vancouver-based author, and the three forged a meaningful alliance, particularly after Gibson revealed that ALIEN had had such a strong influence on his writing Neuromancer.

"I found a lot of things in the original that were interesting even when it first came out," said William Gibson, singling out its "lived-in future" look as something that immediately appealed to him. "I thought there were germs of stories implicit in the art direction. I always wanted to know more about these guys. Why they were wearing dirty sneakers in this funky spaceship? I think it influenced my prose SF writing because it was the first funked up, dirty kitchen-sink spaceship and it made a big impression of me. When I started writing science fiction I went for that."

One of the brightest and most widely-celebrated stars of the science fiction genre, Gibson had some very strong ideas about the sequel. Even though he had very little in the way of actual screenwriting experience, the author still knew how to master a well-textured story. He was given the scripts for the first two films and a twelve-page story treatment. Gibson read the story producers Walter Hill and David Giler had devised for ALIEN THREE first, and was delighted to find that it combined aspects of two separate scenarios he had come up with himself. "I was glad to have something to hang onto storywise," the novice screenwriter explained. "Being given free rein really means and infinite budget. The impression I had, though, was that budget parameters argued against introducing the aliens into something that was the equivalent of the BLADE RUNNER set, which I admit would have been my natural impulse." William Gibson began work on the script almost immediately. Aware that a Writers Guild strike was imminent, he knew that he was under pressure to deliver a completed manuscript before December...

* * * * *

Gibson's script for ALIEN 3 begins in deep space with the Sulaco. Due to a failure in the on-board navigational circuitry, the former troop carrier accidentally strays into a sector of space claimed by the Union of Progressive Peoples. The ship is intercepted by a small shuttlecraft, and searched by three U.P.P. commandos. They find Ripley, Newt, and Hicks slumbering in deep-sleep hibernation; but upon closer examination of Bishop, an alien face-hugger launches out of the android's synthetic entrails, and attaches to one of the soldiers. The others blast him into space, fearing what the parasite might do to them, and take Bishop for further study. Returned back to its original course by one of the men, the Sulaco eventually reaches its destination, Anchorpoint--a space station and shopping mall that's nearing completion.

Several days pass, while the quarantined ship undergoes a thorough examination by "Company" representatives of the Bio-weapons Division and military personnel. (Apparently, upon arrival at the station, the Sulaco was boarded by a deck squad of Marines who were subsequently attacked by alien predators. During the one-sided skirmish, Ripley's hypersleep chamber was consumed by fire, and the former Warrant Officer was severely injured. Hicks and Newt were able to escape, unharmed.) Corporal Hicks awakes in the medlab quarantine, and learns from Spence (a female tissue culture tech) that the ship is now completely off limits to all but authorized personnel. When both he and Newt are reunited, they learn together than Ripley has suffered a stroke, and that she is comatose. They also discover that Bishop has been taken by U.P.P. members.

On Rodina, the Union of Progressive Peoples' space station, Colonel-Doctor Suslov and other scientists learn from their study of Bishop's basic programming about the alien menace on LV-426. The strange globules that he carries in his chest cavity--the result of an alien parasite--can not only be cloned but also used as killing machines to eliminate their enemies. Because the Weyland-Yutani corporation has a similar interest in bio-weapons research, Suslov fears that further deliberation and study will only precipate a technology gap. They decide to begin work immediately making their own alien.

Meanwhile, Colonel Rosetti warns Kevin Fox and Susan Welles, "Company" representatives from the Bio-weapons Division, that Anchorpoint is not a military station but a civilian operation under the control of the Colonial Administration Authority. He cannot simply close down the shopping concourse and impose martial law simply because they want information about the alien kept to a minimum. They attempt to frighten him with news that the U.P.P. is developing a xenomorph based on top secret information carelessly leaked from the station, but he still doesn't budge. Their meeting is rudely interrupted by Corporal Hicks who demands to know what they've done with Bishop. Fox and Welles explain that the android was taken right out from under their noses by the other side.

In the "mall," a high-tech cross between a Hyatt atrium and an airport shopping center, Charles Tully, a worker in the tissue culture lab, fears the military industrial complex may be collecting alien samples to use in weapons research. Even though he has been forced to sign an oath not to reveal what he knows, Tully can't help telling his girlfriend Spence. Later, in the tissue culture lab, the two specialists compare notes, and come to the conclusion that the Weyland-Yutani corporation (in conjunction with the military) have isolated an alien micro-organism from which they plan to construct the ultimate killing machine, an alien warrior. That research would violate all the existing treaties with the U.P.P.

Hicks has a tearful send-off with Newt. She's returning to earth aboard the Sulaco to be with her grandparents in Oregon. (Little do either of them suspect that tissue samples of the alien are also being dispatched to Gateway Station aboard the cleared ship.) Hicks promises the little girl to tell Ripley where she's gone, and even takes a hand-drawn map for the former Warrant Officer when she awakens from her coma. At about the same time, in a nearby docking bay, a mysterious shuttle arrives with the android Bishop on board. He has been repaired and returned in the interest of galactic peace by scientists of the Union of Progressive Peoples. Of course, Bishop has been totally stripped of the alien globules.

Professor Trent, the leading authority in bio-weapons research, arrives from earth to supervise the whole operation. Under the pretext of cancer research (to fool the local administrator, Rosetti), Trent proposes to fuse human DNA with the alien tissue samples in order to create the ultimate weapon. He doesn't really care how many people have to die in order to perfect this thing, noting that the entire station is expendable.

Reporting to his first duty assignment in months, the young corporal soon learns from his talkative co-worker, Tully, that the "Company" is planning to clone an entire army of the alien warriors. Hicks becomes instantly enraged, recalling what those monsters did to his squad of Colonial Marines. Tully calms him down, and convinces him to meet with his girlfriend Spence. They might have a plan to shut the research down before it reaches a critical phase. Later that night, the three concur that the alien was probably the results of some ancient arms race between two long-dead civilizations. Spence thinks she can sneak Hicks into one of the main labs, if Tully agrees to provide a worthy distraction . . . but on the way to the labs, they are intercepted by Bishop.

The android fears that he may have been reprogrammed by either the U.P.P. or the "Company," and that he may no longer be trustworthy. Hicks simply doesn't have time to find out, convincing Bishop that their only priority should be the destruction of the alien. Suddenly, alarms and klaxons begin sounding . . . the seal in decontamination has been "accidentally" broken by Tully, in clear view of Welles. They have both been exposed and possibly contaminated by the alien tissue samples. Corporal Hicks uses the mass panic to slip into the main lab, and destroy all the remaining samples. Unfortunately, both he and Bishop are captured, and placed in restraints. Hicks fears he will be tried and court-martialed, and the android will be forever disassembled.

On Rodina, the Union of Progressive Peoples' space station, they have had their own accident but far, far worse. Suslov and his fellow scientists have fallen victims to the alien parasite, and chest-bursters are now appearing all over the station. Frantically, their special forces commandos fight a losing battle. Trent calls a meeting with Welles and Fox to discuss plans for dealing with Corporal Hicks' treachery. The "Company" knows it was no simple accident, and has already taken steps to preserve the alien creature by sending samples to earth aboard the Sulaco. Perhaps they should use the young corporal as a subject in one of their cloning tests. Hicks curses them all for endangering Newt and the rest of the planet. But before his words can register in the small meeting room, Welles suddenly doubles over at the waist and begins convulsing. She then grasps at her chest and an alien emerges. Hicks, who has seen the same thing happen before on LV-426, acts swiftly to destroy Welles and the alien creature. Tully must also be infected, along with any others who were exposed to the samples. Their only safe course of action is to abandon and then destroy the station.

Corporal Hicks goes to the radio center to dispatch a rescue signal to the closest starship, the Kansas City, but Bishop warns him that they all must die in order to be absolutely certain the alien parasite never gets off the station. His haunting words remind Hicks that there are alien samples already headed to earth aboard the military carrier Sulaco. That ship must also be stopped, but before he can send a message to the android pilot of the ship, a "may-day" comes in from Rodina. A lone female commando--the same one that first boarded the Sulaco and kidnapped Bishop--warns that her entire station has been infected. She requests permission to activate self-destruct codes in order to prevent the alien contagion from spreading to other stations. Her message is rudely interrupted by the captain of the U.P.P. cruiser Nikolai Stoiko. He has been given orders to nuke the site in the interest of galactic peace. Hicks listens as they destroy their own station, and realizes Bishop may be right. Perhaps, they call still save the 138 people who were not infected because of their isolation in the shopping center.

Gathering together a detachment of young recruits to help him save the others, Hicks finds Ripley still comatose in the infirmary. He presses Newt's map into her lifeless hands, and launches Ripley into space aboard a one-man lifeboat. He figures that he owes her that much, knowing that she's safe and unaffected by the alien virus. lifeboats, then calls to Bishop (on his comlink) to activate the self-destruct mechanism. Rosetti, the station administrator, cowardly prevents the android from carrying out the directive.

Outraged, Hicks dons a spacesuit, and follows Bishop and Spence into space in order to detonate the station from an emergency access panel. They are pursued by the alien horde, which continues to increase in number. In the nick of time, the sole survivor from the Rodina (who apparently ejected from the station prior to its destruction) arrives in a heavy-armed shuttle. She begins blasting away at the aliens, while Hicks and the others struggle to activate the self-destruct mechanism. Mere heartbeats later, they are aboard the shuttle, watching Anchorpoint's destruction at a safe distance. Bishop notes that the earth humans are now united against a common enemy. They must now track the aliens back to their source, and destroy them once and for all. "This is a Darwinian universe, Hicks," the android explains. "Will the alien be the ultimate survivor, or will man . . ."

* * * * *

William Gibson delivered his completed manuscript, which he comically describes today in terms of a TV Guide synopsis as "space commies hijack alien eggs--big trouble in Mallworld," in December of 1987, shortly before the Writers Guild strike. He had successfully crafted a suspense-filled story based upon Giler and Hill's ideas, while at the same time remaining faithful to the original source material. Ironically, fast-breaking events in the Soviet Union and other communist countries would quickly date the conceptual metaphor of a political face-off between superpowers.

"We got the opposite of what we expected," said Giler. "We figured we'd get a script that was all over the place, but which would have many good ideas we could mine. It turned out to be a competently written screenplay but not as inventive as we wanted it to be. That was probably our fault, though, because it was our story. We had hoped he'd open up the story and don't know why it didn't happen."

The producers were pleased with the subtext which viewed the aliens as some type of cancer or HIV virus, and with the cliffhanger-like ending which nicely set up the story for ALIEN 4. But the underlying cyberpunk aesthetic, which had first attracted David Giler to Gibson's work, was clearly missing from his story.

For the duration of the Writers Guild strike, Gibson waited patiently for word from the producers on the outcome of his script. Eventually, he learned that his first draft had been rejected. Walter Hill and David Giler soon after introduced the young novelist to their director, Renny Harlin. The four spoke at length about their expectations for ALIEN 3 over a power lunch, then suggested that Gibson undertake a rewrite with Harlin. William Gibson declined, citing other commitments, which were far more meaningful to him personally. He had been asked to write scripts based upon his own stories (BURNING CHROME and JOHNNY PNEUMATIC) for Carolco.

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 Post subject: Re: VINTAGE ARTICLE: The Lost Worlds of Alien³
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:21 am 
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ERIC RED AND THE SECOND SCREENPLAY

Following Gibson's departure, Renny Harlin recommended Eric Red, a screenwriter he had met at a film festival some months before. Hill and Giler had resigned themselves to hire a big name screenwriter, and Red seemed a likely candidate for the position. By age twenty-eight, the young writer had already distinguished himself in the Hollywood community by turning marginal material, like THE HITCHER (1986), NEAR DARK (1987) and BLUE STEEL (1988), into popular box office hits. He was hard at work on the screen story for COHEN & TATE (19 ), and preparing for his directoral debut on BODY PARTS (1991), when the partners at Brandywine approached him with ALIEN 3.

"The basic problem when I was involved, for five weeks, was they didn't know what they really wanted," Red recalled sometime later. "They went through a real waste of talent because of that. Another major problem was they didn't want Sigourney [Weaver] back, so I had to go through a whole series of new characters . . ."

* * * * *

Eric Red's screenplay begins, much like Gibson's, in deep space with the Sulaco. Due to a malfunction in the on-board navigational circuitry, the former troop carrier has drifted aimlessly in space for many years. The ship is intercepted by a small shuttlecraft, and searched by five Special Forces Green Berets and their captain, Sam Smith. They find the hypersleep chambers, which once held Ripley, Newt, Hicks and Bishop, have been smashed open, and alien eggs now reside in each. Upon closer examination, they find a sticky-like substance and cocoons hanging from the ceiling to the floor. Suddenly, an alien warrior drops down upon the soldiers. They blast away at the creature with their superior weapons, but the Green Berets are ill-matched, and are nearly all wiped out. Mysteriously returned back to its original course, the Sulaco reaches its destination, North Star--a space station and farming outpost populated mostly by redneck farmers.

Several weeks pass, while Sam Smith, the only survivor of the massacre, recuperates at his parents' farmhouse on the surface of the orbiting station. (Not only does Sam learns that all his men are dead but he also discovers, much to his dismay, that one arm and leg have been replaced with mechanical parts.) Tired of resting, he decides to accompany his father, General John Smith, to the base. Along the way, several farmers question John about the huge military build-up in personnel and armored vehicles, and Sam notices that the families of his men have mysteriously vanished. Fifty stories below the golden wheat fields and the pastoral farm-like settings, the "Company," in conjunction with the military, has constructed a massive complex. Bio-medical laboratories, conference rooms, troop training centers, docking bays for spaceships, fifty-story tall air and water tanks, all enclosed within huge glass windows, make up the mile in diameter complex. When Sam asks his father about the Sulaco, he is told that the ship (now stored in one of the docking bays) is completely off limits to all but authorized personnel.

General Smith and his son are greeted by Sergeant Chong, the station's security chief, who informs them that Sam is wanted by "Company" officials. In the debriefing room, Dr. Alice Rand, Colonel Harold Sinclair, and three representatives from the Bio-weapons Division question him about his skirmish aboard the Sulaco. Sam doesn't remember much about it, having suffered a temporary memory loss, other than losing his men. Rand seems pleased that he has no memory of the alien creatures. Less than an hour later, Sam and his father are confronted by some of the redneck farmers. Briggs and Agar remind them that North Star is not a military station but a civilian operation under the control of the Colonial Administration Authority. The military cannot simply impose martial law to take their livestock. Willie Ray, another terra-farmer, accuses them of secret radiation experiments. John feigns ignorance but promises to look into their complaints. Later that night on their drive home, the two Smiths notice several armed squads of soldiers loading pigs, chickens and cattle onto trucks under the cover of darkness.

Far too bothered by what he has seen to sleep, Sam wakes his father in the middle of the night, and confronts him about what has happened. He "remembers" parts of his battle with an alien, but he cannot seem to grasp the whole. John first dismisses his son's memories of his struggle aboard the Sulaco as a nightmare, then tells him the truth. The "Company" might have ordered the young man lobotomized if he remembered too much of what had happened aboard the ship. They plan to develop the alien as a weapon. Sam has to see for himself, and penetrates the security of Section "C," where the former troop transport is housed, to discover a scene from hell. They have used the farmers' livestock to create pig-aliens, cattle-aliens, chicken-aliens, dog-aliens, etc. Apparently, the alien parasite gestates inside a living organism, and then takes on the physical attributes or characteristics of that organism when it finally emerges. Sam is sickened by what he has seen, and scrambles down an airduct to avoid becoming the alien's next victim.

Sam crawls past the Science Division, and overhears a lecture, which confirms most of his suspicions. Dr. Rand, the leading authority in bio-weapons research, tells a group composed of earth scientists, technicians, "Company" officials, and military leaders (including General Smith) that the alien is "the soldier of the future." She has managed to isolate the alien's DNA cells, and learned that those cells "attack and assimilate the cells of whatever it encounters." "Imagine," she intones, "a living, organic jet fighter or alien tank." Rand then instructs members of her research team to bring in an alien warrior whose arms and legs are pinned in a hydraulic clamp. "Ladies and gentleman," the doctor continues, "a living war machine, utterly violent and utterly effective. I wouldn't want to be you if you were Russians and we released an army of these things by airdrop on Moscow." Alice Rand releases the creature from its clamps, claiming to have mastered its control. But when her back is turned, the alien warrior attacks, and tears her apart. It then begins ripping human after human limb-from-limb.

Reporting immediately to the duty officer on deck, the young captain takes command of a small squad of Special Forces Green Berets, and charges into the room to rescue his father. On his way to save the other survivors, though, his men are attacked by the army of alien warriors
developed and perfected by the "Company." (These monsters include the pig-aliens, chicken-aliens and cattle-aliens Sam discovered earlier.) His specially-trained soldiers fight nobly against the horde of aliens, but they are simply ill-matched. Smith manages to slip away during the battle to help his father and some other key figures to safety, then realizes there's nothing he can do to stop the slaughterfest. Sam becomes instantly enraged, recalling what those monsters did to his men aboard the Sulaco, and curses them all (including General Smith) for allowing such madness to happen in the first place.

Above, on the surface of North Star, the terra-farmers have felt the first tremors of an earthquake. Briggs and the others know that the military has been up to something no good, and begin arming themselves with pitchforks, hoes, shovels, and shotguns. They plan to finally get even just as soon as day-break arrives. With their path to the surface cut off, Sam and his father, accompanied by thirty Green Berets, climb into spacesuits, and head through the emergency escape-hatch into space. (They plan to climb around the dome, and enter North Star from above.) They are followed into space by a horde of alien warriors. Meanwhile, the aliens have penetrated the surface, and are striking innocent farmers
in their wheat fields, at the local 7-11 store, and at the golden arches of MacDonalds. By the time Sam Smith and his father arrive with reinforcements, the redneck farmers are already embroiled in a massive battle at the town's meeting hall. Against the backdrop of smalltown Americana of Woolworths and hardware stores, hundreds of alien warriors attack. Scuttling, staggering, crawling down the street, the creatures appear totally invincible. But the terrified townsfolk mount a defensive line which temporarily drives the aliens back.

During the lull in battle, Sam rescues his mother and siblings from their farmhouse, and tries to place them safely aboard a space shuttle with the other women and children. But they refuse. The terra-farmers subsequently launch the shuttle, without them, hoping that the ship's distress beacon will summon a rescue ship for the rest of them. The remaining soldiers and redneck farmers then barricade themselves in the town's meeting hall, and await the next wave. John Smith suddenly starts to act funny, confessing to his wife and children that he volunteered to test a new alien strain. But before Sam can get to him, the General suddenly doubles over at the waist and begins convulsing. He then grasps at his chest and an alien creature, more deadly than before, emerges. Sam, who has never seen this happen before, panics, destroying the barricade instead of his father. Other hybrid aliens, notably a rooster-alien and a mosquito-alien, swarm through the opening, and attack without mercy.

Sam and his family race to the safety of a second space shuttle (which suddenly appears in the script without prior mention), and blast off right through the dome. The explosive decompression causes the space station to dissolve, and reform as a tremendous alien thing--a living biomechanoid space blob, ten miles across, with octopus-like tentacles formed from the beams and girders of the station. Captain Smith tries to pilot their shuttle away from the creature, but it simply reaches out and grabs the tiny craft. Fearing a hull-breach, the Smith family climb into spacesuits. Sam then remembers the ship carries nuclear weapons, and sets the payload to explode once they have gotten away.

Mere heartbeats later, Sam and the others watch North Star's destruction at a safe distance. The alien menace has hopefully, once and for all, been destroyed! They continue to float in deep space, and are eventually rescued by the other shuttle . . .

* * * * *

Eric Red's "five-week job," first intended to coax more development money out of Twentieth Century-Fox, turned into a two-month ordeal. When he finally delivered his completed manuscript on February 7, 1989, no one seemed to like the script, despite the author's introduction of a new kind of alien. "In the third film, you needed a new alien, so I suggested doing genetic experiments with one of them," Red defended his screenplay. "[Hill and Giler] had no story or treatment or any real plan for the picture. They were very disorganized and irresponsible." Renny Harlin would have been the first to agree with Red, but after reading Red's uninspired script, the Finnish director simply asked to be released from his contract. Fox offered him THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE and DIE-HARD 2 instead. Sigourney Weaver also read the script, and concurred with David Giler's appraisal that "it was a real disaster, absolutely dreadful." Hill seemed to like the gene-splicing idea but little else. Eric Red was paid for his efforts, then dismissed from the project. The partners at Brandywine were no closer to making ALIEN 3 than before, and now they were short a director.

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 Post subject: Re: VINTAGE ARTICLE: The Lost Worlds of Alien³
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:22 am 
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DAVID TWOHY AND THE THIRD SCREENPLAY

At this point, Hill and Giler abandoned all plans to develop two ALIEN sequels concurrently, and turned back to basics. The Gibson script, while clearly pedestrian in scope, contained many of the elements that audiences had come to expect from "the franchise." They hired David Twohy on the basis of his script for CRITTERS 2, a low budget ALIEN rip-off, and instructed him to not only punch up the dialogue but also to add a dimension to Gibson's story that would give the classic B-movie plot a sense of purpose and theme.

When Twentieth Century-Fox finally agreed to finance a rewrite of the first screenplay, late in March 1989, the decision was based entirely upon David Giler and Walter Hill's assertion that the story would be very contemporary. "By then it was a Soviet Union ship versus Gateway [the space station Ripley finds herself on at the start of ALIENS]," Giler explained their high concept. Completed over a six-month period, Twohy's rewrite maintained much of William Gibson's original material, including the commando raid on the Sulaco, the development of the alien virus, and the infestation of the station. Descriptions of action and dialogue were either shortened or tightened, and some scenes were completely rewritten from scratch. Even certain character names were changed to give the story a more contemporary feel.

Midway through Twohy's rewrite, however, several key incidents had occurred throughout the world that would eventually date or invalidate many of his central premises. Political changes within the Soviet Union and other Eastern-bloc countries signalled the end of the cold war. Genetic splicing had become a chilling reality, much more interesting than fiction. And Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had just released its own watery version of ALIEN, called LEVIATHAN (1989), in which some bio-mechanical creature in a sunken Russian ship is inadvertently taken aboard an underwater drilling platform and unleashed to destroy its crew. The screenplay that David Twohy was developing for Brandywine would simply never work. He quickly changed the setting of his story to a penal colony in space, and eliminated all references to the Russians. But there was still one major problem. Since Hill and Giler had originally planned to leave Ripley out of the third film and bring her back for the fourth, Twohy had specifically written a story without her as the central figure. And no one had bothered to tell the novice screenwriter differently.

Joe Roth, then Twentieth Century-Fox's new president, reviewed Twohy's screenplay and rejected it swiftly and irrevocably, voicing his displeasure in very simple terms: "This is a great script, but I won't make this film without Sigourney. She is the centerpiece of the series. She's really the only female warrior we have in our movie mythology. In successful sequels you have a fine line between old and new ingredients. But we feel it would be cataclysmic to proceed without her."

Twohy's first collaborative efforts on ALIEN 3 with producers Walter Hill and David Giler had been a disaster, but he agreed to rewrite the story for a third time with Ripley as the central figure. "The Ripley character can be written as a man or a woman," Giler summarily dismissed the additional work. "In fact, it was originally written as a man. To change it for Sigourney isn't all that tough--she brings a lot of it herself." Since Fox had been upset over the omission of Ripley's character from his story, David Twohy concentrated on adding or altering sequences in the script in order to build the action around the former Warrant Officer. Sigourney Weaver also helped with the creative process by suggesting certain plot and dialogue changes. Not surprisingly, most of Twohy's material is close to the final shooting script for ALIEN 3, with one or two exceptions. The single, most important difference between his version and the one audiences eventually saw in the theatres centered around Newt. She survives the crash landing on the penal colony, and ultimately goes to live with her grandparents on earth.

While Twohy was busily working on his third rewrite, Hill and Giler were still searching for a director to replace Harlin. Back in New York City for other, unrelated business, Hill accompanied friends to an art-house showing of THE NAVIGATOR: AN ODYSSEY ACROSS TIME (1988) by an obscure New Zealand director named Vincent Ward. The engrossing yet esoteric tale of a young psychic boy who leads his plague-threatened, medieval English village on a tunneling expedition to a modern city struck a particular chord with Walter Hill. He contacted Joe Roth at Fox, and got him excited enough to call Ward in London, where he was engaged in preproduction on his pet project, MAP OF THE HUMAN HEART (released in 1993).

The telephone call from the president of Twentieth Century-Fox came as somewhat of a surprise to Vincent Ward, but he did agree to consider Roth's proposal once he had read Twohy's script. Ward didn't like the story much, and began formulating his own. "During my flight [from London to Los Angeles]," Ward revealed, "I had an idea that was totally different: Sigourney would land in a community of monks in outer space and not be accepted by them." His neo-Luddite former religious heretics would live on a wooden planet that looked like something Hieronymus Bosch might imagine, with glass-blowing furnaces and windmills but no weapons.

The New Zealand director pitched his idea first to Hill and Giler, then to Roth, and they were all astounded. Even though Ward did not look upon himself a screenwriter, he had brought a vision to the production that had been lacking in the other stories. "It was a little far out," said Giler, "but that's what we wanted, to push this thing a little bit." Ward was immediately signed to direct, and Fox hired screenwriter John Fasano, who was known as a fast writer, to craft his ideas into a workable story. "We were supposedly writing ALIEN 4," Fasano recalled, "but if ours came in first, it would be ALIEN 3."

Meanwhile, across town, David Twohy was putting the finishing touches on his script when he learned from a Los Angeles Times reporter that Hill and Giler had brought in another writer. At first, the rumor of competing drafts went against everything Twohy had been told by the partners at Brandywine, and he readily dismissed the rumors as unfounded. But later, after he had been given the runaround with the production office, he realized the idea of filming two ALIEN sequels back-to-back was merely a smokescreen. "At that point," he said bitterly, "I just slapped my script together and went off to make my own film. And that was the last I ever heard from them. The old adage is true: Hollywood pays its writers well but treats them like shit to make up for it." Twohy left to write the very popular WARLOCK (1991).

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 Post subject: Re: VINTAGE ARTICLE: The Lost Worlds of Alien³
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:24 pm 
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THE FOURTH SCREENPLAY

Vincent Ward insisted on writing the script with John Fasano, in spite of the New Zealander's lack of experience as a screenwriter, and the two argued for months about plot and structure. Ward seemed very taken with his monks and wooden spaceship, and less interested in telling a story about aliens. On the other hand, Fasano, who had worked with Walter Hill before, felt he knew what was expected by both Fox and Brandywine, and rewrote much of their script after hours. Their first draft, delivered early in 1990, received a less than spectacular review by Hill and Giler.

"Vincent's wood idea didn't work at all," Giler commented. "We couldn't figure out why it should be made of wood. We could never get a simple answer from them. Why would they fly all that wood out there, and why was it crummy wood, at that? The picture would have had a great look, but it didn't really make sense."

Although the studio continued to support Ward's unique vision, the partners at Brandywine were determined to get a workable screenplay. They hired Greg Pruss to replace Fasano, who had given up in disgust. (John Fasano would later write ANOTHER 48 HRS (1990) for Walter Hill, and complete yet another rewrite on the Ward story.) Pruss wrote "five arduous drafts" before journeying with Vincent Ward to London, where Twentieth Century-Fox was going to shoot the film with the hopes of saving money. The veteran screenwriter eventually came up with the idea of killing Ripley off, but he could never produce a script that Ward approved. "The movie's called ALIEN because it's about the alien," Pruss said, but his very valid complaints fell on deaf ears. "I couldn't get that across to Vincent. He and the studio were at odds, clear and simple, and I was caught in the middle."

At the same time, Vincent Ward complicated matters by offending members of the crew with his abrasive personality during the key stages of preproduction. The crew was already at work designing and building sets based on Ward's storyboards; but as the script changed with his each new idea and whim, sets were taken down and rebuilt. The New Zealander also dismissed special effect supervisor John Richardson, who was still completing work on HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING (1991), and Stan Winston. He replaced them with George Gibb, the effects designer for the INDIANA JONES films, and Winston protégés Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff. He also attempted unsuccessfully to involve H.R. Giger. Ward never bothered to consult with anyone at the studio over his seemingly compulsive choices, and soon found himself in conflict with both Fox and Brandywine. Citing "artistic differences," Ward was paid off, and released from his contract.

Twentieth Century-Fox had invested nearly $13 million in scripts, sets and pay-or-play commitments, and the studio was no closer to a completed film than before. Roth was very disappointed with Brandywine Productions. Hill and Giler offered to make amends by revising the script themselves, and embarked upon the complicated task of pulling all the ideas into a unified whole. Their first attempt to streamline Ward's vision produced an interesting if totally unfilmable story . . .

* * * * *

The fourth screenplay, which was revised by Walter Hill and David Giler on March 29, 1990, opens cryptically with a quote from Hesse: "But how will you die when your time comes, Narcissus, since you have no mother?" At a Medieval monastery on the wooden planetoid of Arceon, a five-mile-in-diameter penal colony constructed by the "Company" to hold 350 political heretics, Brother John tends to the wounds of a fellow monk who has been injured in their glassworks factory. Gregorian chant reverberates through the complex, combining with the creaky wooden floorboards to produce a most unusual sound. That sound echoes down through the many layers of the station, which are patterned after the medieval concept of the universe. Heaven is visible above, through the planetoid's thin atmosphere, and Hell is below, in the dungeons of the planetoid. The area in the middle contains the monastery, a great library, some farms and wheatfields, the glassworks factory, and windmill air pumps.

John and other members of his monastic order have been banished to Arceon for having spoken against technology. Ostensibly sequestered from the rest of humanity to preserve mankind's legacy in books, the monks are, in fact, facing a death sentence. (Their wooden planetoid is gradually growing colder, and to keep from freezing to death in the coldness of space, they are burning the wooden interiors of their "home." But each layer of wood they remove for heat only makes the planetoid grow colder.) The Abbot knows that Arceon was built for planned obsolescence, but he keeps assuring them that their mission to preserve the combined knowledge of mankind is vitally essential.

According to him, earth civilization has succumbed to another great plague (a computer virus), which has wiped out all technology, and fallen into a New Dark Age. John and his close friend Brother Kyle have no reason to doubt the Abbot, and they simply accept his word as truth just like the others.

Then, one cold winter's night, a comet, or rather what appears to be a comet, appears in the sky. Brother John is the first one to see it, but later he is joined by hundreds of others on the surface. The comet gradually draws closer, then crashes into their man-made sea. John rows a small boat over to the "comet," and discovers, much to his surprise and the anguish of the Abbot, that it is really the Sulaco's escape vehicle #4. (It has been decades since John has seen any kind of technology.) Carefully boarding the spacecraft, the monk finds a single survivor--Lt. Ellen Ripley--and evidence of a bloody conflict. The ship's flight recorder keeps replaying the details of its infestation by a xenomorph and the subsequent deaths of Hicks, Bishop and Newt; but John, with all his apparent sophistication, simply doesn't understand what any of it means. He carries the unconscious woman ashore.

Later in the abbey, Ripley wakes to hear the sawing and hammering of wood, whispered prayers, and lilting songs to God. She struggles to consciousness, and peers from her window at a pastorale scene of monks tending sheep next to a golden field of wheat. At first, Ripley thinks that she is still dreaming, but then she catches site of the escape vehicle being sealed in a primitive wood structure. She seeks out the governing Abbot, and quickly learns that his rigidity prevents him from not only accepting her story about the alien but also that she is from earth. Earth was, after all, on the brink of a New Dark Age when they left for Arceon. He refuses to listens to her "ravings" about an indestructible, death-dealing xenomorph, and warns Ripley to keep quiet.

When a hysterical monk arrives with an incredible story about a demon exploding from his sheep's stomach, the Abbot accuses Ripley of bringing Satan with her to Arceon aboard her spaceship. He convenes a court of inquiry, and theyfind the "Comet Woman" guilty of witchcraft and conspiring with the devil. She tries to tell them what they're facing, but no one will believe her.

Thrown into the dungeons for insisting that an alien menace is loose on the planetoid, Ripley befriends a white-haired monk named Anthony who is, in reality, an android spy. He was sent by the "Company" to eavesdrop on their activities, and send regular reports. But when Anthony started experiencing demonic visions of fish-head sprites and birdmen, he was ordered to undergo treatments by Father Anselm, Brother John's predecessor as physician. Anselm soon discovered that he was an android, and cast him into the bowels of the planetoid. He has been in solitary there for nearly thirty years.

Several other mysterious deaths among the livestock lead Brother John to the inescapable conclusion that Ripley was telling the truth. Studying an old text in the library, he also discovers some striking similarities between these deaths and others that occurred in 1348 (during the time of the Black Death). One engraving in the book shows a creature similar to Ripley's description tattooed on the devil's posterior. He tries to confront the Abbot with his newly found answers, but the older monk simply dismisses his findings as coincidental. He is also warned by the Abbot to keep the deaths a secret.

John disobeys his superior, and climbs down a five-mile ladder to free Ripley from her captivity. She insists they take Anthony with them, and the unlikely trio head toward the "technology room" to search for weapons. Meanwhile, in the wheatfields above, a fierce battle between a "platoon" of monks, armed with scythes, pitchforks and hoes, and a horde of alien-hybrids is taking place. The holy men are simply out-matched by the death-dealing monsters, which can now blend into their environment, and are eventually killed or cocooned. Only the Abbot escapes, relentlessly pursued by the alien menace to the "technology room" where Ripley and the others have gathered. The "technology" turns out to be a collection of wooden windmills that channel air and water to the various levels.

The planetoid's planned obsolescence is now very clear to Ripley; as she collapses to the floor in surrender, she explains to the others how the "Company" must have built the station purposely to fail, so that the resources would eventually run out and everyone of them would have frozen to death. Ripley suddenly starts to feel dizzy, confessing to the others that the strange sensation may be an alien parasite growing inside her. But before John can get to her, the former Warrant Officer suddenly doubles over at the waist and begins convulsing. She then grasps at her chest and forces the pain back down. The Abbot, who has never seen anything like this happen before, panics, declaring that she is possessed by the devil. The words are barely out of his mouth when his head explodes with an alien head-buster.

John and Anthony chase the little creature into the hall, and are surprised by an alien which has adapted itself to look like wood. The android valiantly sacrifices his life for the others, allowing Ripley and John to escape to the surface. Along the way, John rescues his dog Mattias from the clutches of several face-huggers, and helps Ripley destroy all but one of the creatures in a great bonfire, which destroys the library. Finally, trapping the last one in the glassworks factory, they drown the alien menace in molten glass. When it rises out of the vat as a molten-glass creature, Ripley quickly dumps cold water from a huge tank, and shatters the alien in a million glass pieces.

The two struggle through the fire, which is now raging out of control, and reach the Sulaco escape vehicle. Once inside the craft, the monk performs a make-shift exorcism, using a strange portion concocted from his study of the Black Death. Ripley vomits the chest-buster up, but the reptilian-like creature slithers instantly out of reach and into John's mouth. The monk accepts the demonic creature like a true exorcist, and abandons ship moments before it blasts into deep space...

* * * * *

Hill and Giler's rewrite, which was remarkably close to Vincent Ward's original vision for ALIEN 3, still left many questions unanswered. Chief among these questions, in the producer's minds, was how could they make Ward's wooden space station believable to contemporary audiences. Since neither one of them was interested in completing another rewrite, they coaxed an additional $500,000 from Roth to hire yet another writer--Larry Ferguson.

For several years, Larry Ferguson had been making his name well-known around Hollywood. He had scripted the hit sequel BEVERLY HILLS COP II (1987), the highly-underrated HIGHLANDER (1986) and THE PRESIDIO (1988). Ferguson began his career as an actor in San Francisco before moving to writing. He eventually did make his film acting debut in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, playing the Captain of the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle attacked to the U.S.S. Dallas, but by that time Larry was far better known for writing the screenplay to the best-selling novel by Tom Clancy. He knew that he was expected to bring some fresh ideas to the franchise, but he was also experienced enough to know what the studio didn't want to see. "Sequels are like Big Macs," he once joked. "If you went into McDonalds and ordered a Big Mac, and it came out different, you wouldn't order it every time."

Ferguson worked on the screenplay with the new director for about four weeks, and brought a number of important ideas to the story. Towards the end of the year, however, Walter Hill and David Giler became embroiled with Gordon Carroll, Sigourney Weaver, James Cameron and Gale Ann Hurd in a legal battle with Fox over an alleged non-payment of profit shares from ALIENS. The lawsuit was quickly settled to everyone's mutual satisfaction, but left Hill and Giler feeling very proprietary about their franchise. They reviewed Larry's work in progress and deemed that it was not suitable. (According to Weaver, he had written Ripley so that she sounded like "a very pissed-off gym instructor" and she was really not interested in playing the character like that.) Larry Ferguson was paid for his efforts, then dismissed from the project.

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 Post subject: Re: VINTAGE ARTICLE: The Lost Worlds of Alien³
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:25 pm 
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THE FINAL SHOOTING SCRIPT

With the start of production just weeks away, Twentieth Century-Fox agreed to pay Hill and Giler another $600,000 for an emergency rewrite. Working in Hill's office in Los Angeles, the producers quickly scrapped the monastery setting, and returned to Twohy's prison planet locale. At least, a penal colony, stationed on some faraway planet, made much more sense than a wooden asteroid. They changed the prison inmates from monks to, what Giler describes as, "your basic militant Christian fundamentalist millenarian apocalytic" types, primarily to appease Weaver and the new director. The producers also reduced the number of alien creatures to one, and significantly altered the ending. In just three weeks, they had produced a draft that most of the principals involved could agree upon...

* * * * *

Like many of the previous drafts, the final shooting script begins in deep space with the Sulaco. Due to a fire in the ship's circuitry and the subsequent malfunction of the on-board life-support systems, the still-hibernating bodies of Ripley and the others are ejected in an emergency escape pod. Apparently, and it is never fully explained how they got aboard the ship, several alien eggs have hatched (at least) one face-hugger which is responsible for the fire. Ripley's evacuation capsule crashes on Fiorina 161, a lice-infected planet in a distant solar system. Nicknamed "Fury 1" by its inhabitants, the planet is home to a small community of violent criminals who discovered religion and chose to stay behind when the prison facility was closed.

As a woman, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the ultimate outcast. Her arrival on the planet causes a major conflict between Warden Andrews (Brian Glover) and his all-male population of inmates, by endangering the uneasy balance of power. Her presence among them also reminds many of the reformed members of the monastic community that they were once killers and rapists. But she is not the only threat to their little world. A single face-hugger, which has stowed-away aboard the capsule, is far more dangerous for it not only threatens the inhabitants of the planet but also the entire galaxy. Unfortunately, both she and her capsule are carried safely to shore.

Later, in the infirmary, Ripley rouses from a terrible nightmare that concludes with the deaths of her beloved Newt and Corporal Hicks. As she struggles to consciousness, Clemens (Charles Dance) informs her that the other members of her party are, in fact, dead, and that she was the sole survivor. At first, Ripley believes that she still must be dreaming; but when she finally sees their bodies in the morgue, the former Warrant Officer accepts the horrible truth. She then persuades Clemens, who is the chief medical officer, to conduct an autopsy, under the ruse that both may have died of cholera. The former inmate consents but only if Ripley will be honest with him. She tries to tell him about the monster she first faced aboard the Nostromo, then on LV-426. Her words about the "xenomorph" choke up unpleasant memories, and cause her to falter. Warden Andrews abruptly appears, interrupting their private conversation. He is most displeased with Ripley's appearance, and demands that she remain in isolation until her rescue ship arrives.

Meanwhile, the stowaway face-hugger has impregnated its first victim--an inmate's pet dog--in the lower bowels of the correctional facility. Within a matter of hours, the poor animal is whining and convulsing in extreme pain, as the alien parasite struggles to get free. The little demon that explodes from his dog's stomach shares characteristics with its host. It moves very fast, has a strong upper body, rabidnous teeth, and can scamper along the floor or ceiling. The alien is described by Golic (Paul McGann), the only prisoner to get a good look at it, as a "dragon," but his account of the creature is hastily dismissed as the ravings of a lunatic.

Dillon (Charles Dutton), the inmates' spiritual leader, arranges to have the bodies cremated in the molten lead of their mineral ore refinery, and prays to God for His mercy in their deliverance. Ripley is very moved by their simple ceremony, and after shaving her head (to eliminate a potential lice problem), she joins them in the mess hall for dinner. Even though they have all sworn an oath of celibacy, the inmates are still bothered by her presence. She helps to remind them that they were once murders, thieves and rapists. Ripley tries to thank Dillon for his kind words about Newt, but he wants nothing to do with her; she makes him "nervous."

After several mysterious deaths occur--first the dog, then the dog's owner, and finally a second man--Clemens arrives at the inescapable conclusion that Ripley was telling the truth. He follows her to the smashed hull of her ship, and eavesdrops while she interfaces with the damaged android. Bishop (Lance Henriksen) reveals that there was an alien aboard the Sulaco. Following the fire, the alien creature must have stowed-away on the escape pod, and could now be stalking them. Bishop also tells her that the "Company" has sent a top priority message to capture Ripley and the alien alive at all costs. Still conscious but in great pain, the android begs her to kill him, and she obliges by pulling the plug.

Alone, and near the point of collapse, Ripley returns to the infirmary. She feels very nauceous, and confesses to Clemens that she is experiencing morning sickness and a bad sore throat. She is also having frequent nose-bleeds. He dismisses her symptons as simple fatigue, precipitated by an unusually long period in hypersleep, but Ripley knows better. After sharing a brief but intimate moment with Clemens, the chief medical officer is attacked and killed by the alien. The familiar creature, though somehow different in its appearance, closes to within inches of Ripley but doesn't kill her. It senses, what the former Warrant Officer already suspects, that she is carrying an alien embryo inside. (Ripley later confirms her suspicions by running a full bio-scan diagnostic in her spacecraft, and discovers she carries an alien queen.)

Ripley attempts to warn Andrews, and quickly learns that his rigidity prevents him from not only accepting her story about the alien but also that the deaths were caused by anything other than a crazed inmate. No sooner have the words crossed his lips then the alien strikes, carrying the Warden through an airduct. Once things finally settle down, she again tries to reason with them. Aaron (Ralph Brown), the dim-witted simpleton (nicknamed "85" for his I.Q.) who's next in charge, agrees to listen to her "ravings" about the indestructible, death-dealing xenomorph, and then chooses to do nothing except wait for the rescue team. Ripley warns him that the "Company" will probably kill all of them for having simply seen it, but he remains determined to wait.

Faced with extinction, the prisoners band together under Ripley's leadship, and despite a lack of advanced technology and modern weapons, they battle the creature in the ten miles of airducts, basements and dark corridors of the complex. The inmates first try to drive the alien into a toxic waste containment unit with walls several feet thick, but a prisoner smoking a cigar ignites the flammable fluid, incinerating several of his cellmates. Later, when they have the creature trapped in the sewer system, Golic (who has begun to worship the alien as a god) kills several more inmates in order to set it free. During their various encounters with the creature, Ripley discovers that it will not harm her, and insists Dillon kill her before the alien queen emerges. But the prisoner's spiritual leader wisely uses her to lure the alien into the furnace where they plan to drown it in molten lead.

Above, in the freezing, sub-zero temperatures of the surface, a "Company" rescue ship arrives. Aaron rushes to greet them with open arms, but quickly learns that Ripley was right. The elite group of Colonial Marines, in special protective gear, commanded by Bishop II (Henriksen) and accompanied by a Weyland-Yutani representative (Hi Chang), mean business. They dispense with pleasantries, and demand to be taken to Ripley.

Moments later, Ripley and the others manage to trap the alien creature in the leadworks. Morse (Danny Webb) releases the molten lead, while Dillon, in a supreme act of sacrifice, holds the monster in place. Unfortunately, the alien is only stunned by the hot lead. Thinking quickly, Ripley douses the creature with cold water from a huge overhead tank, and shatters it in a million pieces. Even before she's able to catch her breath, Bishop and the soldiers are upon her. The "Company" offers to remove the alien parasite surgically from her body, but Ripley doesn't trust their intentions. They have wanted the alien for the Bio-weapons Division since the Nostromo first set down on Archeron, and they would do anything--would say anything--simply to get their hands on it.

Ripley decides to end her life, and thus save mankind from what may be the ultimate doomsday weapon. Both Aaron and Morse attempt to help her, but they are brutally shot dead by the soldiers. Ultimately, Ripley does plunge from atop the leadworks' scaffolding, her arms spread out Christ-like as she falls in the fiery pit. The alien chest-burster tries to wrangle free, but she clutches it to her body moments before dying in the molten lead. Bishop and his soldiers collect Golic, the sole survivor, and seal the prison forever. In the escape capsule, the flight recorder replays Ripley's last words after the destruction of the Nostromo: "This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off . . ."

* * * * *

The final shooting script, which had combined elements from Vincent Ward's vision with ideas drawn from David Towhy's prison planet, met with Joe Roth's tentative approval. Hill and Giler's basic story still had a number of problems, not the least of which was an explanation of where the eggs aboard the Sulaco came from in the first place; but since everyone was so eager to start production on the film, those problems were left unresolved. The Fox executive would later hire Rex Pickett, behind the backs his producers, to run fixes on the second half of the script, notably those scenes involving Golic, the worthless psychotic who becomes the nominal "hero" survivor of the piece. But once Hill and Giler found out, Pickett was dismissed after less than a month of rewrites. Additional changes continued throughout production in London, and no one copy of the script, including a late draft submitted by the producers in April 1991, could possibly contain a complete list of the revisions.

Because the final shooting script had undergone so many significant changes from the first screenplay by William Gibson, through the others by Red, Ward and Fasano, Twohy, Pruss, Hill and Giler, Ferguson, and Pickett, Twentieth Century-Fox recommended the Writers Guild of America determine credit for the script and story. The Guild began that arduous task by sending stacks of scripts and story treatments to each of the writers for their review. They were asked to identify which elements they had created for the film. Arbitrators then reviewed all scripts and their subsequent rewrites, and ultimately found that substantial amounts of new material had been added by Larry Ferguson, Walter Hill and David Giler. They were awarded credit for the screenplay. Even though these three people were largely responsible for the final shooting script, the WGA awarded sole story credit to Vincent Ward. The Guild felt that his vision, while significantly altered, dominated the overall stylistic premise of the film.

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 Post subject: Re: VINTAGE ARTICLE: The Lost Worlds of Alien³
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:59 am 
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THE DIRECTOR--DAVID FINCHER

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Once the producers had finally settled on the story for the third film, they turned to an avid fan of the first two movies, David Fincher, to direct. The departures of Renny Harlin and Vincent Ward and the unavailability of Ridley Scott had caused innumerable difficulties for the project, and they hoped that Fincher would help pull ALIEN 3 back together. Little did Hill and Giler know that he would eventually fight with them, and the studio, over the script, the budget, the sets, the shooting schedule, and the final cut of the film.

David Fincher, who was twenty-seven at the time of the shoot, was born in 1963, the son of a Life magazine reporter. As a child, he showed little aptitude for any school subject other than art, and was producing a local news show while still in high school. He joined George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic at age nineteen, and not only worked as a matte painter but also shot some of RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983). His first commercial for the American Cancer Society, featuring a smoking fetus, won him enormous critical praise. David directed his first music video at age twenty-one, and helped found the ultra-chic Propaganda Pictures, which several years later was annually grossing $50 million. He also directed three Madonna videos (including "Vogue," "Express Yourself" and "Oh, Father"). He was recognized for his visual panache with several prestigious MTV awards for his Paula Abdul and REO Speedwagon rock videos.

"Although ALIEN 3 was his feature debut, he'd shot miles of rock video film," Sigourney Weaver recalled. "We looked at his whole body of work. David being unknown was the least of our problems. Remember, Ridley Scott had only directed THE DUELLISTS before ALIEN and James Cameron really on PIRANHA 2 before ALIENS. Are those any better qualifications for making an ALIEN movie?"

Fincher had some very definite ideas in mind what the third film should be, and expressed those ideas during his first meeting with Fox world-wide production president Roger Birnbaum, the producers and Weaver. He took one look at Sigourney, and said, "How do you feel about . . . bald?" From that instant, it became apparent to everyone Fincher was not afraid to take chances, and that was exactly what the beleaguered project needed. In addition to Ripley's appearance, the novice director was also concerned with the final look of the creature.

THE DESIGN OF THE NEW ALIEN

David Fincher knew that the central element in each of the three films was ultimately the alien creature itself, and that devising a new creature, which was both familiar and different, required the fertile imagination of Hans Rudi Giger. Unfortunately, for the production company, Giger had gone into seclusion, vowing never to get suckered into another Hollywood deal. Even though he had won an Academy Award for his goundbreaking designs for Ridley Scott's ALIEN (1979), the artist had seen his hard work exploited in one failed project after another. His unusual designs for FUTUREKILL (1985), POLTERGEIST II (1986), and the low low-budget MIRROR (1988) were never adequately translated onto film. Fincher first approached the Swiss surrealist to redesign the titular creature, but the artist flatly refused. (Vincent Ward had already tried coaxing him out of his self-imposed retirement to work on his version of the movie.) Later, Gordon Carroll and David Giler spoke with him at his home in Zurich, and he reluctantly agreed to render a few sketches.

Giger worked meticulously for about a month, rethinking his now-famous creation. "This time around it had to be more animal-like, more elegant," he explained their demands. "You shouldn't get the feeling that it was a man wearing a suit. Basically, the head had to remain unaltered but the body had to change." Fincher gave him total freedom over the design. His only directive was that the creature should be like "a freight train with teeth." During the four-week period, Giger produced dozens of drawings, which each revealed a hidden language of its own, and finally settled on one or two recurring themes. Totally dissimilar from those aliens which had come before, his dominant themes sought to combine the features of a predatory cat (like a panther) with an insect to create the new four-legged alien. His final design for the creature was clearly more unique than its predecessors, but was never used by the production staff.

"I came up with some nice improvements even though I wasn't given too much time," Giger explained. "For instance, the skin of the creature was designed to produce tones; it had valves on it, like a saxophone. Maybe they just ran out of money..."

Inexplicably, Fincher discarded Giger's designs and turned to Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., the creature effects artists who had originally been hired by Vincent Ward. He asked them to design several new forms of the maturing alien, and the creature itself. The two artists, both thirty-three at the time of the production, readily accepted the assignment, and began constructing a virtual army of beasts to portray the monster as it changed form throughout the film.

Creating believable movie monsters was precisely the reason why Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. became interested in motion pictures in the first place. Alec and Tom grew up during the sixties, watching classic films like THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) on the late show and drawing their own horrible monsters. In art school they both learned the finer points of anatomy and physiology, and began developing creatures that were even more lifelike. Both had worked extensively on ALIENS as part of Stan Winston's team. Among the many tasks they were called upon to complete, Alec Gillis rendered several new face-huggers for Winston and worked on parts of the alien queen, while Woodruff supervised suit construction, built several new chest-busters, and helped sculpt the alien's ribbed, bone-like head. Following ALIENS, Gillis and Woodruff formed their own company, Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (ADI), and honed their techniques on several projects, including TREMORS (1990) and the cult television series ALIEN NATION.

For ALIEN 3, they reworked the chest-buster so that it would appear as two distinct stages in the creature's maturing process. The first stage was essentially a hand puppet thrust through the chest of a mechanical rottweiler, not unlike the creature seen in both the first and second films. The second stage, nicknamed the "Bambi-burster" by the ADI crew because it featured a newborn alien clambering unsteadily to its feet, was executed through a large, cable-controlled puppet (with a slimy substance called methylcellulose slathered onto its skin). Gillis and Woodruff also designed an adolescent stage, built again as a cable-controlled puppet, to show the creature at a phase never before seen on film.

The Alien itself, the film's most important design and greatest technical achievement, was imagined as a cross between a dog and some carnivorous insect. Not unlike the designs submitted by Giger, the final creature appears part insectoid, part serpentine and part predatory animal in appearance. The alien was executed by Gillis and Woodruff in two forms: one, an elaborate, cable-controlled puppet, and the other, a man (actually Tom Woodruff himself) in a rubber suit.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:00 am 
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THE SPECIAL EFFECTS

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Because Twentieth Century-Fox had agreed to pay for only twenty-five special effects shots, less than half the number of effects ALIENS had, David Fincher and his producers concluded that they would need to hire a crack team of professionals to produce the effects cheaply and within a specified period of time. Hill and Giler first approached Brian Johnson, but he was already working on several others projects. They then turned back to the States, and selected one of the most prestigious companies in the business. Once Fincher had filmed all the live action sequences for ALIEN 3 (with Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff) at Pinewood Studios, six months of extensive special effects and model photography were completed by Boss Film Corporation in Los Angeles under the direction of Richard Edlund. His highly-complex and technical wizardry contributed to many of the breathtaking sequences that took place in space and on the planet surface.

Richard Edlund had always been fascinated with motion pictures and how the "magic" worked. At age nine, he asked his father how the filmmakers had achieved a particular effect in a movie, and the elder Edlund replied "magic"; not satisfied with the answer, Richard began a lifelong quest to learn as much as he could about the "magic" of special effects. After completing school, he started working on commercials and numerous television projects. In the late 1970's, he moved to Marin County, California, with Industrial Light & Magic to begin a long and noteworthy career with Lucasfilm Ltd. Edlund worked alongside John Dykstra, Dennis Muren, Peter Kuran, Phil Tippet and other special effects luminaries on some of the most magical films of the age, including THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), POLTERGEIST (1982) and RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983).

After a stellar seven-year association with Industrial Light & Magic, which had netted him four Academy Awards for Special Visual Effects, Richard Edlund left to establish his own effects organization at Entertainment Effects Group (formerly owned and operated by Douglas Trumbull and Richard Yuricich). He renamed the facility the Boss Film Corporation, and began taking on projects that ILM was too busy to handle. His first project was GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), the uproarious Ivan Reitman comedy that established a new way to depict ghosts on film. Edlund worked simultaneously on the effects for Peter Hyams' big budget follow-up to the classic 2001, appropriately entitled 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT (1984). Subsequent work on FRIGHT NIGHT (1985), POLTERGEIST II (1986), LEGAL EAGLES (1986), MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987) and other films very quickly established his company's reputation for excellence. Richard Edlund received another Academy Award-nomination for his incredibly complex special effects in DIE HARD (1988), but lost the coveted statue to his friends at ILM for their work on WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988). When the partners at Brandywine Productions called, he was very eager to work on ALIEN 3.

The special effects, provided by Edlund's Boss Film Corporation, worked seamlessly with Fincher's live action sequences, including those that featured an impressive but briefly seen, fast-moving alien. Most of the effects and model work centered around the alien stalking prisoners through the prison complex. Although the creature was supposed to be nine-feet tall, Edlund's crew worked with a rod-puppet approximately a foot in height. With special puppetry techniques, they were able to make the alien move in ways a man-in-a-rubber-suit could not. Multiple exposure shots, composited with a blue screen, were used to give the illusion that the creature was actually crawling up and down walls, moving across ceilings, and scampering through dark corridors. Other visual effects, which include the establishing shots of the prison complex as well as the few scenes in space, were completed with miniatures and motion control photography. Budgetary constraints limited the total number of effects in the film, but Edlund's brilliant artistry combined with the latest technology from his Boss Film Corporation helped to join that fine line between reality and magic.

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THE PRODUCTION CREW

Satisfied with his choices for creature effects designers and a special effects supervisor, David Fincher realized that his selection of the right production team was equally critical to the success of the film. Regrettably, Fincher was never extended the same creative autonomy that Scott and Cameron had received with their ALIEN films. The fact that he was working with a much larger budget and that the project had been troubled from the start contributed much to having each of his choices second-guessed. Even though he had proven himself as a director of commercials and music videos, Twentieth Century-Fox and his producers never let him forget that this was his feature film debut. Fincher tried not to let that interfere with his decisions. He made no attempt to achieve a continuity of personnel between the new film and its two highly-praised predecessors. He simply chose those individuals who would help bring his personal vision to the screen.

Based upon the recommendations of Hill and Giler, he selected Norman Reynolds as his production designer. Reynolds had already established himself as one of the most talented production designers in the industry with his visionary work on the STAR WARS trilogy and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981). He seemed the perfect choice to transport audiences to the harsh prison planet of Fiorina 161, and was readily approved by the studio executives at Fox. But long before actual set construction began, Reynolds was asked to make elaborate models of the set. His designs combined several architectural styles, including art nouveau and a sort of retrofitted science fiction. Since Fincher was not going to have the extensive art departments of the first two films, he was forced to rely on Reynolds to create the overall look of the film. Artists Bill Stallion and Martin Asbury were not only hired to assist Reynolds but also create the hundreds of storyboards which the director would use to shoot ALIEN 3.

For his director of photography, Fincher chose one of his all-time heroes, the cinematographer of BLADE RUNNER (1982), Jordan Cronenweth. "When Cronenweth works, it's like he's playing 3-D chess and the rest of us are playing Chinese checkers," Fincher said. "The tonal range is amazing. It's like Ansel Adams." Jordan Cronenweth began work in the industry as a clapper-loader and a focus puller. His first assignment as a cinematographer was on Robert Altman's BREWSTER MCCLOUD (1970). His stunning and imaginative camera work earned him tremendous critical praise, and eventually led to work on PLAY IT AS IT LAYS (1972), ZANDY'S BRIDE (1974), THE FRONT PAGE (1974), HANDLE WITH CARE (1977) and ROLLING THUNDER (1977). When Ken Russell was looking for a first rate cinematographer to film his science fiction epic ALTERED STATES (1980), he turned to Cronenweth. Cronenweth's ground-breaking work on ALTERED STATES and Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER established his reputation as a director of photography throughout the world. The only problem with his work, which Fincher would soon discover, was that he was very slow and exacting in his set-up of each scene.

Less than two weeks into the shoot, Fincher reluctantly replaced Cronenweth with a British cinematographer, Alex Thompson. (His decision to fire his first choice as director of photography came at the bequest of Twentieth Century-Fox. The studio executives were concerned that Fincher would be able to finish in time.) Thompson who had not worked on feature films in some time was still highly regarded as a director of photography. His work on HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH (1967), THE STRANGE AFFAIR (1968) and ALFRED THE GREAT (1969) was still being studied by students in film school. While lacking the stylish camera work of Cronenweth, Thompson was the perfect choice to keep the production on schedule.

At the urging of Twentieth Century-Fox, Hill and Giler also hired Tim Zinneman to act as the line producer. With the two producers now functioning as writers, they needed someone to carry out the thousand daily details of a producer, as well as serve as a buffer between Fincher and the men who had hired him. Weaver described him as "one of the best line producers" she had ever worked with. But three weeks before the actual shooting began, Fox fired him because he wasn't getting Fincher to compromise his production schedule and budget. The studio had already lost millions with cost overruns on THE ABYSS (1989) and DIE HARD 2 (1991), and they were extremely wary of another runaway film. Zinneman was replaced by Roth's handpicked line producer, Ezra Swerdlow. Swerdlow had worked with Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Mike Nichols, and knew how to keep the production on track. She was later replaced by Jon Landau.

* * * * *

For economic reasons, Hill and Giler decided to retain Pinewood Studios, at which Vincent Ward had already assembled some of the production staff and sets, for their ambitious sequel. Since Twentieth Century-Fox had already invested nearly $15 million in the project, and would eventually spend another $35-40 million before the film was complete, they knew how important it was to keep additional production costs to a minimum. Unfortunately, the dollar had begun to loose its value against the pound in the United Kingdom, and by the end of the shoot, the cost would have far exceeded their expectations. Carroll and Giler had also pushed Fox for an 18-week shooting schedule with four months for post-production. But the studio executives would only agree to thirteen weeks. "The first ALIEN took sixteen and a half weeks, and the second one took eighteen weeks," Weaver later explained her frustration. "Why they thought we could make the third one in thirteen weeks I'll never understand." With time of the essence, Fincher got down to business with his production staff, while the final casting choices were made.

THE CAST

With Walter Hill and David Giler busy revising the script and Gordon Carroll overseeing the various phases of preproduction at Pinewood Studios in England, casting directors Billy Hopkins (in Los Angeles) and Priscilla John (in England) began looking for the actors who would inhabit the all-male correctional facility of Fiorina 161. They hoped to re-create the casting magic of the two previous films, and looked for performers who would bring much of themselves to the roles. Of course, two of the lead roles (that of Warrant Officer Ripley and her android companion Bishop) had already been filled by Sigourney Weaver and Lance Henriksen.

Even though movie fans remember her best for the powerful performances as Warrant Officer Ripley in the ALIEN trilogy, Sigourney Weaver is one of America's most talented and versatile actresses. She made her motion picture debut in the original ALIEN (1979) and followed it with such films as the mystery EYEWITNESS, the drama THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, and the comedy GHOSTBUSTERS, proving that there was no genre at which she couldn't excel. Reprising her role as Ripley in ALIENS, she received the first of her three Academy-Award nominations (this one as "Best Actress in a Leading Role"). The unanimous critical acclaim for her performance as Ripley and the high-priced callgirl in HALF MOON STREET (1986) put Weaver on the "A" list of leading actresses, as well as providing her with an enormous amount of creative autonomy. She played against type in both GORILLAS IN THE MIST (1988) and WORKING GIRL (1988), and secured two more Academy-Award nominations (for "Best Actress" and "Best Supporting Actress"). She reprised her comic role as Dana Barrett in GHOSTBUSTERS II before agreeing to play Ripley a third time in ALIEN 3. (Weaver's contract also stipulated that she would have some creative control by naming her as co-producer.) Following ALIEN 3, she was featured in Ridley Scott's 1492 (1992, as Queen Isabella of Spain) and the First Lady in DAVE (1993).

Veteran actor Lance Henriksen first heard discussion about his reprising the role of Bishop for a third and possibly a fourth film in the series while he was still filming ALIENS. "I wouldn't agree to anything without knowing what the script was," he admitted, but later agreed to reprise his character at the behest of producer Walter Hill. "Walter called me and said, 'Lance, go to England. Do the role . . .'" Since the 1986 blockbuster, Henriksen, the "chameleon," had been busy creating a handful of new characters in films as diverse as NEAR DARK (1987) and PUMPKINHEAD (1988). His turn as a mercenary hit-man on television's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1989, CBS) won him enormous critical praise. His return to the Bishop role, which he credits as a major breakthrough in his career, gave Henriksen the chance to play a dual role as the faithful android and his badass creator.

British-born Charles Dance, the soft-spoken and

distinguished actor of both stage and screen, was cast in

the role of the chief medical officer. Having played many

classical characters on the British stage, Dance brought a

certain charisma to the part of Clemens that projects both

sympathetic desperation and lonely introspection. He first

came to the attention of American audiences by playing

opposite Meryl Streep in Fred Schepisi's PLENTY (1985).

Featured roles as the villain in THE GOLDEN CHILD (1986)

and as James Bond creator Ian Fleming in GOLDENEYE (1988)

helped to further his reputation. Later, as the disfigured

and tortured music composer in the 1990 miniseries PHANTOM

OF THE OPERA, Charles projected an air of inner tension and

vulnerability behind a masked exterior. His strong

characterization of the "Phantom" brought him many

well-deserved accolades, and the hearts of many love-struck

women. Following ALIEN 3, Dance was cast against type as a

death-dealing hitman in Schwarzenegger's LAST ACTION HERO

(1993).



The role of Andrew, the prison's uptight warden, was

awarded to Brian Glover. A former actor on the British

Stage, Glover found the character of Andrews very different

from the kind of roles he had often played. Prior to ALIEN

3, the Britisher had appeared in dozens of motion pictures,

including AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981). Although

predominantly known for his serious work in film, Brian

Glover appeared in a series of humorous tea-bag commercials

which have forever marked him as a comic actor in the eyes

of his fellow Britains.



Charles S. Dutton was hired for the pivotal role of

Dillon, the prison's spiritual advisor and leader. A

native of Baltimore, Dutton served seven and a half years

in the Maryland correctional facility in Jessup for fatally

stabbing a man in a street fight. While in prison, he

changed the course of his life by not choosing to retaliate

after being stabbed in the neck with an ice pick by a

fellow inmate. He studied theatre while a prisoner, took

part in several noteworthy productions, and completed a

two-year college degree through Towson State University in

drama. Dutton was subsequently admitted to Yale School of

Drama where he worked with playwright August Wilson in "Ma

Rainey's Black Bottom" (1985) and "The Piano Lesson"

(1990)--for which he won two Tony nominations. His first

big breaks in film came when he was cast as Paul Hogan's

jive-talking friend in CROCODILE DUNDEE II (1988) and as a

police officer in Sidney Lumet's Q & A (1990). Later, a

Twentieth Century-Fox representative offered him the lead

role in a television series about a middle-class

African-American family living in Baltimore, named ROC.

Dutton made his starring debut in ALIEN 3, and that

celebrated performance was followed by numerous big screen

offers in AN UNREMARKABLE LIFE (1989), THE DISTINGUISHED

GENTLEMAN (1992) and MISSISSIPPI MASALA (1992). Following

ALIEN 3, he returned to his role as "Roc" on the popular

television series for Fox.



The supporting roles of Golic, Aaron and Morse were

filled with the three British actors Paul McGann, Ralph

Brown and Daniel Webb. Future "Best Supporting Actor"

nominee (for IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, 1993) Pete

Postlethwaite has a supporting role as one of the prison

inmates. Danielle Edmond was also hired as a stand-in for

Newt during the autopsy scene.

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PRODUCTION DETAILS

Principal photography on ALIEN 3 was scheduled to begin on January 2, 1991, at Pinewood Studios, but was pushed back to January 14th in order to give Hill and Giler enough time to rewrite several scenes. Throughout the first couple of weeks, with huge sections of the script being vetted by Fox's Jon Landau for budgetary reasons and the producers revising and rewriting those sections, Director David Fincher concentrated on the dialogue sequences, saving the action scenes for later. He tried to complete most of the scenes that featured Ripley's introduction to Clemens and the prison complex. On the first day of shooting, however, Fincher nearly lost his star, Sigourney Weaver, when a bug wrangler got carried away with hundreds of cute baby crickets (standing-in as lice). This major sequence, which was later scrapped during the editing process, found Ripley lying naked on the infirmary table, being examined by Clemens. He just barely has time to warn her about the prison's lice problem before she experiences it first hand...

"David [Fincher] said, 'Just sprinkle a few bugs on her forehead,'" Weaver recalled the incident in vivid detail. "And my eyes are open and I'm talking, and all these bugs drop on my face. They went in my ears, and my eyes, and I--who pride myself on having worked with gorillas and everything and being a good trooper--I went nuts. You realize what it's like to be naked and blind and have bugs thrown in your face? It was the worst beginning with a director I could imagine."

Many of the scenes that followed were understandably tense and business-like, reflecting uneasy feeling and tension the cast and production crew had towards the novice director. But Fincher was able to win Weaver and the others back completely a few weeks later when they shot the scene in the morgue, in which Clemens must perform an autopsy on Newt to make certain no alien parasite is hidden within her. For the character of Ripley, it was perhaps the most emotionally charged scene of the series, and Weaver was anxious to make it right. David was reportedly very sweet and sensitive to her. He talked her carefully through the sequence, and was supportive through several difficult takes. By day's end, Sigourney was convinced that he was a brilliant director.

Then, just as production picked up and Fincher was hitting his stride as a director, the Gulf War exploded across every radio and television broadcast. The outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East cast a dark cloud over the production. When the cast and crew weren't actually shooting, many of them sat huddled around a television screen, watching, waiting, hoping for an end to the bloody conflict.

By late February, they had started shooting several of the big action sequences. Fincher was gradually becoming accustomed to Alex Thompson's rhythms as his new director of photography, but he still could not shake the notion that Jordan Cronenweth might have shot a particular scene in a completely different way. Then, one night after a brutally long day of eighteen-hour filming, an explosive effect backfired. Four crew members were badly burned, and a fifth one seriously enough to go to the hospital. The sequence, in which one prisoner accidentally ignites the toxic waste and sets off a huge explosion, was vitally important to the film. After several lost days rebuilding the set, Fincher had to reshoot the entire scene from the beginning. The studio executives at Fox were not pleased, and wanted to close down the set; but David convinced them to let him keep shooting.

In the midst of shooting, however, Hill and Giler suddenly quit the project, over a dispute regarding the script. The producers had maintained from the beginning their desire for a clear-cut, good guys versus bad guys climax to the picture. Fincher, on the other hand, saw Ripley's sacrifice as a necessary part of the story. "[They] had written an ending where Ripley choked up the fetus, got back into a space vessel and went away," Weaver explained in very simple terms. "I thought that was ridiculous. There was something very depressing about her heading off in a shuttle again. The ending as it stands seemed the correct one. Ripley has survived so many times--but for what? Survival has lost its allure. This was her destiny. She saves the world. She kills the last alien. She makes the right choice." The argument finally reached its climax when Roger Birnbaum agreed to support Fincher instead of the producers. Walter Hill and David Giler walked off the set in protest, and severed all ties with the production.

The scene, in which Ripley plunges to her death, was filmed on Good Friday. Even though the sequence was similar to one in James Cameron's TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991), they decided to shoot it exactly as originally planned. When filming wrapped for the afternoon, the production crew took a few well-deserved days off, while Fincher reviewed his shooting schedule. The stalemate had cost him valuable time, and he was already running about ten days behind schedule.

At about the same time, Jon Landau tried to gather some rough footage together for the trailer. When he realized there was very little that was actually usable for a trailer, Landau instructed his technical staff to simply slap one together using the signature from the original. It didn't seem to matter to him, or anyone else at the studio, that they had little idea what the final film was about. So, his technical staff pulled together a composite of the "splitting egg" graphic from ALIEN over a shot of the earth, and superimposed the film title, with a voiceover suggestion that the third film in the series would have an earth setting. Tagged onto the front of POINT BREAK (1990), the trailer began running in theatres in June 1990, proudly proclaiming that ALIEN 3 would be in theatres at Christmas. Little did Twentieth Century-Fox know at the time how very wrong that simple trailer would later come back to haunt them.

As the production continued into May 1990, Fincher had well exceeded his thirteen-week shooting schedule. Jon Landau replaced Swerdlow as the line producer, and began to make some critical decisions. They were already ten days over budget, and money was scarce, with Fox keeping a very close watch over every penny. Landau cut several scenes at the bequest of the studio. Fincher was very upset with those cuts, but continued to work eighteen-hour days, supervising all four units. By now, his various teams were shooting the climatic scenes, and work was enormously complicated and tense.

After watching David Fincher scramble for two weeks in a futile effort to shoot the last few scenes and save his film, Landau finally closed the production down. Even though the motion picture was still unfinished, they had surpassed all budgetary and timing constraints. Weaver tried phoning Joe Roth personally to get an extension, but he simply wouldn't budge. The sets were put into storage, and everyone was set home.

* * * * *

During the next few weeks of post-production, David Fincher worked with editor Terry Rawlings, who had worked on the first film, to transform the thousands of feet of raw footage into a rough cut. They trimmed much of the earlier footage which had been shot by Cronenweth, and concentrated on pulling together a story that made some type of sense. Like Ridley Scott, Fincher also wisely chose to limit the number of appearances of the Alien, once again proving that the most convincing movie monsters were the ones that appeared on screen the least. The novice director also added a temporary soundtrack using music from the first film. (Ultimately, Elliot Goldenthal would write a musical score which was highly evocative of the one Jerry Goldsmith produced for ALIEN.)

Producers Walter Hill and David Giler returned to the project in post-production, and reviewed Fincher's rough cut with Fox. "Everyone could see there were certain problems," Hill said, but declined to note his specific objections. On the other hand, Joe Roth claimed the film was "too long, lacked pace, and needed to be more like a traditional horror movie."

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For the next six months, David Fincher struggled in the editing room to produce a workable film. Finally, in November of 1991, Twentieth Century-Fox gave the novice director an additional $2.5 million for an eight-day reshoot in Los Angeles. The sets were rebuilt on the Fox lot, and Fincher worked quickly to complete the necessary scenes. Jon Landau also helped with the reshoot by working with Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff at A.D.I. on several new effects shots. Towards the end of the year, Hill and Giler began praising Fincher's film, claiming how unusual and provocative it was. Roger Birnbaum remained cautiously optimistic. "I think the picture will find an audience," the worldwide production president ventured. "The core of the ALIEN fans will go back. I think this movie holds up the integrity of the franchise."

With less than a few months remaining before its theatrical release, the motion picture was screened for test audiences. Most agreed the film was very downbeat and generally depressing, and recommended several changes prior to its cinematic debut. The MPAA also mandated several cuts, including one sequence in which the alien smashes the brain of one inmate, in order to give the film an "R" rating. Under the supervision of his producers, Fincher spent the last few weeks, right up to its May release, recutting and reediting the film.

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THE THEATRICAL RELEASE

Originally scheduled for a Christmas 1991 release, then an Easter 1992 opening, Twentieth Century-Fox finally released ALIEN 3 on May 22, 1992 with very little fanfare. David Fincher's feature film debut faced incredibly still competition from Richard Donner's LETHAL WEAPON 3, Ron Howard's historic epic FAR & AWAY, Tim Burton's BATMAN RETURNS, and Robert Zemekis' DEATH BECOMES HER. Debuting in over a thousand theaters, the motion picture failed to make much of a splash with either critics or moviegoers.

By the second week, in fact, business had fallen off so substantially that the industry was calling it a bomb. Following the enormous box-office success of the previous two entries, studio executives were very disappointed to learn that their $40-50 million gamble would end up costing them dearly.

Although audiences found plenty of fault with the motion picture, several critics were impressed by the film's technical brilliance and with Fincher's stylistic direction. Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly wrote that "ALIEN 3 is a grimly seductive end-of-the-world thriller, with pop-tragic overtones that build in resonance as the movie goes on. One of the rare sequels that truly measures up . . ." Both Siskel and Ebert turned thumbs down on the motion picture, but Roger did cite Fincher's visionary work in reshaping the horror film. David Ansen of Newsweek, Jami Bernard of the New York Post, Janet Maslin of the New York Times and Richard Schickel of Time were all highly critical and down-right contemptuous of the second sequel. By the end of the summer, ALIEN 3 had finished well behind the other films, and well on its way to box office obscurity.

In February of 1993, ALIEN 3 was honored with a single award nominations from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects (for Richard Edlund, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff jr.). At the actual Academy Awards ceremony, ALIEN 3 lost out to the very imaginative work by Industrial Light & Magic on DEATH BECOMES HER (1992). The film was also nominated for a "Hugo" award from the World Science Fiction community, but lost that coveted award as well.

Even though Kenner Products continued to produce its immensely popular line of "Alien" action figures, no specific figures from ALIEN 3 were licensed for production by the company. Halcyon, the Britain-based model company, released only one original model kit inspired by the movie, and also reissued many of its other popular kits, including the "Alien Warrior," the "Face-Hugger," and the "Alien Queen." Dark Horse Publishing published a three-part comic book adaptation of the movie, and continued with its popular series. But there were no souvenir programs, posters, special books, costumes, merchandise or other promotional items.

CRITICAL COMMENTARY

Lacking the strong visual imagination of Ridley Scott's ALIEN or the tremendous narrative drive of James Cameron's ALIENS, David Fincher's third installment stumbles through the dark corridors of its prison complex on a pathetic quest for some sense of originality. Admittedly, there's plenty of gross-out shocks to satisfy fans of the original, or plenty of action sequences to distract fans of the first sequel; but when it comes to new material or ideas, the third film is very lacking. After all, what is so incredibly unique about an alien monster running around loose on a prison planet? Both Scott and Cameron had already explored every potential angle with their two films. At least, William Gibson's political allegory or Vincent Ward's wooden planetoid would have been far more interesting, and potentially visionary, than the final product. Showing signs of heavy editing, even its one hundred and fifteen minutes of length must have seemed overly boring to its producers as well.

The fault for this lackluster effort probably lies with the film's producers and possibly, to a lesser extent, with the studio itself. Their decision to mount a multi-million dollar production without a completed script or narrative direction was, at best, unwise. Fox was equally negligent for continually pumping money into the project when it was clear that no one knew what they were doing. The multiple rewrites, production delays, hirings and firings, and behind-the-scenes bickering only contributed to the other mounting problems, not the least of which was the conflict about the ending of the film. Hill and Giler's decision to build a $40-50 million motion picture around a 28 year-old MTV veteran was also questionable, even though Fincher proved that he was a capable director. Then, instead of walking off the set in a dispute over the production, they should have been much more supportive, and simply accepted his vision as the final one. After all, they had trusted both Ridley Scott and James Cameron, two then unproven directors, with their film.

Likewise, Twentieth Century-Fox might have seen a better return on its investment if the studio had left the creative process to the director. When Fincher told them it would take more than thirteen weeks to complete the film, the executives should have extended him the same shooting schedule they had given to Cameron or Scott. Instead the studio sent Jon Landau to cut essential scenes which might have made the contrived plot seem much more believable. Working from a corporate ledger is no way to make a motion picture.

The enduring popularity and success of the ALIEN series can be attributed to many key elements, from the archetypal nature of the story to the visual style of its particular director and, finally, to the contributions of the many artists and technicians. But the franchise's true essence lies in the screen magic that those numerous storytelling and filmmaking techniques combined to create. Burdened with an "idiot plot," in which the narrative is kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everyone is an idiot, a limited artistic budget, and few special effects, it is truly a wonder that ALIEN 3 turned out as "good" as it did. Much of that credit belongs solely with the director.

Like Ridley Scott, David Fincher is truly a brilliant visual stylist. He has taken special pains to resurrect the original film's atmosphere of foreboding and imminent danger. His shots of the Alien, actually mere glimpses as the creature skitters through the corridors like some giant spider, contribute much to the feeling of unease. Audience members never know where, or when, the monster will strike. He even manages to get some extra mileage out of the famous shower scene from PSYCHO (1960), by unleashing his monster somewhat unexpectantly. Even though we know the character shouldn't go into the shower, we are still shocked by the Alien's appearance as the curtains are slowly pulled back. His rock video-like style with the camera helps to evoke a much more disjointed portrait of reality, and the scenes focusing on the inmates as they struggle to fight the Alien in their decaying prison complex are highly reminiscent of the Mad Max movies. However, his collection of prisoners are never sentimentalized by his direction; in fact, quite the opposite is true--he creates vivid characters out of each of them with warts and all. He also manages to evoke thoughtful performances from Charles Dance as the mysterious medical officer and Charles S. Dutton as the convicted rapist who "found God at the ass-end of the universe." ALIEN 3 clearly demonstrates his superior ability to transcend his MTV origins in order to make feature films.

Sigourney Weaver turns in another wonderful performance as Lieutenant Ellen Ripley. Shorn of her beautiful hair, she still projects beauty, and gradually reveals--during the course of the film--a sensual side to her character as she turns to Clemens for affection. Ripley's already spent the previous two films proving her metal as both a warrior and surrogate mother. So, her decision to sleep with the chief medical officer helps to extend and expand the believability of her character. She is also particularly effective in portraying Ripley's inner struggle with the demon growing inside her. She progresses from denial to anger to bargaining and depression and finally - in the climatic scene - acceptance. She realizes that Ripley is doomed, and that survival (to potentially face other nightmares) is no longer as appealing to her. Her descent into the pit, while decidedly downbeat, does bring her character full circle.

ALIEN 3 is regrettably a tired remake of the first film set in the claustrophobic interiors of a deepspace correctional facility rather than aboard a starship. Whereas the original ALIEN was a triumph of production design, set decoration, special effects, and makeup, and its first sequel was a rousing, rollercoaster descent into hell-and-back, David Fincher's is little more than a grim, nihilistic downer to an otherwise brilliant trilogy. Without any new elements, the classic conflict between man and the unknown forces of nature (as represented by the alien) has simply lost its original luster. ALIEN 3 is currently available on both videocassette and dvd from Twentieth Century-Fox home video.

Copyright 2002 by John L. Flynn

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