Alien Anthology Disc 06 - The Alien Anthology Archives Review
The following review is for a Supplemental Materials disc and not a fully remastered and presented feature or short, so I will forgo the usual review structure of Content/Presentation/Extras, as it is all extras. Likewise I will not be providing any Audio or Video ratings for this disc because some of the content had to be sourced from low-quality materials.
If you've gone through the first Supplemental Materials disc in this Alien Anthology BD Set and are feeling confident that you've got the bulk of the Extra Features behind you now then think again, because there's just as much material on this 2nd Supplemental disc as well! This disc is called The Alien Anthology Archives and never has a title been so true, as Charles de Lauzirika and his team have raided just about every Fox Home Entertainment Home Video release of each film in the Alien franchise in the last two decades, from the 1991 Aliens Laserdisc to the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy DVD Boxset. The result is a staggering chronicle of screenplays, conceptual artwork, storyboards, production photos, promotional work, deleted scenes, and behind-the-scenes footage from a franchise that pushed the boat out with regards to conceptual design, production values and special effects across a period of almost twenty years - and pretty much all the artwork and photos have been freshly scanned for presentation in HD for the first time to boot!
Because the vast majority of the Extra Features on this disc have already been featured in previous home video releases, and researching what feature was present on what release is a job too far for me, I will stick to only differentiating between which content has already been featured in the Alien Quadrilogy DVD Boxset, so owners of that set can immediately figure out which extras they may or may not have already seen.
As with my review of Disc 05, all content from the Alien Quadrilogy DVD Boxset are presented in black font, and all other content is presented in blue font.
Please Note: Whilst almost all of the artwork on this disc is presented for the first time as new High-Def scans placed within a windowboxed 1080p frame, some of the art had to be sourced from rough or standard-definition sources and as such may fall short of typical HD clarity. Also note that all video footage on this disc is standard-def 480i with 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio (Except for the Additional Deleted Scenes for Alien, which contains some scenes presented in DD5.1)
AlienThe most exhausting archive is given to the film that started it all, featuring the original screenplay by Dan O'Bannon, around three thousand scans of artwork/production photos, and over two hours of video footage! You could get lost for hours in here, so it goes without saying that there is plenty of information to be discovered that isn't included in any of the Making Of documentaries and Enhancement Pods on Disc 05.
First Draft Screenplay by Dan O'Bannon (185pages)
I urge any fan of Alien to check this feature out because it's much more than just a screenplay, it contains a lengthy foreword by Dan O'Bannon which pretty much covers the entire Alien project from conception to exhibition from the writer's perspective. He gives a detailed account of writing the script and how he overcame very specific narrative conundrums in the quest to fine-tune the story, with help from Ronald Shusett & Ron Cobb, and then he addresses the small changes Walter Hill & David Giler made to later drafts (basically: new names/new dialogue + Ash/Corporate conspiracy) and further alterations made during the production stage. There's an interesting anecdote about a bogus accusation of plagiarism levelled at him that was easily disproved and he also covers the topic of false influences that have been cited by the media over the years. To set the record straight he then goes through all the genuine sources of influence that were rattling around in his head has he worked through the details of the script.
In the The Beast Within documentary on the previous disc we heard that Walter Hill and David Giler originally attempted to usurp O'Bannon and claim sole credit for the final draft of the Alien script, which was only foiled by legal action. Giler is on camera in The Beast Within practically suggesting that he and Hill made a bad script with one excellent idea shine with their rewrites, which is completely dispelled by the Original Draft presented here, which isn't all that different to the final shooting script. What was the extent of Hill/Giler's changes? Well if you believe O'Bannon they simply changed the names and added the corporate conspiracy plot by introducing the character of Ash, but that only tells part of the story because they also gave the dialogue a polish to make it sound more naturalistic and tweaked the characterisations and inter-crew tensions of every character. They didn't rebuild the characters from scratch, you'll still recognise each individual from O'Bannon's original draft (albeit with elements of Robey split across Ripley and Ash), they simply did enough to introduce a greater sense of realism and "everyman" tensions that arise in most hierarchical workplaces.
It's clear they made a significant enough contribution to warrant a co-writers credit, but even then I would say the finished film is clearly at least 80% O'Bannon and at most 20% Hill/Giler, as narratively speaking the finished film follows the original script almost dead on up until the birth of the alien creature, with the one significant difference being that originally the alien creatures were indigenous to the Alien Planet and the Space Jockey was in fact a former visitor who had previously succumbed to the Facehuggers: whose eggs are discovered in a large pyramid a short distance from the derelict ship. Once the alien creature is born then O'Bannon's script is a little less effective in its frights than what Ridley achieved through his strong sense of visualisation and deliberate pacing, but the plot is more-or-less the same save one or two kills that didn't get shot because of limited time and money.
Ridleygrams: Original Thumbnails and Notes (264pgs)
The introduction explains that Ridley Scott personally drew up a series of 2x3inch thumbnails that were used to pitch his visual overview of the film to Fox executives, which were so successful the studio doubled his budget to $8.4million! These sketches represent Ridley's original imaginings of each scene so many of the details in the drawings clearly changed in the run up to storyboarding and shooting, but for the most part they give a pretty good overview of the film Ridley eventually made.
Storyboard Archive (509pgs)
A selection of the final storyboards as drawn by Ridley Scott and some Visual Effects storyboards that aren't his. There's a lot of pages to sift through here so the whole gallery is split up into six specific sections, the first four of which cover the entire film up until just before the Chestburster sequence. We then jump in the fifth section to storyboards of the final scene and the effects boards in the final section.
The content is fairly similar to the Ridleygrams but further evolved in terms of design and script, although O'Bannon's original ending has still not been tweaked yet. There's some introductory notes in the last section that explains that the storyboards here are for Visual Effects shots only and serve the sole purpose of giving the Visual Effects Supervisors a general idea of which techniques to use for which shots, ie: optical, model, puppet, etc.
The Art of Alien: Conceptual Art Portfolio (160pgs)
Inside here are four sections/names that represent the four conceptual artists who did the most significant work for the film: Ron Cobb, Chris Foss, H.R. Giger, and Jean "Moebius" Giraud. Choose each one to view high-quality scans of their designs, which can be wide and varied and cover many of the same subjects (for instance all men did concept designs on the derelict Alien Ship). Much of the artwork here is featured in The Beast Within, but not in the high-definition quality seen here.
Sigourney Weaver Screen Tests (06m:13s)
There are five sequences in total in this section, with Ridley Scott providing a commentary for the first three. The quality of the footage itself isn't all that high
Cast Portrait Gallery (29pgs)
A series of headshots and publicity photos taken of the cast of Alien for the purpose of testing and promotion.
The Chestburster: Multi-Angle Sequence (05m:28s)
A complete deconstruction of the infamous Chestburster scene in the form of a montage of the handful of rushes/takes that were edited together to make the finished scene. They are played in sequence with the choice of three different angles: Camera 1 (which is usually taking a close shot), Camera 2 (wide shot), and Camera 1+2 Composite (both shots on screen at the same time). The original production audio is included but you can also select a Commentary track by Ridley Scott which is as technical and insightful as you'd expect.
Video Graphics Gallery (05m:32s)
This presents the fullscreen computer displays seen throughout The Nostromo and Narcissus (escape shuttle). Although only 5minutes long, it will loop continuously until you hit the Menu button, so it can be quite hypnotic in a rather strange retro way.
Production Image Galleries (261pgs)
Split into nine individual sections with the usual option to view individually or all at once, this is a massive collection of production photos taken by Bob Penn which, as with all extra features on this disc, amount to much more than a simple gallery because not only do we get to see plenty of great high-quality shots of various scenes being filmed, there are also fact-filled cards interspersed throughout that explain each section and offer a fair chunk of production information!
Continuity Polaroids (99pgs)
Polaroids taken by Kay Fenton for continuity matching, presented in suitably high quality.
The Sets of Alien (217pgs)
More detailed photos of pretty much all the sets in the film than you can shake a stick at. Again this is a really enlightening photo gallery because of the interspersed factoids and close ups on little elements or actors: like the custom made Weylan-Yutani Aspen Beer can that inspired Cameron when he named The Company (by adding a "d" to Weylan) in Aliens, or the photos of Ridley Scott and Derek Vanlint's children in full spacesuits on the day they doubled for Skerritt, Cartwright, and Hurt. The level of detailing in all the sets is truly staggering.
H.R. Giger's Workshop (23pgs)
There may not be many pictures in this gallery, but it's H.R.Giger at work in his Alien workshop so it's all killer!
POST-PRODUCTION AND AFTERMATH
Additional Deleted Scenes (14m:44s)
Seven deleted scenes here, all apparently remastered and re-edited under Scott's supervision, but alas presented in SD only - although three of the scenes were under consideration for inclusion in the 2003 Director's Cut so they at least come with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio as well. There's nothing Earth shattering in here, but if you've been going through the extra features in this Anthology in the order they are presented then you may find some interest in one or two scenes that were in O'Bannon's original script and also the final cut of the scene featured in the Enhancement Pods section which depicted Brett and Parker complaining about Ripley.
Image Galleries (555pages)
Six galleries worth of photographs presented in high-quality but heavily window boxed 1080p that focus mostly on the Model Shop and Visual Effects work with title cards intermixed that offer Alien factoids and establish the subject of each group of photos. This is a great opportunity to see up-close the intricate detailing of the various models built for the film and the artistry of the sculptures and costumes. The rest of the galleries cover the promotion and eventual release of the film into theatres in 1979, with a gallery of posters and lobby cards offering a little insight into the evolution of the iconic "Egg" marketing campaign.
Experience in Terror  (07m:10s)
An understandably low-quality featurette made in 1979 to promote the film with some behind-the-scenes footage and conversation with Ridley Scott about the Alien production. There are no new revelations to be found, but it is sort of interesting to see what was going through Scott's mind back during the time of the film's production.
LaserDisc Archives (1282pgs, 56m:26s)
This seems like such an innocuous little option in the Pre-Production sub-menus that you could easily be forgiven for assuming it's probably just a few featurettes from an old LaserDisc release and giving it a miss (in fact I did overlook this archive when it was first included back in the Alien Quadrilogy DVD release), but after spending over three hours going through all the material in this section I have to say that this single segment in the tail end of the Alien POST-PRODUCTION section is without doubt one of the most significant and noteworthy extras in the entire Anthology. In short this is a complete archive of the Bonus Materials included on Fox Video's 1992 Alien: Special Widescreen Collector's Edition LaserDisc, and I do mean complete: with hundreds of pages of text, hundreds of photographs/artwork scans and almost an hour of video footage all detailing the entire conception/production/theatrical release of Alien in much the same way as The Beast Within.
Naturally this text-based Making Of compendium is considerably drier than the three-hour documentary film, but because it's a written account it is also more technical and analytical, offering up almost an entire bible of facts and details that you simply won't find elsewhere in the Anthology - For instance there's a complete analysis of the changes Walter Hill and David Giler made to Dan O'Bannon's script for those who don't fancy reading the entire original script in the PRE-PRODUCTION section, there are also much more detailed accounts of how all the various creature effects were created, plus an extensive Deleted Scenes section that for my money is more involving than the Additional Deleted Scenes in the PRODUCTION section because there's more footage and the context for each scene is fully described before you get to play them.
If the amount of content sounds daunting then don't worry as it's split up between 22 individually titled and accessible chapters. The video footage is also mostly split across short snippets of behind-the-scenes footage of around a minute or two in length, the majority of which come with no audio at all. Other content like interviews and deleted scenes/outtakes come with English audio.
The Alien Legacy  (66m:53s)
Yet another Making Of documentary, this one produced in 1999 by Sharpline Arts for 20th Century Fox's Alien Legacy DVD Boxset, which at the time (for one reason or the other) didn't actually make it into the finished retail set, meaning customers had to send off a coupon to receive the documentary on a separate disc! There's no coupon this time round, just the complete documentary: which covers much of the same ground as The Beast Within only with a smaller selection of crew members building up the story. Nevertheless there's still enough unique information and anecdotes imparted to warrant a look, including input from a few faces who do not appear in the longer three-hour documentary.
American Cinematheque: Ridley Scott Q&A  (15m:40s)
Alien was screened three days after 9-11 at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood by the
Trailers and TV Spots (03m:28s)
A forgivingly concise selection of just two Theatrical Trailers and two TV Spots.
AliensThe Aliens archive runs the Alien one a close second in terms of sheer content and comprehensiveness, offering not only another extensive LaserDisc archive but also some exclusive scoops: like presenting the infamous deleted Burke cocooning in full for the first time.
Original Treatment by James Cameron (82pgs)
Presumably this is the script treatment James Cameron wrote up in 1983 to convince Fox he was the man to handle the Alien sequel. What's strange is that in Superior Firepower Cameron states that he wrote just a rudimentary treatment to give the executives an idea of where he wanted to take the franchise, but the treatment here is practically the shooting script! At least up until the alien attack on the marines it's pretty much a note-for-note description of the Special Edition cut with a lot of the dialogue sounding very familiar.
The three big differences in the opening acts are: Ripley's daughter is still alive but decrepit and very bitter about her mother's lifelong absence, the shit hits the fan on Acheron physically inside the Alien Ship when a rescue team is sent out to Newt's father (who meets the business end of a Facehugger in much the same way as in the film), and there's no corporate conspiracy subplot because there is no Carter Burke style character going on the search & rescue mission to Acheron. After the alien attack the story and action is leaner and more straightforward, with many of the big iconic million-dollar moments - like the "let go of her YOU BITCH!" line not developed yet, at least not in written form.
Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics (03m:13s)
As with the multi-angle Chestburster sequence in the Alien extras, this is footage of a group of video storyboards filmed to give a clear impression of various Miniature Effects shots throughout the film. What we have are two video clips: one is the actual video storyboards, which were recorded rather crudely, and the finished effects shot as it appears in the film. Also provided is an optional Audio Commentary by Miniature Effects Supervisor: Pat McClung
Storyboard Archive (155pgs)
An extensive gallery comprising chiefly of Visual Effects storyboards presented at a nice large size within the window-boxed frame. Sadly this isn't exactly a riveting experience!
The Art of Aliens (45pgs)
A concise collection of some of the concept artwork drawn up by Ron Cobb, Syd Mead, and James Cameron, showing how the design of objects like the Sulaco evolved into what we saw in the final film. Some of the designs are stunning - particularly by from Mead, and now you can enjoy them in HD.
Cast Portrait Gallery (72pgs)
Photos of James Cameron and then-wife Gale Anne Hurd are shown alongside pictures of the cast
Production Image Galleries (534pgs)
Nine galleries of Bob Penn's behind-the-scenes photographs which each focus on a specific aspect/stage of the production. There's certainly no shortage of fascinating images in here, like some new glimpses into the Hadley's Hope set and the extras that populated it, an extensive gallery of the Sulaco interior sets, shots of the Carter Burke cocooning scene (which is present in full elsewhere on this disc), shot's of Gale Anne Hurd doubling for Vasquez, and shots of the full-size Alien Queen puppet.
Continuity Polaroids (251pgs)
I suppose it's no surprise that this gallery is much bigger than the equivalent one for Alien given how much more convoluted the production of Aliens was. This is much more than just an overlong collection of bland polaroids though, because not only are many of cast (James Remar included) seen in full costume here; but also the sets are photographed pretty closely, revealing a few intricate details and paraphernalia not seen in any other gallery.
Weapons and Vehicles (69pgs)
Pictures of pretty much all the weapons and armour seen in the film, including the APC and Power Loader (but not the Drop Ship) with title cards providing detailed facts on much of the equipment seen.
Stan Winston's Workshop (60pgs)
A gallery providing a good opportunity to view some of the Facehugger models and the various Alien Creature costumes/puppets, plus some very cool pictures of the full size Alien Queen puppet being built.
Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras (05m:01s)
A direct fullscreen montage of the video feeds from select USCM helmet cameras that were monitored by Lt. Gorman and Ripley from the comfort of the APC Command Station during the film, presented as dramatised so you aren't pulled out of the sequence by behind-the-scenes footage. It offers a rather interesting take on the Hadley's Hope sets and the first full-on alien attack.
Video Graphics Gallery (04m:04s)
A continuously looping fullscreen video of all the Computer Displays and Telemetry Readouts seen in the film, which are quite basic but very funky thanks to their DayGlo colour schemes.
Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers (03m:35s)
Now this is by far the most interesting video clip in the Aliens PRODUCTION section, presenting the on-screen biographies of the entire crew of The Nostromo which are seen during Ripley's hearing. I'm not sure if these biographies are in any way based on the ones that were allegedly written up and presented to the Alien cast by Ridley Scott to give them a better grasp of their characters, but there's certainly a lot of intriguing revelations about each character here: for instance Parker took IQ boosting drugs, Kane had a history of substance abuse, and Lambert was sexually converted from Male to Female at birth!
POST-PRODUCTION AND AFTERMATH
Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned (01m:31s)
A bit of a scoop for the Alien Anthology because this deleted scene has been talked about for years but never made it into any home video release of the film. I wish I could say it was worth the wait but it's little more than a slight distraction for Ripley as she makes her way through the alien nest whilst tracking Newt.
Deleted Scene Montage (04m:07s)
A title card informs us that this is a montage which includes dialogue and footage not incorporated into any previously-released version of Aliens, but you're going to have to be very familiar with both cuts of the film to distinguish between the new content and the existing content, with transitions edited in to provide context for the omitted material. There's really nothing much of note happening in here.
Image Galleries (283pgs)
Four galleries in total, the first of which is a large collection of intricate shots of various miniature models used throughout the film. The other galleries present photos of James Horner at work on the score, the Cast and Cameron/Hurd at the film's premiere, and Special Shoots - ie: promo shots of the cast and director, only in this case the director shots are frankly bizarre Siegfried and Roy style portraits of Cameron and Hurd bedecked in leather posing with the Alien Queen puppet.
LaserDisc Archives (1217pgs, 21m:12s)
Pretty much as expansive and impressive as the one for Alien, this LaserDisc archive presents the full reproduction of all the extra content found in Fox Video's 1991 Aliens: Special Widescreen Collector's Edition LaserDisc, which for my money is every bit a record and analysis of the conception, production, and theatrical release of Aliens as the near three-hour Superior Firepower documentary.
The archive is split up into 31 chapters that can be accessed individually and contains so much information which isn't imparted elsewhere in the Anthology Collection Boxset that this is an absolute must read/watch for any hardcore Aliens fanatic: like chapters 3 & 4, which deal with the birthing stages of the Aliens script, including a complete analysis of the differences between Cameron's original treatment and his final shooting script. The Production section is particularly comprehensive, assigning an individual chapter for just about every category of set or item you can think of and really going into depth on how each element of the film was built and filmed. It's just a fantastic read!
Main Title Exploration (02m:55s)
A series of title designs and animations considered for the opening titles of the film but never used, most of which aren't particularly eye-catching and certainly not in the same league as the excellent opening titles for Alien.
Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright  (08m:16s)
The menu screen informs us that "Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright" was an Iwerks Entertainment attraction at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco (there was also one built at Granada Studios in Manchester). The ride started with an introductory video which established the scenario for the Turbo Ride Simulation Theatre ride. In this intro Jeffrey Coombs stars as a Colonial Marine named Hyer, the only member of a squadron to make it back to base from a reconnaissance mission on a mining colony much like Hadley's Hope (complete with footage from the film) which ran into a nest of aliens. He is then promptly forced by his seniors to go back down with another company to search for surviving members of his squadron: Cue the ride, which is simple POV footage of either the APC riding through the colony or a marine in action as the company is met with alien resistance. Both films are atrociously cheap and the acting is, well it's about as cheesy as you'd expect from Jeffrey Coombs in the role of a Marine!
Trailers and TV Spots (05m:27s)
Four trailers and a single TV spot.
Alien 3After the mammoth archive collections for the first two films the Alien 3 archives are something of a let-down as there is considerably less material and no early script or story treatment to be seen - Just think how great it would have been if the producers of this set could of included Vincent Ward's original script! Personally I'd be more interested in seeing that than a cut of the film finalised personally by Fincher. Still, there remains some very interesting content in here, so let's get started:
Storyboard Archive (1072pgs)
A massive collection of storyboards that is split up into ten individually playable sections, which in their entirety depict the vast majority of what we see in the Special Edition cut (although the story presented here is somewhere between the two cuts). They're not very exciting if you've seen both cuts of Alien 3, but the boards for the Newt autopsy may hint at what was in the infamous longer "gruesome" cut of that scene. Also included is an extra alternate ending gallery which isn't particularly note-worthy.
The Art of Arceon (79pgs)
Well if we can't have Vincent Ward script at least we have three galleries of the concept artwork made for his vision, in here we get a real good luck at the gothic imagery that would have permeated Ward's version of Alien 3 and also see some Norman Reynold's designs for a new alien form when they were thinking about creating a alien-animal/human hybrid.
The Art of Fiorina (36pgs)
A couple of concise galleries depicting the designs for the exterior and interior of the Fiorina foundry.
Furnace Construction (04m:35s)
It's not often that you get a chance to view full or partial construction of a large set, and in Alien 3 the Leadworks was certainly one of the largest and most complex sets that Norman Reynolds and his team built. Here we see time-lapse footage of a good proportion of the work done on that set.
EEV Bioscan (02m:02s)
As the title suggests this is fullscreen footage of the EEV Bioscan readouts where Ripley gets confirmation of the Alien Queen living inside her. You can view it via six independent angles: Four angles that cover one "layer" or "body-section" of the readout each, one angle that shows the entire readout, and one angle that shows a composite of all five. Visual Effects Supervisor: Alec Gillis provides a commentary that describes how they created this special effects sequences.
Production Images Galleries (472pgs)
Eight galleries in total, offering an extensive look at some excellent photographs of the Alien 3 production, where we can see many set details that are either hard to make out in the low-lighting of the finished film or were simply never shown directly; for example the photograph of Warden Andrew's family on his office desk and the prisoner graffiti in the cafeteria.
A.D.I's Workshop (185pgs)
A large gallery of photos taken inside Alec Gills and Tom Woodruff Jnr's Amalgamated Dynamics Incorporated workshop, where we see all manner of creature effects work being hand crafted for the film; including stuff that never made it into the final film: like the sculpture of a mutilated Hicks body that Michael Biehn took legal action against. An excellent feature for fans of creature effects work.
POST-PRODUCTION AND AFTERMATH
Visual Effects Gallery (133pgs)
Photos that offer a great glimpse of the work done on pretty much all the Visual Effects done for the film, like the articulated alien puppet and the large Ore Refinery miniature that had to be made out of foam and cardboard for budgeting reasons.
Special Shoot (72pgs)
Promo shots of most of the Alien 3 cast and also a collection of shots of the cast and crew alongside a full-size alien puppet at the film's premiere.
Alien 3 Advance (02m:56s)
A tiny featurette that edits snippets of interviews with Sigourney Weaver, Paul McGann, and Charles S. Dutton into behind -the-scenes footage of the film's production. If you intend to watch the "Making Of Alien 3" feature elsewhere in this section then there's no need to bother with this.
Making of Alien 3 (23m:24s)
A standard Making Of made to promote the film back in 1992 that chooses specific titbits of the production to focus on with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with various members of the cast and crew, this one also focuses a fair bit on the previous films in the franchise and includes interview footage of the cast and crew of Alien and Aliens.
Trailers and TV Spots (08m:07s)
Five trailers and seven TV Spots.
Alien ResurrectionThe final film in the franchise has a meatier archive than Alien 3 with the return of an original draft of the script but it also falls short of the scale of the Alien and Aliens archives. In fact there's not much of tremendous merit in here beyond the concept designs and some of the production photos.
First Draft Screenplay by Joss Whedon (225pgs)
Whedon's first draft is pretty close to the shooting script except for having a couple more crew members on the Betty (who were amalgamated into other roles by the final draft) and also a big action set piece in the Auriga's large garden bay (which Sylvain Despretz talks about in the Alien Resurrection Enhancement Pods on Disc 05). If you have any hopes that Whedon's script was up to his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly and got mangled during the production process then I'm afraid you should throw them away now, because it's just one long and boring A-to-B sequence of action setpieces with rather generic characterisation and no consistency from the alien side of things. If anything the finished film is better than what Whedon realised because it has less of the fat and more visual flair courtesy of Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Test Footage: A.D.I. Creature Shop (09m:51s)
Footage of various Creature Effects tests done at the A.D.I. workshop, the most interesting of which is probably the tests to figure out the practicalities of achieving the effect of an "alien" being sucked through a window. There's an optional commentary by Alec Gillis here, where the Creature Effects supremo talks us through all the processes we see on screen.
Test Footage: Costumes, Hair and Make-Up (04m:40s)
As the title suggests this is a series of Hair and Make-Up tests recorded with Sigourney Weaver, which is mostly the testing of the cloth shroud that the Ripley Clone emerges from in the film's opening. Pervy viewers will be pleased to find this footage is surprisingly "nudey".
Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Rehearsals (02m:52s)
The menu informs us that prior to the commencement of principal photography Jean-Pierre Jeunet oversaw the creation of detailed storyboards that plotted the action for the film and also personally filmed shot-by-shot video rehearsals of crucial sequences in the script, both of which are presented here in a montage of sequences that play with the choice of three angles: The first angle shows the Storyboards, the second angle shows the Video Rehearsal footage, and the final angle is a composite of both alongside footage from the final film. There is also the choice of two audio streams for this feature, one provides the original Video Rehearsal audio and the other is the audio from the final film. The video rehearsals were shot by Frenchmen and so most of the audio is French dialogue, but there is one sequence with Sigourney Weaver in it, so some English dialogue is featured.
Storyboard Archive (1202pgs)
Now we get a good look at those Storyboards Jean-Pierre Jeunet oversaw, easily over one thousand of them split across eight galleries in fact. For the most part they describe the story pretty much as it was eventually shot, but there are enough deleted sequences buried away in here to make this feature worthwhile to Alien Resurrection completists. Note that these galleries can be a little confusing at times because the boards themselves seem to come from different artists with different art styles flitting back and forth on occasion from board-to-board. Also, some of the boards appear to have been presented in the wrong chronological order because the scene where Ripley discovers the failed clones plays side-by-side with the underwater chase sequence, which is clearly incorrect. Maybe they're presented in the order they were drawn or something.
The Marc Caro Portfolio: Character Designs (22pgs)
A gallery of some very cool and distinct character/costume designs that influenced the final look in the film rather than being exact templates for the production, as Bob Ringwood was chiefly responsible for the costumes in the film and the look of the characters were largely altered from what's seen here (except for Vriess).
The Art of Resurrection (294pgs)
Lots of great concept designs spread across seven galleries that each focus on a specific facet of the Alien Resurrection visuals. Highlights include some gorgeous design work on the Auriga and Betty interior/exterior, plus some gruesomely lifelike designs for the failed Ripley clones by Chris Halls.
Production Image Galleries (281pgs)
Nine galleries offering a wide range of intimate photos from the film's shoot. There's no shortage of quality images in here, showing detailing of the sets and creature effects that's easily missed in the darkly lit final film.
A.D.I.'s Workshop (162pgs)
I'm not a fan of the alien creature designs in Alien Resurrection as to me they looked too slimy and too far removed from the bio-mechanical style of Giger's original alien - in fact the aliens in this film look more like something that has been blown out of the Space Jockey's nose! Nevertheless the dependable men at A.D.I. did do some great creature effects work elsewhere on this film and we see it all being crafted/sculpted/painted here. It's particularly interesting to see the evolution of the "Newborn" design as three-dimensional sculptures that show how Jeunet basically altered the design of the head from Chris Halls' conception, which was about 70% alien and 30% human, and ruined it by making it look more and more human.
POST-PRODUCTION AND AFTERMATH
Visual Effects Gallery (132pgs)
Here's your chance to get a good look at the fine detailing of many of the miniature models created for the film's Visual Effects shots, there's also some cool pictures of Vriess' wheelchair rig.
Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive (38pgs)
If you've gone through any of the previous films' archives then you know what to expect here, promo shots of the cast with the focus primarily on Weaver as Ripley Clone #8. The photos themselves are very bland and hardly any different to Alien 3's special shoot, which basically means Weaver posing moodily in front of a cloud of smoke. Still, at least Leland Orser is camping it up a treat with a couple of frankly bizarre kung fu-esque stances.
HBO First Look: The Making Of 'Alien Resurrections' (25m:40s)
A rather trim-looking Ron Perlman appears to be doing his best Robert Stack impression as the po-faced host of this Making Of broadcast, produced by HBO in 1997. It's pretty much standard stuff: clips from film, interviews with the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage, but it also branches out with a rather obvious analysis of the appeal of horror films with psychologists explaining what the tell-tale signs of fear is, just in case you wanted to recognise what reactions this limp, flatulent 'horror' sequel is failing to elicit in you as you watch it. Critics and film experts also chime in on the evolution of the Alien franchise.
Alien Resurrection Promotional Featurette (03m:56s)
This is little more than an extended trailer with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, almost all of which is featured in the HBO Making Of.
Trailers and TV Spots (05m:33s)
Two trailers and four TV Spots.
AnthologyThe final section rounds ups some Making Of documentaries and various other little titbits that pertain to some aspect of the franchise or the franchise as a whole. More than just an afterthought, this section contains not only a feature length Making Of documentary in The Alien Saga, but it also includes the excellent Alien Evolution documentary made for UK TV back in 2001, as well as some very interesting galleries.
Alien Evoloution [2001 Original TV Version] (48m:58s)
In 2001 Nobles Gate produced a feature-length documentary for Channel 4 that was presented by critic Mark Kermode and took an extensive look at the conception and legacy of each film in the Alien tetrology. Supposedly this original TV cut of the documentary is presented here for the first time on home video, with just one snag: I seem to recall this documentary running a lot longer than 48minutes and even the IMDB appears to be under the impression the original cut was 64minutes long, sans adverts. So either my memory is failing me (highly possible) or this 48minute documentary is abridged, not that it ruins what is an excellent look at the legacy of the Alien franchise, albeit with an emphasis on the first film over the others.
Alien Evoloution [2003 Alien Re-Edit] (64m:33s)
This cut of the Alien Evolution is the one that was originally presented in the Alien Quadrilogy DVD Boxset in 2003. It was in fact originally conceived as an extra for a special edition DVD release of the first film before that project became the full Quadrilogy, so this cut of Alien Evolution was substantially edited down from the original 74minutes to focus solely on Alien, then substantially built back up to 64minutes with more interview and production footage. So basically this is just the Alien portion of the TV edit that has been padded out, offering a pretty lengthy examination of the creation and release of Alien. I suppose if you wanted to make up the definitive cut on the fly you could watch this documentary then switch over to the TV edit and skip past the first section on Alien to focus on just the sequels.
The Alien Saga (109m:02s)
A made for TV documentary that was produced in 2002 by Prometheus Entertainment for broadcast on American Movie Classics and later released on US DVD in 2003 by Image Entertainment, The Alien Saga takes a near two-hour Making Of look at each film in the Alien tetralogy, dedicating about 50mins to the making of Alien, just over 20mins to Aliens, and roughly 15mins each to Alien 3 & Alien Resurrection, with around ten minutes at the end discussing the potential future of the franchise. It's an excellent documentary, and if there's one thing I've learned from sitting through all the content in this Alien Anthology boxset, it's that no matter how many lengthy Making Of documentaries or chronicles you sit through there always seems to be exclusive nuggets of information in each one!
This is no exception, with titbits (literally in this case) like a longer clip of Sigourney Weaver's screen test which ends with her stripping off and Ridley Scott taking a bit of dramatic license with the story of how Bolaji Bodejo was discovered, to finally hearing H.R. Giger's opinion on Cameron's Alien Queen (he raves about it). There's more than enough new facts, anecdotes and interviews to warrant a watch even if you're burnt out by the lengthy documentaries on Disc 05.
Aliens 3D Attraction (83pgs)
This feature is dedicated to an Aliens-themed 3D attraction that was originally designed for exhibition at the Everland Theme Park in Korea. The idea was to create an "event" that was a seamless combination of film and live-action, which would immerse the viewers into a dramatic battle between marines and aliens. Presented here is both the original script written in 1997 for the feature and a gallery of concept art drawn up for the attraction.
The theme of the script was for a number of "viewers" to assume the role of marines and be led into a mock futuristic spaceship were you are debriefed on a search and rescue mission to investigate a distress signal on a mining colony not unlike Hadley's Hope in Aliens. Afterwards the viewers are led into another futuristic themed theatre where they are told to observe a 3D film feed of a small unit of hardened marines who are currently scouring the colony for signs of life, only to run into a little alien resistance along the way. It sounds like it could have been a clever mixture of William Castle style theatricality and 3D cinema, recreating some of the more iconic elements of Alien and Aliens (a Facehugger attack, a covert android who turns out to be heroic, a high-speed vehicle pursuit, etc) and culminating in what would have been a very ambitious Powerloader Vs. Alien Queen sequence that was to be performed on a live set with the real actors choreographed so the action switches between stage and 3D film.
Aliens in the Basement: The Bob Burns Collection (16m:54s)
Bob Burns is primarily a movie memorabilia collector, described by WikipediA as an "actor, consultant, producer, archivist and historian of props, costumes, and other screen used paraphernalia", who has managed to strike up a unique relationship with 20th Century Fox and the various producers and directors of the Alien franchise over the years where he has essentially become the custodian to a vast collection of props, costumes, sculptures, models, vehicles, and even whole portions of the sets that were built across the four productions. Here he describes his history as a collector and how he came to become the keeper of this unique collection before taking us on a guided tour of some of the cooler stuff buried away in his private treasure trove of Alien history.
A couple of comedy clips that parody the Alien films, the first being a thirty second clip from Episode 07 of Family Guy: Season 6, which spoofs the Alien Queen sequences of Aliens, and the second being a one minute thirty second clip from the movie: Spaceballs that features a joke Chestburster sequence with cameo by John Hurt.
Dark Horse Still Gallery (234pgs)
This is a large compendium of either most or all the Aliens Comic Book issues that were produced by Dark Horse comics from as early as 1988, with each entry exhibiting a full cover scan alongside edition details and some form of liner notes offering a complete synopsis of the story. I'm sure comic book fans will find this a fascinating extra, but I've got to tell you that wading through 234pgs of some of the most lurid and plain bizarre alien-themed plotlines has left me with a memory that will no doubt prove invaluable in the future should I ever develop insomnia!
Patches and Logos Gallery (15pgs)
The final gallery in this anthology is very low key, offering a closer look at some of the path and logo designs for the various Alien films.
A well earned credit roll for Charles de Lauzirika and his teams who produced this phenomenal boxset.
Menus and MU-TH-UR ModeThe menus for The Alien Anthology Archives are little bit flashier and more in keeping with the Menus for the feature films than the menus on the Making the Alien Anthology disc, but they're still more about functionality than any fancy display of graphics.
Because the content on this disc is split across menu-themed pages and video footage, the usual interactive MU-TH-UR Mode is not included on this disc; instead existing purely as a menu where you can view of list of your DATA TAG bookmarks made from the previous discs in the set and use them to jump to the relevant content.
Easter EggsThere are a handful of Easter Eggs in this Alien Anthology Set, which I believe have all been ported over from the Alien Quadrilogy DVD Boxset and can be found within the individual film sections on Disc 06 - The Anthology Archives. Here I will list the content and location of the four Easter Egg features that I could find, presented in a spoiler box so those who wish to hunt themselves can chose to ignore the information. Please note that I couldn't find anything in the Alien 3 section of the disc, which seems like an odd oversight but I did scour this section a number of times to make absolutely sure. If however you do discover anything not listed here please get in touch through the comments section at the bottom of this review!
|The following text contains spoilers. Click and drag over this box to view.|
|Each Easter Egg can be found by pressing RIGHT on specific menu options, which if successful will show up a small chequered box that will to take you to the Egg after pressing OK. There are two Eggs in the Alien section, one in the Aliens section, and a final one in the Alien Resurrection section.
Weyland-Yutani Flight Manifest
Alien: Pre-Poduction > Cast Potrait Gallery > Press Right
This is a menu-based information section where you can read the Weyland-Yutani records on both the Nostromo flight record and the crew manifest, which can be quite a departure from the biographies Cameron wrote up for the boardroom inquest scene in Aliens and hence well worth a look for curiosity's sake (Although you shouldn't for one second consider them even remotely canonical).
Ash's Alien Lifecycle Report
Alien: Production > H.R. Giger's Workshop > Press Right
Another menu-generated text-based extra, this is a mock report presumably written by Ash and sent to Weyland-Yutani prior to his meeting with the business end of a heavy canister swung by Parker. It's written completely in character and is pretty well done.
A Boy and His Power-Loader (09m:36s)
Aliens: Production > Production Image Galleries > Final Battle and Epilogue > Press Right
This is a very cool little featurette on how Van Ling, a talented young film-school student with an avid interest in visual effects, managed to build a fully functional 7ft Power-Loader (with help from three equally capable friends) for a Halloween party in just over three months to win a gentleman's bet with another friend. Eventually James Cameron travelled to Ling's parents' home to see the robotic suit in action and offered him a job on his research team, which has led to a pretty successful career within the industry. So this is both a geek-tastic and inspirational story!
Interview with David Prior: Supporting Alien (06m:48s)
Alien Resurrection: Production > Production Image Galleries > Extracting the Queen > Press Right
There isn't actually a title for this featurette but it's basically a sit down with David Prior, a lifelong fanatic of Giger's Alien who was given the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong dream of playing the creature when other actors were needed to back up Tom Woodruff Jnr. in Alien Resurrection. This discussion goes more into depth about the painstaking process of putting on and working a full day in the Alien suit than any other feature in this set, so it's well worth checking out.