ALIEN 4K Steel Book Releasing in April


Specs below, courtesy of

“2019 is the 40th Anniversary of Ridley Scott’s classic Alien, and on April 1st Fox are bringing us this 4K steelbook release. which will be available as a Zavvi exclusive.

Pre-orders will be on Monday February 4th, so ignore the ‘sold out’ notice before then.

Pre-order: Zavvi

Alien is the first movie of one of the most popular sagas in science fiction history, and introduces Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, the iron-willed woman destined to battle the galaxy’s ultimate creature. The terror begin when the crew of the spaceship Nostromo investigates a transmission from a desolate planet and makes a horrifying discovery – a life form that breeds within a human host. Now the crew must fight now only for its survival, but for the survival of all mankind.

The UHD has the following: 

Directors cut 2003:2003 Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott and the Cast and CrewTheatrical Version 19791999 Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott [1979 Theatrical Version Only]Final Theatrical Isolated Score 5.1 Dolby Digital [1979 Theatrical Version Only]Composer’s Original Isolated Score 5.1 Dolby Digital [1979 Theatrical Version Only]Deleted Scenes”

OPINION: Let's have a blind hero

From Perception, by The Deep End Games/Feardemic

From Perception, by The Deep End Games/Feardemic

by Patrick Greene

We’ve all been talking about the future of the Alien franchise even more than usual lately, and that’s got me thinking about the sort of story I’d personally like to tell.

I’ve been playing various survival horror games for most of my life, so I’ve gotten pretty used to the usual tropes. But three games that scared the absolute shit out of me in recent years were PT (the Silent Hills playable trailer/demo); Alien: Isolation (obviously); and Perception (wherein you play a blind protagonist forced to navigate through echolocation).

And I’ve been thinking: how cool would it be to have a very small, very tight Alien film with a blind hero? We talk a lot about “putting the monster back in the dark,” and to me this’d be the most evocative way of doing so.

As the audience, we’d obviously still see everything. But identifying with a protagonist who can’t see the beast would set up a whole new set of fascinating dilemmas. What if the hero is trapped in a space they haven’t experienced before, and is forced to navigate with sound? Would it draw the alien towards them?

And traditionally, one of the chief advantages a xenomorph has over a human is its ability to creep in the darkness. What if the human were just as comfortable in those spaces? Could they turn the tide on the alien?

Plus, I’d love to have sequences where there’s virtually no visible light, but sound is extraordinarily amplified. Some of the best moments in the films come through sound cues. The chains rattling in Alien; the beeping proximity detector in the hive in Aliens; the howling windstorms on Fury 161. What if we were immersed in darkness and subject to extraordinary sound editing that felt like we were truly trapped with the monster?

I’ve also been thinking a lot about dreams lately (more on that coming in a separate post). A number of my favorite sequences in the expanded universe have been rooted in dreams (the Queen Mother, for example). Various rejected/altered scripts for the films have featured extended dream sequences that are absolutely fascinating. What if this blind hero, unable to process visual light in physical space, were more attuned to dream frequencies coming from a Queen Mother? Without being distracted by horrifying sights in the physical world, perhaps they’d be able to wage a deeper war in the dream space.

Just a thought, but I think it’d be a ton of fun to experience what a filmmaker like, say, Alex Garland (PLEASE) could do with this idea.

The Queen Mother, as seen in  Aliens: The Female War  (originally  Aliens: Earth War ). Art by John Bolton.

The Queen Mother, as seen in Aliens: The Female War (originally Aliens: Earth War). Art by John Bolton.

Travis Fimmel Cast in Ridley Scott’s New Sci-Fi TV Epic, Raised By Wolves

Ridley Scott is going back to Science Fiction. In what will be his first television series, Scott is adapting Raised By Wolves and has just cast Travis Fimmel (Vikings) in the one of the lead roles. The series will premiere on TNT. This is Scotts first foray back into the sci-fi genre since the underperforming ALIEN: Covenant was released in 2017.

More found at ScreenRant.


It's official: Alien: Blackout is a mobile game, and it's dropping January 24

by Patrick Greene

“Heeeeeyyyyyyyyy …”

“Heeeeeyyyyyyyyy …”

Fandom has been buzzing about what “Alien: Blackout” could mean ever since Fox applied for the trademark back in November. We’ve known about an in-development shooter from Cold Iron Studios for nearly a year now, and speculation about a sequel to the legendary Alien: Isolation has been running rampant for years.

And just days ago, Fox began releasing a series of teasers saying “Amanda Ripley” and “Read. Play. Watch.”

With the release of today’s official Alien: Blackout trailer, we know what the “play” stands for: a mobile game.

Developed by D3 Go in conjunction with FoxNext, Alien: Blackout is set to release on January 24th at a price of $4.99 (you can preorder it today on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon Appstore).

Wait: it’s a mobile game?

Yeah, it’s a mobile game. This is either totally “meh” news or completely devastating, depending on who you are and what you’ve been looking forward to. Speaking personally (this is Patrick’s opinion, not necessarily the opinion of PO in general), I think this is totally fine. Fox is being very clear that this is a small piece of a larger picture (they even highlight the “play” in “Read. Play. Watch.” at the end of that trailer). If this were the only thing happening in our franchise this year, I think it’d be pretty upsetting. But the reality is we still have a Cold Iron game in development (which looks from all angles to be a marquee-level enterprise on consoles, PC, etc.).

We’ve already spent years being consistently told that a direct sequel to Isolation isn’t happening (which is awful news, considering it’s an unimpeachable masterpiece). Fox isn’t marketing this as “the” Alien: Isolation sequel. It’s probably healthier in the longterm to look at this as a nice little side experience. If Creative Assembly announced last year that they were working on the official followup to Alien: Isolation, and then announced at a major event that it was mobile-only—this would be a different story. But as it stands, this is just a little side product that fits into the bigger picture and offers another chance to engage with Amanda Ripley.

To that end: the basic mechanic here is that we are playing the role of Amanda, who is guiding a crew through a crippled WY space station using emergency controls on a holographic map. Similar in appearance (and apparently in practice) to the “rewire system” sequences in Alien: Isolation (see below), the gist is that we’ll be making decisions about which doors to open, which resources to conserve, and which risks to take as we help this crew escape a xenomorph.

A rewiring sequence in Alien: Isolation

A rewiring sequence in Alien: Isolation

The control layout in Alien: Blackout

The control layout in Alien: Blackout

Another bit of personal opinion here: the best mobile games are the ones that feel built from the ground up for a mobile experience. A reason Pokémon Go is so popular is because it uses inherent strengths of mobile phones—their mobility—as a core mechanic. Angry Birds took off because it could be controlled easily with a single finger, and its design was simple enough to work cleanly and fluidly on basically any smartphone processor. The only mobile Alien game I play with any regularity is a freakin’ pinball game, and it’s brilliant because it is absolutely nothing more or less than what I want out of a mobile gaming experience. It’s a few pinball tables that I can pick up and play for ten minutes while waiting for the commuter train in the morning. I get a chance to immerse myself in Alien for a few minutes, and it’s just engaging enough to make me turn the music in my headphones off (but not so engaging I miss the train).

I personally think Alien: Blackout will work. The concept is simple, the functionality won’t strain processors, the mechanics don’t depend on dexterity (which goes to hell the second you play on a mobile device), and the game is relatively short but built to be replayable (seven levels, with different outcomes each time based on choices you make). In that way, it sounds quite a bit like that Offworld Simulator Amazon Echo game we reviewed last April: it’s simple, repayable, and fun, and it’s a chance to have a little more Alien in our lives.

What about “read” and “watch?”

We still have “read,” which could be the about-to-drop Aliens: Resistance (coming January 23, i.e. a day before Blackout releases). Resistance is set to star Amanda Ripley, so that’d make a lot of sense—and it’s closely tied to Aliens: Defiance, which was a hit for Dark Horse critically and commercially. There’s also an Isolation novelization coming from Keith R.A. DeCandido (which of course is another Amanda-centric product).

And “watch” could signify many, many, things, but will most likely center around the long-rumored streaming series. A film announcement is unlikely given the state of the Fox/Disney merger, and last year’s short-film competition entries are likely still in production, so a web series (animated or otherwise) would make quite a bit of sense.

All this is to say: there is A LOT coming this year for Alien fans. Whether or not you’re thrilled about Alien: Blackout, rest assured that this is the first of many upcoming announcements.

It’s going to be a banner year for us.

Even if it kicks off with a mobile game.

final note.

Check out what Patrick and Jaime have to say on the news in this exclusive Rumor Control Video Update episode.

Is It Real? Creating the World of Blade Runner 2049

Chris Menges of Weta Workshop. Tomas LeMarquis. Loren Peta as Rachael 2.0.

Chris Menges of Weta Workshop. Tomas LeMarquis. Loren Peta as Rachael 2.0.

Shoulder of Orion: The Blade Runner Podcast was granted exclusive access to major players in Denis Villenueve’s masterpiece, Blade Runner 2049. The information discussed in these interviews is not available anywhere else. Weta Workshop’s miniature team, featuring Steven Saunders, Joaquin Loyzaga, and Chris Menges (pictured above), along with Rachael 2.0 star Loren Peta, and Tomas LeMarquis who performed Wallace Corp’s File Clerk opposite Ryan Gosling’s Officer K. Each interview provides unfettered access to the top secret behind the scenes process that would bring Blade Runner 2049 to life.

Shoulder of Orion: The Blade Runner Podcast is the only Blade Runner podcast of its kind, offering heady discussion on the themes, characters and processes of both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. For access to our repertoire of episodes and discussions check out our main site or find our episodes through iTunes, Spotify, Podbean, TuneIn or Google Play.

Shoulder of Orion: The Blade Runner Podcast was formed in August of 2017. After not finding an outlet of discussion for the Blade Runner films, podcast founder Jaime Prater decided to answer the void with an official fan podcast covering all things Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049.

Jaime Prater


NETFLIX Releases First Images From New Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance First Photos Revealed!

On the 36th anniversary of the release of Jim Henson’s original masterpiece, The Dark Crystal, NETFLIX has finally released three character images of the new Gelfling characters set to take the audience through a ten hour series, which will drop in 2019.

Deet: A Gelfling

Deet: A Gelfling

Rian: A Gelfling

Rian: A Gelfling

Brea: A Gelfling

Brea: A Gelfling

This next info comes from

Gelfling Characters (in addition to Balfe and Domer)
Helena Bonham-Carter
Harris Dickinson
Eddie Izzard
Theo James
Toby Jones
Shazad Latif
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Mark Strong
Alicia Vikander

The Skeksis & Mystics (in addition to Hamill and Samberg)
Harvey Fierstein
Ralph Ineson
Jason Isaacs
Keegan-Michael Key
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson
Simon Pegg

Aughra will be voiced by:
Donna Kimball

Additional characters will also be voiced by puppeteers from the production, including Alice Dinnean, Louise Gold, Neil Sterenberg and Victor Yerrid.

As previously reported, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will take place “many years” before the events of the film. “When three Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, they set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.”

Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me, The Incredible Hulk) will executive produce and direct.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will combine the art of puppetry perfected by The Jim Henson Company, with Louis’ vision, powerful storytelling and a mix of cutting-edge digital imagery and visual effects,” Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content at Netflix, previously said in a statement. “I can’t wait for families around the world to see how we bring these unique characters to life.”

The Making of ALIEN: A New Book by J.W. Rinzler Releasing


by Jaime Prater

As ALIEN fans, there never seems to be enough material on the behind the scenes of an Alien film. 2019 marks the 40 year anniversary of release of Ridley Scott’s seminal science fiction film, ALIEN. In celebration of such a milestone Titan Books are about to release a new ‘making of’ book by author J.W. Rinzler.

“In 1979 a movie legend was born, as Twentieth Century-Fox and director Ridley Scott unleashed Alien and gave audiences around the world the scare of their lives.

To celebrate the movie’s fortieth anniversary, author J.W. Rinzler (The Making of Star Wars) tells the whole fascinating story of how Alien evolved from a simple idea in the mind of writer Dan O’Bannon into one of the most memorable sci-fi horror thrillers of all time.

With interviews with Ridley Scott and other key members of the original production crew, and featuring many never-before-seen photographs and artworks from the archives, The Making of Alien is the definitive work on this masterpiece of popular cinema.”

(write up from

The book has a scheduled release date of December 16th, 2018 in the UK. No word as of yet on a US release.

Leaks Save The Day: Behind the Scenes Image From Netflix' ‘Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance'

Puppeteers test out a state of the art Skeksis puppet.

Puppeteers test out a state of the art Skeksis puppet.

Since the announcement of a new ten hour prequel series, Netflix and The Jim Henson Company have been scant on details, offering no imagery, or footage despite the project having formally wrapped almost three months ago after nearly a full year of filming. Fandom has been uproarious in their desire to see something from the production. 

‘Resistance’ is unlike any other property that Netflix has produced because of its massive cult following and the fanbase that’s developed in the intervening years. The Dark Crystal, released in 1982, directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz is a film that has stood the test of time and is a religion unto itself, only finding acclaim and success because of fan devotion. 

While the leaked image of a Skeksis appears to be a screen test, it’s a welcome sight in what has been complete silence as the wait continues. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is slated for a 2019 release, with no formal release date given.

JM Prater for Perfect Organism


The Three Made One: Henson, Netflix and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance


Kira swoops down to grab The Shard. The Dark Crystal 1982.

Kira swoops down to grab The Shard. The Dark Crystal 1982.

Most people think they’ve seen Jim Henson’s 1982 masterpiece The Dark Crystal when you ask them about it. 

“Yeah, with Bowie right?” is the typical response until you start describing The Dark Crystal

“All puppets, no humans, fantasy, kind of like Lord of the Rings.” 

Surprisingly a lot of people won’t even know what you’re talking about. They know Jim Henson and the Muppets and Labyrinth, but when it comes to The Dark Crystal, the film that Jim Henson himself called “the one that I’m the most proud of” they draw a long blank.

The Dark Crystal, takes place in a mythical world, where no humans live, as two elf-like creatures called Gelflings set out on a quest to heal their land from a growing darkness. That’s the general setup. When the film premiered in 1982, (a watershed year for many films) it did so quietly, to financial disappointment. It would go on to garner a cult following being screened on VHS, and DVD in the years after it’s debut. 

1990 saw the death of Muppet mastermind and legend Jim Henson at the very young age of 53. With Henson’s death, original Henson films and projects would eventually slow down, leading to the subsequent selling of The Muppets to Disney for safekeeping. Fifteen years after Jim’s death, would come the announcement of Power of The Dark Crystal, a new sequel to the original film, utilizing puppetry and state-of-the-art digital imagery to bring the world of Thra back to life. 

Power of The Dark Crystal would never see the light of day as a film, despite onslaught the cult fan base of the original film would become over the news. The controversial sequel would spend nearly 13 years in development hell before releasing as a comic series in 2017. In the intervening years the Henson company, dutifully managed by Jim’s children would begin an ongoing celebration of The Dark Crystal, starting with fan films and writing contests. 

For some leaders in the small but loyal Dark Crystal fanbase, the consistent engagement of fans by the Henson company seemed to suggest something else was happening. 

“It was very surprising seeing the engagement from The Jim Henson Company and fans of The Dark Crystal with the launch of and having contests with writing, drawing and even film making as well. When the author quest was announced with plans of having Dark Crystal novels, there was some hope of big things to come, though we as fans never imagined what would come on May 2017”

Philip Mitchell, founder and host of Trial By Stone: The Dark Crystal Podcast. 

Kira atop a Landstrider. The Dark Crystal 1982.

Kira atop a Landstrider. The Dark Crystal 1982.

In May of 2017, Netflix announced a  ten hour prequel series to Henson’s The Dark Crystal. Aptly titled The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, the series will tell the events that would eventually lead up to the final journey as played out by the characters in the 1982 original. 

Jim Henson went on record stating that 

“The story itself doesn’t lend itself to a sequel,” (said Henson matter-of-factly). “You can tell another story in the same world, but the [DARK CRYSTAL] story itself is complete.”

Initially pitched as an computer generated animated prequel series, Netflix insisted that The Henson Company re-pitch the film with traditional puppets. The announcement video for Age of Resistance features elements from the video that  The Jim Henson Company pitched. 

For the fans of the original Dark Crystal film, Age of Resistance won’t be just another Netflix series. 

Philip Mitchell goes on to say,

"It's incredible, Netflix is taking  a very big gamble on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The announcement was unexpected and welcome. For fans of the collaboration with The Jim Henson Company and Netflix to bring the world of Thra to life. The only reason the (Netflix) show exists is because of the fans, whether they're artists, filmmakers or even involved on official Dark Crystal material with Age of Resistance, they've made it happen, and I'm honored to be a part of The Dark Crystal community with my podcast"

What has to be generally admitted and remembered by both the Jim Henson Company and Netflix is the fans are the reason Dark Crystal found an other (and profitable) life on home video. It’s been the decades long dedication to the film by the fans that has brought us to the now year long wait until the series premieres. 


Netflix has given 2019 as a general year of release, at the time of this writing, no set release month or date has been offered. What appeared to have been a mistake on the part of Netflix was the publishing of initial voice actors involved in the show, Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter), Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars) and Caitriona Balfe (Outlander). The information was quickly removed, but not before a user took a screen shot. Actor Jason Isaacs recently tweeted about his voice work on Age of Resistance further fueling speculation as to who is all involved. Isaacs would later delete his tweet. 

A now deleted tweet by Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs

A now deleted tweet by Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs


With the exception an image of a crystal seen on a promotional poster for the Netflix and Chills panel event for the 2018 New York Comic Con, there’s not been one still, one piece of concept, or related artwork revealed publicly by The Henson Company or Netflix


Netflix heavily promoted their Age of Resistance panel at the NYC Comic Con which featured series director Louis Letterrier and Lisa Henson. When the panel was over, Lisa and Louis spoke all of eleven minutes, and seemed to be unsure what to actually say.  The takeaway from the panel was that the series was being shot on Vista Vision, and that no CGI would be involved whatsoever, with the exception of the removal of wires and puppeteers, which Lisa assured the audience, was to give a more believable motion to the puppets. At the end of panel a two minute behind the scenes sizzle reel was screened to the handful of people who were present, and that was it. The heavily promoted panel didn’t really have much to offer. If you tuned in via SyFy Wire’s livestream of the panel, you would’ve seen the feed cut when the footage went live. 

So now, the fans wait, for something. Next on the horizon is Faerie-Con 2018 that promises to be a celebration of The Dark Crystal with several panels exploring the film, and two panels devoted to Age of Resistance, with the longest one being hosted by Dark Crystal and Jim Henson Royalty, Wendy Froud, and her son Toby Froud (the baby in Labyrinth). If that name sounds familiar, the patriarch of the Froud family is Brian Froud, the conceptual artist behind both The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Age of Resistance. Toby and Wendy will be hosting a near two hour Making of The Age of Resistance’ panel where they dive in to how the new series was brought to life. 

A crew shirt from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

A crew shirt from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance


The Dark Crystal released in 1982, after being in development since the mid-seventies. The film took a full six months to film. Age of Resistance wrapped a full year of filming in November, 2018. To make a series like this involved over 35 sets to be built, ranging in sizes and shapes so that puppeteers can properly maneuver within the environments without being seen. The amount of production, set building, prop-making and sheer number of puppeteers sourced for the film makes Age of Resistance the largest puppet endeavor of any kind produced for an audience. If successful, it will blend seamlessly into the world that Jim Henson brought to life, while building upon the myth that he helped to create. 

Puppets built for Power of the Dark Crystal

Puppets built for Power of the Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is the literal passing on of the legacy of Jim Henson’s most prized and revered project. Fans and audiences everywhere wait with bated breath in hopes that the ten hour show will live up to the hype, while maintaining the legacy of a man that the world owes for the ongoing presence of Muppets and puppets in our lives. If Age of Resistance will succeed, it will be because of the efforts of the fans that have supported the original film from day one. Time will tell. 

by JM Prater

JM occasionally co-hosts Trial By Stone: The Dark Crystal Podcast

JM is the founder and host of Perfect Organism: The ALIEN Saga Podcast

Shoulder of Orion: The Blade Runner Podcast

@soundgoasunder on Twitter

Director of No Place To Call Home 2014 (documentary)

Musings of a Luvstruck Mind

by Iain Souter

I find Luv a truly tragic character. While I grieve for Joe, at the movie’s end, my heart breaks for Luv. She is Ariel and Caliban, both, to Wallace’s perversion of Prospero. A truly tortured being, a demigod child raised by a parent who is emotionally abusive to the Nth degree, fracturing her psyche and creating a monster. The glimpses of her vulnerability and inner torment - the eye twitch and the lone tear - are utterly convincing. In a thirty year career, I specialised as a detective in cases involving physical and sexual abuse, and of children, in particular. I always think of a seven year old boy, who had been raped by another boy - a teenager - who spoke quietly to me, in a monotone, which didn’t alter in pitch or intensity once, as he described exactly what was done to him. His face was frozen as his voice, emotionless and still, except for the tears, which fell constantly from his eyes, for over thirty minutes. He was entirely unaware of the fact that he was even crying, his emotional trauma was so great.

That is why I find her such a terribly sad character.  When Joe kills her at the end, it’s an act of mercy, of release. The way he gently strokes her cheek, after releasing her throat, tells me that he knew this also.


It also resonates with me that Wallace calls her the best of all his “angels”.  I had a very Catholic upbringing. Catechism, mass, communion, confession and more catechism, on a daily basis, even before the school began (the school was affixed to the church, and more than half our teachers were jesuits and nuns).  It was always instilled in me that biblically speaking, angels are not the fluffy guardians who shield us from all harm, if we have the right colour crystals and our chakras are in harmony with their “true names”.  They were the messengers of God, and as such, they were truly terrible, both in aspect and character. When these swords of god were sent, plagues swept the land, or else nations fell, firstborns died, cities were blasted to ashes and even the faithful were turned to salt for disobeying a single command. They swept the world of life, for their God, bringing the rains. They are said to be the ones who shall unleash the end of all things, breaking the seals that unleash the Beast. They are not merciful beings. They have no souls - that gift was given to Man, and Man alone. This is from a Biblical point of view, of course, not a personal one.

So when Wallace speaks of his angels, and of Luv being the best of them all, and when she is clearly such a destructive and tremendously damaged character, wreaking death in the very heart of the police station, not once but twice? Yes, I’d agree with Wallace. HIS creations ARE meant to be angels. Swords of God, perfect in every way that he wishes them to be. Soulless, devoid of conscience, bred to obey him utterly and to bring him the stars and all the worlds beyond - and, I believe, somewhere along the way, help fulfil his yearning for godhood and possibly even immortality, through them.


Luv is all that, and more; the distillation of the same savagery, which drove Batty in a killing spree through the the colonies, across the galaxy, and back to his flawed manipulative creator. While Joe represents the light side of Batty, which evolved from his feelings - his love - for Pris and his fellows, Luv is that darker side. While she echoes Rachael in appearance and playfully silken tones, she is Wallace’s sword, through and through, striking down any and all who get in the way of the quest to unlock the puzzle that maddens her creator and holds him back. He might as well be the hand striking Coco, or wielding the blade that ends Joshi and, ultimately, Joe. She is his creature, more effectively collared than any dog - regardless of how her childish ego has to demean and diminish this male competitor to her title.  This is why she lets him live, in Vegas, I believe. Because he has been brought to heel by someone fit to be his mistress - a better, matchless perfect servant of their Creator.  “Still the best”.  She forgets him, almost as soon as she turns from his unconscious body.  While her intention might, conceivably have been to let him die slowly, I believe the contrary.  This is a creature who has developed a taste for killing up close, in an intensely personal way.  Stabbing someone to death is an almost sexual act, providing a leave of gratification which simply cannot be felt by killing from afar.  While she clearly uses the drone to relieve her ennui, and thereby assist the hound they have loosed upon the trail of Rachael’s child, her face comes alive only when she strikes up close - the perfect, beautiful mask dropping, then, to reveal the savage lurking beneath the surface.  Caliban unleashed. 

Her childlike rage, the screeching, gurgling tantrum, when she realises, finally, that she has been bested by this same hound, is truly awful to watch.  It’s as mesmerising, as it is repulsive and tragic, all at once.  Euthanising a savage beautiful creature, which never stood a chance and never chose to be the way she has been moulded.

She breaks my heart, every single time.

It’s an incredible performance, by Sylvia Hoeks.  For me, it’s unquestionably the standout of the movie.


The Special Effects Studio Behind Alien is Releasing Their First Behind the Scenes Picture Book

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

Written by Christopher Moonlight, The Making of Harbinger Down: A Pictorial Journey Through the Production of a Practical Effects film is a photographic tour through the production of Harbinger Down, the film that set out to prove that audiences still prefer practical effects creatures over CGI. 

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

After finding their animatronic creations left on the cutting room floor one too many times in favor of digitally animated monsters and spurred on by the outcry of movie fans everywhere to keep it real, studioADI co-founders Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. decided to take matters into their own hands. 

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

The result was the #1 highest crowdfunding for a sci-fi/horror movie in history. Now, you can take a look behind the scenes of this unprecedented coming together of movie fans, filmmakers, and movie stars like Lance Henriksen, as they put forth their passion, experience, and can do spirit, to create what was not just a movie but a once in a lifetime event.

Perfect for aspiring filmmakers and sci-fi/horror fans, alike.

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

Courtesy of studioADI

Pre-orders open on Special Edition Eaglemoss Power Loader


Anyone who's ordered from Eaglemoss knows they do quality sculpts at very reasonable prices, so this just-revealed P-5000 is one to seriously consider.

It's 7.5 inches tall, crafted from metallic resin, and features a base that does just the right amount of storytelling.

Check it out on their website!


Nostalgia alert: the Alien 3 Pixel Art Funko Pop! is officially available


We first saw a preview of this adorable guy last month; now, at long last, we can blow some money on it.

For many of us, the Genesis/SNES-era Alien 3 game was a formative Alien experience. Combining addictive platforming action with some badass art and music, Probe Software's game was eventually ported to everything from the Commodore 64 to the Game Boy.

Now, this 16-bit stalwart is gracing the seemingly infinite Funko Pop! vinyl line with its presence. Technically a repaint of the (also very cool) "8-bit" xenomorph, this Alien 3 version contains the same tricolor scheme we saw on that similarly awesome NECA runner variant from a few years back. 

It's only available through Entertainment Earth, so pick one up while you can!

Check out (and preorder) this insanely beautiful Big Chap ring!


PSYCHO MONSTERZ is a wonderful repository of weird and beautiful collectibles, and this latest piece (developed in collaboration with JAP, INC; crafted by TORCH TORCH; sculpted by Wataru Mishima; and distributed through the ever awesome Sideshow Collectibles) is a true work of art.

Measuring just under two inches in length, the xenomorph's head sculpt is deeply faithful to Giger's original. And unlike some of those "other" Alien jewelry pieces we've all wasted money on through the years, this one's cast in actual silver and is heirloom quality.


Preorders are open now, and the rings will be shipping later this year. They cost $475, which is quite reasonable considering the build quality and detailed sculpt.

If you pick one up, send us some photos when they arrive!

Perfect Organism Celebrates the Release of New Alien Saga Audio Drama

Proximity - generic brand.jpg


Where to listen:

In-universe Story Combines Acting, Sound Design, and Original Music to Tell the Story of Two Colonists Trapped in Hadley's Hope Shortly Before the Events of Aliens

Los Angeles, CA: Perfect Organism, the leading Alien saga-dedicated podcast on the internet, is celebrating the culmination of nearly a year of work with the release of an original audio drama written and directed by the show's founder, JM Prater. Titled Proximity: Last Stand at Hadley's Hope, the nearly hour-long piece is an immersive jump into what it might have felt like to be inside the Hadley's Hope colony on Acheron as everything fell apart and the xenomorphs overtook the colony. Focusing on two characters—the brother-and-sister team of Aaron and Anne Andrews—the story focuses on something integral to the Alien universe: isolation.

"I am continually interested in how humans deal when in extraordinary circumstances," Prater reflected. "Isolation is something I experienced as a child, while growing up in one of America’s last hippie communes. It’s an experience I continue to process as an adult." He also drew inspiration from historical events. "I’ve always been fascinated with the story of the Donner Party, that group of pioneers who disappeared in the mountains on their way to California while facing some of the darkest decisions mankind will ever face," Prater said. "I see the colonists of Hadley’s Hope similarly."

Patrick Greene, who plays Aaron Andrews, noted that this focus on character is what gives the drama its narrative thrust. "Ultimately, it's about people," Greene said. "It's about two people at the ass-end of the universe running from a cascading series of nightmares. But the fact that we stay with these two people from the beginning of the story to the end means that we start to see through their eyes. We experience these extraordinary events like they're happening to us. By the end of the piece, our pulse is racing because it feels like we're the ones being pursued." 

In addition to performing as Aaron, Greene composed the orchestral score and collaborated with Prater on the sound design. "Our priority from the very beginning was immersion," Greene said. "We structured the soundscape very deliberately from the start. It had to feel real. We wanted the listener to close her eyes and feel like she could almost smell the condensation on the tunnel walls."

Both Prater and Greene are lifelong Alien universe obsessives, and that passion shines through the piece. "What I think is important is retaining the mystery of the disappearance of the colonists, while telling a possible story of a few people in the colony during the alien infestation," Prater said. "Proximity: Last Stand At Hadley’s Hope is that story."

About Perfect Organism: Since its inception in 2015, Perfect Organism has been the premiere Alien saga podcast on the internet. Cohosts JM Prater, Ryan Zeid, Patrick Greene, Dave Gogel, and Mykal McCulloch dive deeply into all aspects of the venerable franchise: the lore, the history, the cinematographic and technical achievements, the soundtracks, the characters, and much more. In 2017, Perfect Organism branched out into Blade Runner fandom with a sister show: Shoulder of Orion: The Blade Runner Podcast. More information about all aspects of the Perfect Organism universe can be found at

Ghosts of Arceon: Tales from a Wooden World

Note: This is a blog post adaptation of Ep. 69 of Perfect Organism. To listen to the episode—which includes lots of interview audio, music, etc.—please click here. If you would like a copy of the script, you can access it here, for free.

by Patrick Greene

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

The history of film is full of ghosts. Ghosts of stories that never got made because they were too ambitious, or too expensive, or too weird. Too new. Too old. Too different.

In the late 1960s, Stanley Kubrick poured all of his considerable talent and stamina into a nearly 150-page treatment for a film on Napoleon. It would’ve called for 30,000 extras, and it would’ve cost more than the gross domestic product of some small nations. But he was coming right off the heels of the Oscar-winning 2001: A Space Odyssey, and he was the hot young talent in Hollywood. MGM tried to make the financials work, but ultimately passed. United Artists decided to explore the project, but got spooked when Rod Steiger’s Waterloo bombed at the box office. Ultimately, Kubrick was unwilling to compromise his vision—or his budget—and the project evaporated into the musty closets of history.

In the mid-nineties, Superman was everywhere—thanks largely to the infamous “Death of Superman” comics arc. Seeking to capitalize on this zeitgeist moment, Warner Brothers hired Kevin Smith to write a screenplay. The story, which he titled Superman Lives, looked to be a surefire hit. At Smith’s suggestion, the studio hired Tim Burton to direct the project. And to play their leading man, the studio signed none other than Nicholas Cage. Things were looking good for a release timed with the 60th anniversary of Superman’s first comic appearance. And then everything fell apart. A series of script rewrites ruined the cohesion of the original story. Burton, feeling like the project was stagnating, moved on to direct Sleepy Hollow. The script went through another two rewrites, and eventually the anniversary passed and everyone just sort of moved on.

But my favorite unfilmed script—my favorite Hollywood ghost—is a fantastical tale that a New Zealand director dreamt into life on an overseas flight about a vast wooden satellite filled with monks and candles and nightmares.

This is the story of Vincent Ward and John Fasano’s Alien III.

An unlikely hero

Things were not looking good for the third franchise installment by the late 1980s. The production had just lost its director, Renny Harlin, who would go on to direct Die Hard 2. The Gibson days were long gone, and the bones of those early scripts were settling into the cold earth.

But then David Giler happened to see a crazy feature out of New Zealand called The Navigator: An Odyssey Across Time. It was about a band of 14th-century villagers seeking to escape the Black Death, and it featured a hell of a plot twist, and it'd gotten a five-minute standing ovation at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.

Giler, thinking he might've just found Hollywood's next big thing, got in touch with the filmmaker: a New Zealander named Vincent Ward.

Ward had spent much of his time post-Navigator on a new film called Map of the Human Heart. Things hadn't been going well. As he told The Independent in a 1993 interview:

At the time I was working on Map with my co-writer. I was broke, I'd spent a lot of money on going to the Arctic and interviewing anthropologists and dam-buster bomber pilots, and we were driving each other crazy. I was living in this basement in Australia, and the phone call came and I turned it down. But then they rang me back and said, 'We'll send you the script anyway.' I read it, I said no again. And then they rang me back a third time, and said, 'You can change the script if you like.' Well, by this time that basement was driving me crazy, so I said yes just to get out.

The script he's referring to, of course, was David Twohy's prison story.

So Ward got on a plane to Los Angeles and started thinking about what a new Alien film could look like. He'd been immersed in medieval imagery for the previous few years, having wrapped Navigator and written a book on the same time period called Edge of the Earth. Somewhere over the Pacific, these aesthetics began to merge with his understanding of the elements that made the previous two Alien films so successful, and an idea began to take shape.

By the time he'd landed at LAX, he had a story. With the help of John Fasano, an accomplished screenwriter and weapons expert, that story became a script they called Alien III.

The story

It begins inside a monastic glassworks. Light is playing off the dark walls; fire from molten liquid. By all appearances, it is the Middle Ages.

Brother John—a clear corollary to the character we'd eventually come to know as Clemens—is tending to the wounds of an injured monk. A monk named Brother Kyle sings a mocking song about how Brother John can always be counted on to administer aid to others, but can't fix his own problems.

Brother John emerges early on as the protagonist. He makes his way to the enormous library with his dog, Mattias. The Abbot—a character who'd eventually transform into Superintendent Andrews—allows Brother John to enter the library because he is using the knowledge he acquires there to keep the population of monks healthy, and the official Abbey Physician, Father Anselm, had recently died.

Brother John and Mattias the dog leave the library and take a journey through the abbey. We are then treated to a series of dramatic reveals, as the true nature of this wooden world comes to light.

From the script:

The door has opened onto the surface of a planetoid!

The curving horizon broken only by the very top of the Abbey bell tower poking through the levels below. Smoke curls from vents set into the surface. Sunken areas of the planet's surface are seas.

This is Arceon. A man-made orbiter. A shell of lightweight foamed steel, five miles in diameter.

Constructed by The Company on Special Order, with the habitable levels within finished in whatever material suits its end user.

John and Mattias stop for awhile on the exterior of this enormous satellite. They watch the cosmos by the shore of an artificial lake on the planetoid's surface. And then, this monk and his dog see something strange in the sky.

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

There is a star that stands out. It's brighter than the others, and it's moving quickly enough to be dragging a slight tail behind it—almost like a comet. And it appears to be moving towards them.

Other monks come out to watch the strange star. Over the course of a few days, three hundred monks have come out to rim the lake with Brother John and Mattias. The comet is getting closer. It's surrounded with fire. It is going to land on their floating abbey.

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

The comet smashes into the lake. Brother John hops into a small boat and furiously paddles out to see what it is. What he finds is an EEV—something unlike anything he's ever seen before. The monks, you see, are Luddites. They have shunned all forms of modern technology. It might as well have been a dragon landing in a medieval fortress.

In some ways, it is.

Brother John pries open the hatch and climbs in. He finds a complete mess of blood and torn fabrics, and the head of a child's doll. He also finds two cryotubes: one is destroyed, and one contains Ripley, who is alive.

The idea of killing of Hicks and Newt at the beginning of the film—arguably the most controversial and hotly debated aspect of Alien 3 as we eventually received it—originated here, in Ward's script. It was his idea. He wanted to clear away the baggage of the previous films—including Newt, whom he found "annoying"—and start afresh. He was still very interested in the ideas of parental bonds, as we'll see later in the story. But he wanted to explore those ideas from new angles, and felt killing Newt and Hicks off right at the beginning would set the story up to start with a clean slate.

Anyway, the monks are completely dumbfounded by the technology. It is completely alien to them. They manage to gather themselves enough to pull Ripley out of the wreckage, but not before Brother John finds a distress message Ripley had left before entering cryosleep. She says that the Sulaco was completely overrun with xenomorphs, prompting her to find an escape vehicle for herself and Newt. Hicks and Bishop, she says, were killed in the xeno struggle.

We are then treated to another early nightmare sequence à la Aliens. Ripley is laying in bed, recuperating. Brother John is in the room with her, keeping watch. Without warning, a xenomorph appears. It caresses her abdomen, cocking its head like a dog. Ripley screams and realizes it was all a terrible dream.

Eventually she recovers enough to make some sense of her surroundings; unfortunately for Ripley, the surroundings themselves make very little sense. She sees vast fields filled with monks working the land; she sees fishermen piloting small vessels across tiny lakes; she sees teams of workers building cottages out of wood and nails.

But she also sees enormous scaffolding, and realizes the monks on top of it are painting the sky.

She realizes that this whole world is inside the planetoid. The curved ceiling, which has enormous windows to let natural light inside, is actually the underside of the interior of the planetoid.

The Abbot then appears, followed by Brother John. We are quickly brought up to speed. From the script: "This is the Minorite Abbey within the man-made orbiter Arceon."

Ripley asks for a radio, and the Abbot replies that they have no radio, as they are "a monastic order that has renounced all modern technology. We live the old way. The pure way."

Ripley inquires about Newt, only to find out she hadn't survived the crash. Ripley had been the only living thing found on the ship.

Ripley then realizes that she must have brought a xenomorph with her. She panics, grabbing the monk's cassock. She tells him she has brought a monster with her, and it's been running free since she crash-landed nearly two days earlier. The monk looks at her, according to the script, "the way you'd look at that guy on the corner of Santa Monica and 3rd who's babbling about judgment day."

She calms herself down, explaining that she'd been on a mission to LV426 with a platoon of Colonial Marines. She says they'd left Earth six months to a year ago. The Abbot tells her this is impossible, and then lays out the background of where and (somewhat) when they are: From the script:

When we left Earth seventy years ago, it was on the brink of a New Dark Age. Technology was on the verge of destroying the planet's environment. A computer virus was threatening to wipe away all recorded knowledge. There didn't seem to be any way it could be averted. In the almost forty years since we were towed out here in hypersleep, the news that came with occasional supply ships only got worse. Finally, the ships stopped coming. We had to resign ourselves to the fact that worst had come to pass, and the Earth no longer existed.

Ripley decides she's getting nowhere with this insane conversation, and tries to refocus the Abbot on the danger a xenomorph would pose to the men in the colony. He dismisses her as having a "troubled mind," and leaves her in a locked room patrolled by two burly monks. No one—including Brother John, whose room it is—is allowed to enter.

Concept art by Mike Worrall

Concept art by Mike Worrall

Later on that night, a frantic monk wakes Brother John (who had been sleeping in the library) and tells him that one of his sheep—Sandy—is sick. Brother John grabs his medical kit and heads to the barn. Sandy is convulsing uncontrollably. Horrified, the two monks watch helplessly as an infant alien explodes out of the sheep. Here we get a trope which will show up in the Runner of Fincher's Alien 3 (and more extensively in the aborted Operation: Aliens cartoon): the alien "shows the characteristics of the animal in which it has gestated." The creature has an elongated xenomorph head, but is also covered in downy wool. It walks on all fours, and has black, glass-like eyes.

Sandy's owner, hysterical, attacks the creature with a pitchfork. A fire breaks out after acid blood sprays onto dry straw, and the burn is quickly engulfed in flame. The monk pushes the alien deeper into the fire with his pitchfork, and it is consumed. It dies with a half-sheep, half-xenomorphic wail.

We then cut to a tribunal. The Abbot and his governance team are charging Ripley with bringing "evil" to Arceon. She uses this opportunity to once again attempt to warn the gathered assembly of the true extent of the danger, but she is quickly shut up and sentenced to solitary imprisonment. The monks think she is aiding the devil and lying to them. She is locked in a cell in the bowels of Arceon.

Brother John, believing Ripley is worth listening to, uses a secret passage to get to her at the bottom of the planet.

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

We then get one of the great unfilmed shock scenes in the whole Alien Saga. The Abbot and an unnamed member of his tribunal are using the stalls in a bathroom shortly after the trial lets out. Suddenly, an alien—it's unclear where exactly this particular one came from—grabs the tribunal member through a hole in the ground and drags him under the floor.

The plumbing—the sinks, the toilets, etc.—all emit an eruption of gore as the monk is slaughtered.

Meanwhile, as Brother John and Mattias are still making their way to the subterranean cells, Ripley learns she's not alone. There is an android named Anthony on the other side of the wall, and they're able to converse through a hole. As with everything in this script, there is more to Anthony than one might initially think.

Brother John finds them, and the three of them escape into the dark corridors. We're then treated to another series of cascading revelations: Anthony was a spy who'd been planted on the colony by The Company. Anthony tells them what the true nature of Arceon is: it's not a monastic paradise, but a prison for countercultural exiles.

It turns out the Earth had been crippled by that computer virus the Abbot had mentioned, which was called the New Plague. Data was being erased on a global scale, and an emergent Luddite-like movement started to emerge. The monks on Arceon had started as members of that movement encamped on a retreat on Earth. Thousands began to join their cause, and The Company—realizing that the mass abandonment of worldy possessions would be bad for business—used their control of world government to sentence the monks to expuslion for political dissidence. They built Arceon and peopled it with ten thousand members of the order. It was initially kept running by regular supply ship visits, but they eventually stopped. At this point, Anthony revealed his true nature, and was banished to the bowels of the wooden world.

We also learn more about Arceon itself: it's split into three main sections. A Heaven, a sea, and a Hell (where Ripley and Anthony had been held). Anthony tells them that there is also a technology room where the live-sustaining elements of the satellite are housed. They decide to head there, thinking it might be their best bet for figuring out how to deal with the xenomorph problem.

Concept art by Vincent Ward

Concept art by Vincent Ward

She also feels something moving in her chest for the first time.

The action shifts back to the Heaven setting, which has become one of the most vivid depictions of Hell I've ever read about. We see the Abbot. He is completely covered in blood. The world is on fire. Fields of wheat are ablaze, and monks are frantically trying to escape the conflagration. Within one of the burning fields, we see the alien. It has adapted the ability to camoflouge with its surroundings, and it attacks the monks with astonishing ferocity. Slicing them apart like "a scythe through wheat." As the blood-drenched Abbot shivers in terror, the xenomorph emerges from the wheat field. It's nine feet tall, and it's colored like golden straw.

Concept art by Mike Worrall

Concept art by Mike Worrall

Back to the quartet, still making their way to the technology room. Ripley is beginning to think the alien onboard the EEV somehow impregnated her with an embryo. Anthony has a vision of Boschian demons. It is his programming regurgitating. He is old and afflicted—a shadow of what he once was.

They come across the Abbot, who somehow survived the wheat field. He leads them to the technology room, which is completely covered in bear traps. They trigger the traps with wood and make their way to the entrance.

Suddently, the alien leaps out. Anthony gets caught in a bear trap, and the alien sprays acid over him from its mouth. They manage to free Anthony and gain access to the technology room, locking the alien outside.

And here we get another remarkable reveal: the technology room is full of windmills. Enormous windmills. And nothing else. No electronics. No circuitry.

Windmills similar to the ones in the technology room, but in public areas of Arceon. Concept art by Stephen Ellis.

Windmills similar to the ones in the technology room, but in public areas of Arceon. Concept art by Stephen Ellis.

The only things keeping the colony alive are plants and wind. It is exactly as primitive as it appears to be. The planetoid was designed to be a slow death trap. The monks would slowly suffocate as the atmosphere decayed over years and years. The available oxygen would be depleted.

And nothing eats oxygen quite like fire.

And their small wooden world was burning.

Suddenly, the Abbot starts acting like he's having a seizure. Gibberish is erupting from his mouth. And then his head explodes.

Atop this headless monk is a headburster, and it is pissed off. It grabs the Abbot's exposed spinal cord and guides the headless body towards Ripley, who smashes it across the room with a staff Anthony had been carrying. It escapes into the corridors.

Ripley realizes she has certainly been impregnated, but decides not to tell her companions.

She also realizes that their only way out of this nightmare is to find her EEV. Anthony, having suffered tremendous damage, stays behind. Ripley, Brother John, and Mattias make for the EEV, and Anthony is destroyed once and for all by the xenomorph after they leave.

They make it to the library, but get caught by the enraged xenomorph. They fight the creature, inadvertently starting another acid fire—this time, the fire eats through the wooden floor of the library and reveals the molten ocean of the glassworks below.

Ripley, Brother John, and Mattias manage to avoid falling into the liquid glass, but the xeno isn't so lucky. Just like Fincher's Alien 3, though, the creature survives the heat and leaps out to attack our protagonists. Ripley, in a moment of genius, opens a dump tank and the alien is covered in cold water. It explodes in a moment of thermal trauma.

They realize all of the dead monks are going to be hatching bursters soon, so they need to hurry. Ripley decides to tell Brother John the dark truth: she herself is impregnated with an alien embryo.

He decides to perform an overtly sexualized "exorcism" on her, forcing the alien out by straddling her body and pounding her chest. He covers her mouth with his, a sort of fatal kiss, and the alien embryo passes through into his body. He tells Mattias to stay with Ripley, and walks back into the flaming Abbey. He is burned to death, taking the monster with him.

She and Mattias make it to the EEV and pilot it off the surface of the planetoid. She puts the dog into cryosleep. She spots a note Brother John had written. In the note, which is sort of a final will and testament, he says he believes Ripley was right about there still being an Earth to go home to. Ripley reflects, in voice over, that regardless of whether the EEV makes it home, she's found some measure of peace.

Then the screen goes black, the credits roll, and we get a crazy little bonus line: a teenager, "in the back of the movie theater," shouts, "It's in the dog!"

Another one bites the dust

So, what happened?

Right away, there were complaints about the wooden planet. From a technical standpoint, it would've been extremely difficult to produce. But also presented some nearly unanswerable—or at least very difficult to explain—scientific questions. Like, how could an artificial planetoid that's only a few miles from top to bottom sustain a six-foot-tall atmosphere that would allow monks to spend days laying by a surface lake? How could a closed system sustain that much life for that long with no life-support technology?

Tremendously creative, if a little impractical. Concept art by Stephen Ellis.

Tremendously creative, if a little impractical. Concept art by Stephen Ellis.

And even though Ward clarified in multiple places that the planetoid itself wasn't made of wood—it was only clad in it—it was still a constant source of confusion on set. As David Giler reflected:

We went back and forth about the wooden planet and the monks ... Look, fine, we like the wooden planet. Just tell me how it got there, and what it's doing there, and how it hasn't rotted away ... What is it doing in space? How was it built? What's sustaining it? ... The more you went into it, the more you just said 'No, never mind.'

There were also, as we'll explore momentarily, some pretty big problems with the script that needed to be addressed. One of the most glaring issues was Ripley's dialogue, which Sigourney Weaver felt was entirely wrong for the character.

The tricky thing about writing a character like Ripley is that one of the first instincts is to write like some kind of butch gym instructor. And she's really, I think, a lot cooler than that.

And it wasn't just the dialogue. The whole character feels "off." She says virtually nothing for the first 32 pages of the script that isn't a variation on 'You guys are so screwed right now, but you aren't listening to me!' I mean, she's right. And she should be warning them. But there are under a hundred pages total in the treatment, and she spends nearly half of them just yelling about how everyone's an idiot and should be listening to what she's warning them about. In the Fincher script, she goes through the same basic sequence of events—crash landing, being ignored even though she's correct, bonding with a man who administers medical care, realizing she is carrying an embryo, and bringing about a series of events that result in the embryo being destroyed—but she is given much more nuance. The dialogue feels like it was written for that character played by that actress. In the Ward/Fasano script, it does eventually get there—especially as she and Brother John become closer—but the overall impression is that the character wasn't accurate.

Anyway, to make a long story short, it became quickly apparent to all involved that this wasn't going to work out. The studio was already under a huge amount of budgetary and temporal pressure to get this project moving, and Ward was unwilling to sacrifice control of his vision in service of the Hollywood studio system.

By the time they got into pre-production in England, things began to fall apart once and for all. Giler, again:

David and I and this writer (Ward) went to London, and we got a draft of the script and everybody walked off and said they weren't going to do it. By now we were building sets and there had been a considerable amount of money invested in it.

Indeed, entire sections of the wooden planetoid—including portions of the Abbey—had already been constructed. And because Brandywine, Fox, et al. were already feeling the pressure of these constant rewrites and staffing changes, and because they had already committed considerable financial resources to the project by this point, they decided to just keep much of what had been built. That's why, if you look closely while watching the Fincher film, you'll occasionally see Gothic arches and church accoutrements lining the prison sets.

And now most of the creative staff were assembled in London and actively at work on a film that was, once again, without a director or a creative direction. As Alec Gillis of ADI reflected:

The production essentially shut down while the script was being finished. So we were kind of there, you know? What do we work on? What do we do?

Of course, what they did was rewrite Ward's script by cobbling together ideas from other script proposals (like Twohy's), fixing the dialogue, finding David Fincher, having him modify the script they'd Frankensteined into being, and making the theatrical cut of Alien 3 under extraordinarily stressful production conditions.

What could've been

Before I get into all the things I love about Ward's vision for the third Alien film, let me be clear: Ward and Fasano's Alien III is a complete work of genius that, had it gone into production with the script undergoing no further rewrites, would've been a genuinely awful Alien film.

Aside from the obvious problems with Ripley's dialogue, there are some pretty glaring issues. For one thing, it's unclear how the egg ended up on the Sulaco (a pretty major omission from the Fincher film as well). It's also not at all clear where the xenomorphs on the planetoid came from—the sheepomorph was killed in the barn fire, and within a very short span of time a nine-foot tall chameleon alien is towering over the monks.

There are also problems with the film's treatment of androids. Some of these are expositionally penciled over with some facile explanations like Anthony being a different generation of synthetic, but the problems are more fundamental that that. Why is he old? Why is he senile? Why does he get mortally wounded by the acid blood? Why is he having nightmares?

And similar to the problems with Ripley's character, the treatment of the xenomorph itself is complicated-bordering-on-inaccurate. It's remarked at least three or four times that the creature seems to have "a vendetta" against Ripley. Its purpose, it seems, isn't to set up a viable hive, considering it's spraying everything in acid and burning the whole planetoid to the ground. It's also making little-to-no effort to cocoon any living hosts, acting more like a murderous psychopath than a drone or a world-building member of an any colony. And the headburster device, which is completely without precedent elsewhere in any Alien material, seems like a deus ex machina designed to explain how this bloodthirsty serial killing xenomorph could also be impregnating hosts. But even then, it's never explained how any of this happens.

One of my personal favorite xeno illustrations is this piece of concept art by Mike Worrall, created for the Ward film. Note the logarithmic spiral of the tail section.

One of my personal favorite xeno illustrations is this piece of concept art by Mike Worrall, created for the Ward film. Note the logarithmic spiral of the tail section.

Also, although there are hundreds of monks on Arceon, only a handful of them have speaking parts. Aside from Brother John and the Abbot, Brother Kyle has a few lines (and they're actual very memorable, suggesting Kyle gradually grew into the beloved Dillon character in the Fincher film). There are a couple of brief interjections from characters with names like "Bald Monk" and "Burly Monk 2," but other than that there is very little development of minor characters. And while that's certainly an issue in the Fincher film as well, the Alien 3 we ended up with at least brings out characters like Morse, Jude, Eighty-five, etc.

So yeah, if the script as it was was translated directly into a movie, it would've been sort of a mess. But if things had been different—if the studio hadn't been rushing to try to accommodate an unreasonable production timetable because the project had stalled out so many times—they could've easily gone back and rewritten the problematic sections. Things would've been smoothed over. Inconsistencies would've been fixed. Dialogue would've been cleaned up. And we could've ended up with one of the most fascinating, idiosyncratic, poetic science fiction movies of the modern era.

The first—and most unmissable—strength of the Ward story is the setting. There's simply nothing else like it in the history of film. This huge world within a world, an ancient paradise hidden in a hyperfuturistic planetoid. A vessel from the future containing our past. A refuge from technology created by technology so advanced we can't even imagine how it could possibly work.

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

Concept art by Stephen Ellis

I have no idea how they would've pulled it off. The production art is truly jaw-dropping. But that's why we make science fiction films in the first place, right? To visualize the impossible. We come up with solutions. And if Ward had been given time, patience, and bandwidth to work on the technical difficulties Archeon would've represented, I have no doubt he could've figured things out.

It also contributes meaningfully to the mythology of the xenomorph. By doubling down on this idea of an elemental, ancient evil—a proto-devil—Ward is deepening the mystery and terror of the creature in the wake of Cameron's Aliens, which—though a masterpiece—demystified the beast somewhat by having scores of them slaughtered by pulse rifles. Some of this devil mythology survived into Fincher's film, and it's some of that film's most effective dialogue. It also made its way into other arms of the Expanded Universe; most notably, perhaps, in the wonderful Aliens: Salvation. Ward has a scene where Brother John is reading ancient manuscripts on evil by candlelight. Lucifer, Shaitan, Ahriman, Asmodeus, Satan. Works by Lichtenstein, Gruenwald, Bosch. It's wonderfully evocative imagery, and it serves to deepen and broaden the elemental mystery at the heart of this mysterious saga.

And it's got some truly astounding set pieces, like the insane beauty of the xenomorph attacking the monks shortly before the core group makes it to the Technology Room. Picture the scene: a vast expanse of wheat—an ocean of it—on fire. A terrifying, golden xeno scene from a high-angle shot, parting the corn and the flames like a shark in the ocean, emerging to slice the monks in half like so much chaff. A bloody Abbot trembling in the presence of the ultimate evil. A cavernous chamber filled with screams and smoke and blood and terror.

Or, for that matter, the notorious "bathroom scene."

Indeed, when asked to give her thoughts on the Ward script years later, Weaver recalled:

"I think the alien attacked one of the monks as he was sitting on the toilet, or something. ... I thought it had a cool setting. The monastery-in-space thing was cool, I thought."

Nightmare concept by Mike Worrall

Nightmare concept by Mike Worrall

Another unmissable aspect of the Ward story is the preoccupation with dreams. From the very beginning, we, the audience, feel almost like we are dreaming. It starts, remember, with an ancient glassworks. We are sitting in a theater with "Alien III" on the marquee, and we are watching a film about medieval monks. And even as the true nature of Arceon is revealed to us, the whole thing makes less and less sense. It isn't until nearly halfway through the story that we find out why there is this wooden world floating in space in the first place, and only then does it make some sort of sense. Otherwise, we feel the way Ripley does as she comes out of her fugue state: what we are seeing is insane.

Concept art by Mike Worrall

Concept art by Mike Worrall

But actual dream sequences pervade the script as well. One of Ripley's first scripted moments is a nightmare that closely resembles (and, one would assume, eventually gave birth to) one of the more iconic shots in Fincher's film. From the script:

The Alien stands alongside her bed.

Extends a six-fingered hand ...

Gently rests it on her stomach.

Cocks its head—like it's listening to something.

The implication is clear.

Ripley then awakes with a scream, but the idea that there is an alien inside of her never leaves. And the idea that she is somehow being protected from the alien because of her cargo is one of the most poignantly frightening things in Fincher's movie. The genesis of that idea—as well as many others, some of which we will explore momentarily—is here, in Ward's story.

Perhaps the most frightening nightmare sequence occurs later, when Ripley has a vision of being raped by the monster. This plays off many of the most deeply frightening themes cycling through the Alien mythos from the very beginning, starting with the implied possibility that Lambert was sexually violated as her screams rang down the Nostromo's claustrophobic hallways. The way it's scripted makes this allusive connection overt. From the script:

(Ripley) begins to panic—

Senses the Alien's presence.

Looks left, right, up—no Alien ...

Looks down.


She turns—

Right into its grasp.

The useless flamethrower SKITTERS across the floor.

She PUMMELS the beast with balled-up fists.


The Alien spins her—pushes her over across the sleep tube—

Like it's taking her from behind!

Ripley looks down into the sleep tube:

Newt is gone.

Her doll's head lays in a pool of blood.

The Alien wraps his arms around Ripley.

Thin lips pull back for a kiss.


Even Anthony, the android, is haunted by dream visions. This Morphean quality pervades every aspect of the script, from the setting, to the dialogue, to the creature, and it gives it a uniquely phantasmagoric aspect that I think would've translated extremely well into an Alien film.

And though the dialogue could use some work, I do think Ward had a fundamental understanding of Ripley's character. I think he understood her arc, and I think he and Sigourney Weaver were actually very closely aligned in some key ways.

Indeed, a point of contention between Ward and the studio was that Ward felt Ripley had to die at the end of the film. He felt like the arc of her character had brought her to a moment of redemption and finality, and a noble death was the only way to do justice to her. The studio insisted that they needed the franchise to continue with Ripley at the center, which is how they eventually got to Brother John's sacrificial ending, but Ward wasn't happy with it. And luckily, the studio eventually relented and let David Fincher film a version granting Ripley a noble, heroic death.


It might seem like we never saw Ward's story come to life, but that's not entirely true. Fincher's final shooting script is full of it—which is perhaps why Ward received partial story credit. The monks became a religious order of convicts. The wooden world became Fury 161. The glassworks became a lead foundry. Brother John became Clemens, Brother Kyle laid the groundwork for Dillon, and the Abbot transformed into Superintendent Andrews.

Newt and Hicks are killed off at the beginning, leaving Ripley alone in a hostile environment populated exclusively by male strangers.

The environment is antiquated, and there are no weapons. Just as Ripley asks, incredulously, in Fincher's film if the men have access to fire, she wonders if there is any sort of technology of any kind on Arceon that can be used to fight the alien.

Just as the dog-burster (or ox-burster, depending on which version you're watching) inherits traits from its host, the sheep-burster in Ward's script is a quadruped covered in downy wool. And when the xeno is finally destroyed in Ward's script, it is through the rapid temperature shift caused by dumping cold water on a hot exoskeleton—the only difference being Ward's alien leaping from glass vs. Fincher's alien leaping from molten lead.

And just as Ward suggested the only noble end for Ripley's character was to self-sacrifice in a lake of fire, Fincher's film ends, unforgettably, with Ripley killing herself and taking the embryo—another Ward element—with her. If the studio hadn't intervened in Ward's original ending, the final five minutes of each film would've been virtually indistinguishable from one another.


Sometimes a dream is so powerful—so strange, so haunting, so unique, so beautiful—that we feel like we never really wake up from it. Sometimes a dream becomes part of our waking life. We wake up in the middle of the night to write down what we've learned before it escapes us. Before we wake up too much to retain anything taken back from that semi-mystical realm.

Ward's film might never have been made, but it's with us. It's in Fincher's film. It's part of Alien fan lore. There are hundreds of concept images floating around the internet, and fans are drawing new ones of their own. We are telling the story over and over again, and something about it is sticking within our collective unconscious. And that's sort of beautiful, when you think about it. It's like a dream we all had together. You can't quite touch it, but it's there.

And sometimes, if you close your eyes, you just might see a little wooden planetoid on the horizon. And if you listen really closely, you might even hear a scream or two.

NB: All interview excerpts (unless otherwise noted) taken from the Alien Quadrilogy/Anthology Blu-ray set. 

Alien Covenant: Origins Review

by Dave Gogel


During the early days of Alien: Covenant hype, there were two books announced: the official novelization of the movie and a prequel novel. Alan Dean Foster crafted a novelization that was arguably better than the movie itself. The prequel novel was originally announced as a story explaining what happened with David and Shaw during their time together, this was a story many wanted to read. Somewhere along the line something changed, Mr. Foster had to change the direction of the novel. Instead of the David and Shaw story, we get a story about a secret plot to stop the Covenant launch.

My enthusiasm for this dissipated a bit after the original premise was scrapped, but still excited for Origins due to Alan Dean Foster’s involvement. The book starts off very promising. An engaging prologue that seems to reference the Engineers grabs you right off the bat. Looking back, perhaps this is the type of material Foster hoped to work with. From there we get a picture of the Earth’s current condition and why the Covenant must embark on its mission. Earth is referenced as a place overflowing with “corruption, exploitation, overuse and sheer grime”. This is somewhat alluded to in the Alien movies, it’s great to read more about it. A corporation like Weyland-Yutani can’t exist in a world of puppies and happy faces after all. 

Unlike the movie, we get some more insight into Branson. He comes off as an interesting character, whom might have been better off getting a bit more screen time other than a spot in The Last Supper short. With his early death, we might’ve appreciated it’s effects a bit more. Foster captures the feel of James Franco perfectly. We also are introduced to Hideo Yutani (I kept thinking of Hideo Kojima, the Metal Gear creator when I saw his name), the new head of Weyland-Yutani. After Peter Weyland’s disappearance and presumed death, he orchestrates a merger. They mention trying to get the Walter model correct after the missteps of the David situation. Out of respect for Weyland, they wanted to make sure the new model was perfect. Cool little detail.

One last connection to Alien: Covenant is during the early meetings of Lope and Rosenthal. Lope ends up recruiting her to join the security team, and when asked to grab a bite to eat she responds, “I needed a shower before the fight. Now I really need one. I’m kind of a stickler for showering”. As you remember, she was Neomorph lunch when she stepped aside to wash up. This was obviously an attempt to make that silly decision in the movie to seem a bit more logical. Not a bad idea, I appreciated the effort. It’s something I’ll think about now at least.

Unfortunately, everything after this just didn’t hold my interest. An Alien novel without any aliens needs to stand out for it to work. This wasn’t able to do so. The Covenant crew is ripe for more character and story development but this was a huge missed opportunity. As the story began to focus more and more on the cult “Earthsavers” and the Yutani family, the ability to get through a chapter became tougher and tougher. A prophet has visions of evil creatures waiting for the Covenant crew on their journey, him and his minions do anything and everything possible to stop it from taking off. Not quite as interesting as the questions Prometheus and Covenant asked about creation.

The novel itself is not poorly written. Alan Dean Foster’s writing is what gets me through the book. Even when it was barely holding my interest, I was able to get through it due the excellent writing. With a story titled “Origin” you expect more. If it was the studio’s idea to not let him write more about David, Shaw, the Engineers and/or the Covenant crew, it was a huge mistake. I understand wanting to leave these avenues open, but more freedom needs to be given to the author.

To close it out, this was a disappointing read after the early excitement. Hardcore fans will get some enjoyment out of it, but I can not slot it into the “must-read” category.

Final score: 5 out of 10 facehuggers.

Be sure to check out more from Dave Gogel at!

Wonder Women


In a scene in Aliens, Ripley confronts Burke (a company man assigned to the mission to keep the corporation’s financial interest in the creature quietly front and center). Ripley discovers that Burke had a part to play in the devastation that they’ve encountered on the planet, and she doesn’t hesitate to make her voice known to him—despite the consequences she might suffer should they make it out alive. Burke, a snake-oil salesman, turns into a deer in headlights as Ripley grills him about the deaths that’ve happened because of his actions. She doesn’t back down.

In a scene from Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Diana confronts Steve Trevor when she realizes that she sees the potential for darkness and destruction in him, understanding that the same potential is what she’s fighting as they engage full-scale war. It’s an incredible moment, and a revelation—both for Diana and for the audience. Diana then makes her choice, and it’s to fight. It’s what she has to do.

Ripley, in her final adventure with the Alien, as witnessed in David Fincher’s Alien 3 (1992), finds herself impossibly impregnated with an alien queen. She is given a last-minute offer to trust a familiar face who works for the Company (a company she no longer trusts): they can put her into stasis and remove the alien embryo. Ripley is faced with the notion of living out the rest of her life, or surrendering it for the good of mankind. She is faced with a choice. And like her counterpart, Wonder Woman, she chooses to fight. She falls into a vat of molten lead, ensuring a future for mankind.

It isn’t a common thing to see characters—particularly female characters written by men—who embody such unabashed integrity without being saddled with a traumatic (and oftentimes abusive) backstory. James Cameron is indeed a smart filmmaker, and equally a smart writer, but like so many of his male counterparts, he tends to believe that a good female character must be troubled in some way, or must come from some kind of heavy dysfunction and/or abuse to be believable.

James Cameron put his name on the map with The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, before moving on to writing and directing Aliens, centering around Ellen Ripley. Ripley had no hesitation when it came to choosing, knowing and doing what was right, in her eyes. Ripley began her life as an ordinary person, then was thrust into extraordinary circumstance, relying on her instincts to navigate through some of the worst darkness one could experience. By the second film, she’s leading a band of marine misfits out of harm’s way. Ripley has more in common with Wonder Woman than James Cameron realizes.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Cameron is quoted as saying,

“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided," he said in an interview with The Guardian. "She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards."
"Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon," Cameron said. "She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!”

Unlike Wonder Woman, Ripley isn’t a demigod; she’s a regular person trying to make the best choices in terrifying situations. Like Wonder Woman, Ripley is a beautiful woman, not troubled, not a bad mother, surrounded by a growing nightmare. In Cameron’s film, Ripley has to make a choice: let a platoon of marines die fighting an onslaught of aliens that have ambushed them in a processing station, or take charge and rescue them. When we meet Ripley in Aliens, she’s the lone survivor of a doomed mission (Alien, 1979). Her nightmares about that mission haunt her steps. And then she finds herself again in the middle of an infestation, back on the planet she narrowly escaped from in her first adventure.

Wonder Woman, by comparison, had a much easier life. Diana Prince grew up on a magical island, born from the love of Zeus and her Amazonian mother, on the mythical isle of Themyscira, full of strong and brave women.

Both Ripley and Diana, in their own ways, pivot from a similar place by way of their integrity. Their instincts tell them both what is unequivocally right. They can to see the darkness in good men and the light in dark men. James Cameron’s criticism of Wonder Woman is curious, because there is so much of Wonder Woman in Ripley: so much goodness, unbridled goodness, and a fervor to do the right thing—no matter what the men around her are telling her.

Cameron wrote and directed Ellen Ripley in her most famous incarnation to date. She hadn’t been abused or beaten, troubled or traumatized (except for her experience in the first film). Ripley was good and true, because she was good and true. Her experiences didn’t form her core character; her character had always been thus. Cameron developed her that way. We live in a world where women’s experiences have been framed and constructed by men throughout recorded history. They’ve always been in charge.

It’s time we shut up and listen. There is much we could learn.

JM Prater

Founder and Co-host

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