Below you’ll find lots of Aliens trivia.
- According to the 1991 Special Widescreen Collector’s Edition Laserdisc release of the movie (presented on the Bonus Disc of the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy DVD Box Set), James Cameron turned in the first treatment for the film, called Alien II at the time, on September 21, 1983. Some of the differences between this initial treatment and the final film included the following:
- – The character of Carter Burke was absent, instead, his dialogue was given to someone named Dr. O’Niel, who did not join Ripley and the marines on their voyage to the colony planet.
- – Instead of being taken to the Gateway Station, Ripley was taken to Earth Station Beta.
- – The name of the colony planet was Acheron, taken from the script of Alien, instead of LV-426.
- – Ripley’s daughter was alive, and Ripley had a disheartening videophone conversation with her, where she blamed Ripley for abandoning her by going to space.
- – There were multiple atmospheric processors on the planet.
- – The initial discovery of the aliens on the colony planet is much longer, where it is shown how Newt’s father gets to the site of the eggs and is jumped by a facehugger.
- – An additional scene involves a rescue team going to the site of the alien eggs and being jumped by tens of facehuggers.
- – The aliens sting people to paralyze them before either killing or cocooning them.
- – At one point Ripley, Newt and Hicks get cocooned.
- – The aliens cocooning people are a different breed. They look like smaller, albino versions of the warrior aliens.
- – Bishop refuses to land on the planet and pick up Ripley, Hicks and Newt, indicating “the risk of contaminating other inhabited worlds is too great.”
- – Ripley ends up using the colonists’ shuttle to get back to the Sulaco.
- – Bishop tells her: “You were right about me all along.”
The first draft script was turned in by Cameron on May 30, 1985.
This draft was quite different from the treatment, but very close to the final film.
- Although the first script draft turned in on 30 May 1985 was very close to the final film, some scenes in this version were dropped in the final film. Those include:
- A shower scene with Ripley in a futuristic shower environment Ripley going into more detail about the facehuggers while briefing the Marines, calling the facehugger “a walking sex organ” to which Hudson replies, “Sounds like you, Hicks.”
- There are thirty atmospheric processing units on the planet, as opposed to only one in the final film.
- Newt formally offering Ripley to be her daughter
- Bishop encountering an alien while crawling along the tunnel (this scene also appeared in the final script but neither in the theatrical release nor in the Special Edition)
- The second drop ship refueling itself before leaving the Sulaco under Bishop’s remote control.
- The first draft also included a scene with a cocooned Burke, which was shot but not included in any of the versions of the movie.
- Having hired James Cameron to write the screenplay, 20th Century Fox then did the unthinkable when he left the production to direct The Terminator: they agreed to wait for Cameron to become available again and finish the screenplay (he had only completed about 90 pages at that stage, but they were 90 pages that were loved by the studio).
- While salary negotiations were going on with Sigourney Weaver to reprise her character in the second movie, the studio asked James Cameron to work on an alternative storyline excluding Ripley, but James Cameron indicated the series is all about Ripley and refused to do so.
- There was talk of bringing H.R. Giger back for the second movie to do more design work, but James Cameron decided against it because there was only one major design to be done, that of the Alien Queen, which Cameron had already done some drawings of.
- There were two versions of the “Bug Stompers” logo designed for the movie, one wearing sneakers, and one wearing combat boots as seen on the drop ship.
- Producers David Giler and Walter Hill were keen to work with James Cameron after having read his script for The Terminator. Cameron went in for a meeting with the two producers and pitched several ideas at them, none of which they were that receptive to. As he was leaving, however, they did mention that they were thinking of doing a sequel to Alien, and immediately Cameron’s interest was piqued. Cameron submitted a 40-50 page treatment of what he would do for an “Alien” sequel which contained a lot of ideas for an existing treatment he had done for a script called “Mother”. Giler and Hill loved Cameron’s treatment and commissioned him to write a screenplay. Cameron got the good news the same day he landed screenwriting duties for Rambo: First Blood Part II.
- The initial cinematographer was Dick Bush. However, director James Cameron fired him a month into production because he wasn’t satisfied with the lighting, and the two men reportedly hated working with each other. Cameron then tried to hire Derek Vanlint, the DP on the previous film. Vanlint wasn’t interested, but recommended Adrian Biddle for the job.
- During the sequence in which Newt and Ripley are locked in MedLab, Ripley is attacked by one of the two facehuggers after setting off the sprinklers, resulting in the facehugger wrapping its tail around her neck after jumping off of a table leg. To film this, di
rector James Cameron had the Special Effects crew design a facehugger fully capable of walking towards Ripley on its own, but to make it appear as if it jumps off of the table, and Cameron then used backwards-filming. He set up the facehugger on the table leg, then dragged it off and later edited the piece of film to play backward to make it appear to be moving forward towards Ripley. Crew thought that the fact that water was falling down during this whole scene would affect the sequence that was filmed backward (it would show the water moving up instead of down). In the end, the water was not visible enough to see the direction in which it was falling.
- One of the perfect locations they found was a decommissioned coal-fired power plant in Acton, West London. The only trouble with it was that it was heavily riddled with asbestos. So, a team was sent in to clean up the plant, and atmosphere readings had to be taken constantly throughout filming in this location to make sure that the air was clear of contamination. Ironically, the Acton location turned out to have better atmospheric quality than Pinewood Studios.
- Ripley’s miniature bathroom in her apartment is actually a British Airways toilet, purchased from the airline.
- James Cameron had the actors (the Marines) personalize their own costumes (battle armor and fatigues) for added realism (much like soldiers in Vietnam wrote and drew things on their own helmets). Actress Cynthia Dale Scott, who plays Cpl. Dietrich has the words “BLUE ANGEL” written on the back of her helmet. Marlene Dietrich was of course the star of Blaue Engel, Der or Blue Angel. Bill Paxton has “Louise” written on his armor. This is a dedication to his real-life wife, Louise Newbury.
- The mechanism used to make the face-huggers thrash about in the stasis tubes in the science lab came from one of the “flying piranhas” in one of James Cameron’s earlier movies Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. It took nine people to make the face-hugger work: one person for each leg and one for the tail.
- Like most films, the movie wasn’t shot in sequence. But for added realism, James Cameron filmed the scene where we first meet the Colonial Marines (one of the earliest scenes) last. This was so that the camaraderie of the Marines was realistic because the actors had spent months filming together.
- A complicated effect shot (the Marines entering the Alien nest) had already been filmed just before James Remar was replaced by Michael Biehn. A re-shoot would be too expensive, so the Corporal Hicks seen with his back towards camera is still played by James Remar.
- When filming the scene with Newt in the duct, Carrie Henn kept deliberately blowing her scene so she could slide down the vent, which she later called a slide three stories tall. James Cameron finally dissuaded her by saying that if she completed the shot, she could play on it as much as she wanted. She did, and he kept his promise.
- A lightweight dummy model of Newt (Carrie Henn) was constructed for Sigourney Weaver to carry around during the scenes just before the Queen chase.
- Three different types of smoke were used in the film, one of which has since become illegal to be used on movie sets.
- To most of the crew, the choice of James Cameron as director was mystifying as The Terminator hadn’t been released at that stage. The film’s assistant director continually questioned Cameron’s decisions and was openly antagonistic towards him. Ultimately producer Gale Anne Hurd had no choice but to fire him and he briefly instigated a mass walk-out from the rest of the crew. Fortunately this was quickly resolved but caused some doubt as to whether the film would make it to completion.
- In an interview, composer James Horner felt that James Cameron had given him so little time to write a musical score for the film, he was forced to cannibalize previous scores he had done as well as adapt a rendition of “Gayane Ballet Suite” for the main and end titles. Horner stated that the tensions with Cameron were so high during post-production that he assumed they would never work together again. However Cameron was so impressed with Horner’s score from Braveheart that he later asked him to compose the score for Titanic.
- James Horner wasn’t particularly happy with the treatment of his score for the film despite receiving his first Oscar nomination. He delivered a finished score which didn’t sit well with the edited film. Because Horner was unavailable as he was working on another film at the time, James Cameron had to heavily chop up the score to fit his edit.
- James Horner’s schedule only allowed for him to work on the film for 6 weeks. He arrived in London to perform his duties, only to find that they were still shooting, much less editing. He sat around for 3 weeks before being able to get started.
- The sound-effect used for doors opening and closing used throughout the movie is identical to the sound-effect used for the “automatic doors” in The Prisoner.
- The sound-effect of the video-phone “ring” when Ripley contacts Burke early on in the film is the same as that used for the Village telephones in The Prisoner.
- Sigourney Weaver threatened to not do any more Alien movies after seeing the movie’s final cut, so as a compromise, the 1987 Special Edition was released on Laser-Disc.
- The music that plays when the Alien Queen appears as Ripley and Newt wait for the elevator is a reused piece from Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the original Alien. Thematically, the music appears in both movies at the same time: near the end, as Ripley tries to escape from an alien while the environment around her counts down to self-destruction (the Nostromo in Alien, and the atmosphere processor in Aliens).
- In a scene which was cut from both the theatrical cut and the special edition of the film Ripley gives Burke a grenade so he can kill himself after she discovers him in a cocoon.
- A scene on the colony before the alien infestation was deleted from the final cut. Elements of that scene show up in later James Cameron projects. The line, “… and we always get the same answer: ‘Don’t ask'” was used in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The character name “Lydecker” was used in Dark Angel.
- The “special edition” includes extra scenes: Newt’s parents discovering the abandoned alien ship on LV-426, scenes of Ripley discussing her daughter, Hudson bragging about his weaponry, robot sentry guns repelling first alien raid, and Hicks and Ripley exchanging first names. Also included is a scene on LV-426 where a child rides a low-slung tricycle similar to one ridden in The Terminator, also directed by James Cameron.
- Bishop’s Knife trick was previously seen in John Carpenter’s Dark Star. Like Bishop, Boiler misses too. It also appears in Roman Polanski’s Nóz w wodzie, and AVP: Alien vs. Predator.
- Michael Biehn’s character gets bitten on the hand by another character. This happens to him in every James Cameron movie he’s in – see The Abyss and The Terminator.
- In both the standard and special edition versions, the fifteen minute countdown at the end of the film is indeed fifteen minutes.
- Except for a very small reference in Alien, the special edition of this film is the first to reveal the name of “The Company”: Weyland Yutani. The name is clearly written on several pieces of equipment and walls in the colony during the pre-alien portions of the special edition.
- The town in which the colonists live is called Hadley’s Hope.
- Bishop states that “it is impossible for me to harm, or by omission of action allow to be harmed, a human being.” This is based upon the First Law of Robotics written by science fiction author Isaac Asimov.
- In the scene where Burke and Ripley are discussing her psych evaluation results, a People magazine can be seen on a table.
- United States Colonial Marines personnel service numbers:
- SFC Apone, A A19/TQ4.0.32751E8
- Pt Crowe, T A46/TQ1.0.98712E6
- Cpl Dietrich, C A41/TQ8.0.81120E2
- Pt Drake, M A23/TQ2.0.47619E7
- Cpl Ferro, C A71/TQ9.0.09428E1
- Pt Frost, R A17/TQ4.0.61247E5
- Lt Gorman, S A09/TQ4.0.56124E3
- Cpl Hicks, D A27/TQ4.0.48215E9
- Pt Hudson, W A08/TQ1.0.41776E3
- Pt Spunkmeyer, D A23/TQ6.0.92810E7
- Pt Vasquez, J A03/TQ7.0.15618E4
- Pt Wierzbowski, T A14/TQ8.0.20034E7
- The scene where the Sulaco’s crew is being revived from cryosleep, the monitor which lists each crew member’s names are their character’s name followed by the actors’ actual first initial except for “Hicks, D”, “Ripley, E.” and “Gorman, S.”
- During the scene when the Marines have landed and deployed in the troop carrier Apone tells the Marines they have 10 seconds till they arrive. If you count from when Apone tells them that its actually 10 seconds till the first Marine jumps out of the carrier and his boots hit the ground.
- The pouch Ripley takes onto the lift at the end of the movie is a British Armed Forces respirator haversack.
- The JP12 Designation in the Inner Loading Lock chamber on the Sulaco was also used in Batman on the Batwing right near the missile launchers.
- The MedLab door open/close sound effect is the travel pod door open/close sound effect from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- According to myth, the name for the company, “Weyland Yutani”, was taken from the names of Ridley Scott’s former neighbors – he hated them, so he decided to “dedicate” the name of the “evil company” to them. In reality the name was created by conceptual designer ‘Ron Cobb’ (who created the Nostromo and the crew’s uniforms) to imply a corner on the spacecraft market by an English-Japanese corporation. According to himself, he would have liked to use “Leyland-Toyota” but obviously could not so he changed one letter in Leyland and added the Japanese name of his (not Scott’s) neighbor.
- Michael Biehn got the call on a Friday night asking him to take over the role of Hicks and was in London to start filming on the following Monday.
- Hicks was originally played by James Remar, but Michael Biehn replaced him a few days after principal photography began, due to “artistic differences” between Remar and director James Cameron. However, Remar still appears in the finished film – but wearing the same armor, and shot from behind, it’s impossible to tell the difference between the two actors.
- All of the cast who were to play the Marines (with the exception of Michael Biehn, who replaced an actor one week into filming) were trained by the S.A.S. (Special Air Service, Britain’s elite anti-terrorist force) for two weeks before filming. They were also instructed to read Robert A. Heinlein’s novel “Starship Troopers”. Sigourney Weaver, Paul Reiser, and William Hope didn’t participate/attend the training because director James Cameron felt it would help the actors create a sense of detachment between the three and the Marines – the characters these three actors played were all outsiders to the squad; Ripley being an advisor to the Marines while on the trip to LV-426, Burke being there just for financial reasons and Gorman being a newly-promoted Lieutenant with less experience than most of the Marines.
- Lance Henriksen wanted to wear double-pupil contact lenses for a scene where Bishop is working in the lab on a microscope and gives a scary look at one of the Marines. He came to set with those lenses, but James Cameron decided he did not need to wear them because he was acting the character with just the right amount of creepiness already.
- Sigourney Weaver had initially been very hesitant to reprise her role as Ripley, and had rejected numerous offers from Fox Studios to do any sequels, fearing that her character would be poorly written, and a sub-par sequel could hurt the legacy of the original film. However, she was so impressed by the high quality of James Cameron’s script – specifically, the strong focus on Ripley, the mother-daughter bond between her character and Newt, and the incredible precision with which Cameron wrote her character, that she finally agreed to do the film.
- The difficulties surrounding Sigourney Weaver’s contract negotiations were such that James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd – recently married – announced that if the deal was not done by the time they got back from their honeymoon, they were out. When they returned, no progress had been made – so James Cameron, determined to make the film and wary of the deadline scenario he had created, devised a scheme: he telephoned Arnold Schwarzenegger’s agent for an informal chat and informed him that, thanks to his newfound standing in Hollywood following The Terminator, he had decided to make this film entirely his own by writing Ripley out; as James Cameron anticipated, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s agent immediately relayed the information to his colleague representing Sigourney Weaver at ICM, who in turn contacted 20th Century-Fox Head of Production Lawrence Gordon; both men, determined that under no circumstances whatsoever would Ripley be written out, wasted no time in sealing Sigourney Weaver’s deal.
- When she answered the casting call, ‘Jenette Goldstein” misunderstood the film’s content and showed up dressed as a 19th century Irish immigrant. This became a running joke on the set, so much so that ‘James Cameron’ worked it into the script as part of the verbal sparring between Goldstein’s character and Bill Paxton’s, and would later reference it in his film Titanic, in which Goldstein actually plays an Irish immigrant.
- Since production took place in England, the director and producers conveniently cast many American actors who were already living in England. This was particularly important for the actress playing Newt, who had to be a minor. Carrie Henn, who played Newt, was an American girl living with her family in England (actually, a bit of an English accent can be heard when she says, “Let’s go,” and, “There is a short-cut across the roof,” during the Alien attack at the end of the movie). Her movie brother Timmy is also her real-life brother Christopher Henn.
- Al Matthews, who plays a Marine sergeant in this film, was in real life the first black Marine to be promoted to the rank of sergeant in the field during service in Vietnam.
- In a deleted scene, Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) daughter was played by Elizabeth Inglis, Sigourney Weaver’s real-life mother.
- Sigourney Weaver told James Cameron that she wanted to do three things in the movie; not handle a weapon, die, and make love to an alien. While none of these wishes were fulfilled, she got to do all three in the later movies.
- Lance Henriksen caught a dose of food poisoning from the milk and yogurt combination that he had to spew up when his chest was pierced by the alien queen’s tail. Having this lactose combination sitting around under hot studio lights created a bacterial breeding ground.
- In the scene in the air shaft where Vasquez shoots the alien with a handgun, Jenette Goldstein could not handle the recoil of the gun properly. As a result, producer Gale Anne Hurd doubled for Vasquez in shots where the gun is fired. She was the only woman available who had experience firing handguns.
- The Alien nest set was kept intact after filming. It was later used as the Axis Chemicals set for Batman. When the crew of Batman first entered the set, they found most of the Alien nest still intact.
- To bring the alien queen to life would take anything between 14 and 16 operators.
- The Alien Queen has transparent teeth, as opposed to the warrior aliens.
- Only six alien suits were used, and even then they were mostly just a handful of latex appliances on black leotards. The appearance of hundreds of aliens is simply clever editing and planning, and lighting plus slime helped make the “suits” more solid.
- The baby alien bursting from the colonist’s chest clearly has a pair of more-or-less functioning arms. This is different from the final model infant used in Alien which originally had arms, but director Ridley Scott thought they didn’t, or wouldn’t, look right, so he had them removed.
- One of the face-hugger eggs used in the movie is now exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
- “Sulaco” is the name of the town in Joseph Conrad’s “Nostromo”. See also Alien.
- Budget constraints meant that they could only afford to have six hypersleep capsules for the scenes set on board the Sulaco. Clever placement of mirrors and camera angles make it look like there’s about 12. Each hypersleep chamber cost over $4,300 to build.
- James Cameron had several designers come up with ideas for the drop ship that took the Marines from the Sulaco to the planet. Design after design, he finally gave up on them to come up with on he liked and constructed his own drop ship out of a model of an apache helicopter and other spare model pieces.
- The assault vehicle is a modified tow-truck that British Airways used for towing airplanes around at Heathrow. The only trouble was that the truck they purchased weighed 75 tons. By stripping out most of the lead used in its construction, they were able to remove about 30 tons.
- The APC was an airport tug de-commissioned by the local airport, with bits added to alter its appearance.
- A set design company offered to build James Cameron a complete and working APC vehicle from scratch, but the cost was far too high for the budget he had in mind.
- None of the models or the original designs of the Narcissus (the Nostromo’s shuttle) from Alien could be found, so set designers and model-makers had to reconstruct the model of the ship and the interior set from watching Alien.
- When the set crews were looking around for floor grating to use on the Sulaco set design, they asked a local set design manufacturer/shop if they had anything of the sort. Indeed they did, an immense pile of old floor grating had been sitting out in the back of their shop for the last seven years. It was left there from when they tore down the set of Alien.
Equipment & Weapons
- The body mounts for Vasquez’s and Drake’s smart guns are taken from Steadicam gear.
- The pulse rifles that the Marines use are made from a Thompson M1A1 machine gun with a Franchi SPAS 12 shotgun underneath.
- The M-56 smart guns and the sentry guns built for the movie were designed around German MG 42 machine guns.
- The helmets the Marines wear are modified M-1 ballistic helmets.
- The armor for the film was built by English armorer Terry English, and painted using Humbrol paints.
- The camo pattern worn by the Marines is actually called “frog and leaf” and its use and production has been discontinued.
- During the scene inside the APV preparing for battle, “El riesgo vive siempre!” can be seen scrawled in white across Vasquez’s armor. Literally translated from Spanish this is: “The risky always live!”