“Dead. Everything Here Is Dead” – Alien’s Unfilmed Red City Scene

Posted by Corporal Hicks on April 5, 2024 (Updated: 23-Apr-2024)

Despite the decades that have passed since its release, and the countless documentaries and explorations of its production, there are still secrets that “Alien” continues to keep its claws firmly entrenched in. Secrets locked away in a vault at 20th Century Studios, or as this article will explore, secrets kept in the personal collections of the people who worked on the film.  

One such secret is the mysterious Red City. I expect few of you reading this article will have heard about the Red City. It’s a story element that has until relatively recently remained lost to the annals of time, and the first we ever saw of this mystery city that would have been found on the surface of the planetoid that would later become known as LV-426 was in the concept artwork of Elliot Scott.  

Elliot Scott was an art director and production designer who was born on the 19th of July 1915, and died at the age of 78 on 29th October 1993. He is perhaps best known now for his role as the production designer on “Labyrinth,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” as well as his Oscar nominated work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” 

Errol Kelly, Steven Spielberg & Elliot Scott on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. “Dead. Everything Here Is Dead” - Alien's Unfilmed Red City Scene

Errol Kelly, Steven Spielberg & Elliot Scott on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Prior to being hired for his uncredited work on “Alien” in March 1977, Elliot Scott had also received 2 Oscar nominations for his work on “The Americanization of Emily” and “The Incredible Sarah.” Scott was hired by Peter Beale, the European Managing Director of 20th Century Fox who oversaw the production of many of Fox’s film in the 70s, including Alien.  

Beale had previously worked with Scott on the first Star Wars and hired him again to work on Alien to assist Beale in properly estimating the budget that the film could be made on. Speaking in J.W Rinzler’s “The Making of Alien”, Beale elaborated that: 

“My role was that Alan Ladd would send me a script and say, ‘Can it be made, and what sort of budget would it be made for?” 

“Like I did on Star Wars, I again got Elliot in to work with me for a few weeks to analyze the script for Alien, so that we both understood it.” 

And it was in Peter Beale’s personal collection that Elliot Scott’s work on “Alien” remained, unseen in the various Making Of books and documentaries that have been produced over the 40 plus years since the release of “Alien.” 

In 2017 Peter Beale auctioned off a number of items from his personal collection, including a miniature model of the Space Jockey’s chamber made by the master himself, H.R Giger, that sold for just over $30k, and more interestingly, 17 pages of concept artwork created in the early days of the production of “Alien.” 

 “Dead. Everything Here Is Dead” - Alien's Unfilmed Red City Scene

The majority of the artwork is an exploration of various designs for the Nostromo – then the Leviathan – including corridors, the hypersleep chamber, the bridge and even how the artificial gravity would factor into movement on the ship. 

There were also several pieces of artwork depicting the major set pieces on the planetoid’s surface. One piece depicted Elliot Scott’s interpretation of the crashed derelict as a spherical craft with rings around it. While always fun to explore the many different takes on the Derelict, there were so many throughout the development of “Alien,” that this wasn’t the artwork that raised the eyebrows of the fans seeing this artwork for the first time. 

It was the handful of artwork that depicted a location described as the “Red City” that piqued the fandom’s curiosity. While the pyramid concept from Dan O’Bannon’s first draft has been very well documented and discussed, this Red City was something completely unknown to us.  

 “Dead. Everything Here Is Dead” - Alien's Unfilmed Red City Scene

It wouldn’t be until J.W Rinzler delved into those vaults at 20th Century Fox and Brandywine while writing “The Making of Alien” that we would get further context of the “Red City” which he would reveal was from Walter Hill’s first rewrite of “Alien,” the second major complete draft of the film. Walter Hill completed this “Revised First Draft Screenplay” around December 1976/January 1977.

Neither Walter Hill nor David Giler held any special fondness for the “von Daniken crap, pyramids on the planetoid” that housed the Alien eggs in O’Bannon’s first draft. Hill would remove the pyramid and replace it with a dead city, cut into the rock of the planetoid’s surface, much like the ruins of Petra located in South Jordan. 

“One hundred meters high. Reddish sandstone. A city has been cut into the rock…temples, sepulchers, public buildings, obelisks, tombs. All deserted.” 

It’s possible that on-location filming in Jordan was being considered as Scott’s artwork for the “Red City” is labelled as being an “alternative to Petra location,” suggesting ways to do locations as miniatures or using matte paintings instead of on-location shooting.  

 “Dead. Everything Here Is Dead” - Alien's Unfilmed Red City Scene

The crew members that explore the Red City in this incarnation of Alien are Dallas, Parker and Hunter. At this point in development, Captain Standard was renamed Dallas, and the ship’s navigator, Broussard, was renamed Parker. Hunter was a Mining Engineer. The navigator was eventually renamed Lambert who would be in the “landing party” in the final film.

“Dead. Everything here is dead” remarks Parker. Hunter notes that it looks like a “religious shine more than a city.” As the Leviathan crew explore further, they come across a “a columned building,” the largest shrine within the Red City, nine stone figures cut into the top of the building.  

It is in this building that the crew come across the Alien eggs. In O’Bannon’s first draft it was the navigator who would have a close encounter with the facehugger. In this second draft, it is Captain Dallas who decides to investigate and comes face-to-face with the early stages of the Alien life cycle. Hunter and Parker bring Dallas back to the Leviathan, where Mother – while another character had already been renamed Ash, they weren’t a secret android working for the Company at this stage in the film’s development – let the infected crewmember back onboard the ship.  

 “Dead. Everything Here Is Dead” - Alien's Unfilmed Red City Scene

As we so love to do at Alien vs. Predator Galaxy, we turned to one of our favourite artists, Declan Loftus, to visualize the scene of the Leviathan crew exploring the Red City on LV-426.

 “Dead. Everything Here Is Dead” - Alien's Unfilmed Red City Scene

The next draft of the film, completed October 13th 1977 and credited to both Walter Hill and David Giler this time, would see the Red City removed. Instead, the crew of the now named Nostromo would come across a crashed L-52 spacecraft, a decidedly human manufactured spaceship.  

This third incarnation of Alien’s script saw the extra-terrestrial aspects played down substantially. The derelict was human in origin, and rather than an alien pyramid or city, Dallas Lambert and Kane would find the eggs inside a concrete “red cylinder,” a similarly human installation that Dallas describes as being a “government Model 503.”  

The Alien would continue to be extra-terrestrial in origin, a creature native to the planetoid, and the Nostromo was redirected to gather specimens for return to Earth for the Weapon’s Division where the Alien was considered an “experimental offensive anti-personnel system.” 

Ultimately the production would steer back to a very extra-terrestrial crashed Derelict ship, but the concept of a second location separate to the crashed vessel would eventually be dropped for budgetary reasons, and the Alien eggs would instead be found in the Derelict’s cargo hold or underneath the ship depending on your fan theory.  

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Comments: 9
  1. Wow that’s super fascinating! Incredible to see a red city of alien ruins on LV426. I wonder how much it would have changed the “feel” of the film if we explored a necropolis instead of the derelict although We got a little of that in Covenant. I bet it would have felt more Lovecraftian(which I also love.) Super fascinating stuff.

  2. I love stuff like this. This movie has been around for decades and yet we still get these little glimpses of what could have been. I’m guessing Ridley drew on this for the engineer city in Covenant?

  3. Fascinating.
    You’d think you knew it all about this classic but there are still little tidbits that come out once and a while.
    Good to see we got a similar vision to these concepts in the form of both Prometheus and Covenant.

  4. Wow. I didn’t know this.
    I love a dead abandoned alien city in my fiction. I love writing this stuff as well.

    I always believed the eggs in Alien were in a facility underneath the derelict. The egg chamber seems much bigger than the ship and trails off far into the distance in the gorgeous wide shot of Kane hanging in the air.
    In my mind I always saw the derelict as a plane on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The munitions are kept below decks and brought up to the fighter jets.
    So there is an even bigger ship or facility below ground.
    That’s my fan theory anyway.

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