In this article the staff of Alien vs. Predator Galaxy have written a bit about their favourite scenes from the Alien and Alien vs. Predator films! The below represents everyone’s individual opinions and not that of the site as a whole. Enjoy!
My favourite scene is of course in Alien when the Nostromo crew find the Derelict spacecraft and upon further inspection, find the fossilized Space Jockey sitting in the cockpit. Seeing the mysterious wishbone-shaped alien craft in the mist… it establishes the eerie atmosphere of the movie flawlessly. The characters wonder into the ship through the bio-mechanical openings before they reach the Pilot’s Chamber.
The Space Jockey scene almost didn’t make it into the movie as 20th Century Fox thought it would be too expensive to create the set just for a single scene. I’m so pleased they went ahead with it. Seeing the Space Jockey there with its ribcage bent outwards presented so many mysteries. Why had the Derelict crashed in the first place? What happened to the alien creature that emerged from the Space Jockey?
Fans have long theorized for the past 30 years about these questions and we still have yet to find definitive answers. That’s what I find most appealing about Alien and it’s something that none of the sequels have ever really come close to. All of the sets were expertly crafted by Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger and quite frankly, nobody else would have been able to accomplish what Giger did here. It’s his imagery – that fusion of something mechanical with something organic. From outside on LV-426’s surface to inside the corridors, the entire ship really does look alien in design.
Kane is the unfortunate member of the team who is lowered into the acid-burnt hole in the cockpit area and discovers an enormous cargo hold full of thousands of eggs covers in a blue mist. He goes to investigate one of the Eggs and is attacked by what we know now as a Facehugger.
Every time I see that scene, it always makes me jump because of the fantastic sound effects. And of course, Jerry Goldsmith’s score is astonishing throughout contributing to the scene’s dark and creepy tone. All in all, I love what they did with the Derelict and Space Jockey. I always used to rank Aliens as my favourite Alien movie but as I got older, something kept pulling me back to Alien and I think it’s because of Giger’s outstanding work here.
It’s such a shame that he never really had any extensive involvement in the sequels but at least his craftsmanship will live on forever and future generations will get to experience the terror he managed to create. It really is the stuff of nightmares.
If you asked me which Alien film was my favourite I’d never be able to tell you. I love all three first films the exact same. Which one I fancy watching depends entirely on my mood at the time but I’d never be able to pick an over-all favourite between them.
For as long as I can remember I have always heard of how bad Alien 3 was. The first time I ever finished watching Aliens all the way through I wanted to move straight onto Alien 3 but was told not to. I did anyway. And even at a young age I still enjoyed Alien 3 and I still enjoy Alien 3 now. Granted, the reasons I truly enjoy and appreciate Alien 3 now would have been lost on 10 year old me.
I’m not blind to the fact that Alien 3 is a massively flawed film with plenty of problems. It’s really interesting reading about and watching documents on the troubled production that David Fincher faced with Alien 3. If I’m ever reading a behind-the-scenes book I’ll usually skip right to the Alien 3 section first to see if there’s some tidbit I’d not known because it always seems like there is something new to learn.
But regardless of its unsympathetic characters, its mess of a narrative and terrible composition for the Alien puppet, there are a lot of elements to like in Alien 3; Goldenthal’s wonderful and chaotic score remains my favourite of the series to this day and Alex Thompson’s lovely low angles and the melancholic tone of the entire film. One scene in particular embodies everything I love in Alien 3 and that scene is my pick for this article: the funeral.
First let’s talk about the tone. Alien 3 is a film that lets you know from the opening credits that it isn’t going to be gentle. It’s going to take everything from Ripley and beat her down. You can’t win against the Aliens – that’s not how it works. The funeral scene is a perfect example of this.
Ripley had already taken measures to ensure that Newt and Hicks’ death had nothing to do with Alien infection but to be certain she convinces Andrews and Clemens to have them cremated. We’re treated to a very moving ceremony in which Ripley should be able to start to have her closure from this last horrific occurrence in her life.
However, we’re shown that this isn’t any closure for Ripley – it’s the start of something else. What should have been a moment of peace is ruined by the birth of another horror at the same time.
Alien 3 has some gorgeous camera work in it and the funeral scene treats us to some of the wonderful style that David Fincher and Alex Thompson infused into the film. I love the various sweeps and none static camera movements that are used throughout the scene. In particular I’m most fond of the low angled shots that give Alien 3 a very unique visual style. It’s an approach that I often found influencing me when I was studying Film at college.
The furnace also burns brightly in the background throughout the scene, bathing everyone and everything in golden/brown light. This is another visual aspect that is carried throughout the film, giving everything a rustic appearance and helping establish a unique visual sense that helps Alien 3 stand out from the darker visual hues of its predecessors.
And lastly we’re treated to another wonderful piece from Elliot Goldenthal’s amazing score – the track Lento (the second half of Lento). The music throughout this entire scene is able to encompass everything that the score does so well.
To start with it is able to really accentuate those grand and impressive visual sights before it mellows out into a more sombre, emotional accompaniment to the pain and sorrow that Ripley is suffering throughout the funeral before picking up into a more hopeful vibe (where Goldenthal makes extraordinary use of strange sounds) before crashing into the chaotic, Alien sounds that signify the birth of the Alien and that Ripley’s turmoil is not quite over yet.
One of my favourite scenes from ‘Aliens‘ is one which disproves the idea it was devoid of horror elements so beloved of the original. Like many instances from this timeless classic, it’s been emulated countless times, but rarely equalled – let alone ever surpassed.
Early on in the story, any levity brought to the situation by cock-sure executives and Colonial Marines, alike, is repeatedly dispelled by Ripley’s ominous warnings. It’s when the Sulaco’s crew of futuristic combatants go searching for the colonists, however, that her words truly hit home. Not just with the characters, but the audience, too.
One must recall that Nostromo’s cause of terror was often hidden in shadow and often shown in menacing outline. While Ridley Scott would have liked to have portrayed it in a far more animated manner, the technology of the time made this largely impossible. Now, just a few years later, the viewer had no idea what to expect. Here are a hardened group of veterans being portrayed every bit as realistically as those of the harshest war dramas of the time. Audiences were used to armour-clad Stormtroopers or awkwardly robotic men-in-suits being depicted in running gun-battles.
What they were about to witness would rewrite the rule-book of Hollywood expectations.
Already, we had been treated to the sheer sinister detail of the creatures’ nest. A resin-like substance which managed to somehow naturally reflect the very same detail found in the ‘Space Jockey’ derelict. At once, the viewer was reminded, not only that this had to be proof that there were more than one of the monstrosities, but that it had an unnerving similarity to the interior of a whale carcass. A psychotic masterpiece of the grotesque, which had literally transformed an otherwise conventional and functional facility. The recognisable had been turned unrecognisable – and the audience instantly knows what to expect of something which must consider the inside of a living creature as ‘home’.
The Marines have briefly made light of what the material could mean, but we’ve already seen their expressions. We know they’re already trying to use humour to account for something they can’t understand. Not just because it exists, but because it’s huge. Whatever’s responsible for it has clearly had time. Time to wait… Time to nest.
So, we begin this phase with an unmistakable sensation of darkness, heat and theorganic. Distinct elements which already place us in the mindset of what to expect, but made all the more horrific by the revelation of the first of many dead colonists. One by one, we’re steadily being shown what has become of those poor, now-dead souls. Each of them not merely suspended there, but pasted. Somehow woven into the hive structure, itself. Their expressions fixed in an utterly haunting grimace of agony. Years before, the original TV pilot for ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ had toyed with similar ideals, but here we were being shown, in utterly chilling detail, the aftermath of these biomechanical killing machines on a breeding frenzy. Ripley tells Newt to be elsewhere in a forceful tone, reinforcing the seriousness of what’s being seen.
It’s made all the more disturbing by the perfection of the late James Horner’s beautifully unsettling orchestral soundtrack. Time and time and again, he uses a melodic interpretation of ‘dripping honey’ to extend the horror of what we’re being presented with. Something compounded even further by the genuinely worried expressions of the Marines, who only moments before, were trying to raise their spirits with jokes. Apone, the hard-edged leader, has clearly seen nothing like this and it’s a testament to Al Matthews’ acting skills that we’ve already been convinced of his character’s veteran status, without even a hint of a war story in dialogue.
He’s horrified by what he sees… These are not opponents he’s used to fighting. They’re beyond any motivation he can relate to. In the modern age, one might expect these are the kinds of expressions reserved for those who may have liberated the death camps of Nazi Germany or, more recently, those who have come across the mutilated beheaded victims of Middle Eastern terrorism. We’ve yet to see a single creature, but already, their impact has been felt.
In the extended version of the film, this is even worse, for we saw how chaotic and full of life the colony used to be. Here, all we see is death and decay.
Hicks, the next most level-headed team leader, peers cautiously over the top of an open egg, now absent of its contents. The dried, dessicated remains of facehuggers lay nearby. He picks one up with his shotgun, like a child with an over-sized crab, only to shove it away in disgust. We know what it’s done… So must he. So, now, must they all.
The air is magnificently still, allowing smoke to slowly rise and wetness to trickle. We realise, now, that if the derelict, with its cargo of eggs, represents the proverbial demons’ womb, then this is as close to true hell as there could ever be. A hell madeflesh, nourished by the lifeless corpses of the damned.
Soon, Dietrich reaches for what she presumes to be another cadaver and curiosity gets the better of her (or perhaps professional regard for a cause of death). The colonist’s eyes flash open. She’s drained, using what little energy she still has toplead for the mercy of death. Confusion grips the Marines, trying to calm her. Trying to get her out.
Horner’s score rises from frantic violins to something evocative of the musicallyobscene. On screen, fire bathes the horrific aftermath of the birth. The larvae stage of the deadly creature Ripley has been fearing a renewed encounter with. One which is far more vicious than that we’ve seen before… Because the eggs are fresh? Because being cocooned somehow does something to your metabolism? We can’t tell. We don’t know. Only that we’ve already seen these are not what we’re accustomed to. These are vicious, even at that relatively young and small stage.
But it’s not over. The infant’s dying cries or perhaps some telepathic sense of losshas woken something far more terrible from its slumber. We hear a distant metallichiss… Not just one, but an entire chorus. Like a banshee, it’s spooked our heroic leads. The audience is locked in that APC, right along with Ripley, mentally screaming at them to get the hell out.
This isn’t a singular murderous organism. They’ve just kicked over the hornet nest and this is a waking swarm. Something neither we, nor the characters involved, have ever seen before. Not even Ripley. We see magnificently beautiful, nightmarish close-ups of inhuman limbs unfurling and detaching, glue-like, from hidden surfaces.
Motion-trackers shift from clicking into an echo of nothingness, to announcing movement in heightening, shrill alarm. The noise psychologically reflecting a heartbeat as a very real sense of impending danger closes in. We see a shadow – what was that? Marine or creature? Switch to thermals… They’re not unarmed. Will flamethrowers even work?
Suddenly, without warning, Dietrich screams. Abducted by some biomechanical vulture. Something silent and graceful, like a mantis or shark. Those new ridges along the cranium having worked so magnificently well to disguise the creature in among the patterned resin. Dietrich, in poetic irony, having been first to touch the last victim of impregnation – now destined to undergo the same fate; as if having cursed herself by daring to trigger a nightmare’s birth.
And all of a sudden, we realise how they must have overpowered the colony with such ease. We understand the terror these taloned phantoms must have presided over while they waited, in futility, for salvation.
Ripley has set the nest on fire and left the Queen for dead. Unbeknowst to her, the horror detaches from her egg sack and gives chase. When Ripley and Newt reach the lifts, the Queen announces herself with a scream and then — suddenly — her inhuman geometry appears amidst the fog and warning lights. As Ripley enters the lift, she sees the Alien Mother slowly walking right towards her. The monster wrecks what is in its way and reaches for them, only for Ripley to use her flamethrower in response.
This sequence in the climax of Aliens might be relatively short, but it may as well be one of the most masterfully constructed in the entire series. There is a concrete sense of impending doom, very reminiscent of common nightmares people have across the world. Who has never dreamed of an object — or a thing — coming towards them? The scene also employs imagery taken straight out of a nightmare — with the Star Beast walking slowly, shrouded in mist and warning lights gone insane.
From a technical point of view, anyone reading this article knows that the Alien Queen in Aliens was built both as a full-size animatronic (by Stan Winston Studio) and as a series of small scale puppets (by Doug Beswick, Graham High et al). The sequence employs both the full-size Queen and the miniature Queen in an utterly flawless blend. When you first see the Queen searching for Ripley, and when she is repelled by the flamethrower — it’s the full-size Queen; but when the Monster is walking amidst the gusts of vapour and smacks away the ladder — that’s the miniature Queen. In the film it all flows together perfectly, and even long time enthusiasts — myself included — often forget miniatures were used at all. This excellent employment of creature effects defines the centerpiece of the scene — the Queen, embodying a nightmarish stalker from the deeply-rooted fears of the subconscious.
Last but not least, a key element of the sequence is the soundtrack. For this particular moment of the film, James Cameron wanted to use a track that had been composed by Jerry Goldsmith for Alien, and heard when Ripley suddenly sees the Alien as she is running in the corridors of the Nostromo in the film’s finale. The track, titled Sleepy Alien, was used both times to describe the encounter with an Alien, with thunderous effect. Although it was not written for Aliens, the score fits the chase scene excellently, both for the tone and pacing of it.
So I’ll be the black sheep here and be the only one picking a favorite scene from AVP. There are so many incredible scenes in the franchises that it’s impossible for me to choose a singular favorite, but this is one of them for me.
Nearing the climax of the film, a group of Aliens led by the alpha “Grid” find the queen in the deepest chamber of the pyramid. They look up from the stone steps at her massive form, as she slowly lifts her head to look back at her children. The aliens quickly hop up the stairs and over the ceremonial statues surrounding her. She cries for their help and they climb up over her restrains and onto her back.
The Queen in this Predator containment gear was an image lifted straight from the original comic, and seeing it on screen portrayed so effectively brought about some serious nostalgia. All of the technical Alien creature effect elements were at play here: full size animatronics, miniatures, and computer generated creatures all came together very well. It’s how you do creature effects well in monster movies; you have balance. You play to the strengths of the different film-making tools at your disposal.
As they make their way over her body, we see her preparing to endure the pain of the Aliens biting her carapace repeatedly to splash her acidic blood over the chains binding her. Why the Predators didn’t have her restrained with the same acid-proof metal that the ceremonial spears were made of is slightly curious. Perhaps that material was precious and in short supply, or maybe the hunt was made all the more exciting with the thought that if things went south in the battle with her warriors, the Queen could escape.
The Queen roars in pain as the scene cuts away to another scene following our protagonists. Lex and Scar come across the Alien hive which has grown terribly out of control. We return after a dramatic bit with Lex to see the Aliens jumping away from her, realizing they’ve done enough. The last bit of the Queen’s chains erode away and snaps as she shakes herself free, tearing herself away from her egg sac with a burst of slime releasing from her severed oviposter. She struggles with one last chain but quickly breaks it. The shot focuses on the chain for a moment to foreshadow its significance later.
Free after thousands of years of confinement, the enraged Queen barrels down the temple hallway at full speed. Her Alien swarm scurries ahead of her rampage. Back in the hive, Lex and Scar hear her impending approach, and the Predator realizes their only escape is to destroy the pyramid.
The last time we had seen the Queen Alien on screen was seven years prior, in which she had her face swiped off while immobilized. We had not seen her in her full glory like this since Aliens, and I thought it was great to have her once again be the antagonist in the climax of the film. Some complained that her movements in AVP were too dinosaur-like, but I personally liked her smooth motion and imposing stature. I think some of the awkward movements she had in Aliens were due to the technical restraints of the time, rather than a design choice.
I realize the AVP films have plenty of legitimate criticisms, they are far from being universally enjoyed by fans. But I genuinely think that both of these films included impressive imagery and designs that contributed to the franchises. The scene of the Queen escaping will always impress me as something I read in the comics of my youth, being brought to life on screen.