Superior Firepower: The Making of Aliens


I’m fairly big Aliens fan – it’s one of the movies that I enjoy watching over and over – I’ve probably seen it over thirty times since it came out in the theatre – on VHS, DVD, streaming, And yet I’m not sure I could sit through a 3-hour “making of” documentary (and I’m the type who actually watched “special features” on DVDs and miss those in the modern streaming world).

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The screenshot looks like it is the videos found on the special edition DVDs that I own. It is a very well made and interesting look at the movie. There’s a corrosponding set of videos about Alien. Probably the other movie too, but I don’t own those.

This is on the special edition DVDs and broken up in 10-20 sections. It’s totally worth the watch, but it’s easier to skip around to what you are interested in. It’s organized in pre-production, filming, and post-production with focuses on the script, actors, effects, creatures, sound, reception, etc.

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Aliens is one of those movies where the sequel was far better than the original.
Others include Mad Max and Terminator.
Oh, and Bill & Ted’s.

Absolutely. Just like Matrix Reloaded.

Oh wait, no. I completely disagree.

I like Aliens (an awful lot). But Alien is better. But they’re different genres, so why compare them?

You can have Godfather Part II and Toy Story 2, though.

I disagree about Terminator, as well, FWIW.

Never watched the Godfathers and prefer the plastic-ness of Toy Story 1, so unless we’re together on Mad Max, I’m afraid we’re veering off to different cinemas.
Edit: Matrix 2 & 3 were piles of steaming midichlorian.

I think a major issue with Mad Max is just the cinematic style. It’s long and somewhat slow moving which seems to be a theme of a lot of sci-fi/fantasy type of movies from that era. Road Warrior has better pacing and definitely heads in that punk/post apocalyptic direction, and Beyond the Thunderdome really does well to tie it all together.


Desperado over El Mariachi?

Evil Dead 2?

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Haven’t watched any of those I’m afraid. My tastes lie mostly in the B-movie and crap-amateur direction.
Bill & Ted’s at least?

You’re right in your dissection of 1, and MM2 would stand on its own without the others. But 3 was a fun-day for the whole family. WTF? I expect extreme violence in my post-apocalypses, not Tina bloody Turner.

I can admire Scott’s Alien as being more groundbreaking as Aliens, but it really isn’t a fun movie to watch. I’ve maybe seen it twice and have no desire to watch it again. T2 is also a much more fun movie than the Terminator as well. James Cameron at his peak was awesome (Aliens, T2, The Abyss). Damn you Titanic – you put Cameron off his game. Even Avatar, while it was trying to get back to form, didn’t really match his big three.

I love early Cameron. Big fan of all you mention. Titanic was shite, never bothered with Avatar, won’t watch the sequels.

True Lies?

I like Alien3, so take my ranking of Alien films with a pinch of salt ;). I just generally prefer lower budget, less bombastic SF, and I don’t need the kiddie friendly fun aspect of T2. The SF/Horror mashup of The Terminator and Alien works really well for me.

Discuss: is Event Horizon better than you think it was?

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jeez im sitting right here


I think this is on the Aliens Quadrilogy DVDs. I really, really want a working prop replica. It is based on the Thompson machine gun with a Remington 870 underneath and I have seen a youtube video of a guy who made a working prop from one. You could make it work with a modern semi auto clone.

I recall Sigorney Weaver being icky about having to use a gun, asking if she had to. Cameron was adamant, saying it was a central part to the character. He ended up taking one of the working prop Thompsons out back and have her shoot a few magazines. Long story short, she had a lot of fun.

Also, I think scifi works so much better when the use real guns as the basis. The Stormtrooper rifle, Boba Fett and Han’s blasters, etc, they all seem so much more “real”. You can compare it to the prequels and they lack the same aesthetic.

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True Lies is a darn good silly movie. Though I do have cognitive dissonance trying to balance the stories of Cameron’s famously-antagonistic managerial style with just how funny the film ended up being.

I might be interested in watching parts of this if they go beyond the special effects and get into some of the drama behind the scenes. Cameron fired James Remar (probably best known for Ajax in The Warriors) after a week of filming, allegedly for drug use, and replaced him with Michael Biehn from The Terminator; he also fired his director of photography (the DP insisted on lighting the scenes brightly, even though Cameron wanted more shadowy, atmospheric lighting), and clashed with the British crew over tea time, of all things.

Well…tea time! Hey, cmon! There’s sacred and then there’s Sacred. At least, tho, they all probably did manage to get to the pubs before ‘time, gents’.


I hate it. The story is lacking, the acting is OTT - it is all about atmosphere. But it just didn’t do anything for me. I can enjoy horror for atmosphere, like weird Italian horror, the Blind Dead movies, 60s gothic, etc. As for sheer evil dread, I love H.P. Lovecraft, I felt that event Horizon was trying to be like a cinematic SciFi Lovecraft movie, but they tried to convey this dread in ways I found unengaging.

What I love about Alien is that it is a technical masterpiece. It is just so obsessive, so controlled. The narrative doesn’t even interest me so much. As a young kid around this time I watched a lot of sci-fi movies, most were either campy fun or overly ambitious. Alien and Blade Runner were the first ones I saw with no seams, just pure world building. This attention to detail is why they stand up so well even all these years later.

Aliens I liked. It too was obsessive. Lots of great work with the sets, miniatures, armatures and creature effects. But I disliked that it felt more close to the characters, who I just didn’t find interesting. Alien3 I thought had a better approach to a stripped down character based Alien movie. Aliens I thought needed more distance to allow me to savor a rich world rather than have it blown up around me. The setting was great, I just found the action uninteresting, even if impeccably well done. It is still definitely a fun watch for me.

Worth checking out: I had/have a screenplay draft of a version of Alien3 by William Gibson which would have been amazing. A great, big, dark sci-fi direction for this world. Now that I remember it, I read it like 15 years ago and don’t remember much about it. Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t try to make it, except perhaps the scale was too big for their means.

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