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StarBeast — Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem

With the worldwide success of Alien Vs. Predator, a sequel was greenlit by Twentieth Century Fox. Due to their familiarity with both the Alien series and the first AvP film, the special effects artists of Amalgamated Dynamics were again hired to bring the creature effects of the new film to the screen. Accompanying them in the task was Hydraulx — directors Greg and Colin Strause’s own visual effects company, which provided digital counterparts for all the Alien creatures. Requiem would feature the least stages of the Alien lifecycle — with a script devoid of both Eggs or a Queen; despite that, it would introduce to the screen the so-called ‘Predalien’, an Alien born from a Predator host, which only had been portrayed in the AvP comics up until the film’s release.

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StarBeast — Alien Vs. Predator

AvPstandoff

Alien Vs. Predator was born as a successful comic book series by Dark Horse, which pitted the two iconic film Monsters against each other within an organic backstory. When the film version was being written, Dan O’Bannon, the original writer of Alien, suggested to the filmmakers a new twist on the relationship between the two titular creatures. The idea was — for perhaps obvious reasons — discarded. O’Bannon told Fangoria: “the most obvious creative thing you have to solve on a movie like this is: what’s the connection between the species? What they came up with was that Predators bred Aliens as part of a complicated ritual. But my idea was, what if the Predators are the Aliens? In the first Alien movie, there’s a part in the end when they blow up the ship. And it still has one stage left, and my idea was that if it metamorphosed one more time it would have become the Predator, but they didn’t use it. It was good, though! My one great idea for them and they didn’t use it.” Despite that, O’Bannon still ultimately enjoyed the final product.

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H.R. Giger’s letters to Twentieth Century Fox on the lack of credit for Alien: Resurrection

Necronom IV.

Necronom IV.

When Alien: Resurrection was theatrically released, there was no actual credit given to H.R. Giger — neither in the opening credits nor in the end credits. The omission, allegedly “a genuine oversight,” was corrected in home video releases — especially after the following letters, sent by Giger to Twentieth Century Fox.

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Monster Gallery: Alien: Resurrection (1997)

StarBeast — Alien: Resurrection

Amalgamated Dynamics returned to provide the creature effects for the fourth chapter in the Alien series, complete with the usual tight production schedule. Tom Woodruff Jr. explained to Cinefex: “production told us that, due to Sigourney’s schedule, we would have to be ready to start shooting with a very short prep. We did a breakdown of the script and realized that the job was enormous — just way too big. And then that original shooting date came and went. Unfortunately, when they came back later, it was the same story. We were very worried about having enough time to do the job right. We knew that if we rushed it, the work would look bad, and we’d be the ones who ended up hurt. So we outlined some cuts, identified what was needed up front when Sigourney had to start, and pushed all the other stuff to later in the schedule. It was understood that we’d be showing up literally two days before shoots with very little time for tests or changes.”

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Monster Gallery: Alien³ (1992)

StarBeast — Alien³, the Dragon

 

Alien³ was a troubled production from beginning to end, and the creature effects department was no exception: the artists were plagued by constant changes in direction and contradicting studio decisions. Gillis recalled in an interview with Fangoria: “Fox never had a problem with coming back and saying ‘sorry guys. We know you built these things, but there’s a new direction, and we’re not going to use them’. We had to keep ourselves and the crew orally afloat, because people put their blood, sweat and tears into the stuff, and have a tendency to get upset when an effect’s cancelled. There were six stages of Aliens, count them! But we’re not griping about the script changes, because any story should constantly be honed. That only shows us the film’s getting better, and if the effect doesn’t serve the plot, then there’s no reason for it.”

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StarBeast — Alien³, the Beginning

Alien3Gigerhead

Alien³ underwent a long, articulated creation process — which saw several scriptwriters elaborating their own screenplays, only to be replaced — one after the other. Going from William Gibson to David Twohy, the film only began to develop to the next step with Vincent Ward and John Fasano’s script. It was based on that story that concept artists Stephen Ellis and Mike Worrall elaborated their own designs for the creatures, which included a woolly Chestburster born from a sheep, and an adult Alien whose origin was left unexplained. Those very initial concepts were conceived more as placeholders to illustrate certain sequences in the script, rather than actual designs.

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StarBeast — Aliens, the Alien Queen

Aliensqueenawakens

A PIERCING SHRIEK fills the chamber.

She turns. And there it is.

A massive silhouette in the mist, the ALIEN QUEEN glowers over her eggs like a great, glistening black Insect-Buddha. What’s bigger and meaner than the Alien? His Momma. Her fanged head is an unimaginable horror. Her six limbs, the four arms, and two powerful legs, are folded grotesquely over her distended abdomen. The egg-filled abdomen swells and swells into a great pulsing tubular sac, suspended from a lattice of pipes and conduits by a web-like membrane as if some vast coil of intestines was draped carelessly among the machinery.

-James Cameron, Aliens draft, 1985

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Monster Gallery: Aliens (1986)