Alien Vault: The Definitive Story Of The Making Of The Film


I was at the tender age of 8 in 1980 when I watched Alien for the first time, it was being broadcast on the Movie Channel. From the opening moments of the film where we as the audience are given a “tour” of the mostly silent Nostromo I can recall sitting in front of the television, enraptured for the next 117 minutes. There are some who might say I was not the right age to enjoy this film, which is largely considered by the world to be one of Ridley Scott’s masterpieces, they might be right but it certainly helped to cement my love for horror films.

I remember after watching Alien I was talking to my Father about in the car as we went to the store, he of course enjoyed it immensely as had I but we disagreed on one thing. He believed it to be a science fiction movie where I said it was a horror film, or as I said back then “A scary movie”. To this very day…I wouldn’t say we get into arguments but sometimes our voices become pitched at the dinner table if this subject matter is brought up. I still stick to my guns on this. Alien is a horror film with science fiction trappings.

Our friends over at Voyageur Press were very kind in sending me a review copy of their fantastic new book, Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film. Written by Ian Nathan, who just happens to be the Executive Editor of the wonderful Empire Magazine, this 175 page book is not only fully authorized by 20th Century Fox but has been given the blessing of Sir Ridley Scott himself! Scott has also helped with the book by providing archived items like a few of his storyboards from the film, which have been reproduced so you can remove them from the book and enjoy the behind the scenes opportunity and marvel at his artistic talent as well. Ridley Scott has also included some reproductions of his shooting script that contain hand written additions on the dialogue that make it into the finished film and Polaroids of the set and the crew.

The book is chock-full of behind the scenes photos and besides the storyboard reproductions there are schematics of the Nostromo, paintings by H.R. Giger of the infamous facehugger and the Space Jockey the crew of the Nostromo finds in the ‘abandoned’ space derelict, as well as a sticker of the crew’s sewn on patch and much more.

Of course those reproductions are very nice but the real treasure is all of the research that Ian Nathan has done for the book. He takes you through the entire process of the making of the film with Scott’s and the crews own words and feelings about the production, and you’ll learn that not all the actors found the production enjoyable. There is no part of the film making process that Ian does not touch upon, the music by Jerry Goldsmith, as well as the marketing of the film which includes some very interesting ideas for what could have been the final theatrical posters.

One example I have to share is how Ian leads us through the beginnings of the Alien pre-production and how it is strangely connected with a failed film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune by Alejandro Jodorowsky, in which I kid you not, Orson Welles would have played Baron Harkonnen and Salvador Dali would have been the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. While that would certainly have been an interesting film to see, the film adaptation was being written by Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Dead and Buried, Return of the Living Dead) who would lay the foundation alongside his friend and fellow screenwriter Ron Shusett for the Alien franchise with their script which had been entitled many things before simply Alien, such as Starbeast.

Ian does go on towards the end of his book to touch on the sequels to the original film and the many spinoffs of the Alien universe. Ian makes sure to take the time to point out the multitude of films that have been inspired by the legacy of the Alien film.

This book I truly believe lives up to it’s title, this is the definitive source on the making of Alien. It is superbly written and I can say that for any fan of the film they need to add this book to their collection.

Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film is out in stores already and you can order it from the Voyageur Press links up top or below. As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the post, I find Alien to be a Horror film at it’s heart, so pick this book up and be ready to enjoy some very informative reading!

I would like to thank our friends at Voyageur Press once again for allowing me the opportunity to review the book and share my joy of it with you all.

Order your copy of Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film

VicSage

Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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4 thoughts on “Alien Vault: The Definitive Story Of The Making Of The Film

  1. CritAnime says:

    I will be buying this. But there is also a load of great documentaries on the blu-ray alien box set. So this book will be a great audition to go along with the documentaries.

  2. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Great article, Vic!
    One of my favorite movies of all time!
    So glad it’s still getting the love it deserves.

    Will have to get this book immediately, been thinking about the movie since we started talking about Carpenter’s The Thing, and realized how few actually effective movies there are that combine sci-fi and horror so well.
    (I’d be on the fence with the discussions between you and your father, and there are ideas of this being a ‘haunted house’ movie in space that are also hard to disparage)

    Saw this in a dark theater with my dad when I was twelve, and was afraid he’d walk out cuz of the horror bits (glanced at him fearfully right after the chest-burster scene, and he was caught up in the story).
    We both loved the movie, and I think the high quality of the cinematography and the stirring music had a lot to convince older folks of the legitimacy of such a dark tale.
    Fitting to have a more detailed overview of the making of Alien.
    As CritAnime said, the Quadrilogy box set had tons of extras, but whole interviews and behind-the-scene pics are very welcome.

    And one last thing: the cracking egg trailer is one of my favorites, as it wordlessly confounds and astounds and makes you so curious about the movie, without spoiling the content.
    I wish they took this approach to marketing good films more often.

  3. Great write up on a great movie sir! I love Alien. I’ve also always been fascinated that it could be such a respected and succesful horror movie and then spawn sequels that were huge genre pictures in their own right, but strangely enough not the same genre. By the way…The Claymation Werewolf in 1980 (about seven days ago to be exact) was being born! What a great film to share a birth year with!

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