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.