Alien: The Director's Cut - What was new about it?

I saw this tonight, and I enjoyed it, but what was new about it? I thought this part was new

when Ripley is on her way to the shuttle and sees the captain and Bert cocooned against the ship’s body in a big mass of goo, and the captain says, “kill me!”

and even with that, my friend said that that part was NOT new (my memory must be going), so what WAS new?

Another thing occurred to me while watching this: it would be difficult, if not impossible, to successfully remake this film, for a number of reasons which come to me right now:

  1. Ridley Scott. His style of direction is so unique and sophisticated - with the atmospherics and moodiness of his films, and part of the excellence of the film is a reflection of his unique style, that no other director could replicate the creepiness of it.

  2. Jerry Goldsmith - a famous film score writer whose music really provided a depth of feeling and mystery to the film. I suppose this aspect is arguable, since the music in Alien really supports other things going on, rather than draw attention to itself, like Williams’ score in Star Wars. (let me add that the sound effects were also well-done)

  3. The film era during which it was released. This was an era of films during which outer space and aliens were depicted as wondrous, magical and warm-and-fuzzy, with Star Wars, Close Encounters, etc. The notion of an alien who was evil and wanted to kill in such a graphic and ruthless manner shattered a lot of then-contemporary ideas about what aliens would be like if we were to meet them.

  4. The design of the sets, creature, etc. I believe it was H.R. Geiger who designed it all, and again, as with #1, how could you possibly replicate the creepiness and moodiness of the set designs with outright copying them?

  5. The actors - I feel that the actors ALL did brilliantly with the material they were given. Frankly, while I love Sigourney Weaver, even in this film, I did not feel she did best - I liked Parker, the black mechanic, and Lampert, the short-haired one who was easily frightened. Even as a whole, however, this group seemed to work well together, and really made you feel like this story could really happen, as though this spacecraft were just another boat encountering something very strange.

So, for these reasons, and others, I would be very surprised if anyone could ever do it over better than Ridley Scott did!

P.S. No, the film is not perfect. It has become dated in some respects (computers, special effects), and acting styles have changed subtly since then, especially for women.

I have the Criterion laserdisc (remember those?) and the DVD and both feature the scene you mentioned.

A couple of scenes were trimmed and a couple deleted scenes were added back in.

One of the better sci-fi/horror films.


Yes that scene WAS new to the directors cut, but it was in the special edition directors cut laser disc released years ago. It was cut originally because it showed the two captives being transformed into eggs as part of the alien lifecycle. It was decided after it was shot that it wasn’t that great of an idea, so when Aliens came out, Cameron introduced the Queen as the egg-layer.

Hmm, if that’s it, I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it.

I’m still annoyed about laying down a few bucks to see the Blade Runner director’s cut, with similarly trivial changes.

O/T byt Bryan: The Blade Runner directors cut while having trivial changes have much larger implications on the story.

Whaa…? I don’t call removing the narration and changing the ending “trivial” changes. It’s an almost completely different story.

I remember that scene, although I have never seen any directors cut version (That I can recall).

Was there a book? Maybe someone read the book and told me about that part.

It’s been a long time.

Pfft, the Blade Runner ending wasn’t changed. Scott just chopped it off, leaving no ending at all. Big-freaking-deal. As for the narration, it was handy for clearing up some of the hazier aspects of the premise the first time you saw the movie. By the time the director’s cut came around, everybody who was interested in seeing it already knew the basics and the voiceover wasn’t necessary. I fail to see how removing it improves the movie. Actually, I kinda liked the noir-ish aspect of the voiceover.

Anyhoo, there was a novelization of Alien, and it contained the scene with a coccooned Dallas and Brett, with Brett having already been face-hugged and chest-bursted, and Dallas asking Ripley to waste him (which she does). It might be interesting to see the footage, but I can’t say the movie would be improved by its inclusion. There are times, of course, when restored footage really does help, and the extra minutes thrown into the laserdisk version of Aliens helped a lot in claryifying Burke’s role in the disaster and explaining why Newt is so adept at navigating the air ducts, plus the robosentries were seriously cool.

There were pictures of the cocooned captain in the magazine Cinefantastique right after the movie opened back in 1979. The scenes were shot back then, and fans knew about them, but it was years before they ever saw them.

Regarding nisosbar’s original post – hostile aliens were certainly nothing new to SF, and not even to that era. Films like CE3K were arguably a reaction against such uniformly evil aliens, which had dominated a lot of popular SF since The War of the Worlds (even though SF from the “golden Age” onwards had featured plenty of inteligent, non-hostile aliens, depictions in popular media tended to be largely negative). In fact, as I’ve frequently noted, the plot of Alien seems to have been lifted from that of Jerome Bixby’s “It!The Terror from Beyond Space”, a movie I prefer to Alien in the way the actions of the characters are more logical. Alien is a helluva lot more moody and artfully done, though, and using H.R. Giger’s designs for the creature was inspired.

I think pulling the Dallas stuck to the wall scene, weakened the movie. I think I read, the book before I saw the movie and I found Dallas’ fate… unsettling.

I always thought that the Alien implanted Dallas and Brett with ‘eggs’, that turned Brett and Dallas into facehungers/eggs themselves.

There’s a scene in the movie when Lambert gets killed. The Aliens’ tail is inching towards her and it seemed like it had exposed a “stinger” on it to me.

That always seemed to make more sense to me and made the Alien even more scary…more ‘perfect’, than having it lug its victims to the egg chamber or go out bring in more eggs.

The Alien was perfect. All you needed was one, and you were lucky if you got killed right away and not implanted with a ‘bug’ that ate you ALIVE from within.

It didn’t need a ‘queen’ or a mate, it only reproduced when there was enough ‘material’ to allow it to…as opposed to a having a Queen sitting around laying eggs waiting to be killed. It seemed to be waste of energy and resources to lay lots more eggs than hosts.

It also explained what happened to the crew of the first ship, why were they no other huge skeletons…? Because the crew, became the eggs.

Perfect. Clean. Precise.

I think in the book, Dallas references a spider that lays eggs in a living host and what a horrible way to die, knowing what’s inside you and unable to do anything about it.

Similar to, but worst I think, than say having a ‘quick’ death from a chest-burster.

Have I been mistaken for all these years…?

Not sure if neccessary, but using spoiler space anyway…

I once heard that there was an additional scene at the end of the movie. At the end, the camera shows Ripley in the sleep chamber in the shuttle. The camera then panned across the shuttle to show an egg sitting in one corner. At the end of the credit we hear the sound of the egg opening. (This sound is actually in the original movie.) Is this scene in the new release or does it end like the original with just Ripley in the sleep chamber?

Also, to continue the hijack, I don’t buy the “larger implications” from the changes in the directors cut to Blade Runner. I know what they are supposed to mean but I do not think that what they are supposed to imply was the director’s original intent. I think he heard some speculation in that direction, decided it was a cool idea and added some footage that supposedly supported the idea. Personally I think the implication is tenuous at best but if people want to take it as supporting their point of view I am not going to try to argue with them about it. I don’t agree with them but that’s just my opinion.

I’m not familiar with It! The Terror from Beyond Space but I always thought that the plot of Alien was uncomfortably close to part of van Vogt’s The Voyage of the Space Beagle.

Van Vogt wrote two stories – “Black Destroyer” and “The Scarlewt (Something – I can’t remember what)” that he later inegrated into the novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle (He called the process of writing short stories and publishing them, then piecing them into a novel a “fix-up”, a term the Science Fiction Encyclopedia has adopted). “Black Destroyer” has becopme the classic “monster loose on a starship” story. I don’t know if it was the first, but it’s the best remembered. It’s always bugged me because the actions of the people seem illogical, and the ending doesn’t make a lot of sense. The only resemblance to either of the films I seee is the “monster loose on the spaceship” idea. “The Scarlet whatever” was another Monster on a Spaceship, but this one introduced the idea of it laying eggs in the crewmen’s bodies. Truly scary concept, borrowed (I assume) from the behavior of certain wasps, like the Ichneumon Fly.

Jerome Bixy wrote the screenplay for It! The Terror from Beyond Space in the 1950s. I’d be surprised if he didn’t at least know about Van Vogt’s stories, even if he hadn’t read them. But the only resemblance is the “monster on the Spaceship” idea, and the way it extracts elements from the bodies of those it attacks. (Black Destroyer took phosphorus, which it confusingly calls “id”; It, coming from super-dry Mars, absorbed water by osmosis, which I thought a neat concept). There’s no egg-laying or the like. The actions of the monster, and of the people, are logical and make sense. The creature chases the people from the bottom of the cigar-shaped space ship to the top, so there’s a cruel logic to it. Once you reach the tip, where do you go? They kill it by venting the ship --the creature uses a LOT of air, and it suffocates when that’s cut off.
There are a few anachronisms that seem weird – people smoke cigarettes (on a spaceship!!!), stores aren’t secured, but just laid in cabinets. They have gubs and grenades on board (why, in God’s name!!!). Even though there are men and women aboard (yay! Social integration!) the women get stuck with all the domestic chores. A very good low-budget and mostly neglected SF gem of a film.

Alien was written by a whole stack of people, and they’re still arguing about it, I think. The plot and concepts changed around a LOT, I understand. One of the writers, and one whose name made it to the final product, was SF film Renaissance Man Dan O’Bannon. In the film Dark Star, which O’Bannon not only helped make, but which he also acted in, he played “Pinback”, the crewman in charge of the cute alien they picked up somewhere on their trip. The alien is “The Beachball”, played by (apparently) a real beachball, painted so as to look organic, with two rubber “monster feet” stuck on the bottom. It gets loose and you have a sort of “Monster on the Spaceship” situation, only played mostly for laughs. (Pinback is stuck in an elevator shaft. The Beachball tickles him.) The Beachball scenes were added for padding, after O’Bannon, John Carpenter, etc. had made the student film version, which was too short for general distribution.

I think the idea stuck with him, and he wanted to do it for real. As long as I’m guessing motives, I’d guess that O’VBannon and company derived their plot mostly from the movie “It! etc.” than from Van Vogt, because that bit about the Alien getting sucked out of the port when they open the door into space echoes the movie, not the story. I suspect they took the idea of the implanted alien embrtos from the Roger Corman flick Night of the Blood Beast, an otherwise undistinguished flick with this one cool idea (MST3K tore up NOTBB in one of their later episodes). Some details seem to have come from the Mario Bava film Planet of Vampires – The finding of a derelict alien spacecraft, the giant skeleton of the spacecraft’s pilot still aboard (I owe Cinefantastique for that – I never would have caught it).

My beefs with Alien:

1.) Come on – how does the little chest-burster grow into that seven-foot monstrosity? Where did it get the mass from?

2.) “There’s a monster loose on this ship. We’re going over here. You go over there, where it’s dark.” They do this three times

3.) You build a warning system and use it once. Badly. “It’s coming, Dallas – get out of there!” Try telling him which way it’s coming from. And then they never use it again (!!)

4.) It’s never clear why the creature is killing people. The excised scene with the cocooned Dallas suggests that it’s providing food for its young, but that wasn’t in the original flick. Thwey never say if it’s eating them or what. It seems to kill out of pure cussedness.

5.) Ash being an Evil Robot comes clear out of left field. Give me a break! If you’re going to have something like this happening, you ought to foreshadow, or at least explain the rules of this civilization. As it is, you think Ash is some manifestation of the Creature at first. And having the Robot side with the Alien is really bad programming.

6.) An awful lot was made about the Alien’s head looking like a skull. You saw this in paintings and models, and shots of Carlo Rambaldi’s mechanical Alien head. But you never saw that skull in the movie. So Big Deal. Who cares?

All in all, I have to admit that the actions of a lot of the crew (Dalls and Ripley excepted) seem pretty non-survival, and maybe we should be happy they’re out of the gene pool. But I hate losing empathy with the characters. Once I do, why should I keep watching?

Last point – they made a big deal about the fact that Ripley’s part was oriinally written for a man, but Sigourney Weaver played it. Bravo to them for having a strong female lead, but I have to point out that this wasn’t the first time this happened in an SF film. The Andromeda Strain did it almost a decade earlier, and the character (who had been male in Crichton’s book) was played by a middle-aged woman, not a young woman, so they get extra points for going against sexism and ageism.

Interestingly, one interview with Weaver had her describing a scene that was planned, but never filmed. Somewhere along the way, Ripley was supposed to say “I need some relief”, then have sex with Dallas in some kind of funky chair that was actually built, but never used because cooler heads prevailed and pointed out that taking time out for a quickie while the monster is still on the loose is fundamentally stupid.

Cal, the van Vogt title you’re aiming at is “Discord in Scarlet”.

I recall the scene with the cocooned Dallas was in the Alan Dean Foster novelization, but not in the theatrical release version.

And who was it summarized the plot of Alien as “There’s an alien monster loose on this spaceship. Nobody is safe. Excuse me, I’m just going into this dark room by myself.” ?

The scene where Ripley finds Dallas cocooned was cut by Ridley Scott strictly for pacing. He felt it brought the frantic last 17 minutes of the film to too much of a halt.

He has since said it was a huge mistake, it doesn’t slow the film down, its incredibly creepy & disturbing and he wishes he’d left it in!

This is in the 2nd film, Aliens, and its actually the sound of a facehugger scurrying across the floor at the very end of the credits. There was never any footage shot for it however. It is most definitely there though. Cameron did it as a tease towards another sequel (which is exactly what happens at the begining of Alien³).

How that egg got on board is right up there with arguing Kirk vs Picard…

BTW, does everyone know that the long awaited Alien vs Predator is actually filming and is slated for release next summer!

it ends just like the original - not sure if I would have liked the film as much with such a cheesy ending.

Thanks for the reply Cal, that makes sense. Good analysis.

You mention Ash and I agree that his being a robot came out of left field. But that does bring up another question I have always had from the movie.

Ripley catches Ash and he proceeds to beat the stuffing out of her. Then, instead of simply killing her, he rolls up a magazine and attempts to shove it into her mouth.

Exactly what was he trying to accomplish here? If he was trying to kill her, wouldn’t it be easier to simply break her neck? (As a robot he was probably strong enough.) I read some speculation that he was either a) trying to make it look like a face-hugger killed her, or b) he had an “egg” from somewhere and was planning on implanting it in her. There is no real evidence to support either one though, so what was Ash trying to accomplish with the rolled up magazine? (And, before anyone mentions it, I do get the rape symbolism. What? He was trying to kill her with symbolism?)

Yeah it’s in the book, I was quite surprised when I read it. As Ripley sees the cocooned crew on her way to the shuttle, how does this affect the self destruct countdown happenning in realtime?

If that’s how you feel about the Aliens, don’t see the extended edition of Aliens

I thought he was attempting to strangle her without leaving any visible marks.