trivia. the Alien franchise.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. The films even came up in college and university a tonne of times as landmark movies that challenged cinematic theories.

Although there are six Alien movies (not including the Alien vs Predator films), only four of them follow Ripley’s tormented adventures with the terrifying creature’s known as Xenomorph’s. Considered one of the most significant female protagonists in all of cinema, Sigourney Weaver played the memorable heroine, Ellen Ripley who turned gender roles in horror and sci-fi movies on their head.

So with whispers of a fifth Ripley-Alien movie floating about, I thought now was a good time as any to natter about some of my favourite facts from the Ripley quadrilogy.

The original Alien cast was ALL men!

The original Alien story had all male characters, but writers Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett had a note in their screenplay to say the characters could be unisex. Alan Ladd, one of the producers, proposed Ripley should be a woman because it would make the film stand out; Ridley Scott loved the idea because nobody would suspect she would survive. O’Bannan and Shusett never actually intended the lead would be played by a female.

A German Shepherd was used to make Jones the Cat, hiss.

Being a crazy cat-mama myself, this has to be one of my favourite facts of the lot. In Alien, the cat handlers couldn’t make Jones hiss at the Xenomorph model alone, so they placed a darkened screen between the Cat and a German Shepherd dog, hiding them from each others sight. When the Alien appears, the crew removed the screen revealing the Dog to the Cat, causing Jones to back up and hiss perfectly for the cameras.

The Xenomorph in the final sequence of Alien was already dying!

Even though it’s not made clear in the first movie, Ridley Scott decided that Xenomorph’s had short lifespans. Like insects, the Xenomorphs rapidly matured through different life-cycles and by the end of the film, when the Alien is moving sluggishly because it’s already dying of natural death.

James Cameron was not welcome on the second instalment of the franchise!

Many of the British crew that had worked on the original Alien film were so loyal to Ridley Scott that James Cameron had a hard time trying to win their respect. In an effort to win their confidence and show off his talents, Cameron arranged a screening of The Terminator but most of them ignored the invite and just didn’t turn up.

the Scott – Cameron Bromance!

Ridley Scott was excited by the thought of a sequel to Alien but when James Cameron was asked to write and direct Aliens instead, Scott said “it hurt my feelings really, because I thought we did quite a good job on the first one”. Scott was working in a nearby studio when Aliens was being made and ended up having a chat with Cameron and even though the film went a different way than Scott had envisioned, he was impressed with the result, saying “It’s always a tough job to follow a successful film with a sequel to it, so what I think James Cameron did was an excellent action picture. It really was amazing what he accomplished. […] I would never, ever critique or criticise [Aliens] because I think it was very successful and what he did was really good.”

Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 were filmed in Britain!

For Alien, the live-action scenes were filmed at Shepperton Studios, off the B376 in Surrey. The model and miniature filming was done at Bray Studios, near Maidenhead in Berkshire.

The alien egg chamber where Kane (John Hurt) encounters the facehugger, was built in the disused Acton Lane Power Station in west London; the same place that James Cameron’s sequel, Aliens, was filmed.

Alien 3 was mainly filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and Blast Beach in Seaham was used as the surface of the alien planet, alongside Dawdon Colliery on the Durham coast.

David Fincher had only directed music videos before Alien 3!

Alien 3 passed through the hands of a few directors before it landed on David Fincher‘s lap. Despite going onto make some absolute corkers (Zodiac and Se7en), Fincher didn’t get the same praise for Alien 3 that Alien or Aliens received and he had lots of conflicts with the studio. Fincher had never directed a feature film before and although he went on to be perfectionist in other movies he made, he really grated on producers for shooting and re-shooting scenes multiple times and being obsessed with the little details. The tense relationship with the studio was strained even more by rushed schedules, money, unfinished scripts and editing disagreements. By the time the film was released, Fincher wanted nothing more to do with it and refused to participate in the directors cut which ended up being released based on notes he left behind; it was a director’s cut without the director.

Sigourney Weaver said NO to Alien: Resurrection

Alien: Resurrection didn’t include Ellen Ripley in the original concept. Instead, it was meant to be about the enhanced clone of Newt (the little girl from Aliens) who would have super strength and fighting skills. Joss Whedon was brought onboard to write a story base for the idea because of his experience writing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not too long after he wrote the initial story, the studio changed their minds about Newt. They were worried fans of the first Alien movies wouldn’t accept a fourth instalment without the Ripley character. After Sigourney Weaver declined the initial offers, the studio finally offered her $11 million dollars to reprise her role (which was the same as the whole budget for the original Alien movie). She obviously accepted and we ended up with a Ripley clone instead.

I could go on and on and on about all the trivia in the Alien films but I don’t think I would ever finish this post. I haven’t even included any facts about Prometheus (one of my favourite films of all time) or Alien: Covenant but I think I’d rather tackle them on their own.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here but I’m off now; I’m gonna go pop a film on… *ahem* Prometheus *ahem*…

Leave your own favourite facts in the comments below to keep this post interesting.

film. brightburn

MOVIE: Brightburn

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: David Yarovesky

WRITER: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn

MAIN CAST: Jackson A. Dunn, David Denman, Elizabeth Banks

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 30min

There are spoilers below…

I try and avoid movie trailers out of fear that they will spoil a film or take something away from it. Most of the time I feel like they show way too much information and somehow force me to develop an opinion about a film before I have even seen it.

Brandon Breyer

Brightburn was one of those times I ended up seeing the trailer and although I wouldn’t necessarily say I developed an opinion about the film I did start thinking up questions about it and like most, I was coming back to Superman every-time.

ooooo, interesting was my initial reaction to the first few seconds of the trailer. Then as it went on I began to cringe a little, ah I don’t know. I mean, a bad Superman? Is that where they’re going with this? We’ve seen Superman turn bad. Then again, we’ve never seen him start out bad. Ok – they’re either gona do this good OR it’s gona be real bad.

I kept seeing odd buzz words around the film: Horror, Gory, Bad seed, Evil Superhero. I was wondering, how dark is this gona be?

When I thought about a bad Superman, I couldn’t help going back to the 1983 Superman III starring Christopher Reeve. It’s the one where Superman splits into an evil version of himself after being exposed to synthetic kryptonite. He becomes a bit of a horny, juvenile alcoholic. Sure some of the stuff he does is a bit bad, but considering the power he wields he doesn’t go that mental. This got me hoping Brightburn wasn’t just about a moody Mama’s boy going through puberty.

Superman and Clark Kent

To be fair, the trailer made it quite clear the little dude in this film was one step ahead of getting wasted, blowing out the Olympic Torch and straightening out the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Superman III). He is definitely a bit of a psycho, but how far was he really going to go? Was he just going to maim people? Or was this angelic looking kid going to go on full-on Killing sprees? I think there’s a few occasions in the DC comics where Superman goes a bit nuts and even starts killing members of the Justice League, so it was possible that he will go that far?

The Gunn brothers, Mark and Brian, that wrote the screenplay are adamant the film is not based on a ‘bad Superman’, but an already evil alien raised on earth but because I don’t read about films until I’ve seen them, most of this I didn’t really pick up until afterward.

I think I should have observed that statement a little harder while I watched it because I got caught up on this whole Evil Superman parallel, that it was easy to only see the Superman element.

Yes! There’s bunch of references paying homage to Superman from the red cape to the laser beam eyes. Yes! Like the Superman back-story, a baby crash lands on a farm and Mr & Mrs Farmer decide to raise the baby as their own, but you can read more about all those on another site.

Forget for a minute that Brightburn had anything to do with Superman at all.

What got my skin crawling is what’s implied about Brandon’s backstory and what he’s going through. After much consideration, I think Brandon is less like Superman – and more like some killer Wasp-Bee alien, and here’s why.

To give that a little more context, I’m going to start from the scene in the school where Brandon talks about bees and wasps.

By the complex answer he gives his teacher when they’re learning about the Bees and the Wasps Brandon appears to be smarter than the average kid. The other children tease Brandon; he is clearly different to them and maybe they all sense that. I don’t think this scene just makes a point about how smart Brandon is, or how the other kids in the class are bullying him. I think this scene is a big clue about why he landed on Earth and what makes this film stand away from Superman.

I’ll expand on what Brandon talks about to show where I’m coming from; Brandon says about the aggressive nature of wasps and how they don’t have the ability to create hives so they take over existing ones by brute force. True Brood wasps are insects that infiltrate host nests as larvae (like Brandon as a baby) and are raised by the adult hosts (like Tori and Kyle). Cuckoo Bumblebees do the same, but also release pheromones in order to slip past bee security and kill or subdue the queen of entire colonies and take them over, forcing the host worker-hive to feed their offspring.

I think showing him being bullied is by the other kids at school could also be seen as they are poking the wasp nest – so to speak but I won’t get carried away.

When Brandon wakes up in the middle of the night after a seizure, the hidden space-vessel he came in seems to send out psychic messages awakening his powers of strength, flight and speed (not to mention the laser eyes). Later in the film Brandon cracks the psychic code and realises its telling him to TAKE THE WORLD – which he seems to do, like a Cuckcoo Bee takes a colony.

Yeah, from here on in, Brandon starts displaying a whole load of manipulative and twisted behaviour that involves bloodshed and threats – but there’s a fair few indicators that what he’s been going through doesn’t just start after the seizure in bed.

Knowing that despite his innocent appearance, Brandon is not a real human child, Kyle points out the things he’s noticed as they have raised him.

Kyle and Tori discover some magazine clippings which aren’t just teenage-boy-spank-bank material. Beneath a few pictures of bikini models, there’s pictures and drawings of human guts. The notebook that he is always writing in is quite tatted and used up and when we see it later in the film, there’s a lot of disturbing content (even the logo he stamps everywhere is like a rudimentary bee or wasp stamp). It all suggests these are things that have been playing on his mind for a while. It’s not quite as simple as a space-ship talking to him awakening some sudden urge to kill, it seems Brandon has been wondering what people look like from the inside-out, for a lot longer.

Does he want to know our anatomy so he can kill us easily? Does he want to lay eggs in our abdomen? Is he going to eat us when he is done? I mean, when he stuck his finger in the blood on his dying uncles face, I half expected him to lick it off!!

Ok I aren’t clutching at straws here – I can give this Bee-Wasp Alien theory a bit more traction.

Another part of the film that seems to back up the idea of Brandon infiltrating Earth to potentially colonise it, like the Cuckoo Bee, is his interest in Caitlyn. Despite the fact that he crushes her hand, in some sort of controlling and manipulative effort he still wants to pursue her sexually. The reason I specifically say sexually, is because the first thing he does after Kyle ‘gives him the talk (about the birds and the bees‘) is stalk her in her bedroom. It’s more carnal than it is romantic, especially because he actually stalks her. Even after he breaks her hand he is still imposing. Has he intended her as his mate?

Ok so enough about that – one of thee main and most definitive reasons I think Brandon is a Wasp Monster is… The insect-like hooded-mask he wears. I mean, come on, could you get more symbolic than that? He hovers like a wasp, he moves at speed like a wasp, he’s aggressive and parasitic and imposing – he even wears a wasp mask!!

So if I forget for a minute that the word Superman is even remotely related to this little monster, I become extremely creeped out. I reckon Brandon is more likely from a liege of super Wasp Aliens that can morph into their hosts, permeate an entire planet and destroy it with no conscience.

If you think I’m totally off the mark then message me or comment. I’d love to hear it.

…anything but Superman related comparisons!

film. rim of the world

MOVIE: Rim of the World

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: McG

WRITER: Zack Stentz

MAIN CHARACTERS: Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., Alessio Scalzotto

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 38min

What a treat of a film this turned out to be.

Rim of the World: Dariush, Zhenzhen, Alex, Gabriel

Rim of the World is about four totally different kids that meet at a summer camp. Abandoned by the adults, it’s up to Alex, Dariush, Zhenzhen and Gabriel to save the world when Aliens invade.

If you watch it close enough you will see that is only one part of what this movie has to offer; there are layers, upon layers, upon layers to this film.

It is stuffed to the ‘rim’ of movie references from the last thirty-odd years making it a relatable, fun flick for adults and kids alike. It’s a mix of Sci-Fi, Horror, Adventure and Comedy genres, and it has absolutely no qualms with throwing every stereotype in the book into the mix.

Recently people have been going mad for the likes of Stranger Things and IT for their nostalgic throwback to the western world’s most favoured adventure blockbusters of the last few decades. Movies like ET, Goonies and Breakfast Club were the backbone of Generation X. Unlike Stranger Things and IT, Rim of the World is set in the present, but with the same sort of adventure format. Generation Z benefits from references of films like Gladiator and Rush Hour and then more recently (for the millennials) Wolverine and John Wick.

Using the same countless politically incorrect inferences we all grew up on; filmmakers have brought contentious issues into the spotlight, instead of hiding them beneath the surface as a cheap gag trick. The main clue that this film is openly commenting on politically charged stereotypes or agendas is when Carl & Logan, the Camp Leaders (who are also “the black men on Campus”) are sitting about the campfire talking about Toy Story 3. It’s not to say that Carl & Logan’s interpretation of Toy Story 3 is true (“the ruling class justification for the inferior conditions of the working class”), but it is how the filmmakers say to the audience, “yes, films are meant to talked about; yes, they have hidden meanings and agendas – including this film; and yes, we know what we are doing – that’s the point”.

I won’t list all of the film references in the movie, I am sure there are a tonne of websites that’ve already made it their mission to; besides, spotting them yourself is part of the fun because for many of them it’s just one line of dialogue or a prop or special effect that’s the reference instead of the actual name of the film.

What I think is so important to take away from the film is its coming of age theme and messages.

The guy that wrote the film, Zack, has mentioned in a few interviews about the emotional importance of the films he grew up on in the 80’s and the lessons they taught him and millions of others. They relied a lot on how kids in the audience identified with what the characters are going through. Childhood traumas like bullying, poverty, grief, peer-pressure or some sort of in-house/domestic abuse are usually used as part of the background info in most of the main character arcs. In Rim of the World, it’s all about abandonment. Alex’s Father died traumatically in front of him, Dariush’s Father is going to Jail, Gabriel’s Father leaves when he’s Ten and Zhenzhen is an orphan – Not to mention they’re all left alone by the ‘adult camp leaders’ when the whole movie kicks off.

Generally the plot of the all these Generation X movies features a Headmaster or Evil Grown-up, a Monster, or in this case Alien, which acts as the metaphor for the main characters’ trauma and how they overcome it is always based on how they pull together and ‘Stand By’ each other; it’s the lessons they learn through their friendship that gives them strength, not just in the immediate battle, but also the one they are fighting at home or school.

Rim of the World packs a LOT into an hour and half. I could mention that I thought the special effects were kind of wooden and I could say the introduction of the characters and even some of the interaction and dialogue sometimes felt awkward and unnatural and I don’t think it’d be hard to disagree with me but, the fact that it’s full of hints and clichés from the last forty years makes me think it’s all of this part of its purposeful charm.

Overall it does well to be its own unique take on western pop-culture. It brings together the last three generations of audiences in a hilarious, albeit crude and obvious, complement of one-liners, shoddy CGI explosions and an evil looking monster, while also facing the crushing trauma of family torment with your best mates at your side.

Nice one Zack.