Despite owning Aliens multiple times (VHS, DVD sets, BluRay Anthology), I ended up watching it over the weekend because it was on television. Thing is, much like Big Trouble in Little China, when it starts you can’t look away. Even if it means enduring E4’s ridiculously frequent, and oddly preachy, advert breaks.
This was the first time I’d watched it since watching the BluRay extras and so it kind of broke the spell a bit initially as I kind of know how they did everything but after a few minutes you’re hooked again. It occured to me that that Aliens is the best film ever made. It’s always been in my top five (maybe three behind Repo Man and The Thing) but looking through more inquisitive eyes, I was amazed at how fucking great it really is.
1. Sigourney Weaver acts her arse off in this film. The bit where she first enters the colony after Apone and Gorman agree the area is secured. She looks fucking terrified. Especially when someone accidentally makes her jump. Then she goes from abject terror to motherly concern to righteous fury and everything inbetween.
2. Hudson. He’s whiny and oddly a bit of a macho arsehole for a guy who’s basically their IT techie but his despair and fear are palpable.
A stunning performance and a really entertaining character who dies a hero’s death. Has pretty much all the best lines too.
“I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.”
“Well that’s a switch!”
3. That fucking bit where Hicks looks above the false ceiling. Look we know. Yes. They just turned the camera upside down but the impact of seeing those xenomorphs crawling towards him upside down… Jesus. Literally terrifying and awesome.
4. The bit with the sentry guns. It wasn’t even in the theatrical cut but it’s completely fab.
“Next time they walk up and knock.”
“Yeah, but they don’t know that.”
The day the Director’s Cut was released, I was outside HMV waiting for it to open. I then took that VHS tape back home and spent the next couple of years murdering it. Fantastic stuff.
5. Burke. The complete embodiment of corporate bastardness. How do you not love Burke? Even if he is a “rat fuck son of a bitch.”
Alas, we didn’t get to see his true comeuppance but his face to face meeting with a snarling xenomorph doesn’t leave you guessing what’ll happen next.
That said, the book and a deleted scene both confirm that he ends up in the xeno’s maternity ward and is all out of pain medications. Thankfully for him, Ripley strolls by and gives him a grenade to ease the pain with.
6. The battle under the primary heat exchangers. Absolutely terrifying chaos. Seeing each of the marines getting picked off one by one. When Apone buys it, it’s as shocking for the audience as it is for Gorman. “Apone? Talk to me.”
It’s one of the best scenes ever because of its clever use of space, lighting and those little shoulder cams. The way it cuts from utter destruction to the hopelessness of Ripley and Gorman in the APC is perfect.
Also, I totally thought Al Matthews (Apone) was actually dead. He’s not. I saw him last year in person. He’s tiny!
7. The power loader. I don’t know how much of it is trickery but to me it looks like they built a proper power loader.
And it looks like Sigourney Weaver was capable of operating it. This all makes for a fab final battle with Queeny too. Although we probably shouldn’t focus too much on Ripley crawling out of the airlock with OPEN SPACE underneath her and a giant fucking alien hanging off of her ankle.
But why let physics and stuff spoil your enjoyment of one of the best fight scenes in history?
8. Spunkmeyer. We barely got to know you, Private Daniel Spunkmeyer. But you had the best name. Ever. And you taught us to be wary when finding sticky patches on the floor.
9. Corporal Ferro. Colette Ferro may well be our favourite character. Also she buys it from the same xenomorph as Spunky did but is there a cooler character than her when she’s bringing down the dropship from the Sulaco? No. While Hudson is hyperactively reeling off their arsenal, Ferro’s going on about being in the pipe. Five by five, Ferro. Whatever that means.
10. Most importantly. Even now after watching this movie at least a hundred times, when the marines first go in I still feel like they are in charge and are going to make it. It’s only when the dropship crashes that I remember they are all doomed.
Aliens is unfuckwittable, son.