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An 'Alien' Invasion for Film's 20th Year

June 03, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Though its tag line was "In space no one can hear you scream," during the summer of '79 audiences were certainly screaming their heads off over Ridley Scott's seminal sci-fi horror film, "Alien."

Fox Home Entertainment is celebrating the 20th anniversary of this classic and its three popular sequels (which all star Sigourney Weaver as the heroic Ripley) with "The Alien Legacy Collection": "Alien 20th Anniversary Edition," "Aliens Special Edition," "Alien 3" and "Alien Resurrection" ($29 each).

The "Alien 20th Anniversary Edition" features a beautiful, crisp print of the movie from a 16-by-9 high-definition transfer (supervised by Scott) presented in anamorphic wide-screen. Besides clever animated menus, the disc boasts the original theatrical trailer, several TV spots and a special archive section including several deleted scenes with an explanation as to why they were cut. One of the excised scenes features Ripley discovering the cocoon of the vile alien creature, which has entrapped a dying Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt).

Other goodies included are additional behind-the-scenes footage, outtakes--one of which shows the entire creature--H.R. Giger's paintings and drawings, conceptual artwork, production photos, the history of the film, original advertising materials and cast bios.

The calling card of the edition is director Scott's funny and fascinating comments, which would have been even better if Scott didn't occasionally sound like he was talking with his mouth full.

Scott offers wonderful insight into the film, which was made with various models (this was before computerized special effects). In one scene, to make the spaceship look huge, he had his two young sons and the cinematographer's son wear the space suits. In the scene in which the crew of Nostromo first finds the pods of creepy alien babies and one starts to glow and pulsate, Scott admits that it's actually his hands in rubber gloves creating the effect. The little alien that comes off of John Hurt's face is actually made of rubber filled with fresh shellfish. And to get a horrified reaction from the cat when it sees the creature, Scott placed a leashed German shepherd behind a cardboard divider. When Scott wanted the desired response from the feline, he simply lifted the divider and the cat hissed and recoiled.

"Aliens Special Edition," from 1986, was mastered from a new 16-by-9 high-definition transfer, which was supervised by director James Cameron and is presented in anamorphic wide-screen. Besides the original theatrical trailer, this edition features behind-the-scenes footage, production artwork, production photographs, history of the production, original advertising materials and cast bios. Though the King of the World doesn't offer any audio commentary, the disc does include a 1986 interview he did about the film.

"Alien 3," from 1992, is offered in wide-screen and features a "making of" documentary, trailers, behind-the-scenes footage from each of the first three films, cast bios and interviews with Scott, Cameron and several actors.

The DVD of 1997's "Alien Resurrecton" is offered in wide-screen with the movie's original theatrical trailer, a behind-the-scenes featurette and interviews with the cast and crew.

"The Alien Legacy Collection" will also be released on video, abeit without many of the extras.

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