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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

OF FIRE AND SELF-SACRIFICE! 'ALIEN 3' RETURNS TO UK PAPERBACK

Terror beneath the skin. ALIEN 3 makes its mark in novel form. Image: TITAN BOOKS.

Destroying the entire bio weapon Xenomorph threat on the distant human colony/mining world of the icy wind battered Acheron, and gaining a new mini "family" of sorts in the process- last surviving Colonial Marine Dwayne Hicks, damaged but operable synthetic android Bishop, and a new daughter with the once orphan Newt- Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley had seemingly triumphed over her insecurities and long-time fears, believing that her terrifying ordeals in the depths of space were finally over, that her long cryosleep journey back to Earth would be pleasant and uneventful, and that the nightmare which first begun on the ill-fated Nostromo fifty seven years earlier had been well and truly extinguished.

She was wrong...


Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) returns to face her darkest hour. Film images: FOX.
A new type of Alien threatens the prison colony.

Working from the original, hurriedly written but solid script from David Giler, Walter Hill and Larry Ferguson, which had to replace several years worth of now aborted earlier works conceived with directors Renny Harlin and Vincent Ward (whose daring and imaginative scenario was eventually adapted to a degree by the trio), acclaimed novelist Alan Dean Foster completes his superb trio of Classic ALIEN franchise adaptations with his tense, suspenseful, exciting and occasionally disturbing incarnation of ALIEN 3, originally brought to cinematic life (and death) with a complete lack of any post-ALIENS feel good vibes, and under intense studio pressure and interference from 20th CENTURY FOX, by then newcomer director David Fincher, soon carving out an underrated modern 1991 classic: a stunning looking descent into hell finale (well, at the time it was supposed to be the finale!) battle between woman and nightmare monster- a highly charged tale of horror and building atmosphere for our favourite space horror heroine Ellen Ripley that would take away everything that she'd ever loved and felt secure by, mostly established at the end of the blockbuster thrill ride that had been James Cameron's ALIENS, and satisfyingly destroying it all!

Trapped on the hostile prison planet world of Fury 161, its a hard struggle for our ill and uncomfortable icon- a lone woman trapped amongst male murderers, rapists and religious maniacs. But when a singular alien threat, created from a unique new life cycle, returns- and the impossible scenario she'd hoped destroyed is suddenly, alarmingly made manifest again- the ultimate lion amongst the sheep- Ripley must use all her experience, strength of character and what little technological resources she has at her disposal, to fight back. Fate also leaves one last unpleasant and individual calling card for her, too - a vicious and doom-laden surprise linked to the late Alien Queen's last hatched egg- which will see Ripley having no choice but to confront her ultimate and unavoidable finale destiny...

"The Bitch is Back!"

Previous ALIEN films had had cut scenes, mostly for length reasons, but the scissor work and re-shoots made to the overall narrative of ALIEN 3 back in 1992 was often just plain distressing- courtesy of the 20th CENTURY FOX behind the scenes teams desperate attempts to make this moody art house/horror combination film (whose director wanted it to be a cinematic experience more in line with Ridley Scott's original 1979 movie) fit their box office "vision" of what a populist summer blockbuster should be. Thankfully, the written adaptation has none of these problems and reads well with regards to tightly structured pace and character development- in some ways Dean Foster improves on the story, especially with the supporting characters, who, with the exception of the strong lead figure of the prisoner's religious "Brotherhood": Dillon, excellent in both book and film versions (played by Charles S. Dutton), the diverse histories and interrelationships of the Fury prisoners gain welcome depth in certain areas, some of them no longer pretty much interchangeable monster fodder as witnessed on screen. Further originally executed but deleted scenes (like the rescue of crash-landed Ripley from the planets oil sea shore, and the cattle 'birth' of the alien) also make for intriguing and more logical reading in comparison to the final cinematic results.  Particularly noteworthy and important is the return of the  films excised middle, as Ripley and the baldy men finally trap the alien in a secure strong room, only for one of the facility's insane murderers, Golic, now worshipping the creature as an Angel of Death-like figure, releasing it to cause havoc anew. I also recall that, as the book neared its page-turning, doom-laden final chapters, my original reading of it back in the day, before the films eventual UK release, proved a somewhat emotional experience, what with the author's efficiently describing the tragic but noble end for Ripley, making the ultimate sacrifice to prevent the corrupt Company from getting hold of the Alien for its weapons division, thus stopping any further destruction from spreading across the cosmos. A genuinely sad but necessary, and totally in character, demise for our true-intentioned heroine.

TITAN BOOKS reprinting of these classic Alan Dean Foster books this past ALIEN 35th Anniversary franchise year has been most welcome and nostalgically rewarding. But they are just the appetiser for two more brand new, upcoming officially authorised books on the blood red horizon, continuing the horror of the Alien life cycle with zestful apocalyptic shine. Prepare to experience the true and draughty stuff of nightmares all over again... 


More features across this site: STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE: ALIEN





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