Article by Don Shay
In the seven years since its release, Ridley Scott's Alien has endured as the quintessential science fiction horror film — a stylish thriller and box-office favorite that spawned a rash of forgettable clones but somehow defied legitimate efforts to generate a worthy sequel. A fresh approach was clearly in order, but that approach proved evasive until writer-director James Cameron was afforded the opportunity to develop his own scenaro — an action-packed roller coaster ride that succeeded admirably in retaining the essential elements of the original without being fettered by them. Despite a studio analyst's estimate that Cameron's Aliens script would cost $35 million, producer Gale Anne Hurd mounted the ambitious sequel in England — bringing it in for a remarkably frugal $18 million. Of crucial importance to the cost curtailment effort was the need to keep the film's extensive special effects from spiraling out of control. Striving for high-quality work with low-level technology, Cameron and Hurd assembled a team of professionals that included conceptual designers Syd Mead and Ron Cobb, production designer Peter Lamont, visual effects supervisors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, postproduction supervisor Brian Johnson, alien effects creator Stan Winston and physical effects supervisor John Richardson. These and other effects artisans discuss in detail their work on the film and the time-pressured campaign to bring Aliens into being.
Readers who viewed this
issue also viewed: