Reviewer's Rating 5 out of 5   User Rating 2 out of 5
Alien DVD (1979)

Clearly we're not the only people who think Ridley Scott's Alien is "one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made", as 20th Century Fox has really pulled out the stops with this two-disc set (forming part of the Alien Quadrilogy release). It's amazing to see just how much behind-the-scenes material has been unearthed, and then, of course, there's the movie too.

We Can Hear You Scream

On disc one, you can choose to see the original theatrical version or the new, slightly longer, director's cut. Extra material to look out for includes the crew listening to an alien transmission and the cocoon scene. Whichever release you choose, both look much better than the old DVD release, with better contrast on offer from a beautiful print. The Dolby and DTS 5.1 mixes are of the sensational standard you'd expect from a modern blockbuster, with creepy rear speaker effects and immense bass support. The other audio option is a commentary, which includes Ridley Scott, who as ever is informative with what he says and concentrates on deconstructing the visuals for their impact and how they were created.

Pre-Production: Truckers In Space

The Featurettes Star Beast and The Visualists paint a fascinating picture of what Alien could have become: a low budget Roger Corman flick! Writer Dan O'Bannon was used to a lack of cash, having made Dark Star with John Carpenter, and expected the same with Alien. For a while, Walter Hill was attached to direct but dropped out due to not feeling comfortable with making a special effects picture. This is where Ridley Scott came into the frame, and you soon see how astute a guy he was as he gave the project an identity and got the budget doubled. The proof of how he did that is to be found in the massive storyboard archive. As for how Sigourney Weaver got cast, just take a look at her screen test.

Production

This section is the equivalent of stumbling upon a fascinating attic. The amount of behind-the-scenes footage is amazing, with the scale of the set the most impressive discovery. Again you get to discover just how much of a tough operator Ridley Scott is. He remains unrepentant over complaints about the on-set conditions, arguing that he was trying to generate terror and not a cosy atmosphere. One can also guess from the featurettes Fear Of The Unknown and The Darkest Reaches that Ridley was likely passing on some of his fears as he was under immense pressure from Fox.

Post-Production

While some prefer the pace of Aliens to the slower building Alien, you'll see from the seven deleted scenes that the movie could have moved at an even more leisurely pace. You can see why most were left out, although The Derelict and The Airlock do have a sense of brooding tension that's worth seeing. Discovering reactions to the film when it came out in the featurette A Nightmare Fulfilled make for entertaining viewing, while Poster Explorations should fascinate anyone into film marketing.

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Audio commentary with Ridley Scott, writer Dan O'Bannon, executive producer Ronald Shusett, editor Terry Rawlings, and actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, and John Hurt
  • Star Beast: Developing The Story featurette
  • First Draft Screenplay by Dan O'Bannon text feature
  • The Visualists: direction and design featurette
  • Ridleygrams: thumbnail sketches and notes by Ridley Scott
  • Storyboard Archive image gallery
  • The Art Of Alien conceptual art portfolio
  • Truckers In Space casting featurette
  • Sigourney Weaver screen test
  • Cast photo archive
  • Fear Of The Unknown 'making of' documentary
  • Production gallery photo archive
  • Continuity polaroids
  • The Darkest Reaches set design featurette
  • The Sets Of Alien photo archive
  • The Eighth Passenger creature design documentary
  • HR Giger's workshop photo archive
  • The Chestburster multi-angle scene
  • Future Tense editing and music featurette
  • Deleted scenes (seven)
  • Outward Bound visual effects featurette
  • Visual effects photo archive
  • A Nightmare Fulfilled critical reaction featurette
  • Poster Explorations image gallery
  • Special shoot promotional photo archive
  • Premiere photo archive
  • This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.

    Technical Information

    REGION SOUND MENUS RATIO
    2 Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 Animated, with eerie music 2.35:1 (anamorphic)
    CHAPTERS SUBTITLES AUDIO TRACKS
    32 None English
    CAPTIONS EXTRAS SUBTITLES CERTIFICATE
    English All of the special features come with subtitles 18

    End Credits

    Director: Ridley Scott

    Writer: Dan O'Bannon

    Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Yaphet Kotto, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton

    Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller

    Length: 115 minutes

    Cinema: 1979

    DVD: 08 December 2003

    Country: USA