“I didn’t steal Alien from anybody. I stole it from everybody.” Alien creator Dan O’Bannon may have taken inspiration from a number of classic movies, but that can’t disguise the fact that he created a truly gripping story. It was a tale that has morphed into one of Hollywood’s most successful franchises, earning $557 million from all four films and has seen it team up with another popular Fox franchise, Predator.
Released in 1979, Alien saw the crew of the Nostromo being bumped off by the titular xenomorph, after they come out of stasis and answer a distress call. Famously making its cinematic debut by bursting out of John Hurt’s chest, HR Geiger’s creation remains one of cinema’s most iconic monsters and has now been terrorising us for over three decades.
When James Cameron took up the reins to develop Alien’s sequel, he effectively did a Spinal Tap and turned the mayhem up to a bloody 11. Sigourney Weaver returned as the sole Nostromo survivor, Ellen Ripley, and found herself battling against an army of xenomorphs.
Buoyed by the success of Aliens, which took over $25 million more than the original, Fox soon green-lit another extraterrestrial movie, this one featuring man mountain of the moment Arnold Schwarzenegger and a chameleon-like foe with a penchant for hunting and high-tech weaponry. Predator became a huge success for Fox, cemented Schwarzenegger’s iconic status and spawned a sequel that transported the action from the jungles of South America to the concrete jungle of LA.
Devoid of Schwarzenegger’s Dutch Schaefer, Predator’s sequel immediately courted controversy due to its excessive violence, which saw it becoming the first film in the US to be awarded the new NC-17 rating. It also features one of cinema’s greatest in-jokes when a bruised and beaten Danny Glover enters the Predator’s spaceship and discovers an Alien skull among its many trophies.
It would take a further 14 years before the pairing of two of cinema’s most recognisable aliens would receive the face-off sci-fi geeks craved. Plenty of time then for Fox to revisit the Alien franchise…
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