|David Fincher Director|
Jetisoned in an escape pod, Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and the remains of Bishop crash land on a prison planet. Ripley is left alone after Hicks and Newt die and finds out she is impregnated with an alien. This is David Fincher's first film.
Michael Biehn, unhappy with the fate of his character, negotiated a deal for his likeness in which he was practically paid more for one scene in Alien3, than for his entire stint on Aliens.1 More Trivia
|Sigourney Weaver||Ellen Ripley|
|Charles S. Dutton||Dillon|
|Christopher John Fields||Rains|
|See Full Credits|
After the success of both Alien and Aliens Fox's studios wanted to make a third film ASAP. But this time they wanted it their way. After three directors, two completely different takes on the film, of which there were sets built for, and never having an official script Alien 3 was finally released to less than stellar reception.
Some how a fire spreads through the ship and all of the hyper sleep chambers are launched into space. They are pulled into a nearby planets gravity field and crash land near a maximum security prison.
Several men open the escape pod and pull out the only survivor, Ripley. She is taken to some kind of med bay where is cleaned up and taken care off. Meanwhile the prisoners bring in the wreckage. As they do a dog gets on board and barks at a living Facehugger still on board.
The superintendent explains to the prisoners that the only survivor is a woman and that he has sent out for a rescue team to take her. Dillion(Charles S. Dutton) feels that she will interpret the sanctity of their religion. The Superintendent Andrews (Brian Glover) tells Clemens(Charles Dance) that she must not leave the infirmary.
In the infirmary Ripley awakes and Clemens tells her that she needs to be careful. Not only is she on a prison planet but the lice situation is unstoppable and that she should shave her head. Ripley ignores the advice and demands to see the escape capsule. The prisoners bring it into the complex and as Clemens explains that they all dead Ripley spots an acid burn on Newt's cryo chamber. She demands to see the body.
Meanwhile one of the prisoners finds his dog very sick and large gashes on his face.
In the morgue Ripley inspects Newts body and finds nothing even after she asks Clemens to surgically open her chest. Clemens asks what Ripley is looking for but she doesn’t thell him. When the warden shows up Ripley demands that the bodies be cremated, Clemens covers for Ripley and suggests that they can‘t risk a possible infection.
As the prisoners offer a small ceremony for Hicks and Newt the Chestburster rips through the dog.
In the shower Ripley shaves her head. Afterwards she enters the mess hall to many stares. Ripley sits with Dillion and the most of the prisoners in order to break the ice. Dillion threatens Ripley simple because she is a woman.
Later Ripley asks Clemens the history of this place. Many of the prisoner’s had found religion and decided to stay behind as custodians when the prison was moved off planet. Using some good will between the two of them Clemens asks what was Ripley looking for inside of Newt. Ripley refuses to tell him but turns the conversation around and starts hitting on Clemens.
When of the prisoners is cleaning next to a massive metal fan he finds the skin of the alien. Looking down the hall it the alien spits some acid on the prisoner making him fall into the metal fan.
Back in the infirmary Ripley wakes up next to Clemens and sees the prison tattoo on the back of his neck. Clemens gets up and before he can explain his tattoo he is called to the fan where the prisoner had been diced. At the scene Clemens discovers some acid burns on the wall.
At the crash site Ripley graps a piece of technology from the wall. Clemens joins her and tells her about the acid burn he found. Ripley tells him if he wants to help she needs to find Bishop so that she can access the flight recorder she had just taken out of the crash.
Clemens meets with Andrews in his office. Andrews tells him that a the Company responded to the rescue message and said that Ripley was a high priority subject. He then blackmails Clemens threatening to tell Ripley of Clemens past if he does not cooperate in keeping her restrained.
Meanwhile Ripley goes to the junk yard to find Bishop. After she does she is almost raped by several prisoners but is saved by Dillion.
Three other prisoners deep inside the complex are measuring the room by using candles. When some of them go out one of the prisoners goes back to relight them. When the two other prisoners see the alien ripping their friend apart the take off running. The alien follows them and kills another prisoner leaving only one alive.
Back at the infirmary Ripley hooks Bishop back up and gets him to read the information from the flight recorder. He confirms that an alien was on board while they were in hyper sleep. As Ripley turns Bishop back off Dillion brings in the third prisoner still covered in blood. Andrews blames the third man for killing the other two. Ripley steps in and confirms the third prisoners referance to a ‘dragon.’
In Andrews office Ripley explains her story and the danger of having an alien on board. Andrews explains that they are trapped and there are no weapons anywhere in the complex. When she claims that they will all die Andrews quarantines her to the infirmary.
Clemens again asks about what is going on. Again she refuses so he tells her about why he was in prison. He was a doctor and showed up high on morphine. When eleven people died he was sent to prison and his medical liscence reduced. He gives her a shot, but before he can finish the alien swoops down and kills Clemens. It moves to Ripley but doesn’t kill her but disappears into the air ducts.
In the mess hall Andrews briefs the rest of the prisoners on the ‘facts.’ Ripley runs in and tries to warn them of the alien. Andrews refuses to hear her but is then also killed by the alien in front of everyone.
In the main hall everyone turns to Ripley for guidance. Ripley comes up with a plan burn it out of the air ducts, use themselves as bait, and trap it in a toxic waste section of which there is no escape. However when one of the prisoners is ambushd by the alien and sets off some of the material to burn out the alien. Several of the inmates are killed making Ripley’s orginal plan inurt.
Ripley starts feeling ill and goes to use the medical scanner at the wreckage. She discovers that a queen alien embroy is inside her. She tells Aarons to send a message to the rescue team that there is no reason to come there. She can’t let the Company get the creature. When Ripley leaves Aarons discovers that the Company is only two hours away.
Deep in the complex Ripley goes looking for the alien alone so that it can kill her. However once she finds the alien Ripley discovers that the alien knows she has the queen inside her and won’t kill her. Ripley goes to Dillion ans asks him to kill her before it’s too late. Dillion refuses and says that they can use the fact that it won’t kill her to his advantage.
Dillion and Ripley convince the rest of the prisoners not to wait for the Company. The Company would kill them all to keep the alien. Dillion new plan is to use themselves as bait to lure the alien into a lead mold and drown it in hot metal.
The plan works for the most part. It is not until Dillion threatens Ripleys life in front of the alien does it actually start following them into the mold. All the while Aaron’s leads the newly landed Company stooges to Ripley.
In the mold Dillion sacrifices himself to keep the alien in the mold. Ripley poors the motlen metal but the alien escapes and cheses after Ripley. Realizing the alien is covered in lead Ripley activates the sprinklers causing the alien to explode.
Right then the Company represented by another Bishop tries to negiote with Ripley. She doesn’t believe that they will kill the embryo inside her and jumps into the furnance just as the queen Chestburster rips through her body.
The third chapter
During the production of Aliens James Cameron continually talked to the actors about the third film. His idea was to create a family out of Ripley, Newt and Hicks on Earth, where they would have to then deal with an alien invasion. Within the film Aliens, there are actually several shots of the three of them together, planting the seeds for the third part. This was just the first plan to fall through the Hollywood cracks.
David Giler, the producer of the first two Alien films, was not as excited about making a third film as most others were.
The studio wanted to take Weyland Yutani's need for the alien even further and wanted to set the film at a space way station where illegal experimentation was going on.
With only an idea of what they wanted, the studio went through a series of writers and directors but found no one that could inject something new to the series. At one point Ridley Scott, director of the first film, was even asked to come back on board the franchise.
Renny Harlin was actually hired to direct the film at first. Harlin’s idea for the film was too place it on the planet the aliens originated from. He wanted to explore what the aliens were and show the audience that they weren’t actually bad. However, the budget was not there to handle a completely new world, so Harlin suggested going to Earth. A tagline for the film was even written: “On Earth everyone can hear you scream.”
On the second draft the concept of the aliens being on a prison ship was introduced. Harlin was not happy with this idea, and felt that being on a ship again would be too similar to the first film. Instead Harlin wanted to go directly to the planet’s surface.
Another draft that involved prisoners was actually written by David Twohy and suggested the fact that the character Ripley would not be in the third film. Instead, a male lead was being planned for the series, but in the end, most of the ideas were scrapped.
After a year of pre-production, Renny Harlin left the project. He was unsatisfied that the team could not come up with a new premise outside the previous two films.
Vincent Wards approach to Alien 3
After going through more versions of the script, Vincent Ward joined the project. At first, Ward was not interested in doing a sequel, but was eventually convince to work on Alien 3. Not liking the script they sent him, Ward wrote a new story on the flight to LA to meet the producers. They were actually very excited about what he was planning to bring to the project, and began gearing towards production.
Ward’s idea was of a free floating space station ran entirely by monks that had cast off any technology unnecessary for their survival. The ship was designed to be spherical and made out of wood. There would have been a metal exterior and a metal core that ran the life support systems, but the rest of the ship was hand-crafted. Inside the small planetoid there would have been massive farms for food and giant cathedrals made of wood.
The opening of the film was designed in a way to make the viewers think they were in the middle ages. At one point the new main character would have stuck his head out a window into space and seen the Sulaco, from the second film, coming towards the massive wooden ship. The Sulaco would have crashed, killing many of the people on board the planetoid. Ripley would have to then fight the Bishop who ruled with an iron fist with the help of a priest Ripley befriends. While fighting the alien and dealing with the now hostile, monks Ripley begins to hallucinate and realized that she was impregnated by an alien.
One of the most ambitious sequences that was planned was set to have an alien loose in some wheat fields. When the monks realize that they can’t fight it, they burn the entire field- destroying most of the ship. The final battle with the alien was going to be set in a glass foundry that was inside the ship.
Despite earlier interest, the producers began to change things. At the time, Fox was dependent on Alien 3 to keep the studio afloat and felt they needed total control of the project instead of letting the director express his vision. The first idea they suggested was turning the monks into convicts, and then setting the whole thing on a mining colony.
Within in a month, the studio gave Ward a release date. They began building the sets in Pinewood Studios, where the second film was shot. Norman Reynolds was hired as the production designer and set off to oversee the construction.
A couple of days later, Ward received a massive list of changes and told to meet the execs the next day. At the meeting Ward was told to make the changes, or be fired. Ward reluctantly made the changes. After several weeks Ward discovered that the studio was making calls to the production designer behind his back and that Ward’s personal assistant was reporting to the studio every night. Insulted, Ward left the project.
Production began to wear on the actors involved as well, with Sigourney Weaver only continuing on the condition that she get killed off and never have to do another Alien movie again.
By the time David Fincher was brought on board, Alien 3 no longer had a script. Thankfully the producers and the studio liked what they saw in Fincher and finally felt they had someone they could trust.
Fincher ran with the prison planet idea and wanted a rundown look for the entire complex that, for the most part, already had sets built for. However, Fincher’s new rewrite was not well received and the production was shut down for three months. The effects department continued to work, however, and built many of the dead bodies and versions of the alien that were to be used in the film.
During this period one of Michael Biehn's friends, who was working on the movie, told Biehn that his character was going to die by way of Chestburster. This angered him, and he had his agent talk to the studio. It wasn't that he minded dying, but he wanted his characters death to be more heroic.
Return of H.R. Giger
Both Weaver and Fincher agreed that they wanted the third film to return to the first in the regard that there was only one alien. However, Fincher wanted a new look and asked the producers if they could get Giger back to do a redesign.
The original idea was to have the new alien to resemble a puma of sorts. Giger had difficulties pulling this off and the result looked like a bony lion.
Giger refused to come to London and faxed all of his work to the studio at Pinewood. There, the modeler’s created the final look of the new alien. Fincher wanted a more erotic look to the alien, and many of Giger's drawings gave the alien seductive-looking human lips to reflect this change.
Sadly, without the script and with very little time to shoot, most of Giger’s idea’s for the new alien had to be thrown out. This created some bad feelings between Giger and the production, and Giger eventually left, angry over what they did to his work.
Shooting through the winter months just added to the all the production headaches. Not only was the script being written and rewritten as they shot the film, but the studio was becoming more and more demanding.
Thankfully the cast worked together very well. Many of them were friends and similar training; Weaver even stated that she felt more comfortable with this cast than the previous two films. The actors also really liked David Fincher on set.
Jordon Cronenweth was brought on as cinematographer at the request of Fincher. However, on the first week, Cronenworth began to develop Parkinson's disease, and had to drop out.
Originally, it was planned for the alien to be birthed from an ox. A Queen Facehugger had attached itself to the large animal, and it would burst out, almost entirely formed, as a creature called the Bambiburster. To make this effect work, the crew decided to try putting the costume on a dog and having it run around as the alien. The dog didn't like the suit, thought, and the idea was scrapped- though the crew did get some good laughs from the dailies.
Using a head cast from Aliens, the crew was able to recreate Lance Henriksen for the film. They used it to make an animatronic version of the character that took several puppeteers to operate. Fincher wanted a horrific, grizzly look and suggested to the effects team to watch the assassination for JFK, the famous Zapruder film, for inspiration. The first version of the puppet was cable-ran, but it didn’t have the fine details that the shot required. After the shoot in London, the effects team returned to the States and reworked the entire puppet, eventually getting the shots they needed.
Although much of the alien was going to be a puppet, there was still extensive work on a full suit worn by Tom Woodruff, one of the art directors. Several holes where skillfully cut into the neck of the suit so that the designer could both breath and see what was going on. Woodruff knew that they could not ask an actor or a stuntman to be in the suit for very long, and the taking on and off of the suit would create wear and tear that they did not have the time or money to repair. The longest period that Woodruff was glued into the suit was thirteen hours.
The most difficult set to shoot was the hallway scenes near the end of the film. With no way to properly place the cameras, they had to reset the entire set over and over again. They eventually brought in a Steadicam, which managed to alleviate most of the problem.
With an unfinished script and holes in the story the studio had to make a decision before they ran out of money. The idea that was proposed was to bring the production back to the States and hold off shooting for a little while and assess what else they needed to do to finish the film.
Fincher worked with editor Terry Rawlings and cut together a three-hour version of the film,which they played to the studio execs. They were not pleased and began planning a massive reshoot of the film. They also ran the film for the new American crew who thought much of film was way to gory, including the Newt autopsy scene and the BambiBurster scene.
It took another two months to set up the new shoots. Weaver did not want to shave her head again since it took too long to grow back. She demanded a forty thousand dollar bonus, so instead a bald cap was made for her to wear.
Throughout the shoot the second-unit directors position was a revolving door. Several times the entire second unit had to be shut down due to unproductivity. As these directors came and went, the studio eventually got what it needed and the film was finally on its way to completion.
However, as everything was wrapping up, word began to spread about the ending of the then-unreleased Terminator 2. The producers wanted the ending to Alien 3 changed to be more in line with it, and the idea to bring back the alien inside of Ripley was floated again, and in a rush the ending was recut.
Fincher wanted to have the alien actually run in this film- something that hadn't been seen before, and was extra complicated due to the new design of the alien. Stop-motion was deemed too-jerky, so they eventually came up with a puppetry system and shot the running in front of a blue screen. It was added into the scenes during post. Shots like the alien's head cracking, as well as the alien's shadow, were also added in digitally.
At one point, Fincher wanted to go with- just sound effects. However, the studio wouldn’t allow such a risky move, and Elliot Goldenthal was brought in to score the film, rewriting his end theme hastily to deal with the studio mandated changes. When the final mixes had to be made, the LA riots started and Fincher couldn’t be found, who was needed to settle a dispute over Goldenthal's score overpowering the sound effects.
Over a year was spent in the editing room, as well as going back and doing reshoots. Opening scenes that took place outside at the crash site were cut out, along with Clemens bringing Ripley indoors. Another scene that was shot and cut was a point where the convicts actually captured the alien halfway through the film. Much of the character of Golic, played by Paul McGann, was cut out. He was suppose to go crazy and kill several prisoners and release the alien that was once trapped.
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