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Aliens (1986)

“Get away from her, you bitch!”

Director James Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s original 1979 outer space nightmare sees Sigourney Weaver return as Ripley.

She is found adrift in space, having woken up from hypersleep 57 years after the events of the first film. Bizarrely, after over half a century asleep, she still needs a cigarette when she is revived!

She is horrified to hear that Acheron LV-426 – the planet where the Nostromo unwittingly picked up the alien in the first film –  has now been colonised. Unfortunately, the human colonists have all disappeared – the thick plottens . . .

And so Ripley is sent back, sensibly, this time, taking along a team of Marines with one object to their mission: Locate and destroy acid-spewing, flesh-eating mutations before they multiply.

Equipped with high-tech artillery, tanks, lasers, and the latest in intergalactic combat weapons, Weaver and the space marines take a full forty-five minutes to reach the deserted terraforming colony on Acheron – Well, deserted except for hundreds of aliens.


That said, there are no aliens to speak of for the first hour of the film, then suddenly there are aliens all over the place – coming out of the walls and ceiling, drooling and shrieking and dragging Marines off into the darkness to be cocooned. It’s one of the greatest releases of built-up tension in action film history.

The only surviving colonist, a little girl called Newt (Carrie Henn) who has been living in the underground pipes, leads the team to horrors the mind cannot fathom, and the rest of the film wallows in stomach-churning special effects and piles on the gore with complete disregard for the audience’s digestive system.

Everyone bleeds, vomits, spews blood, and agonises unspeakably until the audience becomes desensitised to the violence and carnage.

Will the spaceship be able to leave before the power blows everyone to pieces? Will Ripley rescue Newt from the queen of the monsters (a cross between Grace Jones and a 500-ton praying mantis)?

The visual effects are fantastic, and James Cameron directs with a penchant for strobe lights and prolonged stalking.


There are many memorable scenes in the film: a famous sequence where Lt Gorman (William Hope), cracks under the pressure as he tries to follow the carnage of a fight between the soldiers and aliens on small monitors in the APC; a terrific chase through claustrophobic vent tunnels; the Marines finding the cocooned bodies of the colonists; a facehugger attack on Ripley; and a great moment where Marine leader Hicks (Michael Biehn) suddenly realises the aliens might be in the ceiling directly above them.

Do not watch this movie after a meal. Or before one either.

Bishop’s blood at the end was a mixture of milk and yoghurt. The Stan
Winston studio FX received an Oscar.

Ripley’s daughter, seen only in a photograph, is actually Sigourney Weaver’s Mother.

A disused power station in Acton (London) was used in the film and Cameron makes the most of the stairways, vents and corridors to develop a real sense of claustrophobia.

Sigourney Weaver
Rebecca “Newt” Jorden
Carrie Henn
Corporal Hicks
Michael Biehn
Carter J Burke
Paul Reiser
Lance Henriksen
Private Hudson
Bill Paxton
Lieutenant Gorman
William Hope
Private Vasquez
Jenette Goldstein
Sergeant Apone
Al Matthews
Private Drake
Mark Rolston
Private Frost
Ricco Ross
Corporal Ferro
Colette Hiller
Private Spunkmeyer
Daniel Kash
Corporal Dietrich
Cynthia Scott
Private Crowe
Tip Tipping
Private Wierzbowski
Trevor Steedman
Van Leuwen
Paul Maxwell

James Cameron