Fresh off the theatrical release of Ridley Scott’s newest installment to his Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant on May 19th, we here at The Horror Syndicate dubbed this past week ‘Alien Week’. Because not only did Covenant blast off into theaters, but the original and Alien 3 also had anniversaries this week. Today boils and ghouls, I am not going to talk about any of these aforementioned films. We’re going to briefly look at what most fans of the franchise consider to be the best Alien sequel. I’m talking about James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) of course.
Aliens picks up right after the horrific events that took place on the Nostromo. Well technically 57 years after actually, but Ripley was in hyper sleep with Jonesy the cat the whole time. So, to her, the terror felt like it happened the day before. Ellen Ripley, reprised by Sigourney Weaver wakes to learn her only daughter is dead and gone. She also learns that a community of families are attempting to terraform planet LV-426. Which happens to be the same desolate planet where the Nostromo landed on in the original and we all know what happened on that ill-fated mission. Soon, all communication has been lost with the terraforming colony. Ripley is later offered re-instatement if she decides to join a search team lead by a regiment of Colonial Marines, to go back to LV-426 and investigate.
Like the original Alien, the sequel boasts a pretty stellar cast. Along with Weaver, are some badass genre regulars, Private Hudson played by Bill Paxton, Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) and the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen). Armed with state of the art military equipment, cliché one liners and all the machismo in the galaxy, together they take on a new menacing alien. A tougher alien. The Queen.
James Cameron was able to expand on the only remaining character from the original. Ripley’s character was humanized more and given a motherly and yet, a ‘do not fuck with her’ arch. Cameron also really made a huge statement with what horror films can really be. Really, what great sequels can be. They can be fun and they can be badass too. But most importantly at the end of the day, they can still be scary. All the while, building tense and escalating to an epic final fight between Ripley and the Queen alien. Aliens to me, is a much more enjoyable film than Scott’s Alien. It’s just fucking badass! Don’t get me wrong syndicate, Alien is a phenomenal film achievement. It’s a better film. It’s in my top 10 all-time. But I am a 1980’s action kid though and that’s why Cameron’s film is more enjoyable yet not a better film in my opinion.
Aliens is not your typical horror film. IMDb classifies it as an Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi. I believe that is an accurate assessment. But make no mistake, Aliens is still a horror film. Sure, it’s hidden just under the testosterone, muscles and the gun smoke, but it’s there all the same. Another movie that gets this same argument is Predator (1987), which I believe is an action-packed slasher film. But that’s another article.
Thanks for reading boils and ghouls!