On July 18th, James Cameron's Aliens will mark the 30th anniversary of its release in US theaters. To celebrate this momentous occasion, some of the cast and crew will be reuniting at this year's Comic-Con. The panel is set to feature director James Cameron, producer Gale Ann Hurd, stars Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, and Carrie Henn. The event will be on Saturday, July 23 at the San Diego Convention Center's massive Hall H.
So, what is it about James Cameron's sequel that makes it quite possibly one of the few sequels often regarded as better than the original? Why after all this time, is the film still so fondly celebrated among horror buffs? How is it fans can still find such excitement in the future of a franchise that has already spanned four decades, five feature films, and two more movies currently in the works?
Well, after rewatching the film for the millionth time, I can confirm that it never seems to get old. There are a few reasons why this pinnacle sequel remains so highly regarded among fans, not just of the franchise, but of horror and sci-fi enthusiasts and why it will continue to do so.
Aliens Changed The Game For Horror Sequels
Speaking as a mega-fan of the movie and of the franchise, there are extreme differences between Ridley Scott's Alien and James Cameron's Aliens that are easy to spot. Scott's film was all about isolation and terror, exploring the absolute fear of the unknown in all of us. Cameron's movie shifted much more dramatically towards a full on man vs beast movie. The action packed sequel gave Ripley the ability to cast off any hint of a cliched victim status — a common trope among female horror leads at the time — and superbly transform herself into the baseline for all future creations of powerful women in film.
Showed Horror And Action Can Be Mixed To Perfection
I think many would agree the film isn't nearly as terrifying as the original, but it still has some pretty intense and suspenseful moments. The successful blend of Cameron's Terminator action vibes and Scott's gasp-inducing horror stands to this day as iconic and, too often, poorly replicated. This is best shown in Newt, played by Carrie Henn. As the sole survivor of the alien invasion, the shy child's shock incites fear of the aliens before we even see them and inspires Ripley's maternal instincts to fight hard to keep them alive.
We Still Have A Bright Future To Look Forward To!
With both Ridley Scott and Neill Blomkamp working tirelessly on new material for the Alien cinematic universe, fans of the series won't have to wait too much longer to see the legendary Xenomorph wreak havoc in the lonely depths of uncharted space. Scott has his pet project, Alien: Covenant, already in production and set with a release date. Blomkamp's film, the much more anticipated Alien 5 has been put on hold until Covenant has been released, at the behest of Scott himself. But Sigourney Weaver hasn't ceased in her efforts to assure fans the movie is still on. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly on the structure of the new film, she stated:
“It’s just as if, you know, the path forks and one direction goes off to three and four and another direction goes off to Neill’s movie.”
That's Not All!
To commemorate the anniversary, 20th Century Fox is releasing a brand new Aliens Blu-ray and Digital HD edition. The new set will feature interviews with Cameron on his inspiration and designs for the film along with deleted scenes, the extended and theatrical cuts, and collectible art from both Cameron and Dark Horse Comics, publishers of the Alien comic series.
Cameron, though not one to usually revisit his past, spoke very fondly of the legacy his sequel has left behind and how it changed the lives of everyone involved forever.
“You know, it’s interesting. I don’t normally pursue these kind of nostalgia moments like we’re going to do down at Comic-Con, and I didn’t do it much at all for 'Terminator' on its 30th, but there’s something about 'Aliens'. It was a milestone for myself and Gale because the film got seven Academy Award nominations."
Though the film only won two of the awards, for best sound effects editing and visual effects, it was a true rarity to see an action/horror film go head to head with so many artsy dramatic pieces at the most celebrated party in Hollywood. As Cameron says,
"All of a sudden, we were playing in the big league."
The Aliens 30th Anniversary Edition is set to be released in stores on September 13. Alien: Covenant will hit theaters on August 4, 2017. Alien 5 will supposedly begin production in late 2017 with a rumored release in 2018. Stay tuned for more updates as they become available!
Oh, and happy anniversary to a classic film!