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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
"In Space No One Can Hear You Scream."

With that tag line, Ridley Scott redefined what an extraterrestrial threat could look like, and gave us what is among the best science fiction/horror movies ever made (winning an Oscar in the process). I did not see this in the theater (first run, anyway), and my first exposure to the Nostromo was a watered down, kid-friendly scholastic edition of the novel by Alan Dean Foster (I was in the 5th grade). Even so, I was hooked, and you would have thought it was the second coming for me when the film premiered on HBO (in crop & chop, no less). If I recall correctly, the original script idea was that of gremlins on a plane during WWII. When they couldn't get Sam Jackson for the lead - he wanted snakes (sorry…. couldn't resist), Scott re-imagined the characters as "intergalactic truck drivers". The sensibility of a future where everything was not pristine and "futuristic" was the perfect backdrop for the story he wanted to tell, and the script was fleshed out by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. The rest is history, as the film went down as one of the top 100 films of all time.

There have been several incarnations of Alien on video, from VHS, to LaserDisc, to DVD (and soon, rumor has it, to Blu Ray). The version I will be reviewing is the "Quadrilogy" DVD, which received one of the most comprehensive restorations I am aware of. There are two versions of the film here, both the original cut and a "Director's Cut", which Scott created especially for the Quadrilogy set in 2003. I have come to prefer the DC for viewing on its own merits, while the theatrical version is more in keeping with the continuity followed by James Cameron's 1986 follow-up "Aliens". Scott's vision was for something so utterly alien to our everyday experiences, that it itself would create intense anxiety in the audience. When Cameron established that the aliens were akin to an insect community (complete with a queen), he undermined that. However, with the DC, Scott re-edited the film, and in so doing revived the alien nature he was trying to achieve. We accept, for instance, that Brett is killed quite bloodily, but never question why Dallas disappears with no blood left behind. This is answered in the DC, and that answer flies in the face of everything we understand about life, and how it works. Cameron's sequel suggests that all the alien's victims are used as incubators for parasites that come eggs laid by another alien, much like what some spider species do on earth. In contrast, Scott suggests that some of the victims are killed and altered in some way to become the parasite egg, and another victim is kept alive for the parasite to feed on. This also answers Lambert's question abord the alien derelict, "Wonder what happened to the rest of the crew?" - they are still there in the form of alien eggs. And the fact that we realize what is going on at the same time as Ripley (in the engine room, right before she torches both a living Dallas and Brett's mutating body) makes it all the more effective.

As for the DVD, it is a revelation over every other version I have seen. It has been re-color timed, and the level of detail is pushing what SD can achieve. Skin tones are spot on, and shadow detail is fantastic. I did not notice any EE at all, save for the opening credits (but that might be my display). There are two soundtracks included, both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. Both sound fantastic, but to my ears the DTS pulls ahead in terms of smoothness and clarity (while not being able to localize exactly where the sound is coming from - a big plus in my book). The DTS soundtrack is exemplary, drawing the viewer into the Scott's gritty world, which has been called (accurately, I might add) the "anti-Star Wars". Surrounds are used quite effectively to convey the atmosphere, aided by Jerry Golsmith's fantastic music. Likewise, LFE is not over used, but mainly to add atmosphere (actually, the only times I can think of that it is used significantly for anything else are the landing and takeoff sequences). While there have been uncounted attempts at mimicing the style and substance, to date none have come within a light year of succeeding (IMO).
 

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I saw this at a drive in when I was in my teens. It was during its first run, and at the time is was one of the scariest movies I had seen.

I have also watched the director's cut and have to agree I like it much better than the theatrical version. H.R. Giger's contributions and design of the alien are a combination of art and nightmare rolled into one.

For those lucky enough to find one, Alien Quadrilogy was released in one of the most unique DVD 'cases' I have ever seen. Don't take my word for it, check it out...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yea, saw it.... I would love to get a hold of that thing; not as a case, but just to display!

Japan always gets the really cool stuff...
 

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Does't the Quadrilogy release and the Collectors edition contain the same transfer? In any case, this is one of my favorite films, well the first two of the series anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Don't the Quadrilogy release and the Collectors edition contain the same transfer?
I'm assuming that you are referring to the Silver Anniversary pressing (the only other DVD release I'm aware of). The film was significantly cleaned up even more (the 20th Anniversary was already pretty clean), and re-color timed. I don't think that anything was done to "Aliens", because Cameron was satisfied with the Collector's version (though the Quadrilogy version still looks a littel cleaner - placebo, maybe?). I will never understand how Cameron could be satisfied with the transfer of Aliens, as it looks as if DNR was cranked up to max to get rid of the excessive grain (a film stock choice, that Cameron now regrets), resulting in more digital artifacting I think I have ever seen... Now, if Aliens were to get the same TLC that Alien did, then I would be in Cinematic heaven...

...well the first two of the series anyway
I could not agree more! AFAIAC, the last two films do not even exist.
 

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Dunno for sure, but I thought there was a number of releases on DVD:
1999 (20th anniversary)
2003 (Quadrilogy)
2004
2004 (Directors Cut)
2007

I was thinking the 2004 Widescreen Collectors Edition Directors Cut.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
AFAIK, the last release (new master) was the Quadrilogy, which has both the theatrical and director's cuts. Since then, Fox has re-released the various incarnations in new packaging, but it has not been re-mastered since the Quadrilogy box set (I don't think they could do any more to it anyway - it already surpasses what I thought you could squeeze out of SD). I still see the 20th anniversary version at Wally World in the $5.50 bin (usually bundled with another Fox film)...
 

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Interesting how many there are. I think mine has three (or is it four) movies on a box.
What I love about ALL the Alien movies is they gave a different director a shot before they achieved a real presence.

Ridley Scott gives us Alien. Goes on to do Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and of course - GI Jane. Three outta four ain't bad.

James Cameron - Aliens relatively soon after Terminator then goes on to do Abyss and T2

David Fincher - Alien3.

Most people didn't like that one. I found the opening with the little girl dying to be kinda messed up and a lazy way to get rid of her – however it was effective. The film has redeeming quality. It has tension I found interesting. Fincher's best stuff would be later with Se7en, Zodiac and of course ... Fight Club (one of my favs). I’ve watched it again, and again, I try to find the Fincher who has done much better in Alien3, sometimes I see it.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet - Alien: Resurrection.

Some may ask why they bothered to resurrect it. I appreciated Jeunet's qualities, his trippiness that almost seems drug induced. It is the Alice and Wonderland of the Alien series. And better to play Alice than Winona Ryder.

Jeunet has a unique outlook on the future and an interesting esthetic on technology. He'd already done what is easily my very favourite French Language film - Le Cite Des Enfant Perde (the city of lost children). Some really like Delicatessen but I prefer Le Cite.

He went on to critical acclaim and awards with Amelie - of course. Amelie was cute. I'd personally like to meet her and date her. Love her forever and ever together popping bubble wrap every day with reckless abandon. But I still liked City of Lost Children Better.

The point is, these are four very acclaimed directors before they really achieved the notoriety. I think all four Alien movies are worth another viewing and an open mind based on the strengths and amazing variety of directorial style.
 

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Just so I'm clear, the $5 version at Walmart does or doesn't have the latest and greaest video transfer? Though Aliens is my favorite, what I like about the first film is the brief exploration of the alien ship, as it introduces us to secondary creatures and gives a tiny bit of backstory to how the main aliens operate. In all the subsequent films, it was always focused on just the main aliens.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Steve,

The versions I have seen in the $5.50 bin at Wally World has been the 20th Anniversary version (amaray keep case). The PQ is still quite good on this one, but the two-disc Quadriligy version (digipack) is the current cream o' the crop. It's been a while since I looked through the bin, and Fox has been promoting bargain DVD sets (two similar FOX films they have an overstock of bundled together), and that version has always been the Silver Anniversary as well. I have only seen the Quadrilogy version in with their normal stock.
 

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Hmmmm, I have these, but I still don't think I've watched Resurrection yet. I also just noticed that thanks to my $6.99 purchase of Predator 2, I now own the complete Alien and Predator franchises, AvP crossover included. That one, I'm still not too sold on, but it was a cheapie too, so I couldn't turn it down.
 

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I saw this title and thought "Oh My God, someone's released it in High Def overseas! Time to Import!"

Imagine my disappointment when I saw it was a review of the DVD release. But it's a good review and it reminds me how long it's been since I sat through the original Alien and I should do it again soon.

But what scares me a little as I type this and think - what can they possibly add to the High Def release of this movie. They interviewed everyone, shown all the behind the scenes stuff. Really, aside from the High Def, what special features will make it worth it?
 

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Hey, dug up an old thread... and yes, I did resist.

So, was just watching this in HD (Encore), sure don't remember it looking anywhere near this good on my DVD. May have to double dip.

Anyone have thoughts on Quadrilogy vs. Anthology Blu-ray releases?
 

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Hey, dug up an old thread... and yes, I did resist.

So, was just watching this in HD (Encore), sure don't remember it looking anywhere near this good on my DVD. May have to double dip.

Anyone have thoughts on Quadrilogy vs. Anthology Blu-ray releases?
they're both the same discs movie wise, it's just that the quadrilogy is missing the two special feature discs. personally I'd get the Anthology because it's gone to $20 or even less multiple times. great boxset and yes, as you found out with the Encore version they did some SERIOUS remastering for the boxset. the dvds and the Blu-rays aren't even on the same level
 
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