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A look back at the two cuts of Alien 3 (1992)!

Jun. 5, 2012by: The Arrow


GET THE TWO CUTS OF ALIEN 3 ON ONE DISK HERE

In the wake of this week’s release of PROMETHEUS, much like many out there, we decided to look back at the ALIEN franchise and here on ARROW IN THE HEAD, we’re starting with the much maligned ALIEN 3 (1992). What a mess that show was! When David Fincher signed on to direct, they started production but there was one problem, THEY DIDN'T HAVE A FINISHED SCRIPT! So they asked him to write scenes around the sets they had already built. That's the way to NOT do it! Everybody from William Gibson, Eric Red, David Twohy, Vincent Ward, Walter Hill and David Giler wrote drafts of the script.

Some of it prompted by Sigourney Weaver's "she's in, she's out, she wants more money" game (find lots of the unused ALIEN 3 drafts by varied writers HERE). Yup! They didn't know what they wanted! Shite a theatrical teaser trailer was actually released  at some point (see it a the the bottom of this story) suggesting that the flick would be set on earth. As we all know, that didn't happen! The movie we FINALLY got onscreen was credited to David Giler, Walter Hill and Larry Ferguson. So here are my quick thoughts on the theatrical cut and the assembly cut of ALIEN 3! Chime in on the flick via our comment section below!

ALIEN 3: THEATRICAL VERSION (114 MIN)

"You're all gonna die. The only question is how you check out. Do you want it on your feet? Or on your fuckin' knees... begging? I ain't much for begging! Nobody ever gave me nothing! So I say *fuck* that thing! Let's fight it!" -Dillon

This much-hated sequel isn’t half bad once you get over its downbeat attitude. Yes, this is one hell of a mean spirited movie. It starts off by killing 3 characters that we care about and then continues on that path of utter bleakness. Nobody here got what they wanted! Not Ripley, not Clemens, not the prisoners, not the company and not me, for that matter! Starting with ALIEN up until this sequel, I got deeply attached to the Ripley character and to see her dealt these bad cards saddened me. Fincher accomplished what he set out to do. He scarred me, depressed me and ruined my day.

The film lacked character-wise, not fully capturing the endearing human chemistry that both previous films displayed. The scares were also not as potent in this second sequel and some of the stop motion was dodgy. But I still have to respect this picture, especially when taking into account all of the drama that occurred at the script stage, in pre prod and during the shoot (poor Fincher, Studio was up his ass with changes every day). The production values were top notch, some really wonderful ideas surfaced, the acting was stellar, I got one great monolgue by Dillon (quoted above) and in a morbid way, it was a fitting (at the time supposed) end to the franchise. Just because the film went against my wishes for the characters, I still can’t ignore its qualities and its ballsy attitude. In my opinion, this is the end of the ALIEN saga right here.

ALIEN 3: ASSEMBLY CUT (155 MIN)

"Any dead oxes are good!" - Inmate

This is the cut I was waiting for! They call it the “Assembly Cut”. Ya see, inches away from finishing production on the then "over budget" ALIEN 3, the Studio stopped production and asked Fincher to put together a work print of the film, so they could see what they had. He did (with editor Terry Rawlings) and then they rejected it. Here, all of David Fincher’s studio imposed deleted footage is reintegrated (for example, in this cut, the alien erupts out of an ox not a dog as seen in the theatrical cut) and some of the visual effects are polished up using today’s technology by editor David Crowther (who basically went back and reassembled Fincher's earlier work print minus Fincher's involvement).

They are certain moments in the film within the extra scenes where the dialogue doesn’t fully match (they couldn’t find the masters) but they subtitled it in order to make it bearable. This cut offers over 25 minutes of new footage that basically fleshes out the characters, gives us alternate takes on the events, extends some of the action and pads up the situation at hand. In my opinion, it made for a more rewarding film than the Theatrical Cut. You don’t like ALIEN 3? Try watching this version...you might change your mind about it. For me, the more I sit through this second sequel, the more I love it. This is the cut that should’ve been released theatrically, in my opinion. Just more proof that studio execs don’t know “Dick Tracy” about the art of making movies.

When ALIEN 3 was gonna be set on earth!

GET THE TWO CUTS OF ALIEN 3 ON ONE DISK HERE

Extra Tidbit: Michale didn't like it when he heard that was gonna be a victim in ALIEN 3, so he threatened to sue the production if they used his likeness without his approval. The studio then offered him coin to use a picture of him in the film; he went with it.

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3:23AM on 06/07/2012

I've said it thousands of time before but...

Killing off Hicks and Newt NEVER sat well with me. Just felt like everything they went through in Aliens was flushed down the toilet. I totally echo the sentiment of the below poster that it always felt like a Fuck You to Cameron & Aliens. I'll never be on board with this movie for that one reason. Ever.
Killing off Hicks and Newt NEVER sat well with me. Just felt like everything they went through in Aliens was flushed down the toilet. I totally echo the sentiment of the below poster that it always felt like a Fuck You to Cameron & Aliens. I'll never be on board with this movie for that one reason. Ever.
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7:48PM on 06/06/2012
I definitely agree the Assembly Cut is better... but not by much. Right off the bat it always loses me when Newt dies, which feels like a big fuck you to Aliens. Cameron has said that he mulled over a sequel but it would focus on Hicks and a older Newt, both getting called in similar to Ripley in Aliens. I'm sure it would have been much, much better.
I definitely agree the Assembly Cut is better... but not by much. Right off the bat it always loses me when Newt dies, which feels like a big fuck you to Aliens. Cameron has said that he mulled over a sequel but it would focus on Hicks and a older Newt, both getting called in similar to Ripley in Aliens. I'm sure it would have been much, much better.
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3:34PM on 06/06/2012

I liked Assembly Cut better.

I was always a fan of "Alien 3", i enjoy watching this more than any other sequels in the series (Yes, even Aliens!).

I liked this movie, because it was relentlessly bleak, most of the characters were unredeemable (Expect for a few of them like Charles S. Dutton's character). I liked the new cut more, because the supporting character made much more sense. Especially the Golic character, who disappears nearly half way of the original theatrical cut. This cut is much better, although i wish,
I was always a fan of "Alien 3", i enjoy watching this more than any other sequels in the series (Yes, even Aliens!).

I liked this movie, because it was relentlessly bleak, most of the characters were unredeemable (Expect for a few of them like Charles S. Dutton's character). I liked the new cut more, because the supporting character made much more sense. Especially the Golic character, who disappears nearly half way of the original theatrical cut. This cut is much better, although i wish, they kept some bits from the theatrical version.

Like the guy, who finds out his dog's face is been cut. Although in the theatrical cut, the alien went on the dog but in the assembly cut, the character is not introduced with the dog. Especially that character is still calling for the dog, when he thinks he was hiding one of these huge fans but the guy got cut into pieces by fan, after being frighten by the alien. Also i liked the alien coming out of Ripley in the theatrical cut better. If they do a slightly new edit. The Assembly Cut would be a little better. I do own all Alien Movies on Blu-ray. Which it is a must see, especially the transfer on the first one.
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+2
1:00PM on 06/06/2012

Remake

if there is one movie that should be remade its alien 3. Or just ignore part 3 and 4 and make a good sequel to aliens, i cannot watch that movie, it takes all the power away from aliens knowing that after the horrifying things they went through they are killed in the first minute of the next movie. [link]
if there is one movie that should be remade its alien 3. Or just ignore part 3 and 4 and make a good sequel to aliens, i cannot watch that movie, it takes all the power away from aliens knowing that after the horrifying things they went through they are killed in the first minute of the next movie. [link]
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-1
12:12PM on 06/06/2012

Alien 3 Blows Hard Chunks!

Alien 3 really pisses me off. I can't blame Fincher who shows real promise and followed this up with the brilliant "Seven". I blame Walter Hill and the producers for not taking better care of their property. If this were just some monster movie (and not a sequel to the two greatest sci-fi movies ever made), it might be forgivable. But killing off Newt at the beginning really was a slap in the face to Cameron's film. Also, knocking it down to jut one Alien after the brilliant hive/queen
Alien 3 really pisses me off. I can't blame Fincher who shows real promise and followed this up with the brilliant "Seven". I blame Walter Hill and the producers for not taking better care of their property. If this were just some monster movie (and not a sequel to the two greatest sci-fi movies ever made), it might be forgivable. But killing off Newt at the beginning really was a slap in the face to Cameron's film. Also, knocking it down to jut one Alien after the brilliant hive/queen concept expansion Cameron had introduced was also a big blunder. It has some scares and good set pieces early, but by the end it is so bleak and hopeless you grow numb to all the unarmed monk/prisoners running around to their bloody deaths that it stops being scary. Weak Sauce! But Alien 4 makes this look like a Masterpiece...
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1:18PM on 06/06/2012
I absolutely 100% agree.
I absolutely 100% agree.
4:04AM on 06/06/2012
I too enjoyed the Assembly Cut more than the theatrical. It just seems more complete than anything else, and proof Fincher was right in helming this. Still would've been interesting with the "wooden planet" idea that they floated around in pre-production.

Plus, there was the fact that Fincher called Fox execs morons on the making-of, which they begrudgingly included on the Alien Anthology Blu-Ray set.
I too enjoyed the Assembly Cut more than the theatrical. It just seems more complete than anything else, and proof Fincher was right in helming this. Still would've been interesting with the "wooden planet" idea that they floated around in pre-production.

Plus, there was the fact that Fincher called Fox execs morons on the making-of, which they begrudgingly included on the Alien Anthology Blu-Ray set.
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2:11AM on 06/06/2012
Expecting Alien 3 would take place on Earth had me excited and when the movie came out and I went to the theater to see I was disappointed. After the years have pasted the isn't all that bad. It does have a more logical approach to the storyline after Aliens.
Expecting Alien 3 would take place on Earth had me excited and when the movie came out and I went to the theater to see I was disappointed. After the years have pasted the isn't all that bad. It does have a more logical approach to the storyline after Aliens.
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7:03PM on 06/05/2012
Well written and thoughtful analysis. I fully agree, the assembled edition makes a lot of difference. It's not as bad as people make it out to be,
Well written and thoughtful analysis. I fully agree, the assembled edition makes a lot of difference. It's not as bad as people make it out to be,
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7:02PM on 06/05/2012
First off, everyone should know that the assembly cut has been CLEANED UP for the blu-ray release! They actually got the cast back together and re-recorded the dialogue in those scenes that previously required subtitles. So now the new footage flows seamlessly with the old. This alone made the price of the anthology worthwhile for me. (I prefer the dog-bursting over the ox, so I like to watch the theatrical cut until after the alien is born, then switch over to the assembly cut.)
First off, everyone should know that the assembly cut has been CLEANED UP for the blu-ray release! They actually got the cast back together and re-recorded the dialogue in those scenes that previously required subtitles. So now the new footage flows seamlessly with the old. This alone made the price of the anthology worthwhile for me. (I prefer the dog-bursting over the ox, so I like to watch the theatrical cut until after the alien is born, then switch over to the assembly cut.)
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7:02PM on 06/05/2012
As for my opinion of the movie: I'm willing to acknowledge the issues that many fans have with this sequel, but these issues don't bother me much. The visual style is phenomenal, especially for its time; the score is gorgeous; the performances are excellent; the creature design is my favorite of the entire series; the scene of the alien's birth juxtaposed against the funeral is absolutely incredible, bringing tears to my eyes every time; the iconic scene where Ripley comes face to face with
As for my opinion of the movie: I'm willing to acknowledge the issues that many fans have with this sequel, but these issues don't bother me much. The visual style is phenomenal, especially for its time; the score is gorgeous; the performances are excellent; the creature design is my favorite of the entire series; the scene of the alien's birth juxtaposed against the funeral is absolutely incredible, bringing tears to my eyes every time; the iconic scene where Ripley comes face to face with the alien brings me tingly feelings that border on sexual stimulation, (you think I'm kidding...); the deaths are brutal, badass, and BEAUTIFULLY executed; Fincher's direction is top-notch, as always; and I personally eat-up the dark, depressing, nihilist story. There's even some great humor scattered throughout. In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated movies ever made.
5:33PM on 06/05/2012

Alien 3 = Wet Farts

At the end of the day, Alien 3 is a slap in the face to people (such as myself) who loved Cameron's Aliens. It's a dull and depressing film which looks like a series of bad studio decisions and writer compromises. I hate this film.......
At the end of the day, Alien 3 is a slap in the face to people (such as myself) who loved Cameron's Aliens. It's a dull and depressing film which looks like a series of bad studio decisions and writer compromises. I hate this film.......
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1:36PM on 06/05/2012

Spoiler

The moment the writer decided to kill off Newt and Cpl. Hicks at the very beginning was quite possibly one of the biggest mistakes in Sci-Fi Cinema History. The studio single handily destroyed an amazing franchise by accepting a bad script. David Finchers directing was great as the settings, acting etc. On the Alien 3 IMDB page, here is a reason why you see four writers. All this mess just because Sigourney Weaver did not want to come back for a fourth (Which she eventually did anyways.) I
The moment the writer decided to kill off Newt and Cpl. Hicks at the very beginning was quite possibly one of the biggest mistakes in Sci-Fi Cinema History. The studio single handily destroyed an amazing franchise by accepting a bad script. David Finchers directing was great as the settings, acting etc. On the Alien 3 IMDB page, here is a reason why you see four writers. All this mess just because Sigourney Weaver did not want to come back for a fourth (Which she eventually did anyways.) I would of much rather seen Ripley's character killed off in the beginning and Hicks and Newt had to band together and survive in the Prison. Hicks trains Newt and the series could carry on. In the fourth installment they cloned Ripley anyways. It is very hard for me to sit through Alien 3 just because it seems like one massive screw up of something that could of been great.
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+3
1:02PM on 06/05/2012

Excellent article.

I kind of understand the hate towards Alien 3. Considering how different Alien is to Aliens without feeling like a different franchise it was certainly an unoriginal and uninspired outcome in comparison. For me I still love the movie, even with it's faults. Like Arrow, I love the downbeat tone and it's pretty ballsy destroying the family set up in the previous movie essentially stripping Ripley down to nothing. It's a bleak bleak movie and that's definately the best thing about it. Fincher
I kind of understand the hate towards Alien 3. Considering how different Alien is to Aliens without feeling like a different franchise it was certainly an unoriginal and uninspired outcome in comparison. For me I still love the movie, even with it's faults. Like Arrow, I love the downbeat tone and it's pretty ballsy destroying the family set up in the previous movie essentially stripping Ripley down to nothing. It's a bleak bleak movie and that's definately the best thing about it. Fincher should've been allowed to make his own movie though you can tell he's become a better film maker in the longrun from his shitty experience making this. You'd have thunk Fox would've learned from this fiasco but as time has shown they're not big on learning much.
I still wish the wooden planet version had been made, it would've been fucked up and striking visually.
As for these 2 cuts I get torn, I love the majority of the extra footage particularly the resolution of the Golic character (Paul McGann) who disappears and is forgotten in the theatrical cut, but there are some moments, specifically the ending, I'd like to edit from the theatrical cut into the assembly cut to make the best movie. I think the time passed from it's release helps to look back with a better perspective that it's still a better movie than it's reputation, though you can't deny it's a painful "what could've been" scenario.
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12:44PM on 06/05/2012
I always thought this was an underrated sequel. I think the assembly cut is a pretty good film. I still wouldn't say I "love" it, but I like it quite a bit!

I NEVER knew Alien 3 was originally gonna take place on Earth...now I really want to know how that was going to go down!
I always thought this was an underrated sequel. I think the assembly cut is a pretty good film. I still wouldn't say I "love" it, but I like it quite a bit!

I NEVER knew Alien 3 was originally gonna take place on Earth...now I really want to know how that was going to go down!
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