Much like many of you out there, PROMETHEUS has stricken me with ALIEN fever, sending me back to watch the first two films again and reigniting my interest in the franchise. So when THE BOOK OF ALIEN arrived on my doorsteps last Friday, it put me in a face-hugging mood! So I cracked open a beer, sat my ass down and dove in! Here’s what I got out of it!
THE BOOK OF ALIEN was created by Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross. This is actually a reprint of the 1979 book that came out (via Heavy Metal Books) when the first ALIEN was unleashed upon the world. Looking at it today, they should’ve called it THE PHOTO BOOK OF ALIEN. Cause apart from some insight as how the screenplay (by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett) came about, the making of the sets/creature effects and some tidbits about the actual shoot, this one was all about pictures! Expect lots of conceptual drawings! Like early Nostromo designs by Ron Cobb and Chris Foss, Jean “Moebius” Giraud's spacesuit concepts, the technology in the film, the egg filled Alien ship etc. And as a bonus behind-the-scenes pictures and production stills.
I did find it compelling to see the ideas start out at the design stage and witness how they evolved, after feedback from the creative minds, to the way they finally looked on screen. The making of ALIEN was akin to how an alien starts out as an egg and winds up looking like an half man, half machine, part reptile and part phallic symbol inclined baddie with a spring jaw. Moreover, I was fascinated by the art having to do with the abandoned idea of the Alien creature weaving cocoons around its victims in order to farm more eggs out of them (the thought was half used in ALIENS now that I think of it and in the 25th Anniversary Edition D. Cut of ALIEN) and the art having to do with a scene that was in an early draft of the script but that didn’t get shot.
Ya see, initially the astronauts found the alien egg farm in a tit like shaped pyramid structure. That got changed to the inside of an abandoned ship in the movie (due to budget limitations). Maybe that’s where ALIEN VS. PREDATOR got its pyramid idea from, who knows? Another treat for me were the many HR Giger illustrations on hand! In fact, an original design idea having to do with the face-hugger, which didn’t make it in ALIEN, made it in PROMETHEUS after all… you’ll see! All designs were of course rendered in Giger’s unique flesh meet metal style! And hey, am all for them! NOTE TO SELF: Buy a Giger print, frame it and slap on my living room wall. END OF NOTE.
So overall, although THE BOOK OF ALIEN could’ve gone deeper in the actual making of the film by bringing in more people that were involved in the show to chime in; it’s still a book I cherish to own. And having seen PROMETHEUS, it was even more satisfying being that some of the unused ALIEN ideas and the back-story they came up with as to the Space Jockey did wind up in the latest film. This book is like owning a piece of movie history! It also looks pretty cool next to my CONAN THE PHENOMENON BOOK. You're an ALIEN fan? GET IT!