Horror Education of the Week: ‘Aliens’

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Aliens. The 1986 sequel to Alien. Written and directed by James Cameron, this companion piece equally masters the depth and beauty of the original film.

Our heroine, Ripley, is awakened fifty-seven years after closing her sleep chamber only to learn that a colony has been established on the planet where her alien nemesis was originally found. When all contact is lost, Ripley is asked to join a team to find out the cause. The cause she is almost certain she’s familiar with…


With her experience and knowledge, Ripley leads the Company’s team, headed by administrator Carter Burke, back to LV-426. While Ripley is still strong willed and firm in Aliens, she takes on a new role with which she has to balance her warrior status that we discussed last week. In tune with her character development, we also see a great change with her adversary.

- In Aliens, we see Ripley much like we see the computer, Mother, in the original. She has the wealth of knowledge that is being sought.

- This mothering theme is what pushes Aliens to the next level from the original.

- When asked by Burke to join the team to find out why the colony has lost contact, Ripley, like a mother, makes him promise that the mission is firmly a positive one and that all aliens will be destroyed. And as Burke lies to her that this is indeed the sole purpose, Ripley wants to believe him as any mother would want to believe their child.

- Soon after arriving, only one colonist is found alive. A young girl named Newt.

- Immediately, a bond is formed between Ripley and Newt – Ripley having found out her own daughter had passed away during her years in hypersleep as seen in the “Special Edition” of Aliens.

- The colonists are found cocooned in a nest – all stocked up like canned goods in a bomb shelter.

- As multiple aliens attack the investigating crew, killing them off, Ripley discovers that Burke is responsible for sending the colonists to investigate the derelict ship on LV-426.

- The idea that Bishop, the android, is more human than Burke is something to be noted. Bishop is willing to sacrifice himself for the humans while Burke is willing to sacrifice all humans for the alien.

- Ripley and Newt are almost attacked by facehuggers that Burke purposely lets out of tanks in the medical lab. His plan was to smuggle the alien embryos inside the two females – as they could get past Earth’s quarantine.

- Newt is captured by the aliens. Again, like a mother, Ripley refuses to leave her. At the same time, she suits up like a warrior to save her.

- After Ripley rescues Newt from the hive, they encounter the Queen in her chamber laying eggs.

- Side note: The amazing visual of this egg chamber would later be echoed in Prometheus – which we will visit in a few weeks!

- Ripley does exactly what the aliens have done to her “children” – the crew she mothered – she destroys the Queen’s eggs.

- Ripley saves Newt as the Queen tears free from her ovipositor and pursues them in rage.

- The Queen, much like the alien in the original film, stows away aboard the dropship’s landing gear, ripping Bishop in half as the remaining survivors try to escape.

- Once again, Ripley displays her hero qualities, suiting up and blasting the last foe into space.

- In the end, Ripley is able to tuck her surrogate daughter into her hypersleep chamber, fully embracing – and balancing – the fact that she is both a mother and a hero.

 
  • djblack1313

    Lauren, fun & concise! AND i learned a new word today thanx to you! i never heard of “ovipositor” before! see? coming to BD we get horror movie news AND we learn too! LOL.

    Lauren keep up the good work with the fun articles. you & Evan (there are other contributors but i can’t remember their names) pretty much always have enjoyable things to read (and learn! LOL). :)

    • Lauren Taylor

      Thanks, dude! I always appreciate your comments. Yes, I think most of what we said about Ripley last week sums up why these movies kick ass – however, the idea that she can take on the mothering role in Aliens makes her that much cooler, eh?

    • Evan3

      I concur, I shall have to think of a way to incorporate “ovipositor” into my future legal briefs (something has to spice up work).

  • Zombie-Killa

    HA! What a coincidence! I was just watching this on Cinemax last night, and I still own he DVD! lol.

    Great read as usual, and I’ve always loved Aliens. Ripley is stronger and more bold this time around, and her relationship with Newt provides brings some genuine emotion to the story.

    More terror, thrilling action, and James Horner’s scores are just great. Aliens is a classic, and it’s my favorite James Cameron film ever.

    • Lauren Taylor

      Thanks for the comment! I totally agree!!

  • Erebus Dirge

    Great article! It’s interesting to see the breakdown of the Ripley character from a more female perspective. Revealing aspects in scenes which I never considered before (i.e.- The Riley/Burk Mother/Son Dynamic). Ripley was the template for a whole bunch of I-am-woman-hear-me-roar types, the influence so strong that it reached beyond the horror/scifi genere.
    The problem was that they became increasingly cartoonish with each incarnation, while with Ripley she comes across as a believable if hyper-driven fierce female protector/self-avenger.

    • Lauren Taylor

      She is an AMAZING character. And I don’t think anyone but Sigourney Weaver could pull her off. Of course, I’ll have to compare Noomi Rapace to her soon. Elizabeth Shaw is a completely different character that at the same time hones some of the aspects of Ripley. I can’t wait to do it.
      My Prometheus dvd can’t get here soon enough. I was one of the few that adored it.

      But again, I simply love Ripley. I always have. And I love the Ripley/Newt dynamic. I saw Aliens before Alien when I was probably 8 years old – and I remember thinking how amazing it was that this “mother” was such a badass. :)

  • Taboo

    Love the Alien series.

  • BELFAST-HOOD

    Gotta be the best does’nt get any better than vasquez shouting ‘Let’s ROCK!!!’ then all hell breaks loose love everything bout this movie the soundtrack is epic as well especially at the end when ripley and newt go to sleep and that music comes on that shit fits so perfectly its fucking haunting stuff haha