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Horror Education of the Week: ‘Aliens’

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.



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