THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"ALIEN VAULT: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF THE MAKING OF THE FILM"
I love horror movies, but there are only about seven or eight that have genuinely scared me. Ridley Scott's Alien is one of them. Maybe that's why it's one of my all-time favorite films; it fundamentally works. If you are also a fan, there is much reason to celebrate the release of Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film, a magnificent new book by Ian Nathan. Released by Voyageur Press, this boxed, hardcover tribute to Alien is guaranteed to make you geek out. (I speak from experience.)
Over the course of 176 pages, Nathan – executive editor of Empire magazine – tracks how the film was conceived and made. While some of the stories, such as how producers Walter Hill and David Giler radically overhauled Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett's original script, will be familiar to anyone who has watched the bonus features on the Alien Quadrilogy DVDs, the author tells them in vivid ways that make them feel fresh. He also includes some stories you may not have heard before, such as actor Yaphet Kotto informing his director that he had no intention of being killed by the creature – on the day they were to shoot his death scene. Sections on the design of the film, the music, and the theatrical release are also included. There's a nice, wide spectrum of material covered.
Additionally, the book features 175 color photos: production stills, candid behind-the-scenes shots, storyboards, used and discarded design ideas, etc. Every so often, you'll come across an envelope filled with enclosures to pull out and examine more closely. These include large reproductions of H.R. Giger's conceptual artwork, blueprints for the Nostromo, costume designs, script pages annotated by Ridley Scott, and more. There are ten in all. Each enclosure allows you to closely study something essential to Alien. They make the book invaluable.
Perhaps the thing I like most about Alien Vault is that it loves Alien as much as I do. Every page of the book oozes admiration for the film. It is a book by a fan, for other fans. Reading it and perusing the pictures/enclosures was a continual delight. In a word: awesome.
For more information on Alien Vault, please visit the official website.