20th Century Fox | 1979-1997 | 552 mins. | R

Most film fans know all about the Alien Anthology. At the heart of it all is a simple, yet bold and original idea. The mother of all extraterrestrials terrorizes a bunch of charismatic spacefarers. Over the next eighteen years, this unlikely premise served as an invitation for some of the best filmmakers in Hollywood to pick it up and run with it.

Ridley Scott’s Alien caught audience’s off-guard in 1979, a triumph in both science fiction and horror. A strange, violent creature takes a ride on an interstellar mining ship. With Aliens, James Cameron had dozens of these creatures overrun a terraforming colony, only to be pushed back by a squad of high-tech marines.

The Alien AnthologyAlien3 was a bit of a misfire. Directed by David Fincher, he tale of critters reborn on a monastery/prison/foundry world, feels talky and a tad ridiculous. Finally, 1997’s Alien Resurrection, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, emphasized humor in its exploration of genetic engineering set 200 years after Alien3, sometimes successfully, but also crossing over into silliness, which no other movie in this series ever did.

Each movie is presented in two different versions, the theatrical cut as well as a “special edition,” although not necessarily a “director’s cut.” Alien benefits from some tweaks and restoration, while the longer Aliens is so dramatically enhanced, it is now officially the only version I’ll watch. Alien3, is available in a half-hour-longer version, rescued from an earlier “workprint” edit. Most obviously altered in Alien Resurrection are the revised opening and the extended ending.

Each film in this set receives a gorgeous HD transfer. The first two films recieved 4K restorations while the latter two each get HD remasters. All four films are remastered in DTS-HD 5.1 as well, and they each sound nothing short of magnificent.

When inspected, Alien looks the most polished of the bunch. When compared to previous editions, the print is inkier, and cleaner than ever before. It’s simply mesmerizing to watch. Aliens has always looked grimy or overly soft. Those issues have been taken care of, with this crisper, more defined restoration that draws out the film’s solid cinematography, lighting and set design. While heavy grain is still present throughout, this is undoubtedly the best this film has ever looked. Thankfully, there isn’t an overuse of DNR.

Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection look solid as well. However, they appear a bit softer than the other two films. While the harsh visual design of Alien3 helps the film, its occasional golden palette doesn’t always lend itself to a top notch HD transfer. As an audio bonus, the workprint of Alien 3 boasts completely redubbed audio (with the original cast) for a few formally rough, unfinished scenes. Alien Resurrection has always had this grimy, greenish hue to it, and that presentation, while sometimes soft and worn-out, has been well ported over to Blu-ray. Even so, it’s the least impressive looking film of the set.

Only the second film in the series has an original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the other three are all 2.35:1.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks are perfect. Completely immersive, we are drawn into each of the films from the first frame. At times, I felt like I was part of the action.

If you’re familiar with the Alien Quadrilogy DVD release, you’ll find all of that material ported over here—Easter eggs, too—along with brand-new “Enhancement Pods” that features almost five hours of additional material exclusive to this new Blu-ray set, including more behind-the-scenes footage, raw dailies, and interviews. The LaserDisc supplements are here as well, and Wreckage and Rage: The Making of Alien 3 has been restored to its original run time. (For the 2003 DVD release, 20th Century Fox cut out sections about Fincher’s struggles with studio intervention.) All told, there are over 60 hours of special features and an unbelievable 12,000 images, from storyboards and sketches to production stills and cast portrait galleries. The sheer amount of material is overwhelming—literally, it would take days to view it all—but Fox has put together an easy-to-navigate menu system that makes accessing the bonus features a breeze. Which brings us to the following:

MU-TH-UR Mode is the Alien Anthology‘s interactive BD-Java-powered “experience.” If you turn the mode on while watching the films, an interface appears, partially covering the left side of the frame. From here, you can switch between audio stream content (commentaries and isolated scores) and view the “Weyland-Yutani Datastream,” a trivia track of compiled production notes, anecdotes, and film facts. The main purpose of MU-TH-UR Mode, however, is the “data tags.” As you view the films, you’ll see a list of special features—pertaining to the specific scene you’re watching—appear on the MU-TH-UR interface. Clicking on a feature creates a “data tag,” which can be recalled when you boot up discs five or six, where most of the supplementary materials or stored. Basically, it’s a way of personalizing and keeping track of what special features you want to watch. The menu system for discs five and six is extremely intuitive, and viewers will have no trouble casually browsing or looking for something specific. There’s even an alphabetical “Datasearch” option, which lets you look up bonus material by topic and then choose from detailed sublists describing all available content. Here’s what’s on the discs themselves:

Disc One: Alien

  • 1979 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Director’s Cut with Ridley Scott Introduction
  • 2003 Audio Commentary with Director Ridley Scott, Writer Dan O’Bannon, Executive Producer Ronald Shusett, Editor Terry Rawlings, and Actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skeritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, and John Hurt
  • Audio Commentary (for Theatrical Cut only) by Ridley Scott
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (1080p, 6:39)
  • Deleted Scene Footage Marker: By activating this option during the Director’s Cut, an on-screen prompt will appear to identify footage not present in the Theatrical release.

Disc Two: Aliens

  • 1986 Theatrical Version
  • 1991 Special Edition with James Cameron Introduction
  • Audio Commentary with Director James Cameron, Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Alien Effects Creator Stan Winston, Visual Effects Supervisors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, Miniature Effects Supervisor Pat McClung, Actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn, and Christopher Henn.
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by James Horner (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score by James Horner (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (1080p, 19:57)

Disc Three: Alien 3

  • 1992 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Special Edition (Restored Workprint Version)
  • Audio Commentary (Theatrical Version) by Cinematographer Alex Thomson, Editor Terry Rawlings, Alien Effects Designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Producer Richard Edlund, Actors Paul McGann and Lance Henriksen.
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Elliot Goldenthal (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (1080p, 49:28): A whopping 31 deleted scenes, many of which are included in the 2003 Special Edition.

Disc Four: Alien Resurrection

  • 1997 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Special Edition with Jean-Pierre Jeunet Introduction
  • Audio Commentary by Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Editor Herve Schneid, Alien Effects Creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Supervisor Pitof, Conceptual Artist Sylvain Despretz, Actors Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, and Leland Orser.
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by John Frizzell (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (1080p, 11:54)

Disc Five: Making the Anthology

The Beast Within: Making Alien (SD)

  • Star Beast: Developing the Story (18:14)
  • The Visualists: Direction and Design (14:54)
  • Truckers in Space: Casting (14:54)
  • Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978 (24:03)
  • The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet (17:28)
  • The Eight Passenger: Creature Design (31:35)
  • Future Tense: Editing and Music (16:28)
  • Outward Bound: Visual Effects (18:52)
  • A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reaction to the Film (19:22)

Alien Enhancement Pods (SD, 1:19:43)

  • Conceiving the Alien Lifecycle
  • The Influence of Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • O’Bannon Working with Shusett
  • Ridley Scott’s Epiphany
  • Jon Finch Sets the Record Straight
  • Finding the Right Ripley
  • Actors as Props
  • Sigourney Weaver Learns the Ropes
  • The Functional Art of Ron Cobb
  • Dailies: Parker and Brett Ad-Lib
  • That Used Future Look
  • Bolaji Badejo Alien Movement Tests
  • Discovering Bolaji Badejo
  • Giger on Giger
  • The Distrubing Brilliance of H.R. Giger
  • James Cameron Dissects Alien
  • Cocoon of Love
  • Jerry Goldsmith Recalls Alien
  • Goldsmith on Silence
  • The Pros and Cons of Temp Tracks
  • Same-Sex Relationships in Space
  • Toy Birds of Destruction
  • Oscar Night Memories
  • Test Footage: Nostromo on Forklift
  • End of a Genre
  • First Impressions
  • O’Bannon’s Fight for Credit

Superior Firepower: Making Aliens (SD)

  • 57 Years Later: Continuing the Story (11:05)
  • Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction (13:29)
  • Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization (17:00)
  • This Time It’s War: Pinewood Studios, 1985 (19:39)
  • The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action (15:12)
  • Bug Hunt: Creature Design (16:23)
  • Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien (22:25)
  • Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn (13:48)
  • The Final Countdown: Music, Editing, and Sound (15:31)
  • The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects (27:47)
  • Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the Film (12:33)

Aliens Enhancement Pods (SD, 58:31)

  • Without Sigourney Weaver
  • Origins of Acheron
  • Building Hadley’s Hope
  • Cameron’s Design Philosophy
  • Finding an Unused Power Plant
  • Cameron’s Military Interests
  • Working with Sigourney Weaver
  • The Importance of Being Bishop
  • Paul Reiser on Carter Burke
  • The Paxton/Cameron Connection
  • Becoming Vasquez
  • On Set: Infiltrating the Colony
  • Props: Personal Light Unit
  • Simon Atherton Talks Weapons
  • Prasing Stan Winston
  • Test Footage: Chestburster
  • Fighting the Facehugger
  • Test Footage: Facehugger
  • Stan Winston’s Challenge
  • Test Footage: Queen Alien
  • Stan Winston’s Legacy
  • Cameron’s Cutting Edge
  • Sigourney Weaver’s Triumph
  • Re-Enlisting with Cameron
  • From Producer to Stunt Double

Wreckage and Rage: Making Alien 3 (SD)

  • Development Hell: Concluding the Story (17:42)
  • Tales of the Wooden Planet: Vincent Ward’s Vision (13:11)
  • Stasis Interrupted: David Fincher’s Vision (14:13)
  • Xeno-Erotic: H.R. Giger’s Redesign (10:20)
  • The Color of Blood: Pinewood Studios, 1991 (23:42)
  • Adaptive Organism: Creature Design (20:58)
  • The Downward Spiral: Creative Differences (14:55)
  • Where the Sun Burns Cold: Fox Studios, L.A. 1992 (17:33)
  • Optical Fury: Visual Effects (24:04)
  • Requiem for a Scream: Music, Editing, and Sound (14:53)
  • Post-Mortem: Reaction to the Film (8:25)

Alien 3 Enhancement Pods (SD, 1:14:03)

  • Renny Harlin Quits
  • Explaining the Wooden Planet
  • Ezra Swerdlow’s Concerns
  • Intimidating Baldies
  • Roaming the Fury 161 Set
  • The Art of Storyboarding
  • Hicks’ Alternative Future
  • Costuming for Character
  • On Set: Filming the Alien’s POV
  • Head Casting with Charles Dutton
  • On Set: Filming the Oxburster
  • Sausage-Motivated Alien Whippet
  • Fincher’s Alienation
  • Lance Henriksen Returns in Style
  • Sucking Up to Fincher
  • Detailing the EEV Miniature
  • Matte Painting Memories
  • How to Make Alien Acid Saliva
  • The Sulaco’s Cameo
  • The Weaver Wagger
  • Bald Cap Blues
  • Bragging Rights
  • Stealing Sigourney’s Top
  • Creating Alien Sounds from Scratch
  • Dangerous Location Recording
  • Painful Low End Frequencies
  • The Power of Silence
  • Ripley’s Evolution
  • Mixed Reactions

One Step Beyond: Making Alien Resurrection (SD)

  • From the Ashes: Reviving the Story (10:10)
  • French Twist: Direction and Design (26:09)
  • Under the Skin: Casting and Characterization (12:45)
  • Death from Below: Fox Studios, Los Angeles, 1996 (31:36)
  • In the Zone: The Basketball Scene (6:43)
  • Unnatural Mutation: Creature Design (26:21)
  • Genetic Composition: Music (13:10)
  • Virtual Aliens: Computer Generated Imagery (9:53)
  • A Matter of Scale: Miniature Photography (22:50)
  • Critical Juncture: Reaction to the Film (14:28)

Alien Resurrection Enhancement Pods (SD, 1:15:17)

  • Costuming the Betty Crew
  • Intentionally Uncomfortable Costumes
  • Creating Ripley’s New Look
  • Downsizing the Design
  • Dueling Design Sensibilities
  • Breaking the Language Barrier
  • The Storyboard Bible
  • Preparing for Action
  • Winona Ryder Answers the Call
  • Surviving the Shoot
  • Swimming with Aliens
  • The Art of Slime
  • The Cloning Process
  • Considering Giger’s Legacy
  • Newborn Dick Removal
  • The Evolution of the Alien
  • Designing the Newborn
  • Becoming a Film Composer
  • The Burden of Temp Music
  • Animating Underwater Aliens
  • VFX: Knifing Ripley’s Hand
  • VFX: Shooting Miniature
  • Abandoning the Bug Opening
  • Ending After Ending After Ending
  • Remembering the Premiere
  • Future Franchise Directions

Disc Six: The Anthology Archives

Alien Pre-Production

  • First Draft Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (1080p, text only)
  • Ridleygrams: Original Thumbnails and Notes (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Storyboard Archive (1080p, windowboxed)
  • The Art of Alien: Conceptual Art Portfolio (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Sigourney Weaver Screen Tests with Select Director Commentary (SD)
  • Cast Portrait Gallery (1080p, windowboxed)

Alien Production

  • The Chestbuster: Multi-Angle Sequence with Commentary (SD, 5:28)
  • Video Graphics Gallery (SD, 5:31)
  • Production Image Galleries (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Continuity Polaroids (1080p, windowboxed)
  • The Sets of Alien (1080p, windowboxed)
  • H.R. Giger’s Workshop Gallery (1080p, windowboxed

Alien Post-Production and Aftermath

  • Additional Deleted Scenes (SD, 16:33): Includes seven deleted scenes that were not restored to the Director’s Cut.
  • Image & Poster Galleries (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Experience in Terror (SD, 7:10) – Vintage EPK promo.
  • Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive (1080p, windowboxed): Replicates the LaserDisc special features in their entirety!
  • The Alien Legacy (SD, 1:06:53): Yet another making-of documentary.
  • American Cinematheque: Ridley Scott Q&A (SD, 15:40)
  • Trailers and TV Spots (SD): Includes two trailers (2:06) and two TV spots (1:02).

Aliens Pre-Production

  • Original Treatment by James Cameron (1080p, text only)
  • Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics with Commentary (SD, 3:13)
  • Storyboard Archives (1080p, windowboxed)
  • The Art of Aliens: Image Galleries (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Cast Portrait Gallery (1080p, windowboxed)

Aliens Production

  • Production Image Galleries (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Continuity Polaroids (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Weapons and Vehicles (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Stan Winston’s Workshop (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras (SD, 5:01)
  • Video Graphics Gallery (SD, 4:04)
  • Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers (SD, 3:35)

Aliens Post-Producton and Aftermath

  • Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned (SD, 1:31): Carter Burke’s fate revealed!
  • Deleted Scene Montage (SD, 4:07)
  • Image Galleries (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Main Title Exploration (SD, 2:55)
  • Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright (SD, 8:16): Video footage from the iWerks Entertainment attraction at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
  • Trailers & TV Spots (SD): Includes four trailers (4:15) and a TV spot (00:32)

Alien 3 Pre-Production

  • Storyboard Archive (1080p, windowboxed)
  • The Art of Arceon (1080p, windowboxed)
  • The Art of Fiorina (1080p, windowboxed)

Alien 3 Prodction

  • Furnace Construction: Time-Lapse Sequence (SD, 4:35)
  • EEV Bioscan: Multi-Angle Vignette with Commentary (SD, 2:02)
  • Production Image Galleries (1080p, windowboxed)
  • A.D.I.’s Workshop (1080p, windowboxed)

Alien 3 Post-Production and Aftermath

  • Visual Effects Gallery (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Alien 3 Advance Featurette (SD, 2:56)
  • The Making of Alien 3 Promotional Featurette (SD, 23:24)
  • Trailers & TV Spots (SD): Includes five trailers (6:07) and seven TV spots (2:15).

Alien Resurrection Pre-Production

  • First Draft Screenplay by Joss Whedon (1080p, text only)
  • Test Footage: A.D.I. Creature Shop with Commentary (SD, 9:51)
  • Test Footage: Costumes, Hair, and Makeup (SD, 4:40)
  • Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Rehearsals (SD, 2:52)
  • Storyboard Archive (1080p, windowboxed)
  • The Marc Caro Portfolio: Character Designs (1080p, windowboxed)
  • The Art of Resurrection: Image Galleries (1080p, windowboxed)

Alien Resurrection Production

  • Production Image Galleries (1080p, windowboxed)
  • A.D.I.’s Workshop (1080p, windowboxed)

Alien Resurrection Post-Production and Aftermath

  • Visual Effects Gallery (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive (1080p, windowboxed)
  • HBO First Look: The Making of Alien Resurrection (SD, 25:40)
  • Alien Resurrection Promotional Featurette (SD, 3:56)
  • Trailers and TV Spots (SD): Includes two trailers (3:39) and four TV spots (1:24).


  • Two Versions of Alien Evolution (SD, 48:58 and 1:04:33): A TV retrospective from the U.K. that looks back at the four Alien films.
  • The Alien Saga (SD, 1:49:02): Another made-for-TV documentary about the four films, narrated by John Hurt.
  • Aliens 3D Attraction Scripts and Gallery (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Aliens in the Basement: The Bob Burns Collection (SD, 16:54): An interview with Bob Burns, an obsessive collector of Alien memorabilia.
  • Parodies (SD): Brief clips from Family Guy (00:32) and Spaceballs (1:47).
  • Dark Horse Comics Still Gallery (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Patches and Logos Gallery (1080p, windowboxed)
  • Credits

Disc Unbound
If you’re having an Alien Anthology marathon, you’ll definitely appreciate this feature, as it drastically cuts down on the load time between discs. Here’s what the included leaflet says:

“Navigating the multi-disc experience of the Alien Anthology is made even faster with a revolutionary, seamless “unbound” experience that bridges your viewing between discs. Upon ejecting any disc in the anthology, a Weyland-Yutani corporate logo will appear if your player supports this feature. You may then insert another Alien Anthology disc in the set to continue your experience right away. You will bypass the standard logos and disclaimers and jump right back into the action with the Alien Anthology disc you’ve just inserted. To terminate your Alien Anthology experience, just press STOP on your remote to clear the screen and return to the player’s menu, or you may choose to shut down your player.”

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