Alien Revisted: An Interview with Ridley Scott

The director reminisces about his trip aboard the Nostromo.

Old monsters never die. They just become familiar friends. We’ve seen it happen with classic fiends from the early black-and-white era, like Frankenstein and Dracula, but what about more recent more recent movie monsters, like the titular creature haunting the spaceship Nostromo in ALIEN (1979). Does the passage of decades turn what was once frightening into what is now merely quaint nostalgia? Has even the best example of its genre mellowed with age? Has the subsequent advent of computer-generated special effects rendered the old man-in-the-suit technology hopelessly dated in comparison?

There is no doubt that our perception of a film changes over time, but it is far from inevitable that a classic film must become, eventually, nothing more than a time capsule of its era. There are some films that can still be enjoyed as entertainment, not as museum pieces, and ALIEN is one of them. I should know. I was there at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, watching the film on a Saturday morning during its original release in 1979. The historic Egyptian, one of the classic movie palaces from Hollywood’s golden era (it predates the more famous Chinese Theatre), was the perfect setting for the movie: the decor, suggesting a pyramid built from stone, was redolent of ancient mystery, which was abetted by the addition of props from the movie: alien eggs along the walkway to the entrance, space hardware strewn about the lobby, and (most impressive of all) the ill-fated alien “space jockey,” long dead but still seated at whatever mysterious controls it had operated in life.
The film itself was a galvanizing experience, with an intensity that never seemed to falter. In DRACULA, you could feels safe when the sun was up; in JAWS you could just stay out of the water. But in ALIEN there was no safe harbor, no safe time; you felt that the monster could strike anytime, anywhere. And worst of all, you could tell what the damned thing was! Extreme close-ups revealed what looked like row after row of metallic teeth, along with some kind of tongue that struck its victims with lethal force, and there seemed to be appendages (arms, les, and a tail – or was it a tentacle?), but only at the very end did you get a full-body view of the whole creature, one of the most memorable and elegantly designed monsters ever to grace the screen – as cool as the Creature from the Black Lagoon, although far less sympathetic..
Over twenty-five years later, the mystery of the alien’s appearance is long gone, as is some of the shocking impact, but the overall intensity remains, and the shock sequences ( the face hugger’s leap from the egg, the chest-bursters bloody birth) are still capable of sending first-time viewers leaping from its seats. If there was any doubt of this, it was overturned during a sold-out screening at the very same Egyptian Theatre where I first saw the film decades ago – part of a week-long tribute to director Ridley Scott, put on by the American Cinematheque. All this time later, ALIEN remains the definitive science-fiction monster movie, unsurpassed by the numerous sequels and rip=offs that followed in its wake.


Director Ridley Scott is pleased with how well ALIEN has stood up to the test of time. Of course, he and other filmmakers of his generation had an advantage over those of earlier eras: not only could they learn from the mistakes of the past, but also Hollywood was willing to give genre films the sort of major studio treatment seldom seen since Universal Pictures in the 1930s. Thus, the 1970s saw young filmmakers making big-budget version of the sort of movies they had loved as children: THE EXORCIST (1973), JAWS (1975), and STAR WARS (1977). Yet despite this trend, Dan O’Bannon’s script for ALIEN (which was developed with the help of executive producer Ronald Shussett and then substantially rewritten by producers Walter Hill and David Giler) was not immediately embraced as an attempt to make a lavish science-fiction, monster-on-the-loose movie. It was originally conceived as a low-budget film and not everyone saw the value of turning it into an expensive production. O’Bannon’s story combined elements from past films such as IT THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958), and PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965). Scott acknowledges that he was influenced by science-fiction films from that era: ” THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THEM, and IT actually were good fun at the time and used to scare the living daylights out of me as a kid, and now are kind of collector’s items. The first science-fiction that rang a bell for me was Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie [in DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL]. I registered that when I was a youngster and thought, ‘Hm, that was interesting.’
“Walter Hill was one of the producers. I was sitting in Fox, in one of their small theatres at lunchtime. It was very hot out. I was running TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, because I’d never actually seen it before. Funnily enough, as a child I was brought up not to see horror movies, because my parents classified them along with sex movies. I saw this poster in Piccadilly of the guy in the face mask with the buzz saw, and I just decided not to see the film. So now I’m making movies, and I’m sitting in Fox, and TEXAS CHAINSAW is running. Walter Hill came in behind me and said, ‘What are you looking at all this stuff for? Why don’t you get on with it?’ He had a large Coca-Cola and a hamburger, just as the film began, and when it finished, he hadn’t eaten the hamburger, and the Coca-Cola glass was warm in his hand – he hadn’t touched that either.
But the director wanted to make his film with a modern, high-tech sheen that conflated Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY with George Lucas’s STAR WARS: “Totally. Stanley’s influenced me pretty much all through my life, in everything really.
I though the first STAR WARS was absolutely brilliant,” says Scott. “2001 was an absolutely different cutting edge of science fiction. Stanley’s was somehow entirely real, and STAR WARS is a kind of rather grand, beautiful, majestic fairy story.”
With Scott on board, 20h Century Fox was still planning to make the film on a relatively modest budget – which would have necessitated making major cuts in the screenplay. Fortunately, the director found that his experience at art school came in hand. “I’m able to sit down and do storyboards, and boards are useful to me because it helps me to think,” he says. “It’s a bit like having a blank sheet of paper and getting writer’s block – you just start drawing and it evolves. I storyboarded the whole thing in three weeks and actually doubled the budget. It was $4.2-million, so I went to London and came bakc with something on paper in about a month, and they doubled the budget. Shows the value of art school!”
Even with the additional money, the film still ended up stretching its resources in order to realize the extensive visual outlined in the script. “The [revised] budget started out at $.8.2-million and ended up at 8.6, which I think in those days was still relatively cheap,” Scott recalls. “We didn’t have the money to do pretty well anything. In those days, there was no CGI. Of course, with CGI today, it would have been easy to do anything; it would have been dead simple. We didn’t even have motion control. We had scaffolding bars with a chap pushing [the miniatures] along, saying, ‘No no no, mate, you’ve got to do it smoother.’ So all the shots of the space ship were basically a dolly being pushed with a good steady hand underneath the bloody model. So it was actually all hand-made. But in a funny kind of way, you get very clever when there is very little money, because it makes you think – there’s a big lesson there, somewhere. So when you complain about your CGI budget, think about that.”
Scott continues: “A good example of that is, Les tried desperately and there was no money left… it was up to Les to make the model of the planet. I walked into this stage at Bray Studios in mid-winter, and the heating had gone off. Les had done the alien planet. The mountains were about a foot high. It was ridiculous; it looked terrible. We sat staring at the model and the big croissant, which is what I call the alien spacecraft. I said, ‘Anybody got a home video kit?’ This is just about the advent of home video cameras. Somebody said he had one, so I said, ‘Get it.’ So I literally walked through the set with a home video camera held low, and approached the ship. That’s what you see on screen, and wow, I think it looks amazing! It looked good because you saw it through Ash’s eyes, through the head sets of the astronauts, because it was being televised back to the craft. That gave it scale and credibility.”
Scott stretched the budget by dressing up his two children in spacesuits for a scene of the astronauts leaving the Nostromo by an exterma; life: “By using two kids, the set looked twice as big. It was much cheaper to make two little space suits than to make a bigger set. We had to wire them to the set in case they fell off!”
Still, some sequences were lost, such as the storyboard airlock scene, in which the alien’s corrosive, acidic blood was to burn a whole through the ships hull, through which one character would be sucked out by the vacuum.
“We couldn’t afford it,” says Scott. “Besides, I couldn’t work out in those days (without CGI)_ how to squeeze a body through a hole that big – but they did it in Number Four,” he laughs, referring to a climactic moment in 1997’s ALIEN: RESURRECTION.
Whatever its budgetary limitations, ALIEN was certainly lavish when compared to its 1950s era antedecants, and much of the impressive looks is attributable to the design team. Ron Cobb conceived most of the Earth hardware, which was then realized by production designer Michael Seymour and art director Roger Christian (who went on to direct the dire BATTLEFIELD EARTH). The futuristic look of the spaceship Nostromo and its equipment was counterbalanced by the otherworldly alien imagery of Swiss surrealist H. R. Giger, who was brought on to the project by Dan O’Bannon, over the objections of the producers.
“Dan took me aside, like he was showing me a dirty book,” Scott recalls. “It was Giger’s book, which is NECRONOMICON. My eyeballs nearly fell out.”
Images form NECRONOMICON were used as inspiration for the alien landscapes and the alien itself, which Giger designed and sculpted. Although the studio executives were woreid that they might be hring an eccentric artist unable to work on a tight production schedule, Scott found Giger to be “far more straightforward than you could possibly imagine. Despite the strangeness of his work, he’s incredibly reliable, and never once let me down.”
The alien was brought to life with the same technique used for classic movie monsters from the ’50s. “In those days, it boiled down to a guy in a rubber suit,” Scott recalls. “The thing that I had always worried about was that the monster wouldn’t be good, because they rarely are. Probably the last great monster was the little girl in the bed in THE EXORCIST. But all you had to put on her was the voice of Mercedes McCambridge – that one trick was chilling.”
The head had mechanics by Carlo Rambaldi to bring it to life, but the key to creating a convincing creature was hiding the human proportions of the man inside the costume.
“We started with a stunt man who was quite thin, but in the rubber suit he looked like the Michelin Man. So my casting director said, ‘I’ve seen a guy in a pub in Soho who is about seven feet tall, has a tiny head and a tiny skinny body.’ So he brought Bolaji Bodejo to the office, and he was actually from Somalia, funnily enough,” Scott remarks, having much later directed BLACK HAWK DOWN, which was set in Somalia. “I said, ‘Do you want to be in movies,’ and he said sure. And he became the alien. I had him for two months. In the cockpit, there’s a pack of cigarettes that says ‘Bolaji.'”
Giger also built the egg from which the face-hugger emerges, but his alien landscapes fell into the hands of the film’s second art director, Lesley Dilley. “I figured it made it sense to have Mike and Roger be the art directors on what I called ‘Earth matter’ – that would be everything involved with the Nostromo – and Les would have the difficult task of taking Giger’s drawings and interpreting them into actual sets,” Scott explains.
“You can take a great visual – which is one thing – and then you can convert it into a set that can look like a really bad ’50s coffee bar. I think Les took what Giger had drawn in very exotic visuals and made them real. That was a hard thing to do.”
Another point that separates ALIEN from its ’50s forbearers is the presence of a strong woman protagonist: Ripley, played by then-unknown Sigourney Weaver. Scott, however, takes no credit for this; in fact, the character was originally sciprted as a man. “After a couple of weeks at Fox, they said, “We’re ruminating on the idea of making Ripley a woman.’ I just said, ‘That’s a good idea,’ but at that point I didn’t fully comprehend the significance of that to the female world. It took me until THELMA AND LOUISE to realize that was a good point.”
Rather like the B-movies that inspired it, ALIEN did not rely on marquee names, but it did have a solid cast that lent credibility to the characters, who are revealed to us only through their actions, not through any revelations about their back story. (This is in keeping with producer Walter Hill’s early work as a writer-director, such as THE DIRVER, in which the characters do not even have names.)
As Scott says, “This film was so brief in terms of each piece of characterization: that’s the sign of a really good script: there’s no fat; it’s all lean. The actors are able to squeeze in as much as they have to for this kind of film.”
Scott adds that , upon re-watching the film, “It struck me that we had a really, really special cast. I was just watching tonight, thinking, ‘My god, how good they were – all of them.’ Everyone one of them had his own bit of individual, built-in subtext and implicit story that he didn’t have to voice. It was all just part of the character.”

The final element that lifted the film ot the level of an A-class production was the orchestral score by Jerry Goldsmith. Despite their “stormy” working relationship, Scott credits the composer with making ALIEN work. “I was just thinking again tonight, ‘Thank god the score is absolutely brilliant.’ And I’m not yanking his chain. I think it’s one of his best scores, because it truly does nurse you through this story and leave you in a constant state of tension. I think without that score I couldn’t have let scenes run so long with nothing happening. I decided I wanted to stick to a certain rigid pace and not hurry it – just let things happen – and I think it’s pretty successful. To be perfectly honest, I was surprised how well it stands up.”
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Alien (1979)

By Steve Biodrowski

A Gothic horror move set in outer space, ALIEN proved that material derided as B-movie fodder could be handled with finesse and glossy production values, without diminishing the thrills or polishing over the hard-edged horror. Dan O`Bannon`s script is filled with memorable moments of revulsion (the face-hugger, the chest-burster), and the uncredited rewrite by Walter Hill & David Giler adds an impressive layer of gritty, working class characterization. Director Ridley Scott films the whole thing to exquisite effect, capturing both the terror and the beauty of the titular creature, a sleek and amazing design by H.R. Giger that is only briefly glimpsed, preventing us from getting a clear picture of the beast’s nature until the final scenes reveal it in all its glory. Those extreme close-ups, of lips curling back from rows of teeth within teeth, are enough to make the skin crawl, and the atmosphere of dread reaches unrelieved levels, with never a sense of respite being offered. Continue reading “Alien (1979)”

Blade Runner on the big screen – The Final Cut

You can say what you like about Los Angeles, but we have Hollywood, which means we have the movies – and lots of movie-lovers to go with it; consequently, there are actually a handful of theatres, even in this era of home video, that continue to offer repertory and revival programming. This results in wonderful opportunities to re-experience movies on the big screen, where they were meant to be seen. A recent example of this is the “Final Cut” of BLADE RUNNER, which I recently saw at the New Beverly Cinema in L.A. Of course it was interesting to note how this (presumably last) version of the film stacked up against its predecessors, but I could have done that on DVD (or even, heaven forbid, on Netflix Instant Viewing). The real joy of the experience was once again seeing the sights of 2019 Los Angeles splayed out larger than life before my eyes, filling not only the screen but also my brain with an overwhelming rush of visual input that few films ever match. Continue reading “Blade Runner on the big screen – The Final Cut”

Horror Filmmakers & Authors Pick Their Favorite Horror Movies

Last month, we ran a list of the American Film Institute’s nominees for the best Fantasy and Science-Fiction Films of all time. Many readers were angry over the exclusion of horror from the genres under consideration; some were unhappy about certain titles that made or did not make it onto the A.F.I.’s lists; a few were offended by our caustic comments about the more dubious inclusions.  Well, we all have our favorites. Neither the A.F.I. nor Cinefantastique Online is the sole arbiter of what constitutes the best of the best in movie magic. Therefore, we thought it would be a good idea to present a gallery of expert opinions from people working behind the scenes. What films rank as favorites among industry insiders who made your favorite films? What films frightened or amazed the directors, writers, actors, and authors who make a living in the genres of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror? What films stirred their sense of wonder or made them want to make movies? You’ll find a sample of their answers below
WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (Director of THE EXORCIST)
The horror films that I admire are ROSEMARY’S BABY, ALIEN, DIABOLIQUE, PSYCHO – that’s about it. I would say those are horror films, but they totally transcend the genre. They’re every bit as good as stories as horror films: the stories are believable; the characters are believable; the situations they’re put in, the style of performance, is believable. There’s also a Japanese film that I love called Onibaba, another wonderful film of fantasy and imagination, worked very carefully into a fairly realistic story. Whereas in something like Nightmare on Elm Street or Jason, it isn’t believable. There’s an automatic distance there—between what’s on the screen and the audience’s perception of real people in real situations.
I like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. I applaud its ingenuity. It was something different, and it was pure to what it was—it did not break the focus. It was a documentary. When people set the camera down, all it showed you was shoes or sometimes nothing. I have to tell you, I sat there with my then fourteen-year-old son, and it scared the hell out of us. That picture scared me. I thought it was really good, because I love documentaries. I love that somebody took the horror genre, and did almost a pure documentary with it. I think Blair Witch is a helluva a film, a good film.
RIDLEY SCOTT (Director of ALIEN)
Creature from the Black LagoonThe thing I always worried about doing a monster movie—I was frightened that the monster wouldn’t be good, because they very rarely are. Probably the last great monster before that was the little girl in the bed in The Exorcist. But all you had to put on her was the voice—of Mercedes McCambridge—and that one trick was chilling. I decided to see THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THEM and IT [THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE]—which actually were good fun at the time, used to scare the living daylights out of me as a kid, and now are kind of collector’s items. Funnily enough, as a child, I was always brought up not to see horror movies, because my parents classified them along with sex movies, so I wasn’t allowed to see them. I saw this poster in Piccadilly of this guy standing there with the face-mask on and the buzz saw, and I just decided not to see the film—that [The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ] was pretty tough stuff.
DIRECTOR GEORGE A ROMERO (Director of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and MARTIN)
Martin is my all-time favorite. When you make films, it’s hard to decide which among them is your favorite. When and if you make a choice, there are many factors that go into it—the experience, memories of the people working with you. On that film I had my first chance to work with Tom Savini, John Amplas. The crew numbered fifteen, including the cast. We had no money. A handful of people made it possible for me to make the movie. We made it on spit and a prayer. I think it’s my most successful effort, in that it comes closer than anything I’ve done to what I intended when I wrote the script. It turned out almost exactly the way I originally envisioned it.
I read my share of Poe. I collected EC Comics, and I’m old enough to have seen FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA on the big screen—when they were re-released. I’m not that old! I saw THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD in its first run, also on the big screen The movie that made me want to make movies is—you’ll probably be surprised by this—is The Tales of Hoffman, an adaptation of Orfenbach’s opera. It’s sung in English, but the words don’t matter much; it’s the imagery that grabs you, and it never lets go. I was one of the few who saw this particular film when it played in a theatre on a big screen and in color. The film has action and adventure, and it was way serious to an eleven year old. It was released in the same year as The Thing from Another World—big competition—but this film made more of an impression than James Arness ever could. I love some of Dario Argento’s early ones, Deep Red and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Those were probably my favorites, and Suspiria—it’s operatic and beautiful—like The Tales of Hoffman. Repulsion is the most frightening film that I’ve ever seen. Lapsed Catholics—not practicing Catholics, but those who have strayed—like me—stained our jockeys when we first saw The Exorcist. As far as I’m concerned, that is the only film that dealt with Pure Evil and managed to pull it off.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO (Director of PAN’S LABYRINTH)
My favorites of my own films are PAN’S LABYRINTH, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE, and HELLBOY.
I started watching horror films without caring much about their origin. We got some Mario Bava films. Of course, we have the Mexican wrestler/masked avengers type of horror film. Then every Sunday there was a local channel that showed all the Universal monster movies: everything from the classics Frankenstein to Bride of Frankenstein and so forth. Then at the matinee, my mother took me to see the Hammer films: DRACULA, HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, all of them. So I really got every single thing on the spectrum fed into my brain at this very tender age.
TAKASHI SHIMIZU (Director of THE GRUDGE)
I am influenced by lots of filmmakers and movies, so it’s hard to name everything. I like art films like Decalogue and big-budget Hollywood movies like SPIDER-MAN 2, but I fell asleep in SPIDER-MAN. Sorry, Sam! (referring to SPIDER-MAN director Sam Raimi, who produced THE GRUDGE)
SCOTT DERRICKSON (Director of THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE)
In cinema, you have to be crazy [to make an exorcism film] after THE EXORCIST. It’s my favorite horror film; I think it’s the best horror film ever made. You’re not going to make a better movie than that. People who tried to imitate that movie have pretty notoriously failed. It’s daunting.
ADAM GREEN (Writer-director of HATCHET, whose festival tag-line was: “It’s not a remake; it’s not a sequel; and it’s not based on a Japanese one.’)
In fact I like Japanese horror films, and some of my favorite films are remakes. John Carpenter’s THE THING is my Top Five of all time, and I love THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE [remake] –  as much as a lot of people would want to kill me for saying that. I wanted to hate that when I saw it, and I really liked it. Even the second time – because I thought, ‘Maybe it’s just Jessica Biel’s boobs,’ but it wasn’t; it was really that good.
HALLOWEEN to me is still [great] – nothing will ever touch that one. [Slasher films] created villains with great mythologies behind them that were very simple stories that you could easily explain to your friend while you’re lying on the floor in sleeping bags at night, having a sleepover. That was the real joy of these films for me. The villains were these anti-superheroes; they were just these total bad-asses. As much as you were afraid of them, you were kind of rooting for them because they were so cool.
WILLIAM MALONE (Director of THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL)
The confrontation between Belau Lugosi (left) and Boris Karloff (right) is interrupted by the shadow of the titular BLACK CATOf recent ilk, one of my favorites was ALIEN, which is just a brilliant movie. I still love CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON: there’s something evocative about it that really works. I love things like THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI and FRANKENSTEIN, which is a wonderful picture; the original still really holds up. MAD LOVE is a really cool movie, with Peter Lorre. And some other stuff has been overlooked like PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, the Mario Bava picture, which I think is a wonderful film. I was heavily influenced by THE BLACK CAT [1934], which is one of my favorite films. I love that movie. When I first met Geoffrey [Rush, whom Malone directed in House], he’d just gone to see THE BLACK CAT, and he talked about how much he loved it. It’s got this perversity, this weird, dark undertone. What’s great about it is that you can’t put your finger on it, except if you actually look at the plot of that movie, you could never do that today. It’s too twisted: the fact that Karloff kills Lugosi’s wife and then keeps her body preserved in the basement, and then marries her daughter! I’m a big fan of [director Edgar G.] Ulmer’s work.
JEAN-PIERRE JEUNET (Director of ALIEN: RESURRECTION and AMALIE)
I love American Beauty, Memento, Happiness. I have two films in my life: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE from Stanley Kubrick and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. I saw it when I was a teen, and I couldn’t eat or sleep for three days. My parents were, “What? What? Are you sick?” “No no, you can’t understand!”
MAZAAKI TEZUKA (Director of GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S.)
The first GODZILLA (1954) … [is] a masterpiece, but KING KONG VS. GODZILLA is my favorite.
ROLFE KANEFSKY (Writer-director of NIGHTMARE MAN)
I saw Frankenstein and all the monster movies when I was four years old, but I became a huge horror fan when I was fourteen, when I really started watching horror films and seeing all the conventions and the clichés. All the really good horror films were – except when the studios decided to stay out of it, like THE EXORCSIT – they were not studio films. They were independent films: HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.
LEONARD WOLF (Author of Dracula: A Connoisseurs Guide)
I am very drawn, curiously enough, to the silent film, NOSFERATU (1922). When Count Orlock comes to—her name is either Nina or Ellen, depending on the subtitles—they exchange looks across the areaway. It is so charged with complex implications. Clearly, he is now going to be in the role of the demon lover, making love to a woman who sends her husband away—it’s got elements of French comedy in it. At the same time it’s a ghoulish moment, when this guy who’s not really living shows up in her bedroom and crouches at the side of her bed. You never know what they’re doing, but whatever they’re doing is so silent and so horrible and so Christian and so appalling—I’ve said somewhere in my book that the silence is intensified. We know we’re in a silent film, but somehow that scene takes on a terror because it’s so utterly still.
SUZY MCKEE CHARNAS (Author of The Vampire Tapestry)
I think that one thing that happens when you are raised as a reader rather than a visual consumer is that when you do go to films, they’re really pretty overwhelming. I remember being really impressed by silly things like ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. It is wonderful, but it shouldn’t send you screaming! It did influence me, to put it mildly. For a very long time, the whole vampire thing was very tightly attached to the Hungarian actor whose name we all know. I still kind of balk when people get too far away from a basic sort of dignity. I don’t really go for BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER-type of vampires, and the punk rocker ones really turn me off.
BARBARA STEEL (Star of BLACK SUNDAY, a.k.a. Mask of the Demon)
Barbara Steele as the revived witch in BLACK SUNDAYBlack Sunday is the best of the genre films I made—the final result was most perfected in terms of the whole film, but I don’t feel it was best for me as an actress. I never saw a completed script for BLACK SUNDAY. We were given the pages day to day. We had hardly any idea of what was ever going down on that film. We had no idea of the end or the beginning, either. I’m sure he [director Mario Bava] had, or maybe he hadn’t. He really geared it to play out all his cinematographic-visual fantasies, and I think that one of the strongest points of the movie is the look of it. It’s just fortuitous for an actress to find herself in something that well structured.
CHRISTINA RICCI (star of SLEEPY HOLLOW)
I’ve always loved [Tim Burton’s] movies. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is one of my favorite movies of all time. His movies are so different. His movies are so beautiful and really elegant. They’re also told with such an innocence and a goodness. People say his movies are dark, but they’re really about Good and Evil, and the Good is always so good and so strong—they’re actually really sweet stories.

PATRICK MACNEE (Star of THE HOWLING)
You just can’t get a more stunning film. My darling wife and my friends sat there watching it like that [grips the armrest of his chair and forms his mouth into a silent scream to demonstrate]. It’s a wonderful, wonderful film. Now all my other films— THE CREATURE WASN’T NICE, LOBSTER MAN FROM MARS —I have been in more movies of that type. I’m not saying we weren’t good in them, but they were movies you never see again, hopefully. When Dennis Bartok [of American Cinematheque] said, ‘We’re going to do a retrospective of your movies,’ I said, ‘Which one? There’s only one worth seeing, and this is it!’
JOE DANTE (Director of THE HOWLING)
There are too many monster movies for me to pick. I spent a misspent youth watching monster movies, and then I spent a misspent adulthood making them. So I would refer you to any list of decent monster movies, and I’m sure my favorites will be on there.

Blade Runner (1982) – Science Fiction Film Review

EDITOR’S NOTE: If ever there were a film on which Cinefantastique missed the boat, it was BLADE RUNNER. Sure, the film received cover-story treatment in the special July-August 1982 double issue (Volume 12:5 and 12:6), including two capsule reviews that were mostly positive; however, when it came time for a full-length review in the next issue (13:1), the attitude turned dismissive. Over the next decade, the film’s reputation grew, leading to the 1992 theatrical release of the so-called Director’s Cut, at which time the magazine printed a revised review. With the new DVD release today of BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT, we present Cinefantastique’s original reaction to the film.

Ridley Scott must learn that films can’t live by design alone

Review by Jordan R. Fox

“There are certain moments in movies where the background can be as important as the actor,” proclaims director Ridley Scott. “The design of a film is the script.” Scott is a supreme visual stylist with a gift for design unequalled among contemporary directors, but he’s wrong. Design is a vital element, especially if the audience is to accept anyone’s physically imposing vision of the future, but staggering technical virtuosity – in and of itself – can never replace character and story values. And this realization points out Scott’s fatal flaw. Continue reading “Blade Runner (1982) – Science Fiction Film Review”

Blade Runner box set

Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford & Sean YoungI didn’t make it out to the San Diego Comic Con last week, but I heard it was great. Among many other things there was a panel for the long-awaited release of the Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition of BLADE RUNNER (which will be available on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray). Harrison Ford and Daryll Hannah were no-shows (boo!), but director Ridley Scott and cast members Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, Sean Young, and James Hong (“Seinfeld, party of four!”) were there. The enthusiastic response of the audience full of fans dwarfed that given to the other big panel put on by Warner Brothers, dedicated to the home video release of this year’s blockbuster, 300.
Word is that the “Final Cut” on this DVD will correct problems seen in previous versions (mismatched redubbing of lines, etc). One of the most glaring was the visible face of the stunt double for the death of Zhora when she plows through several panes of glass while being shot in the back. Scott apparently reshot the footage with actress Joanna Cassidy strapping on her old costume again. Continue reading “Blade Runner box set”