The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! This time around, we’re piggybacking off of last week’s piece to look at an franchise, one which could be at an inflection point…
Last weekend, I wrote about Prey and the Predator franchise (here). Today, it’s time to talk about Alien. Few properties have the mix of genre acclaim and actual prestige that this one has. After all, the Academy Awards gave multiple nominations and wins to the first two installments. Hell, Sigourney Weaver even got a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars for a sequel. Above the line citations for an action sequel to a hit horror film? That doesn’t happen often. So, you know you have special movies here. They’ve been tied in with the Predator flicks for some time, but this week, we’re untangling them and hoping the powers that be can go back to basics with the Xenomorph.
This series has two stone cold classics under its belt with Ridley Scott‘s Alien and James Cameron‘s Aliens. Both were Oscar cited, with actual wins, and both changed the game, cinematically.
Beyond Alien and Aliens, things fluctuate more. Alien 3 has more than its share of moments, and the alternate cut that contains a big more of a young David Fincher‘s directorial vision is superior, while Alien: Resurrection is big and weird, opting to be almost a sillier take on Aliens. At that point, the franchise seemed to be alternating between horror and action. Then, a purported Alien 5, one set on Earth, never got off the ground. So, we wound up with Alien vs Predator and its sequel, Alien vs Predator: Requiem. Like I mentioned last week in the column, the less said about those, the better. More recently, we’ve seen Scott come back to the property with prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, both of which were mixed bags.
The thing is, Scott used Prometheus and Alien: Covenant to add more mythology to the Xenomorph, which doesn’t make them more impactful. Part of why Prey is so good, as detailed previously, is that it’s just meat and potatoes, largely doing away with all of that. It’s a good lesson that I hope the next installment takes, unlikely as that seemingly is.
Our next outing in the franchise will be on the small screen, by way of Noah Hawley. The television version of Alien will be Earth based and also fill in more blanks, so it’s not doing what I’d prefer. However, what makes this at least somewhat promising is that TV gives you more time, so it may well actually earn the right to add to the mythos. Hopefully it’s an even balance, since Prometheus was almost exclusively in one direction, while Alien: Covenant almost throws in its Xenomorph centric final act out of soulless obligation.
Of course, some aborted efforts have gotten the hopes up of fans over the years. The aforementioned Alien 5 on Earth had the amazing tagline of “On Earth, everyone can hear you scream.” Whether Cameron or Scott ever seriously considered making it is another story. More recently, Neill Blomkamp came pretty close to bringing back Weaver and Michael Biehn for his alternate Alien 3 of sorts, doing the modern thing of retconning and ignoring all but the best loved installments. While the filmmaker has seen his star dim quite a bit with a few notable misfires, the premise at least got folks pretty excited.
So, for me at least, it’s a matter of just getting back to basics. Look at what Cameron did. Look at hat Scott (originally) did. You have epic action and claustrophobic horror. Both options could easily bear fruit if done well. Not to use video games as an example, but the action of the Alien vs Predator video game franchise, as well as the retro survival horror aspect of Alien: Isolation, show that it’s clearly the ways that work for this property. As an aside, an Alien: Isolation adaptation wouldn’t be a terrible idea, Hollywood. Just saying…
Hopefully, whether it’s Hawley’s Alien show on television, or another cinematic outing, this franchise will see glory days again. Scott has gotten a chance to play around in this sandbox again, so maybe Cameron will take another crack at it one day? If not, here’s hoping that a hungry young filmmaker can knock it out of the park. Alien and Aliens are the template, so as long as we stay far away from the AvP quality levels, there’s hope here, one day. Until then, we wait for rescue, much like Ellen Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo.
Stay tuned for another Sunday Scaries installment next week!