JOE's Film Flashback: Alien 3 (1992) 6 years ago

JOE's Film Flashback: Alien 3 (1992)

Welcome to JOE's Film Flashback, where we take you behind the scenes of some of the finest motion pictures ever made. This is your *SPOILER ALERT* warning, no more excuses now.

Ready? Then follow us as we find out all there is know about...


Title: Alien 3

Director: David Fincher

Release date: 22 May 1992

Worldwide box office: $159.8 million


Irish certificate rating: 18

Tag Line: "This time it's hiding in the most terrifying place of all..."

Clip via JoBlo Movie Trailers


This week sees the 25th anniversary of the much-maligned but misunderstood threequel, and what with Alien: Covenant currently topping the box office charts around the world, now is as good a time as any to take a look back.

At the time of release, everyone pretty much made a scapegoat of the then untested director who had been brought on board once Ridley Scott (Alien), Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger), Vincent Ward (What Dreams May Come) and others were approached but ultimately rejected (or just tossed from the director's chair).

When David Fincher was finally brought on board, $7m of the film's expected $50 million budget had already been spent on sets that were then destroyed once the screenplay had been reworked from scratch.

Sigourney Weaver wasn't even initially attached to the project; as a massive anti-guns activist, she found her role in Aliens to be somewhat at odds with who she was as a person, what with all the pulse rifles and grenade launchers she had to carry around.


Weaver insisted that her character not use a gun for the movie (and she doesn't, nor does she go particularly gun happy in Alien: Resurrection), while Fincher introduced some new aspects to the film that sent the producers into a bit of a tizzy, such as making Ripley bald, and killing off fan-favourites Newt and Hicks during the film's opening credits.

Right from the very beginning of the opening credits, Fincher set out his stall...


Following the film's release, Fincher disowned Alien 3, stating that too much studio interference led the film to not be as artistically creative as it should have been, with distributors 20th Century Fox setting a release date before any director or script had been put in place and producers more concerned with the movie making money rather than actually being good.


Fincher's career would go on to speak for itself - Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, House Of Cards - while an "Assembly Cut" of the movie was released in 2003, with over 30 minutes of additional footage. Whether or not this is closer to Fincher's original vision we'll never know, as he was the only director who declined to be interviewed for his part in the series for the Alien Anthology 'Making Of' series.

At the time, film critics were not particularly kind to the movie, with Alien 3's nihilistic and grim tone not settling well with those expecting the horror of the original or the excitement of the first sequel.

Hindsight, however, has been extremely kind of the under-valued gem.

While the plot does seem to lurch about the place, and characters we're certain we've never met before suddenly get long and protracted run-and-chase sequences before being violently killed off with a bit of an audience shrug, that unique and utterly brave take on the Alien saga is a worthy successor to what came before, and for the most part better than anything that came after it.

Weaver plays the film like a mourning mother, still grieving for the loss of Newt while discovering her child's killer is somewhere in the building with her, and she is matched with some powerhouse performances by the likes of Charles Dance as the love-interest doctor, Brian Glover as the prison superintendent, and Charles S. Dutton as the religious leader of the inmates.

Fincher also gives the entire project a grimy, unsettling visual aestethic.

The prison feels dirty to even look at, while the twisting and warping POV of the Alien itself is matched to a score that the composer recorded in the midst of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He claims this added to the pervasively disturbing nature of the soundtrack.

Alien 3 isn't a film you sit down and watch with friends, it's a film you almost try to appreciate as a piece of art, that you read as much about as you possibly can, that you dissect and digest on your own and find yourself defending years later.

Clip via Fabio Moreno