If you were to visit the National Space Centre in Leicester last weekend, you would be greeted by a squad of Colonial Marines on patrol, with signs indicating the Bio-Research Unit belonging to Weyland-Yutani had also been established. The reason? Twenty five years ago that weekend was the UK release of James Cameron’s classic sci-fi horror film Aliens: the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien, that proved once and for all that sequels do not have to be inferior.
The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the opportunity to meet some of the original cast, including Ricco “Pvt. Frost” Ross (he still doesn’t like the cornbread), Cynthia “Cpl. Dietrich” Scott, Daniel “Pvt. Spunkmeyer” Kash, Colette “Cpl. Ferro” Hiller (in the pipe, five by five), and Trevor “Pvt. Wierzbowski” Steedman. All were friendly and approachable throughout the day, and always happy to answer questions.
This was the first time in twenty five years that all five of these actors had sat down together to answer questions, and as such held an hour-long Q&A session with the audience. Other panels included the Prometheus Panel where members of the film crew offered insight on Ridley Scott’s new film and what he meant by the film having “DNA of the Alien movie”; there was also an Aliens FX Panel which discussed the techniques used in creating a film that stands up to modern effects, the complexities and practicalities in creating sets and props for films, and just why the later xenomorphs never looked as good.
Despite many of the props from the Aliens having been scrapped (due to the aforementioned practicalities in their ownership and storage), Harry Harris had generously brought his extensive collection of original props from the film. These included everything from blueprints of the Sulaco, to the original armour worn by Hudson, as well as Drake’s smart-gun that he had assembled over a four year period.
As an added bonus for Sunday, there was the presence of Terry English, designer of the Colonial Marine armour, who has worked as the armourer for other films including Alien3 and Sucker Punch. What makes his armour design for the Colonial Marine so impressive is that today’s combat armour looks a lot like the armour Terry English conceived twenty-five years ago.
Supporting the original props was a fantastic display from the Replica Prop Board. Indistinguishable from the original props, and when they are made in the modellers’ spare time, it makes their work all the more impressive. I talked to one modeller who was a construction worker by day.
If you have ever wanted to experience an encounter of the third kind with a xenomorph, the UKCM’s Alien Encounter was on hand to do just that. Escorted through the Bio-Research unit by a squad of Colonial Marines, your safety is assured, and nothing can go wrong. Trust me.
The UKCM’s approach to the weekend’s event was exemplified by how they presented the raffle. Instead of paying to rummage in a box for a raffle ticket, you were given a tag to wear around your neck. When one of the Colonial Marines noticed the tag, he crisply saluted you, bellowing “Another glorious day in the ‘Corp”, whereupon you had to return the salute shouting “I LOVE the ‘Corp” (no salute or quote means no raffle ticket). The upshot of all this, is that a lot of fun was had, and throughout the day you would find Marines saluting attendees, setting a fun atmosphere for the day.
Photos by Jacquie James (www.glassrat.co.uk)