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Alien War

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"On Earth Everyone can hear you scream"

Unused Alien Wars promo image for the 2008 re-opening[1]

Alien War, known as Alien Wars during the 2008 and 2012 reopenings, was a "total reality"[2] attraction in the United Kingdom that originally opened at The Arches venue in Glasgow in April 1992, themed around the Alien film series, particularly the second movie Aliens. Created by John Gorman and Gary Gillies, the attraction had a short run as a mobile event at various exhibition centres around the UK (including the Bournemouth International Centre and the Aberdeen Conference Centre). On 15 October 1993 it moved to a permanent in the basement of the Trocadero centre in London, where the attraction was opened by Sigourney Weaver.

The London attraction closed after a flood in August 1996 and was never reopened. However, Alien War made a short return between December 1999 and January 2000 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, in a modified form.

Alien WarEdit


Alien War new logo

Alien War original logo (London)

A group of participants were escorted on foot by armed Colonial Marines to view an "Alien Research Facility", an immersive, dimly lit set in the style of the films Alien and Aliens. The Aliens would inevitably escape containment and subsequently menace, chase and sometimes even capture both the Colonial Marines and members of the public. The adult Xenomorphs were realised by performers in suits while the Facehuggers were animatronic effects.

The ride started as an acted tour around the facility. After some time, an alarm would sound indicating some problems. The Marine (actor) in charge would then tell the group (around 10 participants) to line up against the wall, with various horizontal tubes running along it. The Marine would insist the participants get as close as possible to the wall. Then the alarm would die down, a long silence would follow. Then, from behind the participants a loud burst of steam (prop CO2) would blow, causing a scare.

Then the participants would be huddled into the back of a corridor. The Marine would stand in front of the participants. All the lights would go out in the corridor. They would flicker on, at which moment a Xenomorph could be seen at the end of the corridor. They would then extinguish, and by the time they flickered on again it was seen to be much closer. The Marine would begin firing at it. It would be seen to be getting closer and closer at every flickering on of the lights, which were switched off for most of the time.

The participants would be hurried through the complex being herded by the Xenomorph, who would randomly grab participants but not catch them. The participants would eventually be forced through an Egg chamber where the Queen was visible.

Then a sequence followed where everyone was sat in rows of seats in what represented some sort of drop ship waiting area, the Marine would defend one door for a short time before herding participants in an elevator. Again the lights would flicker and the doors would open slightly allowing the Alien to attack. Here somebody in front of the door would be taken by the Alien. This was in reality an actor made to look like a participant, who had gone unnoticed.

The Marine would end by yelling and pushing the participants to run along a corridor and out a door. As all the participants started running and burst out of the door they would realize they ran screaming and laughing out onto the street outside to the surprise of themselves and bystanders.



Alien War commercial poster

The Marines originally carried blank firing pistols for use in the attraction. However, for Alien War London, an innovative electronic system called Soundfire was developed to allow the Marines to use replica M41A Pulse Rifles that would sound sound like those used in Aliens. The system consisted of replica Pulse Rifles, many of which were constructed from aluminum by Bapty & Co., the armorers who had created the original weapons for Aliens, which were then fitted with infrared transmitters and small strobe lights (to simulate muzzle flash).[3] When the trigger was pulled, a signal was transmitted to receivers hidden in the set. A central computer would then play gunfire sound effects to speakers in the correct area of the set.[3] Despite being a technically advanced system, from a participants' point of view these effects were not particularly impressive; the method of producing the effect, particularly with regards to the strobe light "muzzle flash", was very obvious, and was entirely different from how the weapons would discharge in reality. The complicated electronics also suffered teething troubles in the first months after opening, meaning that the blank firing pistols had to be used for most early shows. The sound effects system was also used to play other effects, including the noises made by the Xenomorphs.

The show was seen in various guises and briefly featured an actor dressed as a Predator for a spell prior to it closing in Glasgow.

Original propsEdit

Many original props found their way onto the Alien War set. These included instrument/control panels and the two seats from the dropship, the sentry gun boxes and one of the USS Sulaco hypersleep chambers. Also used were original reflective Scotchlite stickers from Hadley's Hope, which had been found at Pinewood Studios. Alien War also had its own in-house workshop, headed by Martin Astles (who has since gone on to work as an effects technician on such films as Event Horizon). The workshop created creature suits, set dressing, marine armour etc. as well as carrying out running repairs of the attraction.[4]

Aliens propsEdit

  • Narcissus model
  • a Hudson costume
  • a sentry gun and two remote terminal computers
  • Bishop's computer
  • legs from the 'torn apart' Bishop dummy
  • Alien Warrior heads
  • Facehugger stasis tube
  • flamethrower
  • Pulse Rifle
  • 1:6 scale APC
  • Ripley's boots
  • Smartgun headsets[5]

Aliens3 propsEdit

  • Ripley's costume
  • fire axe
  • building gargoyle
  • prisoner overcoat
  • welding mask
  • Commando uniform[5]

Alien WarsEdit

Alien War, renamed Alien Wars, opened at its original home at the Arches Glasgow on December 6, 2008 and ran until August 30, 2009 in a modified format that is unrelated to the 20th Century Fox film series.[6] It also opened at Liverpool at Wirral's spaceport and ran until March 2010.  

External linksEdit


  2. The Harry Harris Aliens Collection & Archive: About Alien War
  3. 3.0 3.1 Geoff Topping. (1999). Sci-Fi & Fantasy FX International. Next Millennium Publishing, 41. 
  5. 5.0 5.1
  6. Blog entry "Alien Wars is back!" on Alien War Myspace Page (see talk page)

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