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Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens'

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Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens'
Film information
Directed by Charles de Lauzirika
Produced by Charles de Lauzirika
Jonathan Mefford
Written by Charles de Lauzirika
Starring James Cameron
Gale Anne Hurd
Gordon Carroll
David Giler
Walter Hill
Stan Winston
Music Jonathan Elias
James Horner
Cinematography Mac Kenny
Editing Curtis Bisel
Distributor 20th Century Fox
Release information
Release date(s) December 2, 2003
Running time 185 minutes
Worldwide gross
Preceded by The Beast Within: The Making of 'Alien'
Followed by Wreckage and Rage: The Making of 'Alien3'

Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens' is a 2003 making-of documentary directed by Charles de Lauzirika that details the production of the 1986 film Aliens. Created for the Alien Quadrilogy DVD release, it uses extensive interviews with the film's cast and crew, as well as a wealth of behind the scenes footage, to detail the development, filming and release of the movie.


The documentary is divided into eleven separate chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of Aliens' production. As with all of Charles de Lauzirika's documentaries on the films in the Alien series, it features no formal narration but instead relies on newly-filmed interview clips to tell the story of the film's development, interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage and images.

57 Years Later: Continuing the StoryEdit

The first chapter covers the conception of the sequel, including some early plot ideas proposed by Walter Hill and David Giler that were ultimately not pursued. James Cameron goes on to discuss his recruitment and his involvement in solving a pay dispute between Sigourney Weaver and 20th Century Fox that threatened the film's production.

Building Better Worlds: From Concept to ConstructionEdit

The second chapter covers the hiring of Syd Mead and Ron Cobb, the latter of whom was returning from Alien, as production designers and their work on the colony and Sulaco sets for the film. Cameron's own involvement in the design of the Sulaco is also discussed. The construction of the sets is covered, including the conversion of a second-hand British Airways airport tug into the Colonial Marines' APC.

Preparing for Battle: Casting and CharacterizationEdit

The third chapter covers the casting, including the search for expatriate US actors living in the UK. The casting and firing of James Remar is briefly covered before explaining Michael Biehn's recruitment as a result of his work with Cameron on The Terminator. The documentary also mentions the boot camp the Marine actors went through in preparation for their roles.

This Time It's War: Pinewood Studios, 1985Edit

The fourth chapter deals with the filling of key crew roles and filming at Pinewood Studios and Acton Lane Power Station. The significant tension that existed between the British film crew and director Cameron is explained, including an incident with a trolley of sandwiches that almost shut down production entirely.

The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and ActionEdit

The fifth chapter covers the creation of the Marines' weapons, from concept (by Cameron) to construction (by Simon Atherton of Bapty & Co.). In particular the development of the Pulse Rifle and Smartgun are described.

Bug Hunt: Creature DesignEdit

The sixth chapter focusses on the development of the Facehugger, Chestburster and Alien Warrior designs, and how the practical effects used to show them were modified or developed from those seen in the first film.

Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie HennEdit

The seventh chapter covers the close bond formed between Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn during the course of the film's gruelling shooting schedule, and touches on the concern some felt for involving a nine year-old girl in such a violent and scary movie.

Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen AlienEdit

The eighth chapter covers the development and construction of the full-size Alien Queen puppet, as well as the Power Loader it would fight in the film's climax. Stan Winston provides details of how the Queen was constructed and made to work, starting with a crude proof-of-concept model built and tested in a parking lot at Pinewood.

The Final Countdown: Music, Editing, and SoundEdit

The ninth chapter covers James Horner's work on the film's soundtrack, and the drastically truncated time period he was allotted to complete his score.

The Power of Real Tech: Visual EffectsEdit

The tenth chapter covers the extensive model work involved in the film, and how some of the models were created from materials being discarded from other productions elsewhere on the Pinewood Studios lot.

Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the FilmEdit

The final chapter covers the release of the film, including the acclaim it won and Weaver's nomination for an Academy Award, an unprecedented thing for an actress in a horror movie at the time.


Originally presented in a 4×3 aspect ratio for the Alien Quadrilogy box set, Lauzirika elected to "rebuild" the documentary for the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set as a 16×9 widescreen presentation. This conversion essentially entailed the cropping of the interview and vintage on-set footage to the new widescreen format, while the various title graphics were replaced with newly rendered equivalents.[1]

Enhancement PodsEdit

For the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set, several previously-unreleased "Enhancement Pods", essentially deleted scenes taken from the main documentary, were made available for the first time. These cover a wide range of topics, many of which are already mentioned in the documentary itself, and provide minor additional details and trivia. Unlike the main documentaries, these did not undergo conversion to a widescreen aspect ratio.[1]

A single Enhancement Pod planned for the Anthology set, titled "Dailies: James Remar as Hicks", was removed from the Blu-ray late in development at the request of Lightstorm Entertainment (James Cameron's production company).[1] Had it been included, this would have been the first time footage of Remar playing Hicks was released to the public.

  • "Without Sigourney Weaver"
  • "Origins of Acheron"
  • "Building Hadley's Hope"
  • "Cameron's Design Philosophy"
  • "Finding an Unused Power Plant"
  • "Cameron's Military Interests"
  • "Working with Sigourney Weaver"
  • "The Importance of Being Bishop"
  • "Paul Reiser on Carter Burke"
  • "The Paxton/Cameron Connection"
  • "Becoming Vasquez"
  • "On Set: Infiltrating the Colony"
  • "Props: Personal Light Unit"
  • "Simon Atherton Talks Weapons"
  • "Prasing Stan Winston"
  • "Test Footage: Chestburster"
  • "Fighting the Facehugger"
  • "Test Footage: Facehugger"
  • "Stan Winston's Challenge"
  • "Test Footage: Queen Alien"
  • "Stan Winston's Legacy"
  • "Cameron's Cutting Edge"
  • "Sigourney Weaver's Triumph"
  • "Re-Enlisting with Cameron"
  • "From Producer to Stunt Double"


  • The title of the second chapter in the documentary, "Building Better Worlds", is a reference to Weyland-Yutani's corporate slogan.
  • Similarly, the fourth chapter's title, "This Time It's War", is a reference to the tagline for Aliens.
  • The fifth chapter's title, "The Risk Always Lives", is a reference to what is written on Private Vasquez's armor chest plate in the film, "El riesgo siempre vive".
  • The sixth chapter's title, "Bug Hunt", is named after a quote from Private Hudson in the film.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The Digital Bits - Blu-ray Review: Alien Anthology". Retrieved on 2016-01-11.

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