Alien³ is a 1992 science fiction/horror film, in which Ripley continues to be stalked by a savage alien, after her escape pod crashes on a prison planet. As the third installment in the Alien media franchise, it is preceded by Ridley Scott's Alien and James Cameron's Aliens and is followed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Alien Resurrection.
- We give you thanks, O' Lord. Your wrath has come and the time is near for us to be judged. The apocalypse is upon us! Let us be ready! Let your mercy be just! Amen!
Dr. Jonathan Clemens
- [explaining his prison barcode tattoo, to Ripley] After my student years, despite the fact that I had become secretly addicted to morphine, I was considered to be most promising. A man with a future. Then during my first residency, I did a thirty-six hour stretch on an ER. So I went out and I got more than a little drunk. Then I got called back. Boiler had blown on a fuel plant, and there were thirty casualties... and eleven of them died. Not as a result of the accident, but because I prescribed the wrong dosage of painkiller. And I got seven years in prison and my licence reduced to a 3C. [pause] At least I got off the morphine.
[Note: Bolded lines are from the Assembly Cut only.]
- Andrews: We commit this child and this man to your keeping, O' Lord. Their bodies have been taken from the shadow of our nights. They have been released from all darkness and pain. The child and the man have gone beyond our world. They are forever eternal, and everlasting. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
- Dillon: Why? Why are the innocent punished? Why the sacrifice? Why the pain? There aren't any promises. Nothing's certain. Only that some get called, some get saved. She won't ever know the hardship and grief for those of us left behind. We commit these bodies to the void... with a glad heart. For within each seed, there is the promise of a flower. And within each death, no matter how big or small, there's always a new life. A new beginning. Amen.
- Dillon: Give us strength, O' Lord, to endure. We recognize that we are poor sinners in the hands of an angry God. Let the circle be unbroken until the day. Amen. What the fuck is happening here? What the fuck is this bullshit that's coming down? We got a murder. We got a rape. We got brothers in trouble. I DON'T WANT NO MORE BULLSHIT AROUND HERE!! NOW WE'VE GOT PROBLEMS!! WE STAND TOGETHER!!
- Andrews: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Dillon. All right. Once again, this is rumor control. Here are the facts. At 0800 hours, prisoner Murphy, through carelessness on his part, was found dead in vent shaft 17. He seems to have been sucked into a ventilator fan. At about 2100 hours, prisoner Golic reappeared in a deranged state. Prisoners Boggs and Rains are missing. There seems to be a good chance that they have met with foul play at the hands of prisoner Golic. We need to organize and send out a search party; volunteers will be appreciated. I think it's fair to say that our smoothly running facility has suddenly developed a few problems. I can only hope we are all able to pull together over the next few days until the rescue team arrives for Lieutenant Ripley.
- Ripley: [runs into the room, breathless and panicking] It's here! It got Clemens!
- Andrews: [loses his temper] Stop this raving at once! Stop it!
- Ripley: I'm telling you! It's here!
- Andrews: Aaron, get that foolish woman back to the infirmary!
- [the alien lunges down from an overhead airduct and lifts Andrews off his feet, and into the airshaft]
- Morse: [holding a chair, after the panic subsides in shocked silence] ...FUCK!
- Ripley: It's like a lion. Sticks close to the zebras.
- Aaron: Zebras? Oh, right. But look, running around down here in the dark - are you kidding? Once you get out of this main shaft, there's no overheads.
- Ripley: Don't we have flashlights?
- Aaron: We've got thousands of them, but no batteries. I told you, nothing works.
- Ripley: Torches? Do we have the capacity to make fire? Most humans have enjoyed that privilege since the Stone Age.
- Aaron: No need to be sarcastic.
- Aaron: [showing Ripley a nuclear waste storage room] Never been used. They were gonna dump a lot of nuclear crap in there. Never got around to it. Clean as a whistle inside.
- Ripley: This is the only way in or out?
- Aaron: That's right. Walls are six feet thick, solid steel. They really knew how to build these babies.
- Ripley: You're saying we get something inside... there's no way it can get out?
- Aaron: That's right. No fucking way.
- Aaron: This is where we keep it. Forget what the stuff's called...
- David: Quinitricetyline.
- Aaron: I knew that. Right, I've got to get these section arrangements organized with Dillon for the paintbrush, so...
- David: David.
- Aaron: Yeah, you can get these drums organized.
- David: Right, 85.
- Aaron: [starts walking away] And, uh... don't call me that. [leaves]
- Ripley: What's this 85 thing?
- David: Couple of us sneaked a look at his personnel file the day he arrived. It's his IQ. [about the chemicals] I saw a drum of this stuff fall into a beachhead bunker once. The blast put a tug in dry dock for 17 weeks. Great stuff.
- Dillon: Why should I put my ass on the line for you?
- Ripley: Your ass is already on the line. The only question is... what are you gonna do about it?
- Dillon: This is the choice. You die sitting here on your ass or to die out there. At least we take a shot, we owe it one! It's fucked us up. Maybe we can get even for the others. So how do you want it?
- Morse: What the fuck are you talking about?
- Dillon: I'm talkin' about killing that big motherfucker.
- Aaron: Hold it, hold it. The rescue team is on its way. We could just sit this out.
- Ripley: Rescue team for who?
- Aaron: For us.
- Ripley: They just want the beast. You know that.
- Aaron: I don't give a damn what they want. They're not gonna pick us off one by one, are they?
- Ripley: I wouldn't be so sure.
- Aaron: Come on, they're gonna take us home.
- Dillon: They're not gonna take us home.
- Morse: Still doesn't mean we should go out and fight it. Jesus Christ, give us a break!
- Aaron: You've gotta be fucking nuts! Look, I've got a wife and a kid--
- Dillon: Nobody give a shit about you, 85. You're not one of us, you're not a believer. You're a fucking company man!
- Aaron: Yeah, okay. So I'm a company man, I'm not a fucking criminal. You keep telling me how dumb I am. Well I'm smart enough not to have a life sentence on this rock! [the prisoners yell insults and profanities at him] Yeah, and I'm smart enough to wait for some firepower to show up before we fight this thing! Right?
- Dillon: Okay, fine. Just sit here on your asses.
- Morse: [sarcastically] How about if I sit here on my ass?
- Dillon:: No problem. Oh, I forgot. You're the guy that's made a deal with God to live forever, huh? And all the rest of you pussies can sit it out too. Me and her will do all the fighting.
- Morse: Okay, look. I want the same thing as you. I want to see it dead, I hate the fucker! It killed my mates too! Why can't we just wait for the company and have some guns on our side? Why do we have to go on some fucking suicide run?!
- Aaron: Right!
- Ripley: Because they won't kill it. They might kill you just for having seen it, but they're not gonna kill it.
- Aaron: That is crazy! That is horseshit! They will not kill us!
- Ripley: When they first heard about this thing, it was crew expendable. The next time they sent in marines; they were expendable too. What makes you think they're gonna care about a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space? You really think they're going to let you interfere with their plans for this thing? They think we're crud, and they don't give a fuck about one friend of yours that's died. Not one.
- David: Have you got some sort of plan?
- Dillon: This is a leadworks, isn't it? All we got to do is lure the fucking beast into the mold. Drown it in hot lead.
- Morse: Oh right... and how do we do that?
- Gregor: Yeah. What are we gonna use for bait?
- Kevin: [realizes] Aw, fuck!
- Dillon: We're all gonna die. The only question is when. This is as good a place as any to take your first steps to heaven. The only question is how you check out. Do you want it on your feet, or on your fucking knees... begging?! I ain't much for begging! Nobody ever gave me nothing! So I say fuck that thing! Let's fight it!
- Morse: Fuck it! Let's go for it!
- [Ripley and Dillon have trapped the alien in the lead mold while Morse starts the machine]
- Ripley: Now!
- Dillon: What about you?
- Ripley: I'm staying.
- Dillon: Bullshit! There's gonna be ten tons of hot lead in here!
- Ripley: I'm telling you, I wanna die!
- Dillon: We got a deal, remember?! It dies first, then you! I'm not gonna move without you! Now get going!
- [Dillon and Ripley begin climbing up the wall. The alien sees this and begins to follow. Dillon climbs back down]
- Ripley: Dillon!
- Dillon: I've gotta hold it here.
- Ripley: What about me?
- Dillon: God will take care of you now, sister!
- Ripley: No!
- Dillon: Pour the lead! [he takes off his glasses and turns to the alien] Just fuck you. [the alien attacks him] Pour it, Ripley! Go on! God damn it! Pour the lead, Ripley! Pour it now! [to the alien] Come on! Come on! That's all you got? Is that as hard as you fight, motherfucker?!
- Ripley: [waves to Morse] Morse! Over here!
- Morse: Ripley!
- Ripley: Pour the lead! Pour the lead! [Morse positions the machine over the pit] Pour it!
- [Dillon and the alien are drowned in molten lead]
- [after killing the alien]
- Ripley: Don't come any closer.
- Aaron: Wait. They're here to help--
- Ripley: Stay where you are!
- Bishop II: [steps forward] Ripley.
- Ripley: Bishop?
- Bishop II: I'm here to help you.
- Ripley: No more bullshit. I just felt it move.
- Bishop II: Do you know who I am?
- Ripley: You're a droid, same model as Bishop. Sent by the fucking company.
- Bishop II: No. I'm not the Bishop Android. I designed it. I'm very human. The company sent me here to show you a friendly face, to demonstrate how important you are to us... to me.
- Ripley: You just wanna take it back.
- Bishop II: We want to kill it and take you home.
- Ripley: Bullshit.
- Bishop II: You're wrong. We want to help.
- Ripley: What does that mean?
- Bishop II: We're going to take that out of you...
- Ripley: ...and keep it.
- Bishop II: We can't allow it to live. Everything we know would be in jeopardy.
- Ripley: You don't wanna take it back?
- Bishop II: Ripley, time is important. Let us deal with the malignancy. We've got a surgical base set up on the rescue ship. Come with me.
- Medic: It's very quick. Painless. A couple of incisions... you'll be out for two hours.
- Bishop II: And then it's over. You still can have a life. Children. And most important, you'll know it's dead. Let me help you.
- Ripley: What guarantee do I have, once you've taken it out... that you'll destroy it?
- Bishop II: You have to trust me. [approaches her] Please, trust me?
- [a short pause]
- Ripley: No. [slams gate, then begins to position the machine away from the group]
- Bishop II: What's this going to achieve? [a soldier shoots Morse in the leg] STOP!
- Morse: AHHH! Oh, Jesus!
- Ripley: Morse, will you help me?
- Morse: What do you want me to do?
- Bishop II: It was a mistake! There was no need for any of it!
- Aaron: [picks up a large wrench, then hits Bishop over the head with it] Fucking android!
- [a soldier shoves Aaron back, and another shoots him to death]
- Bishop II: I'M NOT A DROID!! Ripley, think of all we can learn from it! It's the chance of a lifetime! You must let me have it! It's a magnificent specimen! [to cameraman] No pictures!
- [after a long pause, Ripley makes her decision, looking into the furnace]
- Ripley: You're crazy.
- Bishop II: What are you doing?
- [Ripley holds her breath, then falls from the platform into the furnace]
- Bishop II: NOOOOOOOOO!
- The Bitch Is Back
- This time it's hiding in the most terrifying place of all...
- Our worst fears have come true. It's back!
- Three times the suspense. Three times the danger. Three times the terror.
About Alien 3
- I hated what they did... I couldn't stand 'Alien 3' - how they could just go in there and kill off all these great characters we introduced in Aliens, and the correlation between mother and daughter? It stunk.
- SPJ: Ripley tries to extinguish the species a second time in Alien 3, throwing herself into the cauldron to kill the alien incubating inside her. Is this action as morally repugnant as nuking all the aliens from afar? Is it worse?
- JE: I would say it depends on your ethical framework! From a strict utilitarian standpoint, focused on maximizing some positive state like happiness, your calculus could hypothetically be that the existence of xenomorphs threatens life throughout the universe, and therefore killing more xenomorphs is an ethically superior action! On the other hand, one may have a deontological ethic (judging the rightness or wrongness of an action independently from its consequences) that does or does not include xenomorph life as valuable, and therefore either option could be thought of as morally wrong. These are, of course, just examples—but, in short, it’s a complicated question!
In this context, I don’t think we can be fully confident that xenomorph destruction is the right thing to do. But I do think Ripley is right to not want her body to have this parasitic and deadly entity growing inside her! So I would say it’s a solidly ethical choice, whereas mass-xenomorph destruction is more problematic.
- Jeffrey A. Ewing in "The Philosophy of the Alien Films: Interview with Jeffrey A. Ewing" by Ray Blank, Sci Phi Journal, (30 August 2017).
- MS: But there's this fantastic quote that I found, where you said of Alien 3 that "a lot of people hated Alien 3, but no one hated it more than I did."
- DF: I had to work on it for two years, got fired off it three times and I had to fight for every single thing. No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me.
- David Fincher in "Guardian interviews at the BFI: David Fincher" by Mark Salisbury, The Guardian, (18 Jan 2009).
- Q: Thinking back over your career, you were attached to over Alien 3 for over a year. Can you tell us what happened there?
- Renny Harlin: I had done Nightmare On Elm Street 4, which just completely changed my life. All of a sudden I was meeting with Spielberg and meeting with the studios, and trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. And when the idea of Alien 3 came to me I felt that it was an incredible honour. I felt like Ridley Scott had made a masterpiece with Alien. Jim Cameron had made a masterpiece with Aliens. And I felt, okay if I can take it to another level, then maybe I have a chance of making a masterpiece as well. And so I eagerly took the challenge, and I had offices on the Fox lot and I felt very excited. But then, as were developing the script, opinions between the studio and I were completely different. They basically wanted to make a movie that was just like Aliens – same kind of guns, just different place.
And they, for some reason, had this idea that they wanted it to take place on a big prison ship. And I didn’t get it. I said, “who cares about a prison ship?”. The whole basic idea of the Alien movies is that in the first one, it is a bunch of blue collar guys and women who could be truck drivers. It’s totally relatable.
And in the second one, it’s a war movie, and it’s these soldiers with Ripley going to battle these aliens, and there’s this little girl who represents humanity there. So again, very relatable. But if you do Aliens in prison, it’s like “who cares about the prisoners, let them die”.
- Q: What was it you wanted to do?
- Renny Harlin: My first concept was we go to the planet where the aliens come from, with Ripley and a team of scientists and soldiers, and we find out what they really are. Are they evil, horrible killing machines who are taking over the world? Or are they just animals with a survival mechanism? That’s one way that I wanted to do the movie.
Second way, I said “aliens come to Earth”. I pitched this idea where we are in a Kansas cornfield, and you just see these things going through the cornfield and you just realise the aliens have come to Earth. I said “just show the poster to the audience – it’s the biggest movie ever”. And they were like, “nah we don’t think so, it should just be outer space”.
So for about a year we just went back and forth with these ideas and finally when we had this script of a prison ship and aliens, I said “I’m sorry, I can’t do this”. And it was a very crazy and scary thing to do. I was 29 years old, I was dealing with a huge studio, which was my dream, and I quit. But I went on to make other movies with Fox, and David Fincher ended up doing Alien 3, and of course he’s now doing fantastic. But not necessarily because of Alien 3.
- Renny Harlin in "Renny Harlin interview: 12 Rounds, Die Hard, and the Alien 3 that never was" by Luke Savage, Den of Geek, (May 27, 2009).
- The movie opens with spooky, effective opening credits that completely rip apart everything you loved about Aliens. If Alien is mysterious, and Aliens is hectic, Alien 3 promises at the opening to be depressing as hell, which happens when you kill an innocent little girl in the opening five minutes. Combined with the death of Hicks, Alien 3 destroys the surrogate family unit from Aliens, and now Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the sole survivor of a tragic crash and the only woman on a desolate planet populated by murderers and rapists.
Except the prisoners have found religion, and this is where you can see Alien 3‘s split personality emerge. The religious angle from Ward’s script has been retained, but now it’s been shoehorned into a story where a skeleton crew of prisoners (the film has a weak explanation of why a huge facility would be kept running by and for about twenty people) now have Christianity for some reason. The script then tries to dance with this aspect, but it only remains an interesting idea even though there was the possibility that this idea could have been developed on its own merits despite being outside of Ward’s original intent.
These men have been able to turn their lives over to God, but they’ve also been devoid of temptation. There’s not much on the planet Fiorina “Fury” 161 worth wanting, and then Ripley comes into their lives, which begs the question of the value of faith without temptation. But then the movie’s ugliness reemerges when some of the prisoners try to rape Ripley. Then Charles S. Dutton rescues Ripley, beats the crap out of her attackers, and the attempted rape is never referenced again.
- To the film’s credit, Alien 3 consciously doesn’t want to be a retread of the first two movies. The xenomorph doesn’t even carry human DNA, and instead comes from a dog, which turns it into a quadruped, even though that ultimately doesn’t make much of a difference. To quote Warden Andrews (Brian Glover), who has my favorite description of the xenomorph ever: “It kills on sight, and is generally unpleasant.” It’s also kind of background in a movie that can’t really be anything because it was torn apart at its fundamental level. They had sets with no story, characters without purpose, and discarded plotlines galore right down to seemingly insignificant scenes like the xenomorph coming out of an ox rather than a dog. The whole thing is a mess, and it’s an infuriating mess not only because it’s stifling Fincher’s talent, but because Alien 3 is littered with potential. It’s an atmospheric film, but it’s not worth breathing the air. Even Ripley is less interesting this time around even though there are plenty of places they could have gone with her character.
- When it came time for Ripley to jump, Fincher wanted to stick by the religious angle that had been so thoroughly reduced throughout the picture: “I said ‘whatever happens she has to be in peace at the end.’ It has to be a sigh rather than gritting teeth and sweat. So we talked about it and went over and shot this blue-screen element. We were shooting that shot four days before the film opened, a completely ridiculous mess. I don’t know if it works.”
And it ends with gritted teeth and sweat. I have mixed feelings about the ending. Had Fincher been able to get his vision through, then perhaps that ending would work, but as it stands in the theatrical cut, the moment fits in with the ugliness that permeates the rest of this movie. A peaceful sigh doesn’t fit with a grey-brown palette, attempted rape, and a dead little girl getting her ribcage cracked open. Ripley and the alien had become one, and it cursed her until her final moment.
- Matt Goldberg, "‘Alien 3′ Revisited: The Films of David Fincher", Collider, (October 4, 2017).
- The third movie in the Alien series was a hot ticket at the time. The Bond films were halted and locked in a bitter legal battle that eventually took six years to resolve. So Alien had suddenly become one of the world's biggest franchises and was camped, almost insultingly to the impotent, sleeping Bond, on Pinewood's giant 007 Stage.
- It's left to Paul McGann, playing Golic, to spell things out in a way that only McGann can. I've met him a few times by this point, going back to the 1986 production of The Monocled Mutineer, a two-part TV series on First World War deserter Percy Toplis. He's established himself, at 31, as one of our biggest stars, with Withnail And I and a sharp TV series called Dealers. He's a Scouse jack-the-lad who calls a spade a shovel – particularly when it's used for shovelling manure.
"There are more producers around here than actors," he tells me. "I wondered who the hell they were at first. It's like having an extra fucking audience for every scene. You can't get a clear picture of who wants what, it gets changed as we go along. I don't know what they're doing here. Rewriting some of the script? Getting in the way? Fuck knows. But movies are in a mess. I am in the only fucking film which is shooting in England. The situation is getting dire with this recession going on. We're going to be down to one cameraman and one sound crew in this country if we aren't careful."
- Garth Pearce, "Alien³ – Empire's On Set Interviews With Sigourney Weaver And David Fincher", Empire Magazine, (November 2009).
- Alien 3 is very much a David Fincher film, as distinctly the product of his dark and twisted imagination as Seven (film)|Seven]] or Zodiac or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Just as the icy survivalism of Alien helped set the tone for Ridley Scott’s career, and the guns-blazing ferocity of Aliens helped pave the way for James Cameron’s later work, Alien 3 works as a setup for the rest of David Fincher’s films.
It’s nihilistic and misanthropic, bleak and despairing, slickly shot and bathed in ragged industrial gloom. It’s a big-budget movie about human frailty and the inevitability of death in which the characters are never particularly likable or heroic and the protagonist dies at the end. As in Seven], the ending is a shock downer. As in Fight Club, the character relationships are built from a series of existential dialogues. As in Panic Room, the story is driven by the need to use one’s surroundings to survive what is essentially a home invasion. The alien of Alien 3 is, in a way, Fincher’s first serial killer.
- Visually, Alien 3 may be the most distinctive entry in the franchise. Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth, whose work on Blade Runner defined a certain decaying urban sci-fi aesthetic, had to quit after a short time on the job. But the final work by British photographer Alex Thomson is stunning in its own way. Backgrounds are textured with steam columns, damp surfaces, and sharp beams of light that give the sets a textured physicality. For much of the film, the camera lingers close to the floor, pointed up, as if to emphasize the close confines of the prison space and the impossibility of escape.
- Beyond the visuals, Alien 3 also excels as an exercise in imaginative world building. Its lonely prison planet is as richly detailed and lived-in an environment as the industrial corridors of Alien or the abandoned mining colony of Aliens. Its sequestered society, in which a religious contingent effectively runs the prison while a small group of overseers struggles to maintain a facade of control, is as nuanced a cinematic sociology as the corporate power structures that drove the first film, or the military conventions that powered the second. Like its predecessors, Alien 3 is an exploration of human power dynamics in a confined setting and the limits of institutional control.
- Fincher’s frustrating experience on the film, and his perfectionism, may not allow him to see it, but it’s a fine David Fincher film.
- Peter Suderland, "Alien 3 is far from the worst Alien movie. In fact, it’s pretty great.", Vox, (May 22, 2017).
- Sigourney Weaver - Ellen Ripley
- Charles S. Dutton - Dillon
- Charles Dance - Jonathan Clemens
- Brian Glover - Harold Andrews
- Ralph Brown - Aaron
- Paul McGann - Golic
- Danny Webb - Morse
- Pete Postlethwaite - David
- Holt McCallany - Junior
- Peter Guinness - Gregor
- Clive Mantle - William
- DeObia Oparei - Arthur
- Phil Davis - Kevin
- Niall Buggy - Eric
- Christopher Fairbank - Murphy
- Lance Henriksen - Michael Bishop (Bishop II)