It’ll cost big bucks, no whammies, but you’ll love it!

Four Alien movies hatch next week as state-of-the-art DVD boxed set from Fox
TORONTO (CP) – It’s a monster. In more ways than one.
As DVD special edition collections go, 20th Century Fox’s Alien Quadrilogy – a boxed set of all four Alien sci-fi thrillers – is one of the fledgling medium’s most comprehensive and sophisticated releases so far. The set, to be released Tuesday, boasts more than 45 hours of content on nine discs – two versions of each film, with and without optional audio commentary by the filmmakers.
Still, every shred of material of possible interest to fans is included in the “quadrilogy” (a word not found in the Oxford Dictionary). The only thing missing is slime.
Each Alien film is offered in its original version, but also in a director’s cut or alternate special edition. A companion disc contains gobs of background material for each title, and a ninth disc has the leftovers, the trailers, a 65-minute documentary and all the extras from the old laser disc releases.
“This is our best release ever,” Sven Davison, director of DVD production for Fox Home Entertainment, said recently in Toronto. “I like Fight Club but I feel like we’ve finally beaten Fight Club.”
The set begins with director Ridley Scott’s 1979 original, often described as a haunted house movie set in outer space. Sigourney Weaver broke new ground as Ripley, a tough-as-nails crew member of the Nostromo, a deep-space cargo vessel ordered to make a pit stop at a planet from which someone is sending an SOS. There, they encounter a creature that is not only hideous but cunning, boarding the vessel to kill the crew one by one. It is clear that if this thing gets back to civilization, it would wipe out the entire human race.
In James Cameron’s sequel, Aliens, which is as good as the original, Ripley and a group of heavily armed marines return to the planet to destroy the alien nest, but find themselves in the fight of their lives.
Alien 3, by David Fincher, the worst of the four, was a bleak, nihilistic vision that turned off many fans. The series finally petered out with Alien: Resurrection in which Ripley – and the alien species – are cloned 200 years later, with predictably terrifying results.
For those who appreciate only the first two films, or those who embrace all things alien, the full set offers some interesting innovations.
First, Fox managed to squeeze both versions of each two-hour film onto one side of a disc. This is accomplished by something called branching technology in which the DVD player can be set to play either version of the film by seamlessly inserting previously deleted scenes, instead of copying the entire film twice, saving the bit space for better quality.
Also, viewers can click a button which puts an icon in the corner of the screen every time an inserted scene plays. The films have had effects, foley and soundtracks updated with digital DTS tracks now available on the first and last ones.
Here is a rundown of each title:
Alien (1979): Scott added four minutes (including the previously unseen nesting sequence) but cut five, mostly by tightening entrances and exits to speed up the pace.
“Why not adjust something if you think it’s not quite right,” Scott has said. “I wanted to keep the film fresh for today’s audiences.”
This version screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and was released in theatres on Halloween as a director’s cut. There’s new audio commentary by Scott and all the cast except Ian Holm.
Aliens (1986): Cameron delivered more action than horror. The special edition is the one released on DVD in 1999. The only thing new is the original theatrical edit, but Cameron has said he prefers this longer version. Background extras show that Fox had tossed out a lot of the pre-1992 behind-the-scenes content. It was salvaged from the personal collections of Cameron and Scott.
Alien 3 (1992): Fans rejected Fincher’s soulless vision in which just about everyone dies. Background materials don’t gloss over the fact that Fincher and Fox had a major dispute over the release and, while the director was the only one who didn’t co-operate on this DVD project, the studio did its best to stay true to his original concept, restoring more than 30 minutes of footage taken out before theatrical release.
Alien 4: Resurrection (1997): This is not a director’s cut of Jean Pierre Jeunot’s film, but an extended cut. Bits and pieces were added to existing scenes and the only radical alteration involves alternate opening and ending sequences.
While the quartet comes only in the boxed set for now, two-disc singles of each film will be issued separately in January.