GoreMaster 100 Films Archives

Single White Female released August 14, 1992

Single White Female

Single White Female is a 1992 American thriller based on John Lutz’s novel SWF Seeks Same. The movie stars Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Steven Weber and is directed by Barbet Schroeder, who also did Reversal of Fortune.

Trivia:

To prepare for their fight to the finish scenes, both Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh took several self-defense lessons.


Bridget Fonda had the choice of playing either the Allie role or the Hedy role. She ended up choosing to play Allie, because she said it was a harder role.


For the scene where Jennifer Jason Leigh seduces Bridget Fonda’s boyfriend, without him realizing at first that she isn’t who he thinks she is, Leigh was still having her make-up applied so the scene was shot with Bridget Fonda playing her own double. It was only the first part of the scene where the woman gets into bed (shot from the back) which Fonda did, as Leigh’s character, as Fonda’s character. The rest is done by Leigh.


Like most old apartment buildings the building in this movie does not contain a floor 13. You can see the floor numbers on the elevator in a couple shots.


The Ansonia on the Upper West Side of Manhattan was used for the apartment building. The interiors were shot on a sound stage but the scenes in the stairwells were shot at The Ansonia.

Black Sunday released August 11, 1960 (Italy)

Black Sunday

Black Sunday (Italian title: La maschera del demonio, also known as The Mask of Satan) is a 1960 Italian horror film directed by Mario Bava, from a screenplay by Ennio de Concini and Mario Serandrei. The film stars Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Arturo Dominici, and Ivo Garrani. It was Bava’s directorial debut, although he had completed several previous feature films without credit. Based very loosely on Nikolai Gogol’s short story “Viy”, the narrative concerns a vampire-witch who is put to death by her own brother, only to return 200 years later to feed on her descendants.

By the social standards of the 1960s, Black Sunday was considered unusually gruesome, and was banned in the U.K. until 1968 because of its violence. In the U.S., some of the gore was censored, in-house, by the distributor, American International Pictures, before its theatrical release to the country’s cinemas. Despite the censorship, Black Sunday was a worldwide critical and box office success — and launched the careers of director Mario Bava and movie star Barbara Steele. In 2004, one of its sequences was voted number 40 among the “100 Scariest Movie Moments”, by the Bravo Channel

Trivia:

In the October 17-23, 1998 edition of “TV Guide”, director Tim Burton says this is his favorite horror film.


A young girl is sent out at night to milk a cow when Javuto (portrayed by Arturo Dominici) claws his way out of the grave nearby. The young girl is played by Dominici’s real life daughter Germana Dominici.


Both Barbara Steele and Arturo Dominici were fitted with vampire fangs. Mario Bava decided against using them in the film. They can be seen in some of the publicity photos.


Galatea gave Mario Bava a lavish six weeks shooting schedule for this film beginning 28 March 1960. The typical Italian production during this period had only a three to four week shooting schedule.


Barbara Steele didn’t see the script in advance. She would be given pages daily.


In the Italian language version Princess Asa and Javutich are brother and sister which hinted at an incestuous relationship. This relationship is not part of either English language version.


Good reviews plus word-of-mouth reportedly turned this into American International’s highest grossing film up to that time, exceeding their grosses for Goliath and the Barbarians (1959) and Roger Corman’s House of Usher (1960).


The U.S. version released by American International has a replacement score by Les Baxter. Although Baxter is given sole credit, his score actually contains themes from Roberto Nicolosi’s original score.


Mario Bava claimed that an American company approached him about doing a color remake. He refused.


Italian censorship certificate # 32584 delivered on 5 August 1960.


Based on a Russian folk tale.


The film was rejected for UK cinema by the BBFC in 1961. The uncut version was released (as “Mask of Satan”) with a 15 certificate on the UK Redemption video label in 1992.

The Others released August 10, 2001

The Others 2001

The Others is a 2001 psychological horror film by the Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, starring Nicole Kidman.

It won eight Goya Awards, including awards for Best Film and Best Director. This was the first English spoken film ever to receive the Best Film Award at the Goyas (Spain’s national film awards), without a single word of Spanish spoken in it.

Trivia:

The disease the children have is an actual disease known as xeroderma pigmentosum. It is very rare with roughly a thousand people in the world that have it.


Being a Spanish co-production, this film went on after its release on September 7, 2001, to become Spain’s biggest grossing domestic film of all time after less than two months of release.


Director Cameo: [Alejandro Amenábar] Appears in one of the photographs of dead people – he’s the one on the right with a moustache, of the group of three men.


Cameo: [Mateo Gil] screenwriter of Alejandro Amenábar’s previous film Open Your Eyes (1997), as a dead man’s photograph in the album.


The ghostly image appearing over Grace’s shoulder resolves itself into a somber face in a painting on the wall. This image is actually a detail (specifically, a close-up of the Puritan man’s face) of the 1855 Pre-Raphaelite painting “The Wounded Cavalier” by William Shakespeare Burton. The face of the painting is that of Eduardo Noriega.


The movie opens with Nicole Kidman, in voiceover, reading a story. She begins with the words, “…are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.” These were the opening words from the BBC radio programme “Listen With Mother”, broadcast in the UK between 1950 and 1982. (She actually says, “Now, children, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin,” a common mis-quotation of the Listen With Mother opening.)


This was the first film ever to receive the Best Film Award at the Goyas (Spain’s national film awards) with not a single word of Spanish spoken in it.


The house – supposedly on the island of Jersey – is actually located in the north of Spain (Santander).


This is the highest grossing Spanish film ($209,700,000) in the all-time worldwide boxoffice history. As of May 2006 it was 265th.


Executive produced by Tom Cruise, this marked the last collaboration between him and Nicole Kidman prior to their divorce.


The script was written by Alejandro Amenábar in Spanish and then translated into English.


The film opened in the US at number 4 in the box office charts and stayed around that figure for its initial run. Seven weeks into release it actually climbed up to the number 2 spot.


Nicole Kidman originally tried to persuade Alejandro Amenábar and the Weinstein brothers to find another actress for the part. Coming off the bright and exuberant Moulin Rouge! (2001), the actress was initially reluctant to do a film that explored such dark places.


Alakina Mann and James Bentley were cast after an intensive search that encompassed 5,000 children.


Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise’s high profile divorce was finalized the same week that “The Others” was released.

Psycho Released August 10, 1960

Psycho 1960


Psycho is a 1960 American thriller/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film is based on the screenplay by Joseph Stefano, who adapted it from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was based on the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein.

The film depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who is in hiding at a motel after embezzling from her employer, and the motel’s owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and the aftermath of their encounter.

Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted a re-review which was overwhelmingly positive and led to four Academy Award nominations. Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock’s best films and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics. The film spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake, and an unsuccessful television spin-off.

Trivia:

Considered for the role of Marion were: Eva Marie Saint, Piper Laurie, Martha Hyer, Hope Lange, Shirley Jones, and Lana Turner.


Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to the novel anonymously from Robert Bloch for only US$9,000. He then bought up as many copies of the novel as he could to keep the ending a secret.


One of the reasons Alfred Hitchcock shot the movie in black and white was he thought it would be too gory in color. But the main reason was that he wanted to make the film as inexpensively as possible (under $1 million). He also wondered if so many bad, inexpensively made, b/w “B” movies did so well at the box office, what would happen if a really good, inexpensively made, b/w movie was made.


This was Alfred Hitchcock’s last feature film in black and white.


During filming, this movie was referred to as “Production 9401″ or “Wimpy”. The latter name came from the second-unit cameraman on the picture Rex Wimpy who appeared on clapboards and production sheets, and some on-the-set stills for Psycho.


Janet Leigh has said that when he cast her, Alfred Hitchcock gave her the following charter: “I hired you because you are an actress! I will only direct you if A: you attempt to take more than your share of the pie, B: you don’t take enough, or C: if you are having trouble motivating the necessary timed movement.”


The license plate on Marion’s first car is ANL-709. The license plate on Marion’s second car is NFB-418. The latter could be a Québec reference. NFB stands for National Film Board of Canada, the famous office in which Norman McLaren, Claude Jutra, Michel Brault and many others worked, and 418 is the regional phone code for the region of Québec city. Although the real regional code of the NFB is 514 and not 418, this could have been mistaken by Hitchcock, as he shot I Confess (1953) in Québec years earlier in the effective 418 area.


The film only cost US$800,000 to make and has earned more than US$40 million. Alfred Hitchcock used the crew from his TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1955) to save time and money. In 1962 he exchanged the rights to the film and his TV series for a huge block of MCA’s stock, becoming its third-largest stockholder).


An early script had the following dialogue: Marion: “I’m going to spend the weekend in bed.” Texas oilman: “Bed? Only playground that beats Las Vegas.” (This discarded dialogue was resurrected for the Gus Van Sant remake, but was subsequently cut.)


Alfred Hitchcock produced this film when plans to make a film starring Audrey Hepburn, called “No Bail for the Judge,” fell through.


Director Cameo: [Alfred Hitchcock] about four minutes in wearing a cowboy hat outside Marion’s office.


Director Trademark: [Alfred Hitchcock] [hair] Lila, and Mother.


Walt Disney refused to allow Alfred Hitchcock to film at Disneyland in the early 1960s because Hitchcock had made “that disgusting movie, ‘Psycho’.”


This was Alfred Hitchcock’s last film for Paramount. By the time principal photography started, Hitchcock had moved his offices to Universal and the film was actually shot on Universal’s back lot. Universal owns the film today as well, even though the Paramount Pictures logo is still on the film.


Director Trademark: [Alfred Hitchcock] [bathroom] Marion hides in the bathroom to count the required number of bills.


According to Stephen Rebello, author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”, Alfred Hitchcock was displeased with the performance of John Gavin who played Sam Loomis in the film and referred to the actor as ‘the stiff’.


James P. Cavanagh was the first writer to adapt Robert Bloch’s novel for the production. However, his script was jettisoned in favor of the Joseph Stefano adaptation. Cavanagh also wrote at least five episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1955), including two directed by Hitchcock.


In the opening scene, Marion Crane is wearing a white bra because Alfred Hitchcock wanted to show her as being “angelic”. After she has taken the money, the following scene has her in a black bra because now she has done something wrong and evil. Similarly, before she steals the money, she has a white purse; after she’s stolen the money, her purse is black.


For a shot right at the water stream, Alfred Hitchcock had a six-foot-diameter shower head made up so that the water sprayed past the camera lens.


Marion’s white 1957 Ford sedan is the same car (owned by Universal) that the Cleaver family drove on “Leave It to Beaver” (1957).


Vera Miles wore a wig for her role as she had to shave her head for a role in the film 5 Branded Women (1960).


First American film ever to show a toilet flushing on screen.


Joseph Stefano was adamant about seeing a toilet on-screen to display realism. He also wanted to see it flush. Alfred Hitchcock told him he had to “make it so” through his writing if he wanted to see it. Stefano wrote the scene in which Marion adds up the money, then flushes the paper down the toilet specifically so the toilet flushing was integral to the scene and therefore irremovable.


The movie in large part was made because Alfred Hitchcock was fed up with the big-budget, star-studded movies he had recently been making and wanted to experiment with the more efficient, sparser style of television filmmaking. Indeed, he ultimately used a crew consisting mostly of TV veterans and hired actors less well known than those he usually used.


This was voted the seventh scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly.


The novel “Psycho”, written by Robert Bloch, was actually part of a series of pulp novels marketed in conjunction with the popular spooky radio show “Inner Sanctum”.


Parts of the house were built by cannibalizing several stock-unit sections including a tower from the house in Harvey (1950). The house was the most expensive set of the picture but came to a mere US$15,000.


In the novel, the character of “Marion” was “Mary” Crane. The name was changed because the studio legal department found that two real people named Mary Crane lived in Phoenix, Arizona.


According to Janet Leigh, wardrobe worn by her character Marion Crane was not custom made for her, but rather purchased “off the rack” from ordinary clothing stores. Alfred Hitchcock wanted women viewers to identify with the character by having her wear clothes that an ordinary secretary could afford, and thus add to the mystique of realism.


The first scene to be shot was of Marion getting pulled over by the cop. This was filmed on Golden State Freeway (number 99).


When the cast and crew began work on the first day they had to raise their right hands and promise not to divulge one word of the story. Hitchcock also withheld the ending part of the script from his cast until he needed to shoot it.


The car dealership in the movie was actually Harry Maher’s used car lot near Universal Studios. Since Ford Motor company was a sponsor of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1955) TV show the car lot’s usual inventory was displaced in favor of shiny Edsels, Fairlanes and Mercury models from Ford.


In order to implicate viewers as fellow voyeurs Alfred Hitchcock used a 50 mm lens on his 35 mm camera. This gives the closest approximation to the human vision. In the scenes where Norman is spying on Marion this effect is felt.


To ensure the people were in the theaters at the start of the film (rather than walking in part way through) the studio provided a record to play in the foyer of the theaters. The album featured background music, occasionally interrupted by a voice saying “Ten minutes to Psycho time,” “Five minutes to Psycho time,” and so on.


Anthony Perkins was paid US$40,000 dollars for his role, which is exactly the same amount of money that Marion Crane embezzles.


Visa d’exploitation en France : #23645.


Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony (“Eroica”) is in Norman’s record player


In 2006, Scottish artist Douglas Gordon created a 24-hour slow-motion version of the film titled “24-Hour Psycho” that played at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


The Bates house was largely modeled on an oil painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The canvas is called “House by the Railroad” and was painted in 1925 by American iconic artist Edward Hopper. The architectural details, viewpoint and austere sky is almost identical as seen in the film.


A false story has circulated that George Reeves was hired to play detective Milton Arbogast and filmed a few of his scenes with the rest of the cast just a week before his death. There is no truth to this rumor whatsoever. Reeves died on June 16, 1959, almost two months before Alfred Hitchcock decided to make a film of “Psycho” and exactly one year before the June 16, 1960 date when the film had its world premiere in New York. Work on the script began in October, 1959, four months after Reeves’s death. Filming began in November, 1959, five months after Reeves’s death. At the time of Reeves’s death, Hitchcock was on a world tour promoting North by Northwest (1959). (Source: “The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock,” by Donald Spoto.) George Reeves did not live long enough to even know a film of “Psycho” was planned, much less actually appear in it.


Alfred Hitchcock deferred his standard $250,000 salary in lieu of 60% of the film’s net profits. His personal earnings from the film exceeded $15 million. Adjusted for inflation, that amount would now top $150 million in 2006 dollars.


The movie’s line “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” was voted as the #56 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).


In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #14 Greatest Movie of All Time.


If you look attentively you can notice that nearly every time a driver gets out of his car he does so through the passenger side, a seemingly odd behavior. This is due to the bench seating in older cars, and Alfred Hitchcock’s desire to continue the shot without either moving the camera to follow the actor or having the actor walk between the car and the camera.


On February 8, 1960, exactly one week after he finished “Psycho,” Alfred Hitchcock directed an episode of TV’s “Startime” (1959/I) (“Incident at a Corner”, #1.27), that also featured Vera Miles and much of the same crew that worked on “Psycho”.


Ranked #1 on the AFI 100 Years… 100 Thrills film series.


Ranked #14 on the AFI 100 Years… 100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition, up 4 places from #18 in 1997.


“Psycho” was first scheduled to air on U.S. network TV in the fall of 1966. Just before it would have aired, however, Valerie Percy, the daughter of U.S. Senator Charles H. Percy (R-Illinois: 1967 – 85), was stabbed to death, apparently by an intruder, in a murder that, as of 2007, remains unsolved. It was deemed prudent, under the circumstances, to postpone the scheduled airing. Ultimately, the film was never shown on U.S. TV until 1970, following a highly successful theatrical re-release the previous year. At that time, Universal released in on the syndication market, where it quickly became a popular staple on local late night horror film showings.


Every theater that showed the film had a cardboard cut-out installed in the lobby of Alfred Hitchcock pointing to his wristwatch with a note from the director saying “The manager of this theatre has been instructed at the risk of his life, not to admit to the theatre any persons after the picture starts. Any spurious attempts to enter by side doors, fire escapes or ventilating shafts will be met by force. The entire objective of this extraordinary policy, of course, is to help you enjoy PSYCHO more. Alfred Hitchcock”


Alfred Hitchcock ran a deliciously droll and terse radio ad in the summer of 1960. In an era when sponsors used “Brand X” to describe their competitors’ products, Hitch’s voice said he wanted to compare his new movie with “Brand X”. Then, the sound of a horse neighing and horse clippity-clop sounds. Hitch’s voice said simply “Brand X is a western.” “Now for my picture”, followed by a loud scream. End of commercial!


The shower scene has over 90 splices in it, and did not involve Anthony Perkins at all. The scene was filmed between 17 December 1959 and 23 December 1959 while Perkins was in New York rehearsing for a Broadway musical, “Greenwillow”.


Alfred Hitchcock originally envisioned the shower sequence as completely silent, but Bernard Herrmann went ahead and scored it anyway, and upon hearing it, Hitchcock immediately changed his mind.


Alfred Hitchcock and Joseph Stefano originally conceived the film with a jazz score instead of Bernard Herrmann’s miniature string orchestra.


The score, composed by Bernard Herrmann, is played entirely by stringed instruments.


John Gavin starred in the final episode of Alfred Hitchcock’s TV series, “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (1962) {Off Season (#3.29)}, as a trigger-happy sheriff who relocates to a new town where he and his wife check into the Bates Motel on the Universal lot.


As part of publicity campaign prior to release of the film, Alfred Hitchcock said: “It has been rumored that ‘Psycho’ is so terrifying that it will scare some people speechless. Some of my men hopefully sent their wives to a screening. The women emerged badly shaken but still vigorously vocal.”


Alfred Hitchcock was so pleased with the score written by Bernard Herrmann that he doubled the composer’s salary to $34,501. Hitchcock later said, “33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music.”


Stuart Whitman was Hitchcock’s first choice for the role of Sam Loomis.


On the Interstate 99 that eventually turns into Pacific Ave. near the Fife/Tacoma boarder in Washington State, there are several older hotels up along the strip. One of the former owners of one of the hotels is a horror movie buff and puts on costume parties in his retirement. Being a fan of the horror movies, he renamed the motel, Bates Motel.


Marli Renfro, unbilled nude model who doubled for Janet Leigh in portions of the murder sequence, was featured as a Playboy cover girl on the September 1960 issue while the film was still in theaters. Quite coincidentally, she was pictured on the cover taking a shower.


Kim Stanley, noted Actors Studio legend, was offered the role of Lila, but turned it down due to personal reservations about working with Anthony Perkins.


In the murder scene in the shower, there are two split second frames of the knife touching the body


The theatrical trailer shows Alfred Hitchcock giving a partial tour of the set located on the Universal Studios back-lot. It ends with a tour of the famous bathroom and Alfred Hitchcock pulling the shower curtain revealing the screaming Vera Miles. (Vera Miles was the stand-in for Janet Leigh because Janet Leigh was not available.


In an interview on The Dick Cavett Show, Alfred Hitchcock said of the shower scene, “…everything was so rapid that there were 78 separate pieces of film in 45 seconds.”


Norman Bates is ranked the second greatest villain on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains.


The strings-only music by Bernard Herrmann is ranked #4 on AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores.


There are several references to birds in this film : Marion’s surname is Crane, Norman’s hobby is stuffing birds and he states that Marion eats like a bird. Coincidentally Alfred Hitchcock’s next film was The Birds (1963)


In the new film Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (2010) Anthony Hopkins will portray Alfred Hitchcock, This is notable because on the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Heroes & Villains (2003) (TV) Norman Bates is #2 on the villains list and Hannibal Lector from The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is #1 on the villains list (Hannibal Lector was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins).


The first U.S. TV station to show “Psycho” was WABC-TV (Channel 7) in New York, on their late-night movie series “The Best of Broadway” on 24 June 1967.

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The Sixth Sense released August 6, 1999

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American psychological thriller film, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled, isolated boy who is able to see and talk to the dead, and an equally troubled child psychologist (Bruce Willis) who tries to help him. The film established Shyamalan as a writer and director, and introduced the cinema public to his signatures, most notably his affinity for twist endings. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Trivia:

M. Night Shyamalan pitched the film as a cross between The Exorcist (1973) and Ordinary People (1980).


Director Trademark: [M. Night Shyamalan] [twist ending]


Director Trademark: [M. Night Shyamalan] [Home Invasion] Vincent’s entering Crowe’s apartment at the beginning.


The movie’s line “I see dead people” was voted as the #100 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007.


The movie was rented by 80 million people in 2000 – making it the year’s top-rated tape and DVD title.


Filmed in sequence.


The voice on the tape of Vincent’s session is speaking Spanish, the person is saying: “Please, I don’t want to die Lord, save me, save me.”


Is one of only four horror films to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture; the other three were The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).


Liam Aiken turned down the role of Cole Sear.


Director Cameo: [M. Night Shyamalan] Dr. Hill, who examines Cole Sear after the “accident” at the birthday party.


Opened on M. Night Shyamalan’s birthday.


Director Trademark: [M. Night Shyamalan] [car accident] Cole tells his mother about his powers while they’re stuck in traffic because of a car accident.


When Cole and his mother are sitting in the kitchen, there is a glass on the table that you can only get in Philadelphia. It originally comes filled with Penn Maid sour cream which is not readily available anywhere else.


Reputedly, Haley Joel Osment got the role of Cole Sear for one of three reasons: First, he was best for it. Second, he was the only boy at auditions who wore a tie. Third, M. Night Shyamalan was surprised when he asked Haley Joel Osment if he read his part. Osment replied, “I read it three times last night.” Shyamalan was impressed saying, “Wow, you read your part three times?” To which Osment replied, “No, I read *the script* three times.”


According to M. Night Shyamalan, Donnie Wahlberg lost 43 pounds for the role.


The movie’s line “I see dead people.” was voted as the #44 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).


The Latin phrase Cole speaks in the church when he first meets Malcolm: “De profundis clamo ad te domine” translates to “Out of the depths, I cry to you, Oh Lord.” These are the first few words of Psalm 130 in the Book of Psalms.


In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #89 Greatest Movie of All Time. This was one of the newest entries on the list (from films which were released between 1997 and 2005).


Toni Collette has said that she was so moved by the emotional resonance of the story whilst filming, she didn’t even realize it was a horror film until after its release.


M. Night Shyamalan wrote the role of Malcolm Crowe with Bruce Willis in mind.


A lot of the members of M. Night Shyamalan family are doctors. This is the reason why he cameos as a doctor, as a tribute to his family.


Although Cole is supposed to be 9, Haley Joel Osment was actually 11.


While in New York auditioning for Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Toni Collette also auditioned for this film as an afterthought. She said the scene in the car toward the end of the film, which was the audition scene, was the scene that really drew her to the film.

Signs released August 2, 2002

Signs

Signs is a 2002 American science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, and Abigail Breslin. It was released by Touchstone Pictures.

The film begins with Graham Hess, a former priest who lost his faith after the death of his wife, finding a crop circle in his cornfield. As the film progresses, crop circles are discovered to be appearing all over the world as is other phenomenon such as lights in the sky. Graham slowly becomes convinced that the crop circles are the result of aliens and he and his family must prepare to survive the imminent invasion. Although the plot revolves around aliens and crop circles, producer Frank Marshall said, “It’s really about human emotions set in motion by a supernatural event.”

Shyamalan started the script for Signs after he had finished work on his previous film, Unbreakable (2000) and shooting for Signs started on September 12 2001. Most shooting for the film took place in Pennsylvania, where the film was set.

Released in the United States on August 2 2002 and on September 13 in the United Kingdom, Signs grossed $408,247,917 at the worldwide box office, making it the 7th highest grossing film of 2002. It was designated with a PG-13 rating in the United States for ‘some frightening moments’. Signs received generally positive reviews from critics, with a 74% favorable rating at the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Trivia:

Joaquin Phoenix replaced Mark Ruffalo, who had to pull out of the film due to a brain tumor. It was later found to be benign.


This film was shot in Newtown, PA. The scene which takes place in “2 Aldo’s Pizzeria” is really a family-run pizzeria called “Mom’s Bake at Home Pizza”.


The film was shot on the property of an agricultural school, Delaware Valley College, where two areas of corn were already growing at different stages. The corn grown for the film was naturally further behind the other two areas of corn, so it was not a planned element.


The production used a new watering technique to make the corn grow faster which the Delaware Valley agricultural college was then very keen to adopt for themselves.


Mel Gibson didn’t realize that his director was playing the vet until the day that they came to shoot their scenes together.


Rather unusually, James Newton Howard started scoring the film before it had been shot, as he was able to work from M. Night Shyamalan’s detailed storyboards.


Director Trademark: [M. Night Shyamalan] [Acting in his own film] .


Director Trademark: [M. Night Shyamalan] [Home Invasion] .


M. Night Shyamalan insisted that the film posters be released without showing Mel Gibson’s face, as it is an ensemble piece, and that it didn’t refer to The Sixth Sense (1999), as it’s an entirely different movie.


Graham Hess was originally written as an older character. Paul Newman was offered the role but turned it down, as did Clint Eastwood.


The artwork in the book about extraterrestrials was actually done by Saleka Shyamalan, director M. Night Shyamalan’s daughter.


Composer James Newton Howard was asked to purposely reference classic film scores from similar genres, such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Psycho (1960). The opening music and main three-note motif is strikingly similar (a probable reference) to both the theme of Psycho (1960) and the theme of “Twilight Zone” (1959).


The stories of the children’s birth are actually the stories of M. Night Shyamalan’s two children.


Only the scenes in the bookstore and the pizza shop were filmed in Newtown (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. The scenes of the house and cornfields were filmed on 40 acres that were leased to the film company by Delaware Valley College (an agriculture college) of Doylestown (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. After filming, the film company donated all the corn grown to the college’s vegetable and fruit market. The house was built on the grounds and torn down after filming. Delaware Valley College is acknowledged in the credits at the end of the film. The drugstore scene was filmed in Morrisville (Bucks County), PA.


The scene in which Graham has his last conversation with his wife was scheduled for 12 September 2001, and was filmed after a cast and crew candlelight vigil.


In the part of the “Brazilian Video” the anchorwoman says the video was taped in Passo Fundo city that means “Deep Step”, and what the boy’s saying all the time is “It’s behind that garage”.


Just after the DVD is inserted into the player, and immediately after the Touchstone logo, a dark, fuzzy image appears in black and white, very quickly. It is a movie still with Merrill, Morgan and Bo sitting on the couch with the aluminum hats on their heads. The picture is shown even faster when “Play” is selected.


Mel Gibson’s name was listed on the call sheet as “Lem Nosbig” to throw off any non-crew members wanting to know what days he’d be on the set.


The Hess family hides in the basement, which Graham Hess says was once used for coal storage. In H.G. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds”, the main character hides from the aliens in a coal shed.


Johnny Depp was originally approached to star.


When Joaquin Phoenix is looking at a poster at the military enrolment office, he’s looking at a movie poster of one of his own films (Buffalo Soldiers (2001)).


Director Trademark: [M. Night Shyamalan] [things reflected on television screens] .


The crop circles are real as M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t particularly like using CGI.


The “Brazilian Video” was shot with a household camcorder by M. Night Shyamalan himself.


Director Trademark: [M. Night Shyamalan] [car accident] Graham’s wife died in a car accident.


Director M. Night Shyamalan cites The Birds (1963), Night of the Living Dead (1968), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) as the influences for this film.


M. Night Shyamalan’s scene in which he talks to Hess about the death of his wife was shot a day after a member of Shyamalan’s family died.


The “Brazilian Video” scene was actually shot in Miami, but the children were all Brazilians. A Portuguese couple was also brought to play their parents, but Shyamalan decided not use them because he noticed that their accent was totally different.

The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project is an American horror film released in 1999. The narrative is presented as a documentary pieced together from amateur footage, filmed in real time. The film was produced by the Haxan Films production company. The film relates the story of three young student filmmakers (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams) who hike into the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch, and subsequently go missing. The viewer is told that the three were never found, although their video and sound equipment (along with most of the footage they shot) was discovered a year later. This “recovered footage” is presented as the film the viewer is watching.

A studio production film based on the theme of The Blair Witch Project was released on October 27, 2000 entitled Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Another sequel was planned for the following year, but did not materialize. On September 2, 2009, it was announced that co-directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick were pitching the sequel.

Trivia:

The three principal actors, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams, shot nearly all of the completed film.


The actors were requested to interview the townspeople, who often, unbeknownst to the actors, were planted by the directors. As a result, the expressions on the actors’ faces were unrehearsed.


The working title was “The Black Hills Project.”


The actors were given no more than a 35-page outline of the mythology behind the plot before shooting began. All lines were improvised and nearly all the events in the film were unknown to the three actors beforehand, and were often on-camera surprises to them all.


Some theatergoers experienced nausea from the handheld camera movements and actually had to leave to vomit. In some Toronto theatres, ushers asked patrons who where prone to motion sickness to sit in the aisle seat and to try not to “throw up on other people.”


The production company Haxan Films borrowed its named from Benjamin Christensen’s witchcraft documentary, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922), a source of inspiration for the film. Häxan is the Swedish word for witch.


The house that Heather is in during the opening shot is owned by Lonnie Glerum, the film’s key production assistant. He is also operating the camera during the opening shot.


When promoting the film, the producers claimed it was real footage. Some people still believe it.


One of the video cameras used by the actors was bought at Circuit City. After filming was completed, the producers returned the camera for a refund, making their budget money go even further.


When Joshua Leonard and Heather Donahue pick up Michael C. Williams, they were originally listening to the song “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” by The Animals on the radio. However, Haxan Films couldn’t get the rights to keep it in the film.


The 16-millimeter camera was broken during filming; Joshua Leonard (who had the camera in his pack) rolled down a hill, causing the lens to pop off the camera.


This film was in the Guinness Book Of World Records for “Top Budget:Box Office Ratio” (for a mainstream feature film). The film cost $22,000 to make and made back $240.5 million, a ratio of $1 spent for every $10,931 made.


The sign for Burkittsville at the beginning of the movie has been stolen three times, and was stolen opening night of the movie.


The waitress asking about Blair High School is played by Sandra Sánchez, the sister of director Eduardo Sánchez.


The three leads believed the Blair Witch was a real legend during filming, though of course they knew the film was going to be fake. Only after the film’s release did they discover that the entire mythology was made up by the film’s creators.


Held the record for the highest-grossing independent movie of all time until October 2002, when it was surpassed by My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002).


This film uses the word “fuck” 154 times.


The filmmakers placed flyers around Cannes for the film festival that were “Missing” posters, stating that the cast was missing. All the flyers were taken down by the next day. It turns out that a television executive had been kidnapped just prior, and they were taken down out of respect. The executive was since recovered safely.


It took a mere 8 days to shoot this film.


Apparently, Heather Donahue brought a knife into the forest while filming was taking place because she didn’t like the idea of sleeping with two guys.


To promote discord between actors, the directors deliberately gave them less food each day of shooting.


In a scene where the main actors are sleeping in a tent at night, the tent suddenly shakes violently and they all get scared. This was unscripted and the director shook the tent; they were really scared.


The first cut of the movie to be screened was 2.5 hours in length.


The crackling sounds in the woods were made by the director and friends walking up to the camp’s perimeter, breaking sticks, and then tossing them in various directions.


Rock band HIM shot parts of their music video for the song ‘And love said no…’ directly outside the house seen at the end of the movie


When the movie was released the town of Burkittsville, in the hopes of making at least some profit from the film, did its own marketing. During the annual summer carnival the local Ruritan Club featured the “Bur-Witch” sandwich – country fried ham and a fried egg on top of a cheeseburger, nestled in a sesame seed bun, and doused with horseradish. The sandwich was the most popular selling item on the menu two years in a row.


In the movie, Heather and Mike share a somewhat antagonistic attitude towards each other. In the commentary, the directors revealed it was Heather and Joshua who were arguing most of the time (and more heatedly). Almost all of the footage of their arguments was taken from the final cut after the filmmakers decided it seemed like both men were “ganging up” on Heather.


The 1999-2000 hunting season suffered badly due to this film. The movie was so popular that fans all over the country were hiking into the wilderness to shoot their own Blair Witch-style documentaries. As a result they kept most of the wildlife scared away from hunting areas.


Numerous fans were so convinced of the Blair Witch’s existence that they flocked to Maryland in hopes of discovering the legend. They apparently didn’t read the closing credits of the film.


The first title for the movie was The Blair Witch Tapes.


The runic lettering in the old house are a mixture of two different alphabets, Hebraic and Futhark. Hebraic runes went on to become Ancient Hebrew. Futhark runes are proto-European, dating from the first millennium B.C.


It should be noted that many of the Futhark runes seen in the old house are reversed, which has a special meaning. A reversed rune implies a dark or negative fate for the person who reads them.

Deliverance released July 30, 1971

Deliverance

Deliverance is a 1972 American thriller film produced and directed by John Boorman. Principal cast members include Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox, and Ned Beatty in his film debut. The film is based on a 1970 novel of the same name by American author James Dickey, who has a small role in the film as a sheriff. The screenplay was written by Dickey and an uncredited Boorman.

In 2008, Deliverance was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Trivia:

Director John Boorman’s son Charley Boorman appears near the end of the movie as Ed’s little boy.


To minimize costs, the production wasn’t insured – and the actors did their own stunts. (For instance, Jon Voight actually climbed the cliff.)


To save costs and add to the realism, local residents were cast in the roles of the hill people.


Author of the novel and screenplay James Dickey appears at the end of the film as the sheriff.


Burt Reynolds broke his coccyx while going down the rapids when the canoe capsizes. Originally, a cloth dummy was used, but it looked too much “like a dummy going over a waterfall”. After Reynolds was injured and recuperating, he asked, “How did it look?” The director replied, “Like a dummy going over a waterfall.”


According to Turner Classic Movies, John Boorman wanted Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando to play Ed and Lewis, respectively. After reading the script, Marvin suggested that he and Brando were too old, and that Boorman should use younger actors instead. Boorman agreed, and cast Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds.


Originally, Sam Peckinpah wanted to direct the movie. When John Boorman secured the rights, Peckinpah directed Straw Dogs (1971) instead.


Ned Beatty was the only one of the four main actors to ever have paddled a canoe prior to shooting the movie, which is ironic since his character is the most inept and clumsy. The others learned on set.


“Dueling Banjos” was the first scene shot. The rest of the movie was almost entirely shot in sequence.


Billy Redden, the boy with the banjo liked Ronny Cox, and disliked Ned Beatty. When at the end of the dueling banjos scene, the script called for Billy to harden his expression towards Drew Ballinger, Cox’s character, he was unable to fake dislike for Cox. To solve the problem, they got Beatty to step towards Billy at the close of the shot. As Beatty approached, Billy hardened his expression and looked away – exactly as intended.


The movie was shot primarily on the Chattooga River, dividing South Carolina and Georgia. The year following the release of the movie, 31 people drowned attempting to travel the stretch of river where the movie was shot. Additional scenes were shot on the Tallulah Gorge in Georgia as well in Salem, South Carolina and Sylva, North Carolina. Monaca, Pennsylvania is represented in shots of the town which did not call for the actors to be present.


The cliff climbing scene was shot “day for night”, meaning that the footage was shot during the day and underexposed with a bluish tint (in post-production). Because film stocks were so slow (up until the late 1970s), and the anamorphic lenses were slow (didn’t let in as much light as spherical lenses), and a plethora of lights were often needed, day for night was common practice for many films with night scenes during that period of filmmaking. Faster film stock has made the technique less common.


Despite the title of the piece, “Dueling Banjos” actually features a banjo and a guitar.


Ned Beatty’s first film.


John Boorman discovered both Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty working in theater. Neither had substantial film experience previously.


Credited with the first recording of “Dueling Banjos” (its most common title, also known as “Feudin’ Banjos” and “The Battle Of The Banjos”) is Don Wayne Reno and Arthur Smith. Prior to “Deliverance” both parts were played with banjos, and it is the same speed all the way through. Almost all modern bluegrass bands play the “Deliverance” version in the key of G. In the movie both the guitarist and banjo players have capos on the second fret, denoting it is in the key of A.


John Boorman was looking for an actor to play the toothless one of the pair of murderous hillbillies. Burt Reynolds suggested Herbert ‘Cowboy’ Coward, who had no front teeth, stuttered and was illiterate. Reynolds had worked with Coward in a Wild West show in Maggie Valley, NC.


Unlike Ronny Cox with his guitar, actor Billy Redden did not know how to play banjo for the famous “Duelling Banjos” scene. To simulate the realistic chord playing on the banjo, another boy, who was a skilled banjo-player, played the chords with his arm reaching around at Redden’s side while Redden picked. On the soundtrack, musicians Eric Weissberg and ‘Steve Mandel (I)’ are actually playing.


When Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand were married during this shoot, Charley Boorman (then 5) served as a pageboy at the wedding.


Donald Sutherland turned down a role in this film because he objected to the violence in the script. He later admitted to regretting that decision.


Not only was this movie Ned Beatty’s first feature, his voice (laughter) is the first human sound to appear on the soundtrack.


In his memoirs Charlton Heston mentions that he declined the role of Lewis due to his commitment to filming Antony and Cleopatra (1972).


According to director John Boorman, the jig done by the filling station attendant during the “Dueling Banjos” sequence was unscripted and spontaneous on the part of the actor.


The broken bone jutting from Burt Reynolds’ leg is a broken lamb bone.


Both Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda turned down the role of “Lewis” before it was offered to Burt Reynolds, who took it.


Author James Dickey gave Burt Reynolds a few days of bow and arrow lessons and by the end, Reynolds was quite accurate and proficient with the weapon.


This movie is in film history considered to be the “breakthrough” film of Burt Reynolds. By breakthrough, it marked his transition from acting and starring into super-stardom. This film reflects the start of the period of Reynolds enormous star power and box-office pulling power, his machismo persona being mixed with a critical recognized serious dramatic performance.


In early 1971, Jack Nicholson was announced as one of leads by Los Angeles Times columnist Joyce Haber.


Bill McKinney became so identified with his chilling role as the Mountain Man that he adopted www.squeallikeapig.com as the name of his official website.


“Dueling Banjos”, which won a Grammy for Best “Original” Song, is simply a bluegrass version of “Yankee Doodle”.

The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes is a 1977 American horror film directed by Wes Craven and starring Susan Lanier, Michael Berryman, and Dee Wallace. It is about a family on a road trip who become stranded in the Nevada desert, and are hunted by a clan of deformed cannibals in the surrounding hills. The film was released in cinemas on July 22, 1977, and has since become a “cult classic”.

The film was remade in 2006 by French horror filmmaker Alexandre Aja.

Trivia:

Producer Peter Locke has a memorable cameo as Mercury, the imbecile-sounding gang member with the feathered head-dress who is only spotted twice throughout the film, firstly at Fred’s garage and secondly communicating with Mars and Pluto using a USAF radio.


The dead dog used as a stand-in for the family’s slaughtered Alsatian ‘Beauty’, widely believed to be a dummy dog, was in fact a real (already dead) dog that director Wes Craven and producer Peter Locke had bought from the county sheriff’s department.


When originally submitted to the MPAA, the film was given an X-rating which would have relegated it to the porno circuit and severely hurt the box-office returns. Wes Craven cut the film enough to secure an R rating, and the original director’s cut is thought to be no longer in existence.


The movie is based on the legend of Sawney Beane and his family (a wife, eight sons and six daughters), a feral clan who inhabited and roamed the highlands of Scotland’s East Lothian County, near Edinburgh, in the early 1400s. They captured, tormented and ate several transients. They were eventually captured on the order of Scotland’s King James, were judged to be insane, and executed without trial.


Many of the props in the feral family’s cave were from Robert A. Burns’s previous project, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).


There were two babies that were used in the film as the same character (Katy) though the baby is only credited as Brenda Marinoff.


The desert locations for the film were extremely rough on the crew. Not only was the rocky terrain difficult to walk, let alone run through, but the temperature would reach up to 120 degrees during the day. After sunset though it would drop to a cold 30 degrees in a matter of minutes.


According to star Robert Houston the audition process for the film depended a lot on whether or not an actor could cry on cue.


In an interview with star Susan Lanier she said that her agent strongly opposed her taking a role in the film fearing that it could ruin her career opportunities. However Lanier, who was a fan of the horror genre, liked Wes Craven so much that she went ahead and took the role of Brenda Carter anyway.


Janus Blythe, who plays Ruby in the film, was originally auditioned for the role of Lynne Wood. Blythe however wanted the role of Ruby instead.


Robert Houston was actually the second choice for Bobby Carter and landed the role because the original actor left the production after reading the script.


The locations for the film were 30 miles from civilization and the cast and crew had to cram themselves into a few Winnebagos to be driven to location.


According to Wes Craven the film was shot on cameras rented from a famous California pornographer.


Auditioning for the role of Ruby required the actresses to have a foot race. When Wes Craven shouted for the actresses to go, Janus Blythe stood behind for a moment. Then after a moment took off and beat all the other actresses to the finish line. She was given the role.


Janus Blythe said Wes Craven kept insisting that she be covered in more dirt through out shooting because she looked too pretty to have been living in a desert all of her life.


Dee Wallace said little acting was required in the scene where Lynne encounters the tarantula. Wallace said her fear of the spider was very much authentic.


For the scene where the feral family is eating Bob, the actors were actually eating a leg of lamb roast.


According to Susan Lanier the tension was at first quite high when the crew prepared to shoot the scene where Pluto rapes Brenda. As a gag to break the ice for everyone Lanier and Michael Berryman started making out during the first take. The whole crew laughed hysterically.


According to Wes Craven the idea of actually having the baby killed in the film was considered. However the cast and crew strongly opposed the idea saying they would leave if the plot went that route.


The rattlesnake used in the film actually escaped while preparing to shoot a scene in a narrow mountain crevasse. The entire crew fled at once from the narrow passage frightened. Minutes later the snake wrangler went in and recaptured the snake.


Wes Craven’s original title for the film was ‘Blood Relations’. Producer Peter Locke however disliked the title. Numerous titles were then considered and the film tested best under the title ‘The Hills Have Eyes’, though Craven himself initially disliked the title.


Virginia Vincent’s reaction to being shot was quite genuine as there was a mishap with the squib planted under her robe. The small explosion caused her a deal of pain and she was briefly taken to the hospital.


Janus Blythe at first refused to pick up the rattlesnake in the film. Producer Peter Locke tried to convince her to pick it up, but Blythe said she would only do it if Locke would pick it up too. Peter Locke quickly touched the snake and Blythe complied by picking up the snake in the scene.


Star Michael Berryman said he was once watching the film in a theater when a woman in front of him said aloud ‘this movie is sick and depraved!’ Berryman then thought it would be funny to lean over her and say ‘you’re damn right lady this movie is sick!’

Aliens released July 18, 1986

Aliens

Aliens is a 1986 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, William Hope, and Bill Paxton. A sequel to the 1979 film Alien, Aliens is set fifty-seven years after the first film and is regarded by many film critics as a benchmark for the action and science fiction genres. In Aliens, Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley returns to the planet LV-426 where she first encountered the hostile Alien. This time she is accompanied by a unit of Colonial Marines.

Aliens‘ action-adventure tone was in contrast to the horror motifs of the original Alien. Following the success of The Terminator (1984), which helped establish Cameron as a major action director, 20th Century Fox greenlit Aliens with a budget of approximately $18 million. It was filmed in England at Pinewood Studios, and at a decommissioned power plant.

Aliens earned $86 million in the United States box office during its 1986 theatrical release and $131 million internationally. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including a Best Actress nomination for Sigourney Weaver. It won in the categories of Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects.

Trivia:

Hicks was originally played by James Remar, but Michael Biehn replaced him a few days after principal photography began, due to “artistic differences” between Remar and director James Cameron. However, Remar still appears in the finished film – but wearing the same armor, and shot from behind, it’s impossible to tell the difference between the two actors.


All of the cast who were to play the Marines (with the exception of Michael Biehn, who replaced James Remar one week into filming) were trained by the S.A.S. (Special Air Service, Britain’s elite special operations unit) for two weeks before filming. Sigourney Weaver, Paul Reiser, and William Hope didn’t participate/attend the training because director James Cameron felt it would help the actors create a sense of detachment between the three and the Marines – the characters these three actors played were all outsiders to the squad; Ripley being an advisor to the Marines while on the trip to LV-426, Burke being there just for financial reasons and Gorman being a newly-promoted Lieutenant with less experience than most of the Marines.


Armorer Terry English made three sets of Armour for each member of the cast who needed to wear Armour. He was only given two weeks to complete the job and upon arriving back at his workshop a few hours drive away from the film set, he realized he had forgotten the scrap of cloth James Cameron had given him so that the camouflage on the Armour could be matched correctly to the uniforms the marines would be wearing. Instead of going all the way back, Terry painted the completed sets of Armour from memory. The result was a pattern and color combination not too dissimilar to the British Army DPM pattern. Fortunately, Cameron liked the contrast between the Armour and the BDUs (Battle Dress Uniforms) the marines wore beneath it, saying it make the Armour more obvious to the eye. The graffiti you see on some of the Armour was done by the actors themselves, with a little help from English for a few details like Hicks’ clasp and padlock on his chest Armour. The Armour was had made from Aluminum and all in one size, with on set adjustments made by English to make them fit each actor.


According to the 1991 Special Widescreen Collector’s Edition Laserdisc release of the movie (presented on the Bonus Disc of the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy DVD Box Set), James Cameron turned in the first treatment for the film, called Alien II at the time, on September 21, 1983. Some of the differences between this initial treatment and the final film included the following: – The character of Carter Burke was absent, instead, his dialogue was given to someone named Dr. O’Niel, who did not join Ripley and the marines on their voyage to the colony planet. – Instead of being taken to the Gateway Station, Ripley was taken to Earth Station Beta. – The name of the colony planet was Acheron, taken from the script of Alien (1979), instead of LV-426. – Ripley’s daughter was alive, and Ripley had a disheartening videophone conversation with her, where she blamed Ripley for abandoning her by going to space. – There were multiple atmospheric processors on the planet. – The initial discovery of the aliens on the colony planet is much longer, where it is shown how Newt’s father gets to the site of the eggs and is jumped by a facehugger. – An additional scene involves a rescue team going to the site of the alien eggs and being jumped by tens of facehuggers. – The aliens sting people to paralyze them before either killing or cocooning them. – At one point Ripley, Newt and Hicks get cocooned. – The aliens cocooning people are a different breed. They look like smaller, albino versions of the warrior aliens. – Bishop refuses to land on the planet and pick up Ripley, Hicks and Newt, indicating “the risk of contaminating other inhabited worlds is too great.” – Ripley ends up using the colonists’ shuttle to get back to the Sulaco. – Bishop tells her: “You were right about me all along.” The first draft script was turned in by Cameron on May 30, 1985. This draft was quite different from the treatment, but very close to the final film.


The title of Alien (1979) in Hungarian was “The 8th passenger: Death”. Consequently, the title of Aliens (1986) was: “The name of the planet: Death”.


A scene on the colony before the alien outbreak was deleted from the final cut. Elements of that scene show up in later James Cameron projects. The line, ‘… and we always get the same answer: ‘Don’t ask’.’ was used in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). In fact the entire scene in Terminator 2 follows the same pacing and tone as the scene cut from the theatrical version of Aliens: – an employee flags down a supervisor and they walk together, talking about the behavior of their employer – Weyland-Yutani in Aliens, CyberDyne Systems in Terminator 2 – and ending in the line ‘…don’t ask.’. The character name ‘Lydecker’ was used in “Dark Angel” (2000).


During the sequence in which Newt and Ripley are locked in MedLab, Ripley is attacked by one of the two facehuggers after setting off the sprinklers, resulting in the facehugger wrapping its tail around her neck after jumping off of a table leg. To film this, director James Cameron had the Special Effects crew design a facehugger fully capable of walking towards Ripley on its own, but to make it appear as if it jumps off of the table, and Cameron then used backwards-filming. He set up the facehugger on the table leg, then dragged it off and later edited the piece of film to play backward to make it appear to be moving forward towards Ripley. Crew thought that the fact that water was falling down during this whole scene would affect the sequence that was filmed backward (it would show the water moving up instead of down). In the end, the water was not visible enough to see the direction in which it was falling.


The “special edition” includes extra scenes: Newt’s parents discovering the abandoned alien ship on LV-426, scenes of Ripley discussing her daughter, Hudson bragging about his weaponry, robot sentry guns repelling first alien raid, and Hicks and Ripley exchanging first names. Also included is a scene on LV-426 where a child rides a low-slung tricycle similar to one ridden in The Terminator (1984), also directed by James Cameron.


During Hudson’s (Bill Paxton) boasting monologue aboard the drop ship (special edition only) he talks about some of the weaponry of the Colonial Marines, mentioning a “phased plasma pulse rifle” – the pulse rifles the marines carry are ballistic, not “phased plasma”, but the line references The Terminator (1984) (also directed by James Cameron, and featuring Paxton in a minor role) in which the terminator asks a gun store clerk for a “phased plasma rifle”.


Lance Henriksen wanted to wear double-pupil contact lenses for a scene where Bishop is working in the lab on a microscope and gives a scary look at one of the Marines. He came to set with those lenses, but James Cameron decided he did not need to wear them because he was acting the character with just the right amount of creepiness already.


Sigourney Weaver had initially been very hesitant to reprise her role as Ripley, and had rejected numerous offers from Fox Studios to do any sequels, fearing that her character would be poorly written, and a sub-par sequel could hurt the legacy of Alien (1979). However, she was so impressed by the high quality of James Cameron’s script – specifically, the strong focus on Ripley, the mother-daughter bond between her character and Newt, and the incredible precision with which Cameron wrote her character, that she finally agreed to do the film.


In an interview, composer James Horner felt that James Cameron had given him so little time to write a musical score for the film, he was forced to cannibalize previous scores he had done, such as elements from his Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) scores, as well as adapt a rendition of “Gayane Ballet Suite” for the main and end titles. Horner stated that the tensions with Cameron were so high during post-production that he assumed they would never work together again. However, Cameron loved the score from Braveheart (1995) so much, the two mutually agreed that Horner would write the score for Titanic (1997), because it was a story they both wanted to do. They’ve let bygones be bygones ever since, especially when they won their Oscars for Titanic (1997) and collaborated again 12 years later for Avatar (2009).


The initial cinematographer was Dick Bush. However, director James Cameron fired him a month into production because he wasn’t satisfied with the lighting, and the two men reportedly hated working with each other. Cameron then tried to hire Derek Vanlint, the DP on the previous film. Vanlint wasn’t interested, but recommended Adrian Biddle for the job.


The difficulties surrounding Sigourney Weaver’s contract negotiations were such that James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd – recently married – announced that if the deal was not done by the time they got back from their honeymoon, they were out. When they returned, no progress had been made – so James Cameron, determined to make the film and wary of the deadline scenario he had created, devised a scheme: he telephoned Arnold Schwarzenegger’s agent for an informal chat and informed him that, thanks to his newfound standing in Hollywood following The Terminator (1984), he had decided to make this film entirely his own by writing Ripley out; as Cameron anticipated, Schwarzenegger’s agent immediately relayed the information to his colleague representing Weaver at ICM, who in turn contacted 20th Century-Fox Head of Production Lawrence Gordon; both men, determined that under no circumstances whatsoever would Ripley be written out, wasted no time in sealing Weaver’s deal.


Having hired James Cameron to write the screenplay, 20th Century Fox then did the unthinkable when he left the production to direct The Terminator (1984): they agreed to wait for Cameron to become available again and finish the screenplay. Cameron had only completed about 90 pages at that stage, but the studio had loved what he had written so far.


The Alien nest set was kept intact after filming. It was later used as the Axis Chemicals set for Batman (1989). When the crew of Batman (1989) first entered the set, they found most of the Alien nest still intact.


Budget constraints meant that they could only afford to have six hypersleep capsules for the scenes set on board the Sulaco. Clever placement of mirrors and camera angles make it look like there’s about 12. Each hypersleep chamber cost over $4,300 to build.


One of the perfect locations they found was a decommissioned coal-fired power plant in Acton, West London. The only trouble with it was that it was heavily riddled with asbestos. So, a team was sent in to clean up the plant, and atmosphere readings had to be taken constantly throughout filming in this location to make sure that the air was clear of contamination. Ironically, the Acton location turned out to have better atmospheric quality than Pinewood Studios.


The assault vehicle is a modified tow-truck that British Airways used for towing airplanes around at Heathrow. The only trouble was that the truck they purchased weighed 75 tons. By stripping out most of the lead used in its construction, they were able to remove about 30 tons.


Ripley’s miniature bathroom in her apartment is actually a British Airways toilet, purchased from the airline.


To bring the alien queen to life would take anything between 14 and 16 operators.


A complicated effect shot (the Marines entering the Alien nest) had already been filmed just before James Remar was replaced by Michael Biehn. A re-shoot would be too expensive, so the Corporal Hicks seen with his back towards camera is still played by James Remar.


Since production took place in England, the director and producers conveniently cast many American actors who were already living in England. This was particularly important for the actress playing Newt, who had to be a minor. Carrie Henn, who played Newt, was an American girl living with her family in England (actually, a bit of an English accent can be heard when she says, “Let’s go,” and, “There is a short-cut across the roof,” during the Alien attack at the end of the movie). Her movie brother Timmy (seen only in the extended version) is also her real-life brother Christopher Henn.


Although the first script draft turned in on 30 May 1985 was very close to the final film, some scenes in this version were dropped in the final film. Those include: – A shower scene with Ripley in a futuristic shower environment Ripley going into more detail about the facehuggers while briefing the Marines, calling the facehugger “a walking sex organ” to which Hudson replies, “Sounds like you, Hicks.” – There are thirty atmospheric processing units on the planet, as opposed to only one in the final film. – Newt formally offering Ripley to be her daughter – Bishop encountering an alien while crawling along the tunnel (this scene also appeared in the final script but neither in the theatrical release nor in the Special Edition) – The second drop ship refueling itself before leaving the Sulaco under Bishop’s remote control. – The first draft also included a scene with a cocooned Burke, which was shot but not included in any of the versions of the movie.


Director Trademark: [James Cameron] [feet] close-ups of the power-lifter’s feet.


Director Trademark: [James Cameron] [nice cut] a few minutes into the movie, we see Ripley lying in the cryo-tube, and then the scene fades to the picture of the earth; the earth directly fits into the silhouette of Ripley’s face.


Director Trademark: [James Cameron] [nuke]


James Cameron had the actors (the Marines) personalize their own costumes (battle armor and fatigues) for added realism (much like soldiers in Vietnam wrote and drew things on their own helmets). Actress Cynthia Dale Scott, who plays Cpl. Dietrich has the words “BLUE ANGEL” written on the back of her helmet. Marlene Dietrich was of course the star of The Blue Angel (1930) or Blue Angel. Bill Paxton has “Louise” written on his armor. This is a dedication to his real-life wife, Louise Newbury.


The mechanism used to make the face-huggers thrash about in the stasis tubes in the science lab came from one of the “flying piranhas” in one of James Cameron’s earlier movies Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981). It took nine people to make the face-hugger work: one person for each leg and one for the tail.


James Cameron had several designers come up with ideas for the drop ship that took the Marines from the Sulaco to the planet. Design after design, he finally gave up on them to come up with on he liked and constructed his own drop ship out of a model of an apache helicopter and other spare model pieces.


Like most films, the movie wasn’t shot in sequence. But for added realism, James Cameron filmed the scene where we first meet the Colonial Marines (one of the earliest scenes) last. This was so that the camaraderie of the Marines was realistic because the actors had spent months filming together.


There was talk of bringing H.R. Giger back for the second movie to do more design work, but James Cameron decided against it because there was only one major design to be done, that of the Alien Queen, which Cameron had already done some drawings of.


When filming the scene with Newt in the duct, Carrie Henn kept deliberately blowing her scene so she could slide down the vent, which she later called a slide three stories tall. James Cameron finally dissuaded her by saying that if she completed the shot, she could play on it as much as she wanted. She did, and he kept his promise.


A set design company offered to build James Cameron a complete and working APC vehicle from scratch, but the cost was far too high for the budget he had in mind.


While salary negotiations were going on with Sigourney Weaver to reprise her character in the second movie, the studio asked James Cameron to work on an alternative storyline excluding Ripley, but James Cameron indicated the series is all about Ripley and refused to do so.


Director Trademark: [James Cameron] [feet] When the soldiers arrive on LV426 and jump out of the armoured vehicle. See also The Abyss (1989).


Director Trademark: [James Cameron] [feet] When Ripley drives the APC, she crushes an alien’s head under one of the wheels.


Except for a very small reference in Alien (1979), the special edition of this film is the first to reveal the name of ‘The Company’ as Weyland-Yutani. The name is clearly written on several pieces of equipment and walls in the colony during a pre-alien outbreak scene of the special edition.


Only six alien suits were used, and even then they were mostly just a handful of latex appliances on black leotards. The appearance of hundreds of aliens is simply clever editing and planning, and lighting plus slime helped make the “suits” more solid.


The body mounts for Vasquez’s and Drake’s smart guns are taken from Steadicam gear.


The pulse rifles that the Marines use are made from a Thompson M1A1 machine gun with a Franchi SPAS 12 shotgun underneath.


The M-56 smart guns and the sentry guns built for the movie were designed around German MG 42 machine guns (most recognizable on the smart guns where the MG 42’s characteristic recoil booster muzzle is clearly visible). The gun is mounted on a heavily modified steadicam harness – the MG 42 alone (without the additional cosmetic dressing and ammunition) weighs in at about 25 pounds.


The helmets the Marines wear are modified M-1 ballistic helmets.


There were two versions of the “Bug Stompers” logo designed for the movie, one wearing sneakers, and one wearing combat boots as seen on the drop ship.


A lightweight dummy model of Newt (Carrie Henn) was constructed for Sigourney Weaver to carry around during the scenes just before the Queen chase.


The armor for the film was built by English armorer Terry English, and painted using Humbrol paints.


The camo pattern worn by the Marines was custom made for the movie, but due to its similarity it is often confused for one called “frog and leaf,” which is no longer in production.


None of the models or the original designs of the Narcissus (the Nostromo’s shuttle) from Alien (1979) could be found, so set designers and model-makers had to reconstruct the model of the ship and the interior set from watching Alien (1979).


“Sulaco” is the name of the town in Joseph Conrad’s “Nostromo”. See also Alien (1979).


Director Trademark: [James Cameron] [Biehn’s hand] Michael Biehn’s character gets bitten on the hand by another character. See The Abyss (1989) and The Terminator (1984).


During the scene inside the APV preparing for battle, “El riesgo siempre vive!” can be seen scrawled in white across Vasquez’s armor. Literally translated from Spanish this is: “Risk always lives!”; a variant of Cicero’s famous quote “Luck favors the bold.”


Al Matthews, who plays a Marine sergeant in this film, was in real life the first black Marine to be promoted to the rank of sergeant in the field during service in Vietnam.


In both the standard and special edition versions, the fifteen minute countdown at the end of the film is indeed fifteen minutes.


In a deleted scene, Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) daughter was played by Elizabeth Inglis, Sigourney Weaver’s real-life mother.


When the set crews were looking around for floor grating to use on the Sulaco set design, they asked a local set design manufacturer/shop if they had anything of the sort. Indeed they did, an immense pile of old floor grating had been sitting out in the back of their shop for the last seven years. It was left there from when they tore down the set of Alien (1979).


Bishop states that “it is impossible for me to harm, or by omission of action allow to be harmed, a human being.” This is based upon the First Law of Robotics written by science fiction author Isaac Asimov.


In the scene in the air shaft where Vasquez shoots the alien with a handgun, Jenette Goldstein could not handle the recoil of the gun properly. As a result, producer Gale Anne Hurd doubled for Vasquez in shots where the gun is fired. She was the only woman available who had experience firing handguns. Goldstein’s flinching at the firing of a gun is also masked during the operations room fight immediately preceding the air shaft scene, when Vasquez is seen firing two grenades at the aliens – for the first one, there’s a barely visible cut (Goldstein’s head changes position suddenly) and for the second shot there is a smash-cut away from her face at the moment of firing.


Three different types of smoke were used in the film, one of which has since become illegal to be used on movie sets.


One of the alien eggs used in the film is now exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.


The Alien Queen has transparent teeth, as opposed to the warrior aliens.


According to myth, the name for the company, “Weyland Yutani”, was taken from the names of Ridley Scott’s former neighbors – he hated them, so he decided to “dedicate” the name of the “evil company” to them. In reality the name was created by conceptual designer Ron Cobb (who created the Nostromo and the crew’s uniforms) to imply a corner on the spacecraft market by an English-Japanese corporation. According to himself, he would have liked to use “Leyland-Toyota” but obviously could not so he changed one letter in Leyland and added the Japanese name of his (not Scott’s) neighbor.


Sigourney Weaver threatened to not do any more “Alien” movies after seeing the movie’s final cut, so as a compromise, the 1987 Special Edition was released on Laser-Disc.


The colony on LV-426 is named Hadley’s Hope, with a population of 158. This is revealed in the special edition, and if you look carefully, the saying “Have A Nice Day” is painted on the sign.


In the scene where Burke and Ripley are discussing her psych evaluation results, a People magazine can be seen on a table.


Was voted the 42nd Greatest Film of all time by Entertainment Weekly. They describe it as the “greatest pure action movie ever.”


United States Colonial Marines personnel service numbers: – SFC Apone, A A19/TQ4.0.32751E8 – Pt Crowe, T A46/TQ1.0.98712E6 – Cpl Dietrich, C A41/TQ8.0.81120E2 – Pt Drake, M A23/TQ2.0.47619E7 – Cpl Ferro, C A71/TQ9.0.09428E1 – Pt Frost, R A17/TQ4.0.61247E5 – Lt Gorman, S A09/TQ4.0.56124E3 – Cpl Hicks, D A27/TQ4.0.48215E9 – Pt Hudson, W A08/TQ1.0.41776E3 – Pt Spunkmeyer, D A23/TQ6.0.92810E7 – Pt Vasquez, J A03/TQ7.0.15618E4 – Pt Wierzbowski, T A14/TQ8.0.20034E7


Many of the characters in the movie whose first names are never mentioned, actually share their first name of the actor/actress portraying them: e.g. Sgt. Al Apone (Al Matthews), Cpl. Collette Ferro (Colette Hiller), Pfc. Jenette Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), Pvt. Mark Drake (‘Mark Rolston (I)’), Pvt. Daniel Spunkmeyer (Daniel Kash), Pvt. Ricco Frost (Ricco Ross), Pvt. Trevor Wierzbowski (Trevor Steedman), and director Paul van Leuwen (Paul Maxwell).


The scene where the Sulaco’s crew is being revived from cryosleep, the monitor which lists each crew member’s names are their character’s name followed by the actors’ actual first initial except for “Hicks, D”, “Ripley, E.” and “Gorman, S.”


Producers David Giler and Walter Hill were keen to work with James Cameron after having read his script for The Terminator (1984). Cameron went in for a meeting with the two producers and pitched several ideas at them, none of which they were that receptive to. As he was leaving, however, they did mention that they were thinking of doing a sequel to Alien (1979), and immediately Cameron’s interest was piqued. Cameron submitted a 40-50 page treatment of what he would do for an “Alien” sequel which contained a lot of ideas for an existing treatment he had done for a script called “Mother”. Giler and Hill loved Cameron’s treatment and commissioned him to write a screenplay. Cameron got the good news the same day he landed screenwriting duties for Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985).


To most of the crew, the choice of James Cameron as director was mystifying as The Terminator (1984) hadn’t been released at that stage. The film’s assistant director continually questioned Cameron’s decisions and was openly antagonistic towards him. Ultimately producer ‘Gale Anne Hurd (I)’ had no choice but to fire him and he briefly instigated a mass walk-out from the rest of the crew. Fortunately this was quickly resolved but caused some doubt as to whether the film would make it to completion.


James Horner wasn’t particularly happy with the treatment of his score for the film despite receiving his first Oscar nomination. He delivered a finished score which didn’t sit well with the edited film. Because Horner was unavailable as he was working on another film at the time, James Cameron had to heavily chop up the score to fit his edit. (A Deluxe Edition soundtrack of the score has since been released by Varèse Sarabande.)


Michael Biehn got the call on a Friday night asking him to take over the role of Hicks and was in London to start filming on the following Monday.


James Horner’s schedule only allowed for him to work on the film for 6 weeks. He arrived in London to perform his duties, only to find that they were still shooting, much less editing. He sat around for 3 weeks before being able to get started.


During the scene when they have landed and deployed in the troop carrier, Apone tells the Marines they have 10 seconds until they arrive. If you count from here until the first Marine jumps out of the carrier and his boots hit the ground, it really is ten seconds.


The various screens and displays, seen mostly in the backgrounds, are actually TV screens with a video running. The film was shot in the UK where televisions run at 25 frames per second, however, film is normally shot and projected at 24 frames per second! Filming the TV monitors at that speed would cause the TV screens to run out of sync with the film, so they would have flickered terribly. Instead, the shots containing the monitors were taken at 25 frames per second to keep the monitors in sync, so when these are then projected at the standard rate of 24 fps, they now run a bit slower than real-life.


Some of the sound effects for this film were created with help from the Fairlight, an early Australian-made digital sampler. Though the machine sampled at a now-laughable 8 bit resolution, the Fairlight then cost an astounding 30 thousand dollars (USD) and was state-of-the-art. Musicians such as Jan Hammer, Kate Bush, and Prince have used it extensively throughout their respective careers.


Sentry guns featured in special edition are of UA 571 model as viewed on their laptop management console. Funny enough, Bill Paxton (pvt. Hudson) appeared as Lt. Cmdr. Mike Dahlgren in submarine movie U-571 (2000).


In the scene where the crew is getting dressed after waking up from hypersleep, Hudson says, “Hey Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?” to which Vasquez answers, “No. Have you?” This is “borrowed” from Hollywood legend. Columnist Earl Wilson once asked Tallulah Bankhead, “Have you ever been mistaken for a man?” Bankhead responded, “No darling. Have you?”


The word “fuck” is used 25 times in the film, 18 of them are spoken by Hudson.


The pistol used by Colonial Marines is a Heckler and Koch VP70.


Footage from this movie was used in a DirecTV commercial.


There was a scene in the movie where Hicks has ordered to install barricades to keep the aliens from getting in and killing them. There was an extended scene where Hudson and Vasquez established sentry guns, and Hicks was constantly watching on how much ammunition there was in the guns.


According to Lance Henriksen, the adding of Hudson’s hand to the knife trick was discussed with almost everyone, except Bill Paxton.


The rhyme that Hudson mutters as he’s searching for the colonists is from the AC/DC song “Shake a Leg”: “Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen…”


At one time during filming, the APC had an actual roof. But, during the “Fire In the hole” scene, the actors were actually suffocating from the fire’s smoke. After a few tries, the roof of the APC was removed.


When Ripley confronts Burke about having the Jordens sent out to check the grid reference, she tells him she checked the company log reference 6.12.79. The theatrical release for Alien (1979) was 6th December, 1979 (6.12.79 in the English date format). It is believed that Aliens (1986) is set in the year 2179, with Alien (1979) set 57 years earlier in 2122.


Aliens (1986) was never shown to test audiences because editing was not completed until the week before its theatrical release.


Several references to Robert A. Heinlein’s novel, “Starship Troopers”: the prominent use of the military; during the orientation when Hudson asks if this is a “bug hunt.”


The space station above earth is called Gateway, a possible reference to Frederik Pohl’s “Gateway” novel, a sci-fi classic.


Director Trademark: [James Cameron] [vents] Chase scene through the vents.


Director Trademark: [James Cameron] [strong women] Many of Cameron’s films (Piranha 2, Terminator, Abyss, Titanic, T2) champion strong women, both mentally and physically.


Most of the movie was filmed under very bluish light to give it a strange and “alien” feel. The colors of the Marines’ camouflage BDUs and the Humbrol “Brown Bess” used on the Pulse Rifles were all chosen specifically to work with the blue set lighting. As a result, both look very different under natural light than they did on screen.


Four actors from this movie appear in various Terminator movies: Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton in The Terminator (1984), and Jenette Goldstein in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).


Stephen Lang auditioned for the role of Carter Burke.


Sergeant Apone’s full rank is listed as “SFC” on a computer monitor. That is the abbreviation for the current U.S. Army rank of Sergeant First Class, which is usually a platoon sergeant position. The equivalent current U.S. Marine Corps rank would be Gunnery Sergeant, abbreviated GySgt. Sgt. Apone also wears the current Army gold and green stripes of a Sergeant First Class.


The second of four Alien movies starring Sigourney Weaver.


According to Lance Henriksen, during the production of “Aliens”,a the film Full Metal Jacket (1987) was also being shot at a nearby location. Because of this the crews of each movie would often gather together for parties.


James Cameron was not impressed by the way that Ray Lovejoy was editing the film, and was seriously considering firing him and having the film re-edited from scratch by Mark Goldblatt, Cameron’s editor on The Terminator (1984), and Peter Boita, who had already been bought on-board to edit the more dialogue driven scenes. Upon hearing that his job was in danger, Lovejoy grabbed all the footage from the film’s final battle, locked himself in an editing suite over the weekend, and presented the fully edited version of the battle to Cameron the following week. Cameron was sufficiently impressed to let Lovejoy stay on-board and supervise what was intended to be the final edit.

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