In 2012, Ridley Scott returned the world of Xenomorphs, Facehuggers, and Chestbursters for the first time since his iconic 1979 horror film, Alien. The catch? There were no Xenomorphs, Facehuggers, or Chestbursters. Set decades before the events of his cinema classic, Prometheus set the groundwork for the characters and creatures of Alien, but it was a whole new beast entirely. If Alien was an intimate, blue collar creature feature with shades of erotic paranoia, Prometheus was an epic scope space opera told through the lens of a creation myth. Essentially, but for the world they share, the films couldn’t be more different.
As a result, the film was divisive amongst audiences, especially hardcore fans of the franchise who were excited to see the true creator take the reigns once more and drive the legacy of the Alien series back to its roots. But Scott is far from done with the Alien saga. The director has a new trilogy planned for the series that will end at the beginning, as they say, with the events of the final film leading into the start of Alien.
First up is Alien: Covenant. Set ten years after the events of Prometheus, Covenant follows a team of terraformers who pick up a distress call (sounding familiar already, right?) that leads them to a stunning planet that seems like a gift-wrapped paradise. This is an Alien movie, so of course, it’s anything but. The planet is a living death trap with all manner of destruction hiding just around every dark corner, and an ideal setting for Scott to get back to the DNA of the original film.
Last summer, I had the incredible experience of visiting the Alien: Covenant set in Sydney, Australia to speak with the cast and crew of Scott’s return to the Alien mythology. The general consensus is it will also be a return to the Alien style… which is to say, horrific as hell. And that is a very intentional shift. A shift that’s not only reflected in the style and substance of the film, but down to it’s very title. It’s not called Prometheus 2, after all. Producer Mark Huffam, who said the “audience has been listened to,” explained that there’s a reason for that.
I think the title is very much saying, yes, you are going to go back to the root of how the Alien franchise started, and I think it’s much like the other thing. It’s bringing the best of Prometheus, and the best of Alien, and combining them to hopefully get something even better.
By and large, the consensus on set was that the criticisms and disappointments about Prometheus were not only heard but heeded as Scott and his creative team designed Covenant. So what does that mean? Well, for one thing, we’re going to see a whole lot of familiar creatures, and some new ones too. Special effects supervisor Neil Corbould told us:
He did listen to the criticism, if you like, of [Prometheus] and people wanted more aliens. The other thing as well is that certain studios want to make a certain movie, and sometimes your hands are tied for horror. If you’re making it for a PG-13 or 15, your hands are tied to give proper horrors. But when the gloves are off and it’s 18 or R-rated, then you can make the movie exactly what you want — with more aliens. He listened to the audience, that they want more aliens — they’re gonna get a lot more aliens. More than they probably anticipated.