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ALIEN 3 - Skull
Rated R
Copyright 1992 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Lord Hades on 13 August 2008

The Characters:  

  • Lt. Ellen Ripley - Sigourney Weaver is back, and she's...bald? Decides to bunk in with some convicts, and ends up knocked up with a Queen Alien! Dies (presumably) after said Alien ruptures her stomach lining, falling with her into a tub of molten lead. Can you say, "Terminator 2" rip-off?
  • Dillon - Charles S. Dutton? It becomes readily apparent that the only reason he was chosen for this film was because he was bald already. Is a real tough guy and decides to go 20 rounds with the Canine-lien(tm), Buster Douglas style. Doesn't make it through the first round.
  • Clemens - Charles Dance!? As punishment for his failure to kill the Golden Child, Sardo Numspa was punished by Satan to endure this film as an aging prisoner/doctor with a troubled past. Gets to make sweet, unbridled love to Ripley (with Alien), and shortly thereafter suffers a fatal head wound, courtesy of Canine-lien(tm). More on him later.
  • Bishop I &: II - Lance Henriksen! Appears as both the original Bishop, who is not a happy guy since his drastic weight loss program at the hands of the Queen Alien, and as a new and improved total slimeball Bishop, the Bishop II. Bishop I is taken in 3 moves, while Bishop II presumably lives to plague a possible sequel.
  • Golic - A rather insane, distrustful criminal personage inhabiting picturesque Fiorina 161. Somehow manages to stare Death in its ugly, fanged maw and escape with only minor injuries.
  • Canine-lien(tm) - Apparently, David Fincher wasn't aware that the Aliens never used to take genetic material from their hosts, because this Alien is bad and on all fours now, thanks to a rather unsuspecting pooch host! Eats a vicarious sum of criminal refuse before being simultaneously superheated/cooled, which, as anyone knows, will make something explode into a million shards.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

"In Space, No One Can See Shit Steam."

For fans of the action packed sequel to "Alien," you may be expecting Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and Bishop to have more fun filled adventures in space...You'd be wrong. Apparently, the Queen Alien, who had JUST left the landing gear of the Sulaco prior to showing Bishop what a shish-kebab felt like, had ample time to lay a generous sum of her brood along the landing area, which going undetected by both the ship's systems and the wary eye of Ripley, hatched during their hibernation. The resulting fire (one wonders why these egg sacks don't have life sign readings until they hatch), causes the ship to jettison the crew to safety. Safety, according to the ship's computer, must truly be a relative term, as they end up on a prison world full of horny lifers. Personally I'd rather take my chances with the Aliens. What ensues is a poorly scrawled, incoherent waste of film that would be better served in a bathroom stall as a toilet paper substitute.

Ripley is sans friends (they all died in the crash, conveniently), except for the thoroughly-trashed-yet-somehow-functional Bishop I, an old demon posing as a doctor, and a convicted murderer who likes to box creatures with fangs longer than his arm - David Fincher's anti-xenomorph dream team. She finds out that the pods were jettisoned due to Alien infestation, which makes her appropriately cautious of her fear of being impregnated, a fear which finally comes to fruition. One of the dirty little facehuggers escaped the crash and hides out on an overly friendly dog, implanting it with a Canine-lien(tm) that goes on all fours, has a massive head, and seems worse than the Queen Alien on PMS. Interesting to note that the Aliens that gestate in humans had 'no' such genetic alteration, therefore it is advisable to keep Aliens away from Earth, and its furry creatures, at all costs. No one needs an Alien that makes 'Baaaa' sounds as it's crunching on your head; it's just not right.

The Canine-lien(tm) kills most of the criminals before they realize that, not only does Ripley have an Alien inside her, but that it is a Queen Alien. How did it magically know to become a Queen? Do Aliens have group telepathy and 'know' that the Queen is dead? After this impressive leap in logic is made, they decide that the Alien won't harm Ripley for fear of ending their race. Again, how does this Canine-lien(tm) know that Ripley has a Queen inside her? Do they emanate a smell from the host while they are buried deep in their gut?

As they have no weapons in the colony, the convicts construct an elaborate catch and kill plan, where they run around through dark, abandoned smelting tunnels hoping to lure the creature to its doom. Eventually, after all but three of the criminals meets a fitting demise (one foolishly lays his head against a window and gets a surprise). In an act of previously uncharacteristic heroism, Head-Buster Douglas boxes the Canine-lien(tm), until Ripley can climb to safety and coat it with a generous helping of molten lead. Somehow, it survives temperatures that turned the T-100 AND the T-1000 into slag, and is dispersed by a generous helping of water - which was the special effect highlight of this dismal movie.

Bishop II and a crew of toadies, meanwhile, appear and attempt to persuade Ripley to join them so they can destroy the Alien inside of her! With Ripley nearly persuaded, the remaining expendable convict clubs Bishop, revealing him to be just another android with a plan; he tries to lull Ripley by his desire to study the Queen and xenomorphs in general. All this after having his men empty a few bullets into one of her buddies. "Think of what we could learn!" His foot irrevocably shoved in his throat, Ripley jumps into the tub of molten lead as the Queen finally busts free and attempts to escape, illustrating more of that telepathy the writer used to make his story somehow believable. Golic, who somehow managed to survive, Bishop II with a wounded ego and in need of a plastic surgeon, and the toadies make good their exit from the prison planet, thus ending what is easily considered the most abysmal secretion in the series, which is saying a lot considering how the Queen Alien reproduces.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • You do not need to be a talented director to land an award-winning franchise.
  • Apparently, Aliens take on the characteristics of whatever host they gestate inside of. Funny, I don't remember the Alien that was inside Cain speaking with a British accent. "I say, do you mind terribly if I eat your face?" Director's cut, anyone?
  • Most prisoners on isolated penal colonies are nice guys, particularly when they haven't seen a woman in 30 years.
  • Molten lead cannot kill an Alien, only piss it off. Cold water, on the other hand, is devastating.
  • Boxing an Alien is simply 'not' the thing to do, unless you are tired of breathing.
  • Recipe for a sequel: Add 1 part talentless hack writer, 1 part burned out director, mix with a colorful cast of characters fighting a dog-like Alien and engaging in tired banter, film overnight. Serves: none.
  • Sardo Numspa really DID go to hell.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 8 mins - So the Queen Alien had enough time between crawling out of the landing gear on the Sulaco to lay all these eggs? Busy xenomorph.
  • 15 mins - Gratuitous 'hey I'm dead' Newt scene. Where is Hicks? Curse you, Fincher, and your little dog too!
  • 30 mins - I'm not feeling so well; maybe it's the prison food.
  • 35 mins - Satan: "And for your failure you shall now go to 'Last Action Hero,' Sardo!" Sardo: "Noooooooo!"
  • 40 mins - And now the criminal element shall be snuffed out, one by one.
  • 60 mins - Boxing an Alien was not how I imagined spending my last day.
  • 74 mins - New and improved Bishop II, with the Lie-Chip!
  • 115 mins - I cannot believe I just sat through this senseless drivel.


  • Superintendent: "As some of you know, a 337 model EEV crash landed her at 0600 on the morning watch. There was one survivor, two dead, and one droid that was hopelessly smashed beyond repair. The survivor is a woman."
    Convicts: "Waaahooo!"
  • Bishop I: "How are you? Oh, I like your new hair cut."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note alieniii1.wav Ripley: "We have to do an autopsy."
Clemens: "What?"
Ripley: "I told you: we have to make sure how she died."
Clemens: "And I told you: she drowned."
Ripley: "I'm not so sure, I...I have to see inside of her."
Green Music Note alieniii2.wav Dillon: "Yeah, well you don't want to know me, lady. I'm a murderer and rapist of women."
Ripley: "Really? Well, I guess I must make you nervous."
Green Music Note alieniii3.wav Ripley: "We have no weapons. Is that correct?"
Aaron: "Right."
Ripley: "I haven't seen one exactly like this before. It moves differently."
Green Music Note alieniii4.wav Ripley: "If this organism gets off the planet it will kill everything. The Company doesn't care about that. They just want it for their bioweapons division, okay? So, we can't let them come here."
Aaron: "F**k you! Look, I'm sorry you've got this thing inside you, but I'm getting rescued. I don't a s**t about these stupid prisoners, but I've got a wife, I've got a kid!"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipalieniii1.mpg - 3.8m
Ripley announces, "It's here!" just seconds before the Superintendent (who did not believe all this Alien claptrap) is grabbed by the head and pulled into an air shaft.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
Re: Alien 3
Reply #1. Posted on August 13, 2008, 10:36:19 AM by Andrew
I think my biggest beef with this film is that it cheats to get the emotional angle on Newt's death.  Hicks' is not a big deal, because, heck, he's a Marine and probably expects danger.  However, at the end of "Aliens," the victory was Ripley laying Newt down to sleep, with the expectation of them starting a new life after they returned home.

The alien queen obviously shot a few eggs out of her backside, torn as it was from the eggsack, while fighting Ripley.  Then the Sulaco's systems completely failed to register a xenomorph aboard, despite hand held motion detectors being standard issue for Marines.  Come on, that is just lazy writing.  They could have made this movie, but with a new main character.  In fact, that is how it should have been made.

You also have to wonder about the Company leaving the convicts on the planet, because doing so involves costs.  They have to be resupplied.  The superintendent and his toady get paid.  What the heck?

Bishop's character was fun, for the brief moments he appeared.  "How are you? Oh, I like your new hair cut."
Re: Alien 3
Reply #2. Posted on August 13, 2008, 11:23:07 AM by Psycho Circus
I agree with all of those points Andrew, I also believe that a new character in the lead role would've benefitted Alien 3 and the franchise as a whole. Hell, we might have had a 4th (a better one) sooner. It's still a good film in my opinion, (bull alien is cool) but it is by no means the best of the Alien movies or my favourite. Really wish they'd have stuck by this ending and hadn't gone on to flog it all with Resurrection.
Re: Alien 3
Reply #3. Posted on August 13, 2008, 12:26:51 PM by Mary Cherry
I think the idea for the queen having laid eggs on the ship must have come from the end credits of Aliens where you could hear a facehugger skittering around.
Re: Alien 3
Reply #4. Posted on August 13, 2008, 12:56:23 PM by Jack
I didn't really mind that there was apparently an undetected alien aboard the Sulaco.  By the end it was just Ripley and Newt, with Hicks badly injured and the robot dude ripped in half.  I didn't notice any sort of onboard systems to automatically detect xenomorphs, and considering that the Sulaco was apparently a pretty big ship I don't think we can expect Ripley, all worn out after her big adventure, to walk around every square foot of the thing with a motion detector.  She was pretty confident she had killed the only alien, and just wnated to get in the sleep chamber and wake up safe at home.

I though Alien 3 was pretty good, not in the same league as the first two, but not bad either.  It was nice that they developed the characters pretty well, but I really didn't care about any of them.  Still it had an atmosphere about it.  The aliens themselves were pretty cool running on ceilings and stuff.

Alien Resurrection, now that's where it went straight down the freakin' toilet big time. 
Re: Alien 3
Reply #5. Posted on August 13, 2008, 03:05:29 PM by AndyC
You also have to wonder about the Company leaving the convicts on the planet, because doing so involves costs.  They have to be resupplied.  The superintendent and his toady get paid.  What the heck?

I got the impression they were there as caretakers, looking after the place, making sure it didn't fall to pieces. They're essentially slave labour. The company sends a ship every so often to check on their assets and resupply the convicts, and pay two flunkies to make sure the work gets done. They otherwise don't really seem to care.
Re: Alien 3
Reply #6. Posted on August 13, 2008, 03:36:03 PM by HarlotBug3
Entertaining enough review, but it's obvious you were either too eager to love, or hate this one.

Worth seeing, if only for a look at a kind of missing link (other than jurrasic park) between puppetry and CGI monsters.

I have seen bits of the middle, and the ending to Alien Resurection. No further comment.

Re: Alien 3
Reply #7. Posted on August 13, 2008, 08:11:20 PM by Torgo
I recommend for people who haven't already to watch the producer's cut of Alien 3 on the Quadrilogy set.   It's pretty much as close to a director's cut as we'll ever get of this flick.  It's a much better movie IMO than what got released in theaters.

But even with saying that, this is still a movie that you'll think is decent enough if you watch it by itself until you try to watch it after watching the 1st 2 Alien flicks.  That's when my disdain for a lot of the narrative choices really comes through.

There's some performances to admire and I do realize that they were trying to get back to the feel of the 1st movie in terms of being up against a single Alien without the proper weapons to battle it and survive. 

I'm a David Fincher fan and I think that anymore this movie remains more as a footnote in his career rather than a justifiable entry into the saga.

But at least it's not as god awful as Alien Resurrection was.   

Alien 3
Reply #8. Posted on August 14, 2008, 08:01:39 AM by spastic
I'm surprised to find this film reviewed here on badmovies.
Hell.. Fincher made the best alien film of the entire franchise.

That's the only alien sequel that focuses on the original ambiance (Science Fictional Survival), and even surpasses the first one (which has seriously aged). Estheticaly, the film's a beauty. The plot, despite its simplicity, is more than sufficient for a thriller-based SF film.

The "dog-alien" thing isn't even a valuable argument against this film. If you're looking for realistic and rational plots simply don't watch any Alien film at all. If you want to easily criticize any alien film, review Alien 4 (there you have a good example of ridiculous host-combined alien) or directly the Predator/Alien crap (Predators and humans are friends now.. yeea riiight..).

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