Book Review–Look behind the scenes at James Cameron’s Aliens with new 30th anniversary photo chronicle

Aliens Set Photography book Titan

Review by C.J. Bunce

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of James Cameron’s sci-fi film classic Aliens, writer Simon Ward has assembled a photograph-dense book full of never before released images from the movie stage.  Aliens: The Set Photography fills each of 144 pages with views of cast members, camera crews, and special effects artists as they created the follow-on to Ridley Scott’s horror classic, 1979’s Alien.  Less of a space drama and more of an action-packed rollercoaster ride than the original, Aliens won two special effects Oscars and earned Weaver a nomination for Best Actress as well as nods for set and art decoration, sound, film editing, and James Horner’s musical score.

Simon Ward also authored the behind the scenes look at the Independence Day films reviewed here at last month.  We discussed the creation of this book at Kansas City Comic Con this weekend with film co-star Carrie Henn, who played Newt, the only survivor discovered by Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the marines.

Paxton Aliens

Henn told us that this book had been in the works for a few years.  She provided the foreword and much of the commentary for what amounts to a photo scrapbook of behind-the-scenes stills.  She also provides some surprisingly thorough recollections of stage direction from director Cameron and mentoring from Sigourney Weaver, who appeared as a larger-than-life heroine to the nine-year-old actress.  Her comments are also full of humorous anecdotes and reflect the care taken by the filmmakers to make certain the little girl wasn’t terrified by Stan Winston’s alien creations.

Cameron Weaver Aliens

Jenette Goldstein, who played Private Vasquez in the film, also provides unique insights into portraying one of the tough-as-nails marines that battle the xenomorphs.  How were the marine uniforms and quarters detailed to reflect each character?  What was painted on the marines’ helmets to create that subtle touch for a believable, otherworldly universe?  You’ll find out in this book.

The book follows the film story chronologically, moving readers step by step through the filming, set design, even locations of filming and the types of cameras and film used.  It then looks at the ship model making, make-up, costumes, and effects.

Biehn Aliens

Costume and special effects fans will love the access the the art and design studio stills, including shots of make-up pieces, close-ups of model miniatures of ships and even one of a miniature Ridley and her alien-fighting suit, and the six costumes created for the human-sized alien monsters.

A must for fans of Aliens and the entire Alien franchise, pick up your copy of Aliens–The Set Photography here now at





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