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DID YOU READ

Five “Alien” facts to know before you see “Prometheus”

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After months of waiting, the release of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus is finally here. Having sifted through all the posters, trailers, viral videos and press conferences, all of our theories about what the film will explore and how it connects to “Alien” will be revealed. Before they pull the curtain back, we decided to take one more dive in the the rich history of the science fiction classic that started the franchise and talk about some of the more obscure facts behind “Alien” that appear to be present in promotional materials for “Prometheus.” Note: This article contains spoilers for those who have not seen the original 1979 film.


1.) The temple from “Prometheus” was originally going to be in “Alien”

When Scott and his team first set off to make “Alien,” the egg chamber where John Hurt’s character Kane is infected was supposed to be in a temple separate from the crashed spaceship. In the original screenplay by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusset, the crew lands on the planet and investigates the Space Jockey’s ship, discovering a triangular shape etched in to the vessel’s walls by hand. As the crew begins to explore the planet, they spot the the pyramid, but ignore that the wall etchings were a warning rather than directions. Then 20th Century Fox cut the budget, so the egg chamber had to be built on the same set as the derelict spacecraft’s control room.

Now in “Prometheus,” Scott finally got his temple. It’s an interesting comparison in plot development that “Prometheus” is all about chasing a race that possibly created mankind across the galaxy based on cave drawings and winding up at a temple where horrible dangers may be waiting (which, we totally know it is).


2.) Hieroglyphics played a key role in the original screenplay

In losing the temple set, the film also lost the element from O’Bannon and Shusett’s draft where the evolution of the alien is presented to the crew in the form of hieroglyphics on the temple walls. The description shows the cycle of egg/squid/monster, and the crew don’t put the pieces together until they encounter the full grown xenomorph. They also eventually realize that if the monster has its way, they will transformed by the creature in to eggs, starting the cycle over again for the next victims who come across their craft.

Ridley Scott filmed the scene that shows Ripley finding the creature’s nest in the bowels of the Nostromo, where her crew members are being transformed, but later cut it for the theatrical release.

It’s significant that in the trailer for “Prometheus,” there are hieroglyphics in the temple that depict a creature that looks like H.R. Giger’s alien. It’s almost as if Scott and his writers liked the idea of explorers ignoring the blueprint of their own destruction sitting right in front of them so much that that had to resurrect the juxtaposition 33 years later. Now we’ll get the chance see if the characters are smart enough to figure it out. Anyone want to talk about the odds of that?


3.) Ripley was originally going to be a guy

Horror films have a pretty steady (and appalling) track record for their depictions of women being sexually victimized, but there was something about the string of movies in the later 1970’s that lit a fire under Dan O’Bannon. “Alien” was to be the exact opposite, with an entire male crew encountering a menace that violates its victims orally and impregnates its host, non-biased of gender. When 20th Century Fox brought in Walter Hill and David Giler to re-write the screenplay, they changed the cast around so that there would be both ethnic and gender diversity. In the end, while Ripley is the last member of the crew standing (albeit, after being chased around in her undies), Lambert (played by Veronica Cartwright) is the only one of the creature’s victim’s who ends up stripped and hanging from the ceiling, which defeats the original thesis. Even so, “Alien” and its sequel became praised for their depictions of Ripley as the ultimate sci-fi female protagonist.

I’m guessing from all of the screaming and underwear lurching we see in the “Prometheus” trailer, it doesn’t look like things are going to fair well for either sex in the new movie, but I did also notice that the characters played by Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron are the only two crew members we see running from the crashing alien ship. We’ll have to wait until the film comes out on the gender equality scale.


4.) The Android was an Add-On

Another change that Walter Hill and David Giler made to their draft of the screenplay was the addition of Ash, the science officer played by Sir Ian Holm that reveals itself to be a menacing android in the third act. After losing their captain to the alien, Ripley uncovers that Ash has been using them all along to get the creature home, and responds to getting caught by trying to murder her with a pornographic magazine (as if “Alien” needed more sexual subtext). In a film that’s all about physical violation, Ash adds even more injury in the betrayal of the crew’s trust, both in their co-worker and the company that employs them. Ash’s entire presence on the crew is to make sure that the cargo makes it home even if the crew doesn’t.

Ridley Scott’s next film “Blade Runner” continued to explore the idea of androids meant to serve, but not necessarily fond of their human masters. That “Prometheus” features an android completely undisguised as a crew member in Michael Fassbender’s David 8 is interesting, both to see what Scott does with the character in the story, and also to see why years later Ash has to pretend to be human. Having an android on the crew of a deep space vessel sounds like a great idea, especially when handling biologically hazardous entities. So what does David 8 do in “Prometheus” that the company starts hiding them in plain sight by the time Ash joins the crew of the Nostromo?


5.) Ridley Scott is wrong about the Space Jockeys

For the last few months of press conferences surrounding “Prometheus,” we’ve heard Ridley Scott repeatedly say that the “Alien” franchise focused on the monster and ignored the big dead guy in the chair. And while he’s right about that in regards to the movies, what it doesn’t acknowledge is that in 1988, Dark Horse comics published a sequel to “Aliens” that followed an adult Newt’s journey to the far reaches of the galaxy to find the origins of the creatures that had destroyed her youth, and winds up coming face to face with the Space Jockeys. In the book, it was revealed that the ship the Ripley and her crew mates encountered had been a bomber, sent to deliver the alien eggs as biological weapon that would devastate their enemy’s planet, only the pilot became victim to his own cargo.

“Alien 3” completely knocked this story out of canon (and subsequent re-printings have the changed Newt’s name to avoid confusion), but at the time it was an incredibly popular book with an intriguing theory about how the ship got there. Considering how well versed screenwriter Damon Lindelof is in science fiction and comics, I wouldn’t be surprised if he read those as well, and it will be interesting to see if they impact the back story in “Prometheus.”

Are you excited to watch the mysteries of “Prometheus” unfold this weekend? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.