The original Alien film turns 40 this year, and the folks at 20th Century Fox and Tongal are set to give you six sinister servings of zippy xenomorph goodness (yeah, I stole this from my initial blurb…if it ain’t broke yo…) via a selection of sinister shorts that will be running from…well today, to April 26th with one new film premiering each week on IGN…but, me being me, I’m going to give you my opinion of each of these fright flicks right fuckin’ now!
Premiering today (March 29th as of this writing) is ALIEN: Containment: A small group find themselves stranded in a deep space escape pod, and one of them has been contaminated by an alien organism. What follows is a tense lil’ take on the tried and true tropes of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None with an enjoyable science fiction twist.
Written and Directed by Chris Reading, this is a solid little slice of sci-fi paranoia that keeps the viewer on edge. While the actual inclusion of the beloved Alien creatures is minimal at best, this is nevertheless an effective short that evokes the original film in a satisfactory manner.
April 5th brings ALIEN: Specimen: In an isolated greenhouse on a distant planet, Julie, a botanist, works to analyze soil samples that seem to be setting off her dog. Soon the greenhouse goes into auto-lock-down, and a familiar face hugging foe emerges from the samples ready to use Julie as an incubator.
Directed by Kelsey Taylor Specimen is a fantastic creature feature based game of cat and mouse full of suspense. This is a real nail-biter, and and really brings the spookshow aesthetics of the first Alien picture to mind while doing it’s own thing!
On April 12th we get ALIEN: Night Shift: A space trucker appears to have had one hell of a bender, and his co-worker gets the bright idea to cure what ails his pal with a nightcap from the supply depot. As you can guess, this dude isn’t drunk; he’s pregnant and soon his offspring is on the attack!
Written and Directed by Aidan Brezonick, this segment perfectly captures the lived-in, blue collar world Alien took place in; you got folks just trying to do their job faced with all manner of unbelievable hell thrust upon them…and the results are filled with tension and good ol’ red sauce!
With April 19th comes ALIEN: Ore: Hard working family woman Lorraine toils in a mine on an alien world…which is prosaic enough until the murders start. The company orders Lorraine and her crew to stay put, but when it becomes obvious some thing is stalking the mines things become fight or flight!
Written and Directed by the Spear Sisters, Ore; like Night Shift before it focuses on hard working, blue collar folks faces with the monstrous unknown to great effect. This time we also get the claustrophobic confines of the mine location that really adds to the breathless terror as a full-grown xenomorph goes about it’s deviltry.
Next on April 26th comes ALIEN: Harvest: While their ship is getting ready to self-destruct, it’s crew must make it to the escape craft while traversing a xenomorph nightmare…among other terror!
Directed by Benjamin Howdeshell, Harvest was by far my favorite of the short films in this presentation. This was a full on horror show with the creature action front and center, and the “haunted house in space” aesthetic of the original masterpiece in full effect!
Also on April 26th we get the final segment, ALIEN: Alone: Hope, the lone crew member of the rapidly disintegrating chemical hauler Otranto, spends her time keeping herself and the ship she occupies in operating order…all while examining the vessel’s hidden cargo.
Written and Directed by Noah Miller, Alone is surely the most introspective piece of the lot, and a surprisingly low-key way to bring this serving of galactic terror to a close…make no mistake, there are plenty of signature alien elements, it’s just gravy for the character piece this segment is.
Bottom line, these shorts are all a great time in one of the most beloved horror universes ever created. The gritty, lived-in world is presented exactly as it should be, acting, writing, and directing are rock solid across the board, and most importantly; the creature effects are absolutely top notch. If you are a fan of the Alien films these shorts will doubtless satisfy you immensely!