"Alien Vault: The Complete Story and Legacy" Book Review

Written by R.J. MacReady

Published by Epic Ink

alien vault the complete story and legacy ian nathan poster large

Written by Ian Nathan
2019, 192 pages, Non-Fiction
Released on November 19th, 2019


If you've read my stuff before, you know I dig Alien and Aliens to a high, high degree. It's why I tend to search for all the stuff with behind-the-scenes glimpses into the films. When I heard about this book, it was a no-brainer to seek it out.

And first off – wow, on the presentation. Alien Vault: The Complete Story and Legacy comes with a thick, handsome slipcover to protect it. Mind you, the book doesn't need much protecting because it's high-quality all around. You're getting your money's worth on quality of build for sure.

But what's inside this beast? Anything new to add?

Alien Vault opens with a foreword by original Alien actress Veronica Cartwright. It's a short but personal look at what she remembers from working on the set to how she experiences the movie now when she watches it.

After an introduction by author Ian Nathan, the book deep dives into the movie. From the time Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett got together and penned the script, first called Memory and subsequently titled Starbeast, right through production and to the actual release of the film in 1979.

The bulk is on the making of the film, and tells stories that range from well-known (surprising the cast with the Chestburster scene) to others that aren't as well known. Like how the original screenwriters were replaced by director Walter Hill and David Giler, who almost completely rewrote the script. Hill reportedly called the script "terrible". Or that Ripley was supposed to die early in the third act; or that Sigourney Weaver was so new to filmmaking that director Ridley Scott had to tell her quite a few times not to look directly into the camera.

Having recently seen the excellent documentary Memory, I was worried this book might be too much of a retread, but there is enough new material to keep me interested, and it goes into way more detail than the documentary does. I was especially appreciative of the extensive look at how much H.R. Giger was involved – many sources over the years gloss over just how much he had to do with the look of the Alien universe that we know of today. There is some minor retread of material, but not that much, and I'd guess that most people haven't seen the documentary anyway.

And did I mention the gorgeous pictures? Alien Vault is packed page-to-page with behind the scenes photos, storyboards, promotional stills and more.

The book also contains a look at the legacy of Alien, and examines how the movies Prometheus and Alien Covenant tried to reinvent the evolution of the Xenomorph. Everything in these sections is new material to me – I had no idea, for instance, that Ridley Scott visited the set of James Cameron's Avatar, and upon seeing what he was doing thought that he should really get back into sci-fi. There's also a page discussing Neill Blomkamp's stalled Alien movie that was to be a direct sequel to Aliens, but now appears dead due to the poor box office performance of Covenant.

The book concludes with an appendix that features a breakdown of the crew of the Nostromo, and when each respectively died.

Alien Vault: The Complete Story and Legacy is a handsome, high-quality book that any hardcore fan of Alien will enjoy. Complete with vivid pictures and enough engaging anecdotes and information to keep one reading for hours, this would make a great holiday gift for that Alien fan.


Overall: 4.5 Star Rating Cover
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R.J. MacReady
Staff Reviewer
RJ MacReady digs horror movies, even though his first memory of horror films is watching the first Friday the 13th movie while a bear mauled his family in the other room. He admits that most of his bio is as fake as his moniker, but witness protection won't let him use his real name.
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