SXSW continued a tradition of treating fans to classic films and their creators with the screening of Alien and a preview of Ridley Scott’s new film, Alien: Covenant. In prior years, the classics included Phantasm , hosted by J.J. Abrams, and The Breakfast Club with appearances by Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy.
This trip back into time was a lot scarier.
The evening began with Scott (Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner) introducing the preview of his new film. “In 1979, I took you on a trip with the Nostromo and scared the heck out of you,” Scott said. “Now, just remember, in space, no one can hear you scream.”
The previews of Alien: Covenant were scarier than the original and bloodier and more graphic. It takes more to scare an audience in 2017 than it did in 1979.
The new film involves a ship that contains a crew of couples destined to colonize a new planet. When they get there, they discover that they are not the only colonists.
The film also introduces a new humanoid robot, Walter, played by Michael Fassbender, an updated version of the robot played by Ian Holm in the original. There’s a website on the new features, where you can reserve your own Walter.
During the question and answer session after the preview, Scott was joined on stage by cast members Fassbender, Danny McBride, and Katherine Waterston.
Fassbender was asked: “So how did you handle playing a non-human? Was it hard?”
He shot back, “It was easy.”
Waterson chimed in, “He is a man after all.”
When the laughter stopped, Fassbender expanded his explanation: “No, it was easy. I’m half German.”
Danny McBride, usually known for comic roles, shared his surprise when he heard that Ridley Scott had called him. “When my agent said that Ridley Scott wanted to talk to me, I was excited, and I thought, I should get back to him right away because he may have called me by mistake. When I saw the plans for the spaceship and realized what was happening, I was really excited.”
Waterston said that working with Scott was really great. “But, another director I had worked for kept emailing me,” she added. “He kept writing, ‘Ripley was a great runner.’ So, I kept working on my running. I think I still run like a cartoon character.”
After the Q&A, the audience was then treated to Ripley, and all the original cast members, running during the screening of the classic Alien.
The film has withstood the 38 years since its creation. Some of the technology – computer screens, incandescent lights – look dated, but otherwise it is still a great sci-fi adventure. Part of this comes from the excellent cast (Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Veronica Cartwright, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, Ian Holm) and the well-developed characters. Not only do they have an alien menace to battle, they all have personal problems, rivalries, or resentments with other crew members. The characters seem like real people, except for Holm, of course, who seems a bit robotic.
Alien: Covenant will open in theaters May 19, 2017. A preview is linked below.
Photos be author unless otherwise noted.