Alien II was a 1983 script treatment for a sequel to Alien, written by James Cameron. It is a very basic outline of his intentions for the film, establishing the basic course of events but containing very little in the way of dialogue. Cameron continued to work on the story and the treatment eventually evolved into the film Aliens; in fact, the first half of the treatment is virtually identical to the finished movie, although the second half differs quite substantially from what was ultimately made. It was followed by the first draft of what would become the final Aliens shooting script, also written by Cameron.
Differences from the film
While the script treatment contains many elements that would eventually be incorporated into the final film, it also features numerous notable differences in terms of both characters and events. Some of these differences were carried over into the shooting script and novelization of the movie, before being removed from the film itself before or during filming. Some of the scenes added to the extended Special Edition of Aliens are included in the treatment, at least in an early form.
The beginning of the script is remarkably similar to what ended up on screen, albeit much less developed. The second half, however, differs significantly. Differences include:
- Ripley's nightmare whilst in hospital is completely different — instead of imagining a Chestburster emerging from her, she dreams she is back aboard the Nostromo, running around the corridors before coming face-to-face with the Alien in an airlock.
- The character of Carter Burke does not exist at all in the early draft. His actions and dialogue in the early scenes are instead given to a character called Dr. O'Neil, who was removed from later versions of the script.
- Gateway Station is called Earth Satellite Station Beta in the treatment. While a Gateway Station is also mentioned, it is the home base for the troops deployed on the mission and not where Ripley is taken to after being rescued.
- Amanda Ripley-McClaren is still alive and living on Earth, although her character does not have a name. Ripley contacts her via vid-phone and finds she is an old, crippled woman. Amanda blames her mother for her absence and ends the call by telling her mother that she hates her.
- Earth Satellite Station Beta has a large, landscaped garden on board, and Ripley is able to sit out in the sun beneath the trees.
- Weyland-Yutani (still called Weylan Yutani in the early draft, it's original name from Alien) no longer exists, having been bought out by another unnamed conglomerate while Ripley was drifting in hypersleep.
- Ripley is made to wait outside the room where the inquest is held while the board comes to their decision. When they strip Ripley of her flight status, O'Neil offers to help her find an apartment on Station Beta.
- There are multiple Atmosphere Processors on LV-426, instead of just one as in the movie. This difference actually carried over to the shooting script and the novelization of the film.
- Anne Jorden does not drag her husband Russ back to their tractor after exploring the Derelict Ship. Instead, she loses contact with him after he descends into the Egg chamber and returns alone to call for help.
- A significant addition involves Anne leading a search team into the Derelict to try and find her husband. They discover the Pilot, now partially buried beneath volcanic debris, before descending into the Egg chamber to look for Russ. They find his body, lying face down amongst the Eggs, a Facehugger attached to him. The search team are themselves then attacked by multiple Facehuggers, as "the floor of the chamber comes alive with scuttling spider-hand nightmares".
- The Colonial Marines are called the Colonial Guard.
- Without the character of Burke, there is no sub-plot regarding the company's attempts to obtain Xenomorph specimens from LV-426, and no corporate agent accompanies the mission to the colony. As a result, the military expedition is simply a search-and-destroy operation, with the only objective being the investigation of the colony and the destruction of the Xenomorphs, should they exist.
- After O'Neil and Lieutenant Gorman visit Ripley in her apartment, it is Gorman that Ripley calls to agree to the mission.
- Some of the Marines have different names and ranks. Hudson and Vasquez are both Corporals, whereas Hicks is only a Lance Corporal and therefore subordinate to them. Ferro is a Sergeant. Spunkmeyer is called Hay, while the unit's female medical technician is a Corporal called Lydecker. Crowe does not exist at all.
- Hudson's rant regarding the Marines' advanced weaponry takes place in the mess hall aboard the Sulaco, before they are briefed regarding the mission.
- Ripley confronts Bishop regarding him being a synthetic after reading the crew roster, rather than finding out inadvertently at breakfast.
- On the Sulaco, it is Hicks who uses the Power Loader to load ordnance. When he has problems with the machine, Ripley takes over from him, rather than driving a spare loader.
- The Marines do not deploy inside an APC. Instead, they simply move out on foot when the dropship touches down, running towards the colony. Ripley stays aboard the dropship with Gorman, refusing to go in on the ground. The APC is only deployed after the Marines elect to investigate the nearby Atmosphere Processor.
- Newt is discovered while the Marines are making their initial sweep, and as such Ripley is not present.
- The Marines do not know the colonists are inside the Atmosphere Processor when they decide to investigate it, rather Gorman simply orders them to extend their search to include the structure. The dropship lands and deploys the APC using a robotic arm, and it is at this point that a Xenomorph gets on board and discretely attacks Hay.
- Ripley questions Newt as the APC heads for the Atmosphere Processor. This happens earlier, inside the colony, in the film.
- The Xenomorph Hive covers the outside of the Atmosphere Processor as well as its interior, blending into the structure so that "it is hard to see where one ends and the other begins". The Hive structure itself incorporates detritus from the colony — furniture, rocks, cabling, even human bones — into its construction, all bound up in the resin-like substance. Several of the colonists cocooned within are still alive. These differences were maintained in the film's novelization.
- Frost is killed when he is hit in the face by acid, whereas this death was given to Drake in the film.
- The small arms carried by the Marines are repeatedly described as being plasma or directed energy weapons, as opposed to the standard (albeit futuristic) projectile weaponry used in the movie.
- The Marines do not have their ammunition confiscated in the Hive and are free to open fire. Even so, Frost, Drake, Wierzbowski and Lydecker all go down. However, Hicks, Hudson, Vasquez and Dietrich all survive, along with Gorman, who is not incapacitated like in the film. Instead it is Apone who is rendered unconscious, and not by falling crates but by a Xenomorph, which stings him with its tail. This happens to Gorman in the novelization, but whereas he recovers later (in both the book and the film), Apone never regains consciousness in the early script. Vasquez manages to keep her Smartgun after the ambush.
- Ripley is attacked by a Xenomorph through the APC windshield before she rescues the Marines. She also does not run it over, but rather Hicks kills it with a Smartgun.
- After the disastrous ambush, Gorman prepares to destroy the Atmosphere Processor with one of the heavy cannons on the APC, before Hicks points out it would cause a thermonuclear explosion.
- Ferro is attacked by the Xenomorph still on board her dropship whilst heading to the Marines to pick them up, but unlike in the film she crashes into the Atmosphere Processor instead of the ground. As a result, the APC is not destroyed and it is subsequently used to barricade the colony's main entrance.
From this point onwards, the original treatment begins to differ more substantially from the final film. While the general scenario remains the same, many of the details and individual events are radically different.
- The Marines do not realize there is a tunnel from the Atmosphere Processor into the lower levels of the colony buildings, and as a result they focus their defenses on Xenomorphs attacking across the surface outside. There are no sentry guns in the treatment, although the APC is parked outside the main entrance to the complex and its turrets are set to sweep the approaches.
- As Gorman remains conscious, he is still technically in command of the unit in the early draft. However, his efforts at leadership are largely ignored by the other personnel.
- The survivors immediately contact Bishop aboard the Sulaco for rescue, but he tells them it will take some time for the ship to orbit around the moon before he can pick them up. In the meantime, Hudson looks after the comatose Apone, while Dietrich and Vasquez keep watch on the surroundings for Xenomorphs. Hicks and Ripley use the colony's security cameras to search for a shuttle they could use to reach the Sulaco sooner; they find a hangar, but one vessel is destroyed while a second is missing. Hicks goes outside alone to scout the hangar.
- Newt remains completely silent until after the survivors spot the emergency venting from the Atmosphere Processor. It is only now that she mentions it that the survivors learn of the tunnel beneath the complex, but it is too late — the Xenomorphs attack through the room Hudson and Apone are in, and Hicks seals them inside to buy himself and the others time.
- As they flee from the Xenomorphs, the survivors use a lift. The scene where Hicks is sprayed with acid takes place now, but in the initial treatment only his armor is damaged while he himself remains unscathed.
- The Marines attempt to escape the overrun colony in the APC, but when they arrive they discover a Xenomorph inside, which quickly takes Dietrich. When Hicks and Vasquez kill it the APC is destroyed in the crossfire. During the confusion, Gorman almost shuts Ripley and the other Marines outside the colony. Only now does Vasquez's Smartgun run out of ammunition.
- Now the Marines flee into the air shafts, but are not immediately pursued. They take refuge in a chamber within the ventilation system, which they are led to by Newt. While they hold up, they are contacted by Hudson, who is alive but has been cocooned in the Hive. He says he is in a chamber full of Eggs and can see the missing shuttle nearby, as well as one "huge" Xenomorph. He reassures Hicks that he did the right thing by sealing him and Apone in with the Xenomorphs as they had no chance anyway. He is last head screaming. Ripley and Hicks continue to discuss how the Xenomorphs paralyze their victims by stinging them, and suggest atropine might counter the effects.
- The survivors push on through the vents but are cornered between two groups of Xenomorphs. Hicks has to cut through the side of the shaft to escape. This also happens in the novelization. Vasquez is not wounded, but rather gets trapped inside the vent when Gorman freezes in panic. Vasquez then blows them both up with grenades.
- Ripley, Newt and Hicks reach the landing zone as the Sulaco approaches overhead, but Bishop radios and tells them that he cannot land as the risk of the Xenomorphs getting off the moon is too great, and his programming will not allow him to take the chance. Ripley curses him, to which Bishop responds, "I guess you were right about me all along, weren't you, Ripley?" The Sulaco leaves.
- With no alternative, Ripley, Newt and Hicks head for the Atmosphere Processor in search of the colony shuttle. However, as they don't know where inside the huge structure the ship is located, Ripley and Hicks inject themselves with atropine and all three allow themselves to be caught by the Xenomorphs, in the hope that the sting will not affect them and they will be taken to the same chamber as Hudson, where the shuttle is located.
- Ripley awakes to find a "Drone" (a small, albino Xenomorph with a probe that excretes the resin used to build the Hive in place of its jaws, not the Drone caste seen in the films) cocooning her to the wall. She also sees the Xenomorphs attempting to remove the Eggs from the structure, "evacuating" ahead of the impending explosion.
- The Soldiers possess prehensile tubes that extend from their stomachs, used to impregnate victims with Chestbursters directly. A Warrior attempts to do so to Ripley, but she shoots it. She escapes from her cocoon, frees the comatose Newt and encounters the nearby Queen. Ripley hurls a grenade at her and blows up her Egg sac (the Queen herself survives, but unlike in the film this is not apparent until she reappears aboard the Sulaco). The explosion also causes something of a chain-reaction amongst the Xenomorphs, some of which spontaneously explode as a result.
- Ripley returns to Hicks, who is still cocooned, and discovers he has been impregnated. He orders Ripley to escape with Newt and leave him behind. The two survivors flee in the colony shuttle, incinerating the Egg chamber with the exhaust gases, before the Atmosphere Processor explodes behind them as they fly away.
- Newt remains unconscious throughout the confrontation with the Queen aboard the Sulaco. The script ends with her coming round after the Queen has been ejected into space and calling Ripley "mommy".