Alien War was a "total reality experience" attraction in the United Kingdom that originally opened at the Arches in Glasgow in April 1992 themed around the Alien series of films. Created by John Gorman and Gary Gillies, the attraction had a short run as a mobile event at various exhibition centres in the UK (including the Bournemouth International Centre and the Abe and Conference Centre).
On 15 October 1993 it opened in the basement of the Trocadero centre in London. The permanent attraction in London closed after a flood in August 1996 and was never reopened. It made a short return between December 1999 and January 2000 in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow in a modified form.
A group of participants were escorted on foot by armed US Colonial Marines to view an "Alien Research Facility" which was an immersive dark set in the style of the films Alien and Aliens. The Aliens would inevitably escape and menace, chase and sometimes even capture both the colonial marines and members of the public. The adult Aliens were realised by performers in suits and the facehugger creatures were animatronic effects.
The ride started as an acted tour around the facility, when an alarm started to go off indicating some problems. The marine (actor) in charge would then tell the group (around 10 participants) to line up against the wall, with various horizontal tubes running along it. She would insist the participants get as close as possible to the wall. Then the alarm would die down, a long silence would follow. Then, from behind the participants a loud burst of steam (prop C02) would blow, causing a scare.
Then the participants would be huddled into the back of a corridor. The marine would stand in front of the participants. All the lights would go out in the corridor. They would flicker on, at which moment an alien could be seen at the end of the corridor. They would then extinguish, and by the time they flickered on again it was seen to be much closer. The marine would begin firing at it. It would be seen to be getting closer and closer at every flickering on of the lights, which were switched off for most of the time.
The participants would be hurried through the complex being herded by the Alien who would randomly grab participants but not catch them. The participants would eventually be forced through an egg chamber where the Queen was visible.
Then a sequence followed where everyone was sat in rows of seats in what represented some sort of drop ship waiting area, the marine would defend 1 door for a short time before herding participants in an elevator. Again the lights would flicker and the doors would open slightly allowing the alien to attack. Here somebody in front of the door would be taken by the alien. This was presumably an actor made to look like a participant, who had gone unnoticed.
The marine would end by yelling and pushing the participants to run along a corridor and out a door. As all the participants started running and burst out of the door they would realise they ran screaming and laughing out onto the street outside to the surprise of themselves and bystanders.
The marines originally carried blank firing pistols. For Alien War London, an innovative electronic system called Soundfire was developed to allow the weapons to sound like those used in the film Aliens. The system consisted of M41A pulse rifles with infrared transmitters and small strobe lights (to simulate muzzle flash). When the trigger is pulled a signal is transmitted to receivers hidden in the set. A central computer then plays gunfire sound effects to speakers in the correct area of the set. From a participants' point of view these effects were not very impressive. The method of producing the effect was very obvious, and was entirely different from how it would be imagined the weapons would discharge. The strobe lights also resembled blue camera flashes, and did not resemble a muzzle flash. The system also played other sound effects such as the Alien sounds. The system suffered teething troubles in the first months after opening meaning that the blank firing pistols had to be used for most early shows.
The show was seen in various guises and briefly featured an actor dressed as the Predator for a spell prior to it closing in Glasgow.
Alien War 2008
Alien War (now called Alien Wars) opened at its original home at the Arches Glasgow on December 6, 2008 and will run until August 30, 2009 in a modified format that is unrelated to the 20th Century Fox film series. It has recently opened at Liverpool at Wirral's spaceport and will run until March 2010.