Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens' is a 2003 making-of documentary directed by Charles de Lauzirika that details the production of the 1986 film Aliens. Created for the Alien Quadrilogy DVD release, it uses extensive interviews with the film's cast and crew, as well as a wealth of behind the scenes footage, to detail the development, filming and release of the movie.
The documentary is divided into eleven separate chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of the film's production.
57 Years Later: Continuing the Story
The first chapter covers the conception of the sequel, including some early plot ideas proposed by Walter Hill and David Giler that were ultimately not pursued. James Cameron goes on to discuss his recruitment and his involvement in solving a pay dispute between Sigourney Weaver and 20th Century Fox that threatened the film's production.
Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction
The second chapter covers the hiring of Syd Mead and Ron Cobb, the latter of whom was returning from Alien, as production designers and their work on the colony and Sulaco sets for the film. Cameron's own involvement in the design of the Sulaco is also discussed. The construction of the sets is covered, including the conversion of a second-hand British Airways airport tug into the Colonial Marines' APC.
Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization
The third chapter covers the casting, including the search for expatriate US actors living in the UK. The casting and firing of James Remar is briefly covered before explaining Michael Biehn's recruitment as a result of his work with Cameron on The Terminator. The documentary also mentions the boot camp the Marine actors went through in preparation for their roles.
This Time Its War: Pinewood Studios, 1985
The fourth chapter deals with the filling of key crew roles and filming at Pinewood Studios and Acton Lane Power Station. The significant tension that existed between the British film crew and director Cameron is explained, including an incident with a trolley of sandwiches that almost shut down production entirely.
The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action
The fifth chapter covers the creation of the Marines' weapons, from concept (by Cameron) to construction (by Simon Atherton of Bapty & Co.). In particular the development of the Pulse Rifle and Smartgun are described.
Bug Hunt: Creature Design
The sixth chapter focuses on the development of the Facehugger, Chestburster and Alien Soldier designs, and how the practical effects used to show them were modified or developed from those seen in the first film.
Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn
The seventh chapter covers the close bond formed between Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn during the course of the film's gruelling shooting schedule, and touches on the concern some felt for involving a nine year-old girl in such a violent and scary movie.
Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien
The eighth chapter covers the development and construction of the full-size Alien Queen puppet, as well as the Power Loader it would fight in the film's climax. Stan Winston provides details of how the Queen was constructed and made to work, starting with a crude proof-of-concept model built and tested in a car park at Pinewood.
The Final Countdown: Music, Editing, and Sound
The ninth chapter covers James Horner's work on the film's music, and the drastically truncated time period he was allotted to complete his score.
The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects
The tenth chapter covers the extensive model work involved in the film, and how some of the models were created from materials being discarded from other productions elsewhere on the Pinewood Studios lot.
Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the Film
The final chapter covers the release of the film, including the acclaim it won and Weaver's nomination for an Academy Award, an unprecedented thing for an actress in a horror movie at the time.
With the release of the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set in 2010, several previously-unreleased "Enhancement Pods", essentially deleted scenes taken from the main documentary, were made available for the first time. These cover a wide range of topics, many of which are already mentioned in the documentary itself, and provide minor additional details and trivia.
- Without Sigourney Weaver
- Origins of Acheron
- Building Hadley's Hope
- Cameron's Design Philosophy
- Finding an Unused Power Plant
- Cameron's Military Interests
- Working with Sigourney Weaver
- The Importance of Being Bishop
- Paul Reiser on Carter Burke
- The Paxton/Cameron Connection
- Becoming Vasquez
- On Set: Infiltrating the Colony
- Props: Personal Light Unit
- Simon Atherton Talks Weapons
- Prasing Stan Winston
- Test Footage: Chestburster
- Fighting the Facehugger
- Test Footage: Facehugger
- Stan Winston's Challenge
- Test Footage: Queen Alien
- Stan Winston's Legacy
- Cameron's Cutting Edge
- Sigourney Weaver's Triumph
- Re-Enlisting with Cameron
- From Producer to Stunt Double
- The title of the second chapter in the documentary, "Building Better Worlds", is a reference to Weyland-Yutani's company slogan.
- Similarly, the fourth chapter's title, "This Time Its War", is a reference to the film's tagline.
- The fifth chapter's title, "The Risk Always Lives", is a reference to what is written on Private Vasquez's armor chest plate in the film, "El riesgo siempre vive".
- The sixth chapter's title, "Bug Hunt", is named after a quote from Private Hudson in the film.