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Queen5.jpg
The Acheron Queen
Biological information
Host name
Host type Human
Status Deceased
Physical description
Class Queen
Height 15'
Weight
Behind the Scenes information
First appearance Aliens
Last appearance
Portrayed by James Cameron[1]


The Acheron Queen was an Alien Queen born on LV-426. She was the leader of the Alien Hive that infested the Hadley's Hope colony, and was later encountered by Ellen Ripley. She was ultimately killed when Ripley flushed her into space.

History[]

Hadley's Hope colony surveyors Russ and Anne Jorden were dispatched on company orders to investigate the coordinates provided by Carter Burke. The Jordens eventually discovered a derelict ship and went inside to investigate, only to discover the ship's hull was filled with eggs. Starting with Russ, the Alien eggs begin to hatch into Facehuggers that invaded Hadley's Hope, impregnating the colonists with Alien embryos. The Queen was among the Aliens that reached maturity and took over the colony. The Queen established her residence in the lower levels of the colony's Atmosphere Processor where the warm temperature made it ideal for egg incubation.

Concern over the loss of contact from Hadley's Hope, a squad of Colonial Marines was dispatched to investigate. The Colonial Marines tracked the missing colonists to the Atmosphere Processor and there they discovered a number of the colonists cocooned to the walls, used as hosts for the Aliens. An altercation ensued between the Marines and the Queen's brood, which caused both sides to suffer massive casualties. Ellen Ripley, who supervised the Colonial Marines' mission, later came face-to-face with the Queen during her attempt to rescue Newt, a survivor who had been taken by an Alien. Ripley threatened to destroy all of the eggs in the chamber if she and Newt were harmed. Apparently wanting to resolve it peacefully, the Queen signaled her circling Soldiers to let them leave. Ripley instead broke their truce, proceeding to incinerate the eggs with her flamethrower and shot the Queen's ovipositor with her grenade launcher. Enraged, the Queen detaches herself from her ovipositor and pursued the fleeing humans throughout the increasingly unstable structure.

The Queen follows Ripley and Newt in an elevator to the landing pad where she cornered them at the ledge. Ripley and Newt escaped via dropship that arrived just seconds before the Atmosphere Processor exploded. Unbeknownst to everyone on board, the Queen had clambered up inside the dropship's landing gear compartment at the last minute, and so escaped the nuclear meltdown that atomized her Hive. A short while later, in the main hangar of the Sulaco, the Queen emerged from her hiding place, eviscerating the android Bishop and setting upon Newt. She was foiled by Ripley, who fought her off with a Power Loader. After a fierce battle between the two, both the Queen and Ripley are thrown into the hangar's airlock. Incapacitated by the Power Loader, the Queen remained trapped there until Ripley had her ejected out of the airlock. The Queen lets out an agonizing scream as she is pulled by LV-426's gravity, where she likely perished upon re-entry.

Although the Queen had been defeated, she had stowed away a single egg that would hatch a Facehugger, which would eventually cause Hick's and Newt's death and infect Ripley with another Queen embryo.

Behind the Scenes[]

The Queen first appeared in the 1986 film Aliens, serving as the main antagonist of the film. It was designed by director James Cameron, in collaboration with special effects artist Stan Winston. Using concepts from his earlier script Mother, Cameron conceived the Queen as a monstrous analogue to Ripley's own maternal role in the film. The Queen was portrayed by a combination of a full-size animatronic model and small-scale miniatures.

Stan Winston and his team were in charge of constructing the Queen animatronic. During the design phase, Cameron conceived the method of how the Queen would be operated, which involve hanging the Queen puppet from an overhead crane and stationing two stunt men inside the mid-section to operate the puppet's four arms, controlling it through external rods, wires and hydraulics. As a proof of concept, Stan Winston Studio built a frame large enough to hold two people, covered in black polythene bags, and hung on a crane, tested in the studio's parking lot. Following the success of the Queen prototype, Cameron wrote the Alien Queen scene into the film. Shane Mahan sculpted the Queen head by sight based on a maquette, since computer technology to scale up the model's design did not yet exist; it took several weeks to sculpt. Two heads were built: a lightweight, fragile one, and another which could survive some damage. Each was articulated with hydraulics and cables to control the Queen's mouth and lips.

The Queen animatronic was fully hydraulic, made of lightweight polyurethane foam and stood at the height of 14-foot tall (4.3 m). Two people sat inside to control the arms; the legs were controlled by rods connected at the ankles, and a separate person whipped the tail around with fishing line. The head was manipulated with a combination of servomotors and hydraulics controlled by up to four people. The effect was hidden by lighting, steam, slime, and smoke.[2] The Stan Winston Studio had not used hydraulics before, and considered them a learning experience. They were essential for moving larger parts of the Queen animatronic, including the head; a foot press in the body could hydraulically move the tail up and down.[3]

References[]

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