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Film / Alien³

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It's in an ox. Or a dog, depending on what version you're watching.note 

"You've been in my life so long, I can't remember anything else."
Ripley, talking to the Xenomorph Runner

Alien³ (1992) is the third film in the Alien film series. It was the first film directed by David Fincher.

Following on from the events of Aliens, hypersleep goes on the fritz again and Ripley's ship crash lands on a prison planet, killing all occupants except her. Another facehugger slips into the colony and infects a dog (or an Ox, depending on which cut you're watching), which quickly gives birth to a quadrupedal alien. Arf arf.

This film introduced the concept of Xenomorphs having different shapes depending on their host bodies.

The film is most known for having an infamously Troubled Production as the project went through several producers, writers, and directors before finally settling on David Fincher's rewrite with predictable results. Fincher has since disowned the movie due to the Executive Meddling he had to endure during production; however, due to the special edition of the film, the Assembly Cut, which greatly expands upon many scenes and characters, the film has undergone something of a reevaluation.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: There are several understated ones, including:
    • Clemens' reveal that Ripley was the sole survivor of the crash, and his later verbal history of Fury-161.
    • Ripley's first conversation with Dillon where he explains his philosophy.
    • The scene in the EEV where Aaron helps Ripley with the mediscanner.
  • Actionized Sequel/Sequel Escalation: Averted when compared to the first film and also inverted when compared to the second film as this third instalment returns to the formula of the first film that only features one single adult nearly unkillable non-royal Xenomorph specimen throughout the entire runtime and a human cast without access to any real manmade weapons, and this third film is more of a claustrophobic horror than Aliens as a result of such, but ironically, the number of people killed onscreen, roughly thirty, depending on the cut, is higher than that of the two previous films COMBINED, more specifically six and fifteen respectively.
  • All for Nothing: The first five minutes render the events of Aliens completely moot as Hicks and Newt, who after battling all the way through the last movie, are abruptly killed off-screen and Ripley is essentially sent right on back to where she was at the end of the first Alien film.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Fiorina has breathable air but Aliens implied that inhabitable planets were rare due to the effort they went to terraform Acheron. Therefore you'd think Fiorina would have a proper colony on it.
    • Well, we do hear that it will be "forty below" in a few moments, and that's in the early morning. Just because the air is breathable doesn't mean you'd want to live there. But that does raise the question as to why the temperature plummets after dawn.
  • All There in the Manual: The company man at the end named Michael Bishop, the man who created the Bishop line of robots, is not named in any part of the film's dialogue, even in the Assembly Cut. The credits referred to him as "Bishop II", which only fueled the misconception brought on by shoddy editing that he's some sort of special robot with red blood.
    • Some other details such as Fury's 10 day year are in hard-to-find material or the Blu-Ray.
    • The Asian scientist at the end of the film is never given a name, but one draft reveals it to be Matshuita. Similarly, some prisoners aren't named in the film and go unlisted in the credits, but are named in the script. They are: Lawrence, Christopher, Martin, Janni, Ed, and the mysterious Vincent (who is named in the special edition of the film, but his actor is unknown).
  • Ambiguous Robots: Depending on the interview, Lance Henriksen can't decide if his character Michael Bishop is a human or a robot.
  • Anyone Can Die: The survivors of the previous film, after fighting through all of Aliens and surviving, all die right in the beginning, except for Ripley. The prisoners are all killed one by one, with a lot of them completely unexpected. Clemens, Ripley's love interest, is one of the first among them. Ripley herself even dies at the end.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: It does make Bishop II's reminder that she can still have children if she trusts him all the more powerful and tempting, especially if you've seen the previous movie's Special Edition, which had Ripley learning of her actual daughter's death from cancer.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The men suffering from supermale syndrome - with doubled Y chromosome, as Fiorina's convicts are stated to be - are somewhat slow learners and are on average taller than their single Y counterparts, but there is no link between a supermale syndrome and excessive propensity to violence. Such a hypothesis was already on thin ice when the movie was made, and has since been disproven by science.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: When Clemens is performing an autopsy on Newt's body, somehow there's a lot of blood flowing when he cuts up her corpse. Which is completely impossible in the real world. The reason you bleed when cut in the first place is that your organism keeps pumping the blood throughout the cardiovascular system in order to transport nutrients, oxygen and other stuff essential for your continued survival — thus, if there's some sort of gap in your skin on the way, a bit of blood will seep though it. However, once you're dead, the entire system just stops. No blood flowing, let alone seeping through any gashes. Anyone who's been witnessing a real-world autopsy (or even saw a recording of one) will tell you that there's a round zero drops of blood during the whole thing.
  • Asshole Victim: Most of the characters in the film are convicted murderers and rapists. Some even try to rape Ripley at one point, and Golic is straight-up Ax-Crazy. It therefore becomes hard to sympathize with them when the Alien starts hunting them down. However, this does play into the film's themes of death and redemption, and is better handled in the Assembly Cut, which spends a good amount of time exploring the prisoners' religious beliefs and how several of them come to terms with their past sins and eventual demise.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: After Mr. Andrews is suddenly killed by the Alien, Morse blurts out the appropriate response.
    Morse: Fuck!
  • Attempted Rape: Some of the inmates try to rape Ripley when she wanders off by herself to retrieve Bishop’s damaged body. They are stopped just in time by Dillon.
  • Ax-Crazy: Golic. Even though he didn't kill the two inmates that the others suspect him of having murdered, he is still a homicidal nutcase. When he's contained in the infirmary in a straight jacket, he turns to Ripley and suddenly reminisces about a few women he knew back home. Then he looks her in the eye and says that she's gonna die too. It's really no wonder his fellow prisoners openly dislike him, and Murphy, the dog owner, was apparently the only one who usually nice to him.
    • His Ax-Craziness even becomes a big plot point in the Assembly Cut, when he starts regarding the Xenomorph as a god-like being and lets it go after Ripley and the prisoners capture it, purposefully sacrificing himself in the process.
    • To a lesser degree Junior, whos crimes that got him locked up for life included aggravated sexual assault, assault with a deadly weapon, rape and murder. He leads the Attempted Rape of Ripley while putting on his goggles and doing a warriors yell to the sky before doing the heinous deed out of jealousy for Dillon accepting to Ripley sit at their table. Thankfully Dillon arrives just in time to stop Junior and kick his ass.
  • Badass Preacher: Dillon wasn't a preacher before, but he is now, even spouting scripture while "re-educatin' some of the brothers".
  • Bald Head of Toughness: Downplayed. Ellen Ripley was already an Action Girl and Final Girl after being the sole survivor of her crew in Alien and going against and killing Xenomorphs in both preceding films. In this movie, her going bald is incidental: a lice break out on the ship forces everyone to shave their heads completely bald to stop the spread. That said, it's in this film she becomes a survivor of attempted rape and musters up the willpower to kill herself in order to kill the Xenomorph Queen embryo gestating inside of her.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Ripley tells Dillon to kill her. He agrees, "quick and painless"... but he doesn't go through with it. Then later he has his own Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Big Bad: The lone Xenomorph Runner specimen nicknamed the "Dragon" who continuously stalks and kills off the countless inmates throughout the prison and also even attempts to ensure the survival of a Royal Chestburster incubating inside of Ellen Ripley herself.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dillon when he saves Ripley from getting raped by some of the other inmates.
  • Big "NO!": Bishop II's prolonged "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" when Ripley kills herself.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: The ceremony where Hicks and Newt's bodies are cremated occurs at the same time that the "Runner" Xenomorph erupts from Murphy's dog/the ox. Lampshaded By Dillon's eulogy.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ripley dies to prevent the Company from bringing back an alien specimen, and all but one of the inmates are dead (Morse survived).
  • Blatant Lies: Clemons realizes Ripley knows more than she's telling him when she asks to check Newt's body for cholera, which hadn't had a case in 200 years.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The first two films aren't exactly clean, but the violence and gore was usually brief and not excessive for the most part. However, this film amps it up with an extremely detailed shot of spewing guts during the chestburster birth and Hicks having his body absolutely mangled in the crash for starters.
  • Book Ends: The film ends with a recording of Ripley's last spoken sentences in the first movie.
  • Call-Back:
    • Bishop II begs Ripley not to kill herself, calling the Xenomorph "a magnificent specimen", just as Bishop did in Aliens.
    • The Weyland-Yutani mercenaries at the end of the film are armed with M41A pulse-rifles, which was the standard-issue rifle carried by the Colonial Marines in the previous film. Although, strangely, the ones in this film sound completely different when fired.
  • Central Theme: Coping and redeeming oneself even amidst death and other tragic circumstances, and accepting one's own inescapable mortality.
  • The Cavalry: Subverted. Weyland-Yutani has sent a rescue expedition to Fury 161 which arrives by the end of the film, but they don't care at all about saving the prisoners or Ripley; they just want to retrieve the Alien.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Ripley and Clemens both do this.
    • Clemens asks Ripley several times why she is inspecting Newt's corpse (for Xenomorph embryos) and her reasons for wanting to cremate both Newt and Hicks, and her need to retrieve Bishop to check the flight data. Ripley continually deflects the question (one time by sleeping with Clemens) because he probably won't believe her.
    • Ripley asks Clemens several times how he came to Fury 161, but he deflects the question repeatedly. Eventually he does tell her – he was previously an inmate.
  • Chromosome Casting: Every character except Ripley is male. Justified, as it's set in a prison.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Just about all the inmates liberally sprinkle the word into their dialog, to the point you could make a drinking game out of it. Before the release of the South Park movie, you could be forgiven for thinking this movie held the record for most uses of the word "fuck" (you'd still be wrong though.)
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Much like in the first film, only one adult Xenomorph specimen ever appears throughout the whole entire runtime, only for him to soon prove to be nearly unkillable, in fact, even more so than "Big Chap" aka "Kane's Son" some 57 years before him due to him going up against absolutely unarmed prey this time around, and also, the number of human deaths seen throughout the film is also higher than that of the first two films COMBINED due to this third installment in fact featuring the highest initial number of human characters seen throughout the whole entire franchise so far.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Fiorina "Fury" 161 serves as this for the Type 337 Emergency Escape Vehicle at the very beginning of the film, even though the whole crash-landing part of the sequence easily results in the deaths of Hicks and Newt with Ellen Ripley also being the one and only survivor afterwards as the Bishop Android is also even hopelessly smashed up beyond all possible repair during said crash-landing sequence.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Downplayed since Ripley and Morse are both hurt by the hot steam coming from the molten lead, but at that short of a distance from it, they still should have suffered third degree burns from it at the very least.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Ripley does this with Bishop to access the EEV's flight recorder.
  • Crapsack World: Fury (Fiorina) 161. Even if you could ignore the Xenomorph and the local population of foul-mouthed convicts, this planet is anything but a vacation spot.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Both Hicks and Newt get this during the EEV's crash landing, Newt for being trapped unconscious in her tube and drowning, Hicks for having his head completely pulped by a support beam that came down on him.
    • Murphy getting acid spat right into his face, and then getting diced by the fan when he falls blindly into it.
    • This third entry's Xenomorph Runner is also particularly cruel. Instead of using its nested mouth for the traditional One-Hit Kill, he deliberately mauls his victims to death like a wild animal, giving them plenty of time to suffer before he finally finishes them off.
  • Cryonics Failure: The cryopods fail for real. This indirectly causes Hicks to get impaled by a support beam and Newt to drown in her own pod. Ripley's pod also gets a hole smashed in it (due to the facehugger on the Sulaco), and she's seen moving around in discomfort as the pods get loaded into the EEV.
    • Also, Ripley's pod was heavily damaged in the crash and by the facehugger, so her body didn't get the benefit of whatever technology is supposed to ease you out of hypersleep. Clemens tells her that "half your body still thinks it's in cryosleep," and Ripley has some symptoms showing she's a bit ill from the process. Or from the Xenomorph Queen gestating inside of her.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is by far the darkest film in the entire Alien franchise. Its predecessor, Aliens, was a fairly standard action film with an overall happy ending (and that isn't a bad thing). Its sequel, however, has an air of hopelessness that just pervades the entire thing. Two major characters are killed right at the start and another one is damaged beyond repair, the film is set on a grimy prison planet populated by murderers and rapists, there is almost nothing to fight the alien off with so more characters, even likeable ones, die left and right (often with no build-up), and even Ripley is killed off at the end through Heroic Suicide because it's the only way she could stop the Weyland-Yutani Corporation from bringing the Xenomorph gestating inside of her back with them.
  • Deadly Environment Prison: Incarceration on the penal planet of Fury 161 is entirely voluntary. There's a minimal staff with no weapons, as there's no place for anyone to escape to without a functioning spacecraft, and the supply ship that drops by every so often is guarded. However, the facility used to house several thousand prisoners, so presumably security was more expansive when the site was fully operational.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: One of the prisoners, that being Murphy more specifically, is killed off once he falls down into a ventilation fan just after the Xenomorph Runner spits acid onto his face.
    • You too in the Game Boy game if you don't find and set the switches to make them turn in directions that won't pull you in when kicking around in the ducts. You'll be doing this a lot.
  • Death Seeker: Ripley sums up her attitude towards the Xenomorphs as;
    Ripley: You've been in my life so long... I can't remember anything else...
  • Dead Star Walking: Dr. Clemens is set up to be the main male character, but gets killed about an hour in, and Dillon takes over the role for the rest of the film.
  • Death of a Child: Newt dies in the opening, and so does a dog not much later.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Clemens quickly becomes Ripley's ally at the prison and even ends up sleeping with her. He's set up to be a major part of the story, then he gets slaughtered by the Xenomorph Runner and Captain Dallased less than halfway through the film.
  • Defiant to the End: Dillon during his Heroic Sacrifice simply stares down the alien and tells it "Now, fuck you!" When it charges him, he is still heard screaming for the thing to "come on!" even when the alien is tearing him apart.
  • Degraded Boss: In a rather unusual manner, the newly-introduced Xenomorph Runner caste can easily count as an inversion of this trope due to the fact that had any number of them been present during the events of the previous film, they would've easily been gunned down by the Colonial Marines along with their standard Drone cousins, but the "Dragon" here in this film easily gets to be considered a "boss" enemy for Ripley and the inmates much like "Big Chap" aka "Kane's Son" from the first film due to the fact that he's facing off against them when they have absolutely no manmade weapons with which to properly fight back against him this time around.
  • Despite the Plan: Ripley and the inmates plan out an elaborate ploy to get the xenomorph leave the safety of the ventilation tunnels and trap it inside a toxic waste storage facility, a sealed bunker with thick blast doors and no way to escape. It simply fails in the cinematic cut due to "Dragon" attacking out of the blue and killing one of the inmates, who drops a flare and sets the whole thing ablaze prematurely, ending up just wounding a bunch of people. However, in the Assembly Cut, the resulting fire does force the xenomorph to emerge in the open just as planned and Junior successfully lures it into the bunker, where it is sealed tight.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Alien³ makes the end of Aliens this retroactively when it is revealed that an Ovomorph made it onto the ship, not only causing it to crash but infecting Ripley with the new Xenomorph Queen, necessitating a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Ripley makes a rather blunt suggestion to deflect one of Clemens's questions.
    Ripley: Are you attracted to me?
    Clemens: In what way?
    Ripley: In that way.
    Clemens: You're very direct.
    Ripley: I've been out here a long time.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ripley holding the newly-born Xenomorph Queen to her chest to prevent it from escaping is not unlike a mother cradling her newborn in love.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Newt, Hicks and Bishop are all unceremoniously dumped.note  There's only a brief scene with Bishop in which he asks to be turned off because he'll never be top of the line again.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: On the other hand, Ripley and Dillon both get fantastic death scenes.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Aaron is called "85" by the inmates since it refers to his IQ score, which they found out when they took a look at his personnel files.
  • Enhance Button: Aaron helps Ripley scan herself in the EEV. He can't make out the picture, so she tells him "Enhance". Result: a confusing, blurry, picture becomes a confusing, clear, picture.
  • Enhanced on DVD: One of the sequences restored in the Assembly Cut involved the Chest Burster being born from an ox and scurrying away. This sequence never had its effects completed and utilizes a hybrid of combining footage of the creature’s birth between the two cuts, along with a digital creature for the unfinished shot of it scurrying away.
    • The Assembly Cut was originally released without ADR for restored scenes, but the Blu-Ray release brought back the actors to restore the audio.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dillon may be a convicted murderer and rapist, but since he has found religion he won't stand for it anymore. He unleashes a monumental beating on the other inmates when they try to rape Ripley.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave:
    • Ripley discovers that she's the only one of the Sulaco crew still alive after their EEV crashed.
    • Morse is the only survivor of the Fury 161 colony — he takes one last look around the place before being escorted out.
  • Everyone Can See It: Dillon casually asks Ripley if she enjoyed sex with Clemens. She bemusedly asks what keyholes he'd been looking through. Dillon shrugs and replies he was guessing, since it was obvious she was getting along with the good doctor.
  • Evil Brit: Most of the Fiorina inmates are portrayed by British actors.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: A dog belonging to one of the inmates barks incessantly at the alien.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: "What are we going to use for bait?... FUCK!"
  • Expy: Ripley was conceived as playing a Joan of Arc-esque role in this film, and Sigourney Weaver visually resembles Maria Falconetti as Joan in The Passion of Joan of Arc.
  • Extra Y, Extra Violent: The violent inmates of Fury 161 are all "double Y", and Dillon even snarks to Ripley that "you want help from us Y-chromo boys." Interestingly, the prisoners have chosen to stay after the Company tried to shut the prison down, and are trying to better themselves.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A bucket burnt by an explosion and then doused by cold water from sprinklers cracks open.
    • Ripley dies in the same fashion that Newt and Hicks's bodies are disposed of, with the same music.
    • The Xenomorph on the movie poster looks remarkably similar to a Royal Chestburster. Ripley later learns she has one inside of her.
    • Golic to Ripley: "You're gonna die, too."
  • The Glasses Come Off: Dillon slowly removes his horn-rimmed glasses as he and the alien stare each other down.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • The blood hitting the vent.
    • Newt's autopsy.
  • Happy Ending Override: Remember the ending of Aliens, when Ripley successfully rescued her surrogate daughter Newt and seemed poised to start an Xenomorph-busting family unit with Hicks and Bishop? All three of those characters are unceremoniously killed off in this movie, the former two in the first five minutes, leaving Ripley to face the Xenomorph threat on her own.
  • He Knows Too Much: Ripley states that Weyland-Yutani may murder the inmates simply because they know of the xenomorph's existence. It appears she was wrong; the film's epilogue reveals that Morse was sent to another correctional facility and sworn to secrecy. However, in Alien: Resurrection we learn that he published his account of what happened on Fury 161.
  • Hellhole Prison: This movie gets in on the act with Fiorina-161, a/k/a 'Fury', a maximum-security prison world with no weapons of any kind because without a functioning starship escape is impossible anyway. The wardens as a result are nearly powerless against the apocalyptic cult that has gained control over the population, to say nothing of the Xenomorph that hitchhiked aboard the escape pod from the USS Sulaco. Interestingly it actually was a better prison in the past when it was properly staffed before Weyland-Yutani abandoned it; a facility built for 5,000 inmates has been reduced to housing 25 inmates with a 3-man staff.
    Ripley: This is a maximum security prison, and you have no weapons of any kind???
    Andrews: We have some carving knives in the abattoir, a few more in the mess hall. Some fire axes scattered about the place - nothing terribly formidable.
    Ripley: That's all?
    Andrews: We're on the honor system.
    Ripley: Then we're fucked!
    Andrews: No. You're fucked!
    • Averted to some degree because the prisoners have settled in and actually prefer living there. The Warden's main power is that without him, no one gets supplies.
  • Heroic Suicide: Ellen Ripley, which was enforced by Weaver so she wouldn't have to reprise the character again. Sigourney Weaver does return in the next film, however, but not as the original Ellen Ripley since things are a little, well, different.
    • Dillon also does this to keep the Xenomorph Runner trapped within the lead mold.
  • Hope Spot: Aaron survived the Xenomorph Runner attack, so he survives right? Wrong, he attacks Michael Bishop after realizing Ripley was right about the company and is shot by one of the Weyland-Yutani commandos accompanying Bishop.
    • In the Assembly Cut, Ripley and the inmates manage to trap the alien in the leadworks, only for Golic to release it again.
  • How Did You Know? I Didn't: Before the climax, Dillon off-handedly asks about Ripley having slept with Dr. Clemens in a way that implies he already knew. When she replies that he's obviously been a peeping tom, he says that he wasn't, but her response did confirm his suspicions.
  • Idiot Ball: It never seems to dawn on Ripley that the Warden and Clemens may in fact have her best interests at heart when they tell her not to go out on her own due to the fact that she is surrounded by convicted rapists who haven't seen a woman in years. Worse, she goes out of her way to get into the faces of several of the inmates and even seems to be enjoying their strained reactions to her. The inevitable eventually happens and would have succeeded if it wasn't for a timely intervention by Dillon. Whilst this does fit beautifully if you subscribe to the Death Seeker interpretation of her character, it makes her look stupid if you don't.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Seriously, the planet is called "Fury". What are you expecting?
  • Immediate Sequel: This film is set immediately after Aliens.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mr. Andrews (the nominal Warden of the prison) is a pretty big Jerkass, but he has legitimate grounds for not wanting Ripley to walk around the prison freely. He has to keep a population of convicted murderers and rapists in check, who are still very dangerous even if they have found religion (his point is proven when a group of inmates attempt to rape her). Also, Ripley's story about a lethal 8 foot tall alien with acid blood (which has never been seen on any other planet than LV-426) would seem implausible to someone who has never encountered it, especially as she has no evidence. From his perspective the more likely scenario is that Murphy's death was just an accident, and that Golic was simply an insane murderer who killed two other inmates. Even this uptick in incidents coinciding with Ripley's arrival is understandable. . . none of the inmates have even seen a woman in years, Ripley's presence is going to be disruptive on multiple levels. He's proven right when said prisoners attempt a gang rape of Ripley — only Dillon's interference saved her from a brutal end.
  • Just Desserts: Mr. Andrews was an obstructive jerk who disregarded Ripley's story and tried to have her confined - partially to protect her from the prisoners and partially to maintain his control over them. He's eaten alive by the Xenomorph Runner while in the middle of shouting down her warnings and telling the guards to have her taken away and sedated.
  • The Last Dance: Ripley. "You've been in my life so long, I can't remember anything else."
    • The convicts qualify as well, as profoundly stated by Dillon.
      Dillon: You're all gonna die. The only question is how you check out. Do you want it on your feet? Or on your fuckin' knees... begging? I ain't much for begging! Nobody ever gave me nothing! So I say fuck that thing! Let's fight it!
  • Last Note Nightmare: Elliot Goldenthal's arrangement of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare freezes on the penultimate note and degenerates into a frightening wail; damn, even the opening logo fanfare is Darker and Edgier!
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: The film features an outrageously straight version of this trope. "All right. Let me get this straight. You want to burn it down and out of the pipes, force it in here, slam the door — and trap its ass? And you want help from us Y-chromo boys?" One can only wonder how Ripley managed to explain the plan in a way convoluted enough that Dillon had to get it straight, though from his tone of voice, he understood perfectly, and was just sneering at the idea that Ripley needed their help.
    • Also, more humorously: "Let me see if I have this correct, Lieutenant - it's an 8-foot creature of some kind with acid for blood, and it arrived on your spaceship. It kills on sight, and is generally unpleasant."
  • Made of Iron: Alien 3 proves once and for all that fire is useless in combating an adult Xenomorph, as even being drowned under thousands of tons of molten-fucking-lead is only enough to get the "Dragon" furiously angry and otherwise completely unharmed.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: The human Bishop at the end is remarkably unconcerned about getting hit in the head so hard his ear is almost torn off. This probably helped fuel the speculation he's another android. In the Assembly Cut, however, he's obviously in pain afterwards, and it takes him a moment to regain composure.
  • A Molten Date with Death: This is how Ripley kills off both herself and the Xenomorph Queen embryo/Royal Chestburster — by diving right on down into the prison foundry's furnace, which had previously been used to heat lead to its melting point to kill off the Runner Xenomorph running loose throughout the prison.
  • Monster Delay: Downplayed when compared to the previous two films since both the Ovomorphs and the FaceHuggers show up straight away this time around along with both the Chest Burster form and the adult form of the lone Xenomorph Runner nicknamed the "Dragon" also fully showing up on-screen not too much later than that.
  • My Greatest Failure: This is how Clemens got to Fury 161. He was previously a doctor, but he got addicted to morphine in medical school. When an industrial accident caused the deaths of a lot of workers, he was called in. Eleven people died not because of their wounds, but because he was so out of the world that he prescribed the wrong dosage of painkillers. He was jailed for seven years on Fiorina, and his medical license was reduced to a Class 3C. When the facility was due to be closed down, he elected to stay on as the medical officer when the inmates didn't want to leave (partly because he'd bonded with them on some level, but mostly because nobody else was about to hire him as a medical officer).
    Clemens: At least I got off the Goddamned morphine.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The film's very first trailer, promising, "On Earth, everyone will hear you scream!" suggested that the film would take place on Earth. The film went through eight or more screenplays during its early development stages (some of them, incidentally, were written by people who seem to have never watched the previous films). The trailer in question was made before the final script was even selected. Strangely enough, of the multiple scripts that have surfaced online, not one of them takes place on Earth, so one must really wonder what was up with that trailer.
  • No-Gear Level: A justified non-video game example. In most Alien franchise media, the humans have some form of weaponry that allows them to fight back against the Xenomorphs to varying degrees. In this film, however, most of the humans are prisoners, leaving them with no access to any weapons whatsoever, so the task of killing the lone Xenomorph runner soon proves to be one of humanity's hardest and deadliest challenges ever.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: The lone Xenomorph Runner seen throughout the film is a horrifyingly deadly entity from the perspective of his absolutely unarmed prey, but at the very same time, however, he's still the lowest-level adult Xenomorph enemy that humanity could ever possibly have to face off against due to his relatively small body size and likewise also comparatively inferior physical strength.
  • Novelization: The film was novelised by Alan Dean Foster. More details here.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mr. Andrews. When Ripley tells him about the Alien he won't help her and confines her to sickbay, because he finds her story very implausible and he has a much simpler explanation for the recent deaths.
  • Obviously Evil: When Ripley sits down at the dinner table with Dillion and his inner circle in both the theatrical and extended cut, Gregor is the one who consistently glares at her with barley restrained predatory intentions. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Gregor was the one who convinced Junior into attempting the gang-rape of Ripley.
  • One-Book Author: A minor (acting) example - this is the only film that Danielle Edmund (the girl who took over the "role" of Newt) ever starred in. She appears in a Freeze-Frame Bonus during the opening sequence, and an equally short time during the autopsy. Kind of appropriate, as Carrie Henn, who originated the role, also has only that one credit (though she obviously had a much larger part in her film than Edmund did).
  • One-Product Planet: Acheron only had a closed down prison on it
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted. Christianity is still a thriving religion in the 23rd century, even if it's only prominently seen amongst a band of prison convicts.
  • Penal Colony: The setting for the film is a shut-down prison planet, where the remaining convicts adopted a monastery culture and chose to remain, becoming more like indentured janitors. Escape is impossible, because there's nowhere to escape to.
  • Plot Armor: Invoked in-universe, when Ripley uses the knowledge of the xenomorph being unable to attack her (due to her carrying a Royal Chestburster inside of her in order to lure it into the leadworks during the finale of the film, via having Dillon pretend to take her as a mock hostage and threaten to kill her to draw the creature's attention.
  • Plot Hole:
    • The most notorious one in the series seeing as how all of the Xenomorph Drones were destroyed during the previous film, and their Queen also tore off her ovipositor when she went after Ripley, but in this film however there is someway somehow an Ovomorph aboard the Sulaco within a room that the Queen both did not and also could not ever possibly enter. Popular fan theories are that the Queen keeps an extra egg stored within some other part of her body for emergencies, but that still doesn't explain how it got where it did. Earlier versions of the script did try to justify this as the Gibson script had Bishop's innards infected with material that grew into an egg, and the comic adaptation explains that the original host was Newt, having been impregnated at the end of the previous film (although the timeline's too compressed and we see Ripley torch the facehugger meant for her). When she began to drown, the Royal Chestburster switched over into Ripley's body, (which just raises further questions.)
    • The follow-up to that, of course, is where the other facehugger came from as the opening sequence depicts one Ovomorph, which presumably is the one that infects Ripley, but since the facehuggers die after implantation, it must be dead before Ripley was ever ejected from the Sulaco, so there's no indication at all where the second facehugger, the one that reaches the surface of Fury 161 in the EEV and likewise infects the dog, came from. (Aliens: Colonial Marines goes to great lengths to explain how Hicks survived, and shows the facehugger attacking Ripley, but oddly still neglects to reveal it got there.) The Assembly Cut introduces the bigger "Royal Facehugger" and implies it infected Babe the ox as well, which goes some way towards filling this plot hole, at the expense of hand-waving it by introducing a creature that can implant multiple types of Xenomorphs into multiple different victims.
    • The previous film strongly suggested the Xenomorph acquisition project was dead, and that Burke acted alone based entirely on Ripley's story to further his career. Otherwise, why would the Weyland-Yutani Corporation have settlers on LV-426 for 22 years without ever making them scour it for the most precious lifeform within the universe? In this film, however, they act more like a Xenomorph-worshipping cult, able to send a Conestoga-class starship with a compliment of mercenaries, scientists, and a high-ranking executive to Fury 161 at a moment's notice, completely ignoring the ICC quarantine plot point from the previous film. However, this is more debatable, as Aliens never made it explicit that the project had been shelved, and it is possible that it was top secret and known only by an elite few, who didn't know what planet the Nostromo had landed on.
    • A rather strange example of this is the mysterious character known as Vincent as in all versions of the film, the bait and chase sequence begins when Kevin hears a prisoner screaming and then finds the Xenomorph Runner mauling his dead body, but in the Assembly Cut, David identifies the dead body as Vincent, but this is odd as everyone who was at the meeting in the furnace is still alive at this point in time and Vincent was nowhere to be seen during that scene.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Ripley never tells Clemens about the alien menace, even when he clearly notices that something is wrong and tells Ripley to trust him and tell him what she knows or what she thinks is going on. If she had done it maybe he wouldn't have died.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: After killing off the "Dragon", Ripley is confronted by a mysterious man who claims to be the creator of the Bishop Android, even looking like him, as well as the Weyland-Yutani soldiers and Aaron, but Ripley kills herself off within the furnace in order to avoid letting the Weyland-Yutani Corporation get their hands on the Xenomorph inside of her.
  • P.O.V. Cam: The fishbowl view of the Xenomorph Runner's "eyesight".
  • Power of Trust: After Clemons gives his long story of ruining his medical career, he asks her, "Now... do you trust me with a needle?" Ripley's response: bare her arm, but the warm moment is shattered by the Xenomorph Runner suddenly killing him off.
  • Practical Effects: The "man in a rubber Xenomorph suit" concept returns once again, and despite popular belief, most of the Xenomorph runner's shots feature a rod puppet photochemically composited onto live-action footage. The only CGI effects in the entire film are flying debris and the Xenomorph runner's head cracking up due to sprinkler-water-induced thermal shock.
  • Prison Episode: The entirety of the film takes place in Fiorina "Fury" 161's "Class C Correctional Work Unit", a rundown prison facility that only houses 22 prisoners and 3 staff members at the time of the lone Xenomorph runner incident's beginning.
  • Precision F-Strike: While the inmates obviously swear like sailors, one instance still stands out. After Mr. Andrews gets mauled to death in front of all of the inmates and "85", there is a long, terrified pause, with the only sound being Andrews' rubber ball bouncing off the floor. And then Morse finally speaks up.
    Morse: [Beat] FUCK!
  • Puzzle Boss: The total absence of any manmade weapons from the Fiorina "Fury" 161 Class-C Correctional Work Unit easily causes this trope to be taken to ridiculous extremes with the "Dragon" this time around. More specifically, the local prisoners and Ellen Ripley end up having to draw him over into the local lead-works, pour tons and tons of molten lead down on top of him, and finally dowse him with freezing sprinkler water, exploding his whole entire body to bits via intense thermal shock if you will in order to be able to kill him off near the end of the film.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: The Runner spends the entire movie refusing to harm Ripley, on the account of being able to smell the Queen, the future of it's race, gestating inside her body; not even being goaded and beaten on the head by her with lead pipes and burning flares was enough to make it raise a single clawed-finger against her. However, the sheer agonizing pain of being drowned in molten hot lead was enough to make it spectacularly snap, leap out of said metallic deluge, break inprogrammed-instinct and charge Ripley in a blind rage with every intent of tearing both her and the Queen inside of her to pieces to avenge this painful insult.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ripley gives one to the inmates to convince them that killing off the Xenomorph Runner is their only option.
    Ripley: When they first heard about this thing, it was crew expendable. The next time they sent in marines - they were expendable too. What makes you think they're gonna care about a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space? You really think they're gonna let you interfere with their plans for this thing? They think we're - we're crud. And they don't give a fuck about one friend of yours that's - that's died. Not one.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Actually an inversion where in which some fans call this film "the first Alien but IN A PRISON!" since it only features one single nearly unkillable Xenomorph Runner attacking and killing off a Dwindling Party of now truly unarmed humans one after the other much like the already aforementioned first film.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Junior in the special edition. He leads the gang trying to rape Ripley, but when she tries to distract the Xenomorph Runner from him in the attempt to trap it in the bunker, he instead runs inside, taking it with him. It rips him apart of course, but the mission succeeds because of him.
    • Seems to be a major theme of the film, as pretty much all of the prisoners and Ripley die at the end of the film to prevent Weyland-Yutani from getting their hands on the Xenomorph Runner, and this also even seems to be the main reason why the writers opted to kill off Hicks, Newt, and Bishop at the beginning (see: True Love Is Boring below).
  • Revised Ending: When David Fincher was shooting the film, his intended ending did not involve the Xenomorph bursting out of Ripley's chest. After Bishop II implores her to let them surgically remove the alien, she remains in thought for over thirty dialogue-free seconds—an eternity in film time—before denouncing them and flinging herself into the furnace (a trimmed-down version of this wherein the queen does not burst from her chest is retained in the Assembly Cut). However, during the extensive reshoots, the studio—fearing that the scene was too similar to the ending of Film/Terminator 2: Judgement Day—mandated that the queen erupt from her chest, forcing her to grab it and take it with her into the fire as she's dying from the wound, turning a quasi-religious moment of temptation and self-sacrifice into a mere formality to keep it out of Weyland-Yutani's hands.
  • Robotic Reveal: Inverted when someone suspected of being an android is violently attacked, only to start bleeding very human red.
    Bishop II: [Dummied Out line] I'm not a droid!
  • Robotic Undead: Bishop's remains are discovered and reactivated, looking a lot like a zombie android with his lower body and most of his face missing, and his internal wiring spilling out like human intestines.
  • Rousing Speech: Dillon rallies the surviving prisoners to kill the xenomorph instead of hiding in the hopes that the Weyland-Yutani forces on their way to Fury 161 will rescue them:
    Dillon: You're all gonna die. The only question is how you check out. Do you want it on your feet? Or on your fuckin' knees, begging! I ain't much for begging! Nobody ever gave me nothing! So I say fuck that thing! Let's fight it!
  • Rule of Drama: In the first film Alien, Kane dies a short while after waking up from the facehugger. Ripley seems to go on for hours on end before finally biting it at the end of the movie. The longer gestation might be because Ripley is carrying a Xenomorph Queen.
  • Sex for Solace: Ripley and Clemens make love for this reason. Ripley has lost two people who meant a lot to her, and Clemens has spent a large part of his life on a bleak prison planet to atone for his past mistakes. Ripley also does it to deflect a question that Clemens asked her, but why she chose this way to deflect it is this trope ("I've been out here a long time", she says).
  • Scannable Man: The prison convicts have bar codes on the back of their necks. Clemens has one too, leading Ripley to think that he is one of the inmates. As he later tells her, he was one previously.
  • Screaming Woman: Ripley screams when the gang of inmates attempt to rape her, but is more defiant and pissed off than anything.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: "85" attacking Bishop II does nothing but get him machine-gunned down, and he wanted to go home.
  • Series Continuity Error: In the previous film, the USS Sulaco sports a dark blue hue, its name written in black on its right side, and cryogenic stasis pods that look quite different from the ones aboard the USCSS Nostromo. In this film, the USS Sulaco sports a bright brown hue, its name written in white on its left side, and cryogenic stasis pods that look identical to the ones aboard the USCSS Nostromo.
  • Sir Swears Alot: All of the inmates swear quite frequently. It's justified, considering what a Crapsack World Hellhole Prison they live in.
  • Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: Ripley survives a Xenomorph attack thanks to being infected, and later uses this to her advantage when confronting it later.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Alien3, when viewed together with Aliens.
  • Shout-Out: Ripley was conceived as playing a Joan of Arc-esque role in this film; accordingly, Sigourney Weaver visually resembles Maria Falconetti as Joan in The Passion of Joan of Arc.
  • Shower Scene: Ripley has a shower scene shortly after cutting off her hair.
  • Sole Survivor: Morse, one of the Fury 161 prisoners, is the only person to make it off the planet alive when the Weyland-Yutani crew leaves.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: At the beginning of the film, the USS Sulaco launches an escape pod which lands on a planet. Newt and Hicks are both killed in gruesome ways (the gory aftermath is shown), while Bishop has one scene in which he asks to be turned off. Note that this differs from the comic continuity (which was ongoing at the time of the film's release), which saw Hicks and Newt survive, and was later changed to separate both characters (renamed Wilks and Billie) to differentiate the different timelines.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Dr. Clemens is built up as a main character, but then he suddenly gets grabbed by the Xenomorph Runner and killed off.
    • Superintendent Andrews is killed while yelling at Ripley, in a room full of other people no less!
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Fiorina, a maximum security prison, has three unarmed staff members to police the inmates, all violent murderers and rapists. The guards have no access to firearms of any kind for emergencies and the CCTV doesn't work. When Ripley asks what prevents the inmates killing them, Andrews responds that there'd be no point, as there's no way of escaping from the place anyway and that they're "on the honor system" on top of that.
    • The special edition (along with the novelization) expands this scene by a single line: if Aaron and Andrews were killed by the inmates, the Company would simply stop sending supply ships and let the inmates starve.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: The inmates plot to kill off the Xenomorph Runner by pouring several tons of molten lead right on down onto him, but he survives the lead, but not being doused with water immediately after, which pops him like a balloon.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Averted this time around as the Runner Xenomorph instead dies off as a result of being doused with a combination of hot molten lead and high-pressure freezing water.
  • True Love Is Boring: Pretty much stated by Vincent Ward as the reason why he (and the producers) chose to kill off Hicks, Newt, and Bishop at the start:
    Ripley's big regret is that she missed out on a personal life. She seeks some sort of strange atonement for not having had a relationship with her daughter.
  • The Quiet One: Both Junior and Gregor and to a lesser degree David.
  • Up Close with the Monster: Ripley is attacked by a Xenomorph in the Infirmary, which then proceeds to inspect her closely, inner mouth on display, before scattering without explanation as it detected that she was carrying another one of its kind.
  • Villain Decay: If anything, this installment actually inverts this trope in that it finally proves to us once and for all that you can't kill off Xenomorphs with fire, and plus, the lone Xenomorph Runner seen in this film racks up one of the highest kill counts of any single Xenomorph specimen seen throughout the whole entire franchise, period, even including the countless different Expanded Universe materials for it.
  • Villainous Breakdown: If you pay attention, you realize that the "Dragon" is having one after his lead bath as he no longer cares the Ripley is carrying a Royal Chestburster. He wants her dead.
  • Wall Crawl: The Runner Xenomorph crawls across the ceiling at various points. We are shown this when we see the POV of the Xenomorph as it's pursuing one of the convicts, and the screen suddenly takes a 180 degree turn as it climbs up a wall and onto the ceiling.
  • Wham Line: "You've got one of them in you."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The USS Sulaco is last seen drifting on through space after ejecting the escape pods with the LV-426 survivors onboard — it was originally planned to be shown partially exploding in the film, and even had a scene written for it and models allegedly built, but the sequence was scrapped before filming.note 
    • The theatrical version removed the subplot in which Golic escapes and releases the "Dragon" only to be killed off by him, and so he seems to just disappear after Dr. Clemens is killed off as well.
  • Why Isn't It Attacking?: The creature gets to Ripley, who is helpless, and... hisses, and leaves. Of course, it's because Ripley is hosting a Royal Chestburster.
  • You Are in Command Now: After the death of Mr. Andrews, somebody has to take charge of the remaining prisoners. Aaron steps up to the task, but most of the inmates balk at this idea. Dillon is offered the job, but he refuses because he doesn't consider himself the "officer type". Ripley then nominally leads the group in taking out the Alien.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Inverted in that Ripley admits she's gone a very long time without sex, but it's strongly implied, however, that she needs companionship, period, since almost everyone she knows is gone.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Halfway through the film Ripley discovers that she's carrying the embryo of a Xenomorph Queen. One way or another, she knows that she's going to die when it rips out of her and at one point even begs Dillon to kill her.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: During the climax, Dillon stalls the Xenomorph runner by remaining down in the leadworks and begging it to solely attack him as Morse and Ripley (unsuccessfully) attempt to drown the beast in molten lead.

[computer screen]
Weyland Yutani
Work Prison Fury 161
Closed And Sealed.
Custodial Presence Terminated.
Remaining Refining Equipment
To Be Sold As Scrap.

End Of Transmission.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Alien 3


Alien 3

The fanfare starts out normally, but at the end freezes to create a really unsettling Scare Chord.

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4.12 (8 votes)

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