Posted: 10/31/2011


The Alien Vault


by Ian Nathan

Reviewed by Ruben R. Rosario

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Ian Nathan’s The Alien Vault touts itself as the definitive story of Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien. One small glance at this book and it’s easy to say that it encapsulates Alien as a piece of film history as well rivaling any behind the scenes features on any DVD or Blu-Ray. The book is broken down into five simple chapters, Birth, Nostromo, Perfect Organism, Ripley and Legacy. In each of these sections, Nathan explores just about every single facet of the creation of the film, from exterior elements such the impact of Star Wars, all the way to H.R. Giger’s approach to designing the creature we all know and love. Ian Nathan’s The Alien Vault is an absolute must own for any Alien fan or for any person that is interested in the behind the scenes of filmmaking.

Every single page in The Alien Vault is a treasure trove of information for Alien. Whether its a photo of the production, production design images or Ridleygrams of the film, there’s more than enough visually in this book to keep one turning the pages. Nathan’s writing comes off as a definite fan of the film and yet as enthusiastic as Nathan’s writing is, he does a wonderful job at being objective and as well as informative. Another great element of the book are the small production materials that are cool extras themselves. There’s everything from a blueprint of the Nostromo to original drawings of the Space Jockey by Giger himself. The books presentation shines with its extra goodies and slides right into its hard slip case. With all of the details contained within the book, it feels really nice as a culmination of all things Alien, within such a special printed package.

The book does a wonderful job at detailing the history of the film, from the ground up. Nathan uses great interview material, tons of archival pictures and documents to cover the films roots. One of the wonderful things that the book covers about filmmaking, is the process of collaboration. Alien just didn’t come from the mind of Ridley Scott, but from many great talents of Dan O. Bannon and Ron Shusett as the writing team, producers Walter Hill, David Giler and Gordon Carroll, as well as H.R. Giger as a production designer for many facets of Alien. The book speaks of the struggles they had making the film, the pay off that came with it, the problems that come with collaboration and the claustrophobic principal photography. In the end it was all worth it and because of it, Alien was born and Ian Nathan was able to put it to text in this awesome book as a great piece of film history.

This book is a definite must buy and I would recommend it to everyone, not just Alien fans, but even people that were interested in film production in general. Nathan’s enthusiasm shows for the seminal sci-fi masterpiece and is a perfect candidate to have written this book. This book comes out right on time from Voyageur Press and 20th Century Fox. Ridley Scott’s sequel to the film, Prometheus, comes out next year and Ian Nathan’s The Alien Vault is just the right thing to get one caught up and excited about it. Highly Recommended!

Ruben R. Rosario is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He’s an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.

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