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Feature:

Join the party

We report from the Prague set of the highly-anticipated monster team-up, starring Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan

One of the few highlights of the 1990 film Predator 2, sequel to 1987ís Predator, was a chance to see inside the Predator ship, where an Alien skull happened to make an unexpected cameo appearance. The sight of the Alien skull elicited a strong reaction from fans of the Alien and Predator film series who have been waiting more than a decade for the dream pairing of the two cinematic creatures. On the cold outskirts of Prague, under the enthusiastic and watchful eye of writer-director Paul Anderson, the battle is taking place. My friends, Alien vs Predator is here.

On the Prague set of Alien vs Predator, a series of sound-stages are set up to double for an archaeological dig site in the frozen Antarctic. A group of scientists, led by billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), have descended upon the location in pursuit of the dying Bishopís quest for immortality. Itís the present day, roughly 150 years before the events of Alien and the first appearance of Sigourney Weaver as the iconic Science Fiction heroine Ellen Ripley. This Bishop isnít a robot Ė he is a man. When Bishopís crew dig under the ice, they discover the ancient ruins of a pyramid. Within its dark catacomb they find carvings that tell of an ancient civilization ruled by the Aliens and the Predators. And now that the creatures have been reawakened, the creatures are ready to kill everyone in sight Ė and each other especially.

For Anderson, one of the key elements in making Alien vs Predator was to study the work of his predecessors, most notably Ridley Scott and James Cameron. Andersonís homework led the writer-director to conclude that the Aliens and the Predators are most terrifying when theyíre not on screen as much. ďI timed Predator and the first two Alien films and itís amazing how long it takes for the creatures to appear on the screen,Ē says Anderson. ďThe monster in Predator doesnít fully appear until about an hour into that film and itís the same for Alien and Aliens. In Alien, the face-hugger didnít appear until the 45 minute mark in the film and in Aliens, the action doesnít really begin, in the directorís cut, until an hour into the film. In studying those films, I think the reason those films were the best Ė and the other films like Predator 2 and Alien 3 werenít as good Ė was the fact that the audience had to wait. The creatures are scarier when youíre waiting to see them. You make the audience wait and the terror just builds and builds and thatís one of the reasons Alien and Predator were so effective. The scene with Tom Skerritt and the flame-thrower in Alien is excruciating because you donít know when the Alien will attack. This is the strategy Iíve adopted with Alien vs Predator

by David Grove

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Photo © 20th Century Fox
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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