ALIEN WAR promises as many thrills as a rollercoaster; but perhaps the most surprising thing about this officially-approved adventure inspired by the Alien movies is that is started not in Los Angeles, New York or even London, but in the erstwhile City of Culture. Alastair Mabbott shouldered a pulse-riﬂe to investigate.
blacked out for a while back there. and when they got me back on my feet I didn’t even recognise where I was. A military base, mining installation, early stages of a colony? Whatever, it’s the back end of the galaxy, no doubt
There’s obviously been some kind of skirmish here, but in all this smoke and the clamour of alarms and pulse-riﬂes it’s hard to see exactly what’s going on. I know that there’s a marine ahead, trying to lead us all out safely, but I don’t reckon on his chances, or ours. Can’t even tell exactly how far under the surface we are.
Now, something’s towering above us in the darkness ahead. Something eerie, forbidding, sleek — unmistakably alien. As a strobe glints off that long domed head — four feet from end to end if it’s an inch — memory returns in one brutal wrench. We’re in combat zone, all right. And I remember just what we’re up against . . .
‘It’s like an extension of going to the pictures,’ begins Gary Gillies, co-director of Alien War, the latest occupant of Glasgow’s Arches exhibition space, back in the relative safety of his office. ‘Except this time the public won’t be sitting in their seats. They’re going to experience what it’s like to be in there and actually experience the tension.’
‘The tension’, that is, of being trapped in a conﬁned space with several of the resilient monsters from Ridley Scott’s horror science fiction landmark Alien, its masterful James Cameron-directed sequel, Aliens, and the new Alien 3, due to reach these shores in
6 The List 10 — 23 April 1992
Gary Gillies and John Gonnan
July. Huddles of ten visitors at a time will be shepherded through the grimy, claustrophobic complex the Alien War crew has constructed in the suitably atmospheric Arches, dodging attacks by creatures straight off the Devil’s drawing board.
At the stage I see the construction, some two weeks before the opening, it’s still unﬁnished, but its makers’ dedication to detail and faithfulness to the atmosphere of the movies is clear. Some of the walls are still bare, the lighting provisional, but my imagination can fill in the rest. And imagination, Gillies and his partner John Gorman point out later on, is the key.
Twenty-seven-year-old John Gorman began accumulating Alien props after
‘lt’s like an extension at going to the pictures. . . except thistimethe public won’t be sitting in their seats.’
sneaking in under-age to see the film when it was first released.
‘There was a friend of mine reading the novel at the time, and he would come up every day,’ Gorman remembers, ‘and he would read so many chapters and fill me in on what was happening in the story. The whole thing fascinated me.’
Soon, he reached the point where memorabilia like books and film stills just weren’t enough, and Gorman turned to the resourcefulness that. years later, brought Alien War to fruition. ‘I got a unit list of
everyone who worked on the film. And I called them all up.’
Over the years, he has acquired such items as an alien egg and the face-hugging, embryo-laying parasite it disgorges, a wristwatch and harpoon gun used by
Sigourney Weaver, trousers and hat worn by ;
Harry Dean Stanton and a space suit, complete with helmet. And he hasn’t stopped yet.
‘One thing I’m getting this week is the tripod that they set up in the egg chamber to lower John Hurt down,’ he says, and while this obsession does seem to be verging on the fanatical, he and Gillies want to impress that they’re not like ‘these nutty folk that walk about dressed up’.
Gillies, a session trumpeter who also runs a small leisure firm, and Gorman, a graduate of RSAMD (where he studied stage management and TV) who has worked on pop promos, commercials and Big Star In A Wee Picture’s Halfway To Paradise, met about five years ago and began work on a film script. When they heard that the GFI‘ was showing a double bill of the Alien films, they set up a display of Gorman’s props, which got an enthusiastic response from the fans. ‘Wouldn’t it be great,’ the pair thought, ‘if, instead ofjust looking at the