Director Terry Gilliam apparently does not think too highly of one of sci-fi's all-time movie masterpieces -- in fact, he turned down the chance to make a sequel.
The movie in question is Alien, and in an interview with RogerEbert.com, Gilliam expressed his disappointment with the 1979 horror/sci-fi classic, which kickstarted the careers of both director Ridley Scott and star Sigourney Weaver while giving the world one of film's most iconic monsters.
Asked for his thoughts on the franchise, the director of the new and legally troubled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote offered:
"Alien is just a ghost train where something jumps out and you don’t know who’s going to die next. When I watched the first Alien, all I kept saying was, ‘Just kill them all and be done with it,’ because you just know that they’re all going to die along the way. In the end, Sigourney Weaver, who we’ve established is a really tough military officer, is running around in her underwear trying to find a cat. Give me a f**king break."
Gilliam also felt that while Scott took great pains to avoid showing viewers too much of the xenomorph for most of the movie, he kind of blew it at the end of the film:
"There are some great moments in it, but the shot that should’ve never been in the film is the one at the end showing the alien getting blown out of the airlock. You see the alien, and it’s just a guy in a rubber suit. Up until then, you only saw bits of the alien, and it seemed to be huge and vast and terrifying. That was so clever. It was like the shark in Jaws. I told Ridley, ‘You don’t want that shot of the alien at the end. Cut it!’"
Strangely enough, despite his lack of enthusiasm for the original movie (we don't know what he thinks of James Cameron's Aliens), Gilliam had a shot at directing one of the sequels himself... and turned it down:
"I got offered an Alien sequel because I was hot at that time, as a result of Time Bandits and Fisher King, and I just don’t want to do films like that. They are factory jobs, working for a studio. My last factory job was on the Chevrolet assembly plant in Los Angeles, during my junior year of college, night shift on the line. Never again.”
Based on the timing (The Fisher King came out in 1991), it's likely that Gilliam was offered a chance to direct Alien 3, a movie with such a problematic development process that it almost drove its eventual director -- a young video hotshot named David Fincher -- from the business before he went on to become the guy who made Seven, Fight Club, and many more great films.
As for Gilliam, he ended up making a sci-fi classic of his own a few years later with 12 Monkeys in 1995, so that ended well too. But his blunt comments about Alien -- coming from a filmmaker who's made some other highly opinionated remarks in the past few months -- aren't likely to endear him to fans of Ridley Scott's legendary film.
Do you agree at all with Gilliam's views on Alien? Could he have been the right director for Alien 3 if he'd decided to do the picture after all?