In Ridley Scott’s Alien there was one monster. In James Cameron’s Aliens there was hundreds. That calls for a heavily armed team of marines. But who is the best of the best?
As scary as it was, Sigourney Weaver only had to deal with one monster in Ridley Scott’s Alien. For James Cameron’s sequel, poor Sigourney, playing the true Girl Power character of Ripley, had to deal with hundreds of bloody thirsty beasts.
Thankfully, she is sent to the planet that first made an appearance in Alien with a bunch of battle-hardened, well-armed marines. She’ll be safe as houses then? Think again. In James Cameron’s Aliens, which is without any doubt one of the best sequels ever made, Ripley’s buddies don’t cut the mustard. And one by one they are knocked off leaving her to pick up the pieces. As an audience we shouldn’t complain given that director Cameron gives us some of the best action-horror sequences ever filmed, but that is no excuse for a bunch of well-trained military men acting so ineptly. But let us not paint them all with the same brush. Let us divide the brave souls from the cowards. Let us count down the top 10 marines in Aliens.
10. William Gorman (Commanding Officer, Lieutenant)
Please tell me those pulse rifles don’t fire 10 millimetre explosive tip caseless standard light armor piercing rounds because if they do you just sent a bunch of good soldiers (with the exception of Dietrich) to their deaths. That’s what Commanding Officer Lieutenant William Gorman proceeds to achieve on his second combat drop. Not realising his soldiers could rupture the cooling towers and kick-start a thermo-nuclear explosion, he tells them, effectively when they are surrounded in hostile territory, to not shoot under any circumstances. Frost quips: “What the hell are we supposed to use man? Harsh language?” Unsurprisingly, practically everyone dies. Although Gorman survives longer than most of his marines, the moron doesn’t deserve his rank. As one last nail in a legacy not worth writing about on toilet paper he blows up brave Vasquez to bloody smithereens.
9. Daniel Spunkmeyer (Private)
Despite having a name that would look strangely comical even in a porn film, Spunkmeyer gets the group’s pilot killed and therefore strands his fellow space-travellers on LV-426 when he fails to realise the sticky substance on the drop ship’s loading bay is the secretion of the monsters they’ve been sent there to fight. You’d think a guy with a name like his would know all about this sort of thing…obviously not.
8. Cynthia Dietrich (Medic)
Dietrich is less a threat to the enemy, more a threat to her own men. This inept corpsman doesn’t know her trigger finger from her elbow and is singularly responsible for the death of poor Private Frost when her inability to shoot at the enemy forces her fellow soldier to take refuge three storeys down. Suffice to say neither survives.
7. Colette Ferro (Corporal, Pilot)
“Apparently she saw an alien once,” chuckles Ferro while checking out the half-naked body of Sigourney Weaver. Big mistake. Not only should she have known that Ripley was never going to fall for another woman unless her name was Lambert, joking about seeing monstrous aliens when en route to a planet full of them is not conducive to a life of playing happy families. Fittingly, Ferro goes out highlighting just why she bats for the other team. “Spunkmeyer” she says into her radio with no answer – another man in her life to let her down!
6. Ricco Frost (Private)
Frost could have been a contender. Had it not been for Dietrich hosing him in flammable liquid, sending him falling down multiple storeys to a bone-crunching, flesh-burning demise, he would have no doubt survived only to be killed in the credit sequence of Alien 3.
5. Mark Drake (Private, smart gun operator)
The mean-looking, strawberry-blond muscle-man tries his best despite poor odds, showing his bravery by going it alone when the other marines are running away. But his bravery forces him to take one risk too many and he’s overpowered. But his legacy reminds of the sacrifice he made so that others, including the young child Newt, could survive.
4. Al Apone (Sergeant)
Hindered by poor intelligence, Apone is fighting a losing battle the minute he takes his team under the cooling towers that support the artificial atmosphere on LV-426. Gorman informs the Sergeant that his marines can’t fire their pulse rifles, despite being in hostile territory. While Apone is trying to hear his dodgy radio he is attacked from behind – a death he would wish on no man. The good Sergeant is systematically alien-raped and with no weapon, or contraception, he is impregnated.
3. Jenette Vasquez (Private, smart gun operator)
Jenette Vasquez, affectionately known as John when off-duty, has bigger balls than most of her masculine buddies. The brave girl is the marine’s last line of defence when escaping the Operations room but when she runs out of bullets she is forced to use harsh language which is only good for so long. The failing leadership of Lieutenant Gorman, who, unbelievably, is still alive at this point, is shown in all its disgusting glory when he heads for Vasquez’s position in the ventilation shaft and blows her up. What a nasty piece of work.
2. William Hudson (Private, team technician)
Hudson likes to show off his tackle. Whether he’s displaying his tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, sonic electronic ball breakers or his penis, Hudson always has to be the centre of attention. The cocky marine survives the first alien attack by pretending to be hurt so as to be carried out by his friend Dwayne Hicks.
1. Dwayne Hicks (Corporal, Squad Leader)
Hicks is a legend amongst his peers. Just as brave in the face of danger as he is in the bedroom (you’d have to be to attract the amorous attentions of Ellen Ripley), Hicks survives the alien onslaught thanks to always shunting someone else in the way of any danger. The unfortunate soldier ends up a victim of David Fincher’s vindictive double murder at the beginning of Alien 3. But despite this, his legacy lives on.
Your turn – is there an unsung hero not mentioned above? Do Wierzbowski and Crowe deserve to be featured? Which film is better – Ridley Scott’s Alien or James Cameron’s Aliens
Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.
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