“We Built Every Creature” – ‘Alien: Romulus’ Goes Heavy on the Old School Practical Effects!


Four months. We’re now just four months away from the return of the Alien franchise with brand new movie Alien: Romulus, wherein director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe) will put his own personal stamp on the terrifying sci-fi saga. Disney presented some new footage at CinemaCon last night, though the footage unfortunately isn’t available online.

That being said, we do at least have some footage descriptions from various outlets that were in attendance at CinemaCon. And there’s a common thread in the many descriptions that we’ve been reading. As promised by Alvarez, Alien: Romulus is a practical effects-heavy affair!

Collider’s Steven Weintraub tweets, for starters, “The Alien: Romulus [CinemaCon] scenes are brutal and scary and exactly what I wanted. The practical effects and sets looked great.”

That Hashtag Show’s Hunter Bolding tweets, “Alien: Romulus, from the small amount of footage we were shown, looks like a return to Alien being horrifying. This is Evil Dead (2013) for the Alien series. Mean spirited, gross, and shocking. People were covering their eyes.”

Brandon Davis similarly reacts, “Footage showed facehuggers hugging faces, a violent chest emergence, and insane terror and tension. Violent. Startling. That looks insane.”

And finally, Discussing Film’s Andrew J. Salazar raves out of CinemaCon, “We just saw a whole scene from Alien: Romulus where the main crew gets attacked by a horde of face-huggers. So many of the face huggers are practical puppets. We saw another bit with a chest-burster and the entire sequence doesn’t look like it uses CGI.”

If you want a more specific description of the Alien: Romulus footage shown off at CinemaCon, head over to Discussing Film. But be aware that there are some light spoilers in there!

Here’s a brief spoiler-free snippet from Discussing Film’s coverage: “The small alien is brought to life via puppetry, with it coming out super slow and giving the audience enough time to notice the small details in its design. It’s an incredible visual that makes Alien: Romulus feel more in line with the first Alien trilogy than the recent prequels. The footage ends with a montage of other moments from the film, including our first look at the full body of an adult xenomorph, which looks like an actor in a practical suit more than an animatronic.”

Fede Alvarez spoke about the practical approach of Alien: Romulus in a chat with The Hollywood Reporter last month. He told the outlet, “For the creatures, we brought in all the guys from Aliens. They were in their early twenties when they made Aliens, and they were a part of Stan Winston’s [special effects] team. And now we had them at the top of their game. They have their own shops, and so we brought them all together to work on all the creatures, because we went with all animatronics and puppets at every level.”

I have this obsession with no green screens, so we built every creature and set,” he continued. “Everything had to be built so we were really living and breathing in these spaces. But I’m not an anti-CG guy. I still do VFX shots in my movies to this day. I’ll cut and do VFX shots on my computer, sometimes. So it’s just whatever is best for the shot, and when it comes to face-to-face encounters and moments with creatures, nothing beats the real thing.

“For the sets, we built spaceships and we built miniatures. We went back to all of that. And then we figured out ways to marry it with the CG world. There’s some things that only CG can do for the scope and movement. So it really has to be the right tool for the shot. Ideally, you should never feel like you’re watching CG. Ideally, there should be nothing there where the audience goes, ‘Well, that was clearly CG.’ It should always feel practical, but I prefer practical because I want to see it when I’m there [on set].”

Alien: Romulus will be released only in theaters on August 16, 2024.

In the new movie, “While scavenging the deep ends of a derelict space station, a group of young space colonizers come face to face with the most terrifying life form in the universe.”

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