“That one was so weird to make because, as we shot at Pinewood Studios in England, we’d show up on set and blast the crap out of these roaring Aliens all day, shooting them left and right, explosions, the works and then at the stroke of ten and four an old lady would push this tea trolley around, and all the Marines and all the guys playing the Aliens would take their costumes off and have cups of tea and scones.”
– Bill Paxton

“I was the scared, hysterical Marine in ‘Aliens,’ and I thought I had pushed the part too far. I came back home after that and just slid into this well of depression. I decided that I wasn’t going to be an actor anymore.”
– Bill Paxton

Sequel to Ridley Scott’s terrifying and claustrophobic Alien, Aliens brings back Ripley, sole survivor of the first film (except for Jones, the cat), teams her up with a squad of badass Marines and a sleazy Company man, and sends her back to face the aliens one more time. This time there are more aliens, more battles, more firepower, more of everything. It’s relentless roller-coaster of a film that doesn’t let up until the closing credits roll.

I loved this movie even before I saw it. I had loved Alien, and the idea of a sequel by the maker of The Terminator had me jumping for joy. Nor was I in the least disappointed—this is one of the few films I’ve ever seen that not only lived up to its hype, but left it lying in the dust. And it was the first film that really brought Bill Paxton to my attention. He is a firecracker as the irrepressible Pvt. Hudson, by turns swaggering, complaining, and cowering in fear, tossing out one-liners like precision grenades, exemplifying one of Bill’s great strengths as an actor: his willingness to throw himself headlong into a role, and to take it to its logical limits. He is the Ultimate Badass.

His first appearance in the film is in his boxer shorts, as he and the other Colonial Marines awake from their freezer units on the Sulaco. (And the first words out of good ol’ Hudson’s mouth are to complain about how cold the floor is.) Bill has some great fake tattoos in this movie—first time I noticed them, I was hoping they were real, but no such luck. If you like a man in uniform, Hudson’s got the camo, the body armor, the high-tech weaponry dripping off him, the injuries and grime of battle.

I love Hudson. Sure, he can be a pain in the butt, but he does it with such exuberance that it’s hard to be really annoyed with him. I wish he had more screen time (and he does get a few extra scenes in the 25th Anniversary Special Edition of the movie), but he does have a substantial role, and makes his presence felt in every scene he is in.

I give this one, oh, a dozen stars. And I think I’ll go watch it again right now. “Game over, man!”

Dead or Alive?