TOO MUCH IS never enough. If you're going to charge DVD buyers a premium for material that, in digital form, costs mere pennies to make, you'd better pack in every possible byte and bit of information. That's the approach Fox has taken to this essential-for-fans doorstopper collection, debuting Dec. 2, which presents the four Alien movies on nine discs with 45 hours of extras. Wanna learn what kind of abattoir scraps Ridley Scott packed inside the pulsing alien pod? It's here. Or how the John Hurt chest-bursting scene was done? Ditto. And who the guy was inside the original alien suit? You got it. (To spoil the suspense, it was Bolaji Badejo, a 7-foot-2-inch Masai art- college student in his only film role.)
Each title is presented in two versions: original theatrical release and the director's cut. Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet comment on movies one, two, and four, respectively; David Fincher (three) is conspicuously absent, so the extended version is really a studio recut. Since the '79 and '86 chapters are far superior to the follow-ups, most viewers will want to hear from Scott and Cameron. The latter, despite his "king of the world" rep for egomania, seems pretty reasonable, a veritable info geek eager to babble about lenses, scale models, and variable-speed cameras used in the service of what he calls "the Alamo told with six people." Bill Paxton is among many who join him on the patched-together chat track apparently all volunteers, as Paxton grouses good-naturedly of his audio contribution, "I got a beer out of it."
By contrast, Sigourney Weaver is more of a champagne girl. She talks only a little, and only with Scott on Alien's multiparty commentary. She divulges her original hope for romance with the alien, "like Beauty and the Beast," and is coy about prospects for a fifth picture. "There is an appetite. . . . I have wanted to go back in space, because Earth is so grim." But she and Scott agree that the best future scenario for the franchise would be to visit the aliens' home planettalk about grim!
THE EXTRAS TOTAL considerably less than 45 hours on a reissue of Escape From New York (Dec. 16), a cult fave that we'll soon review. On the same date, teens will dig Freaky Friday (with an ace comic turn by Jamie Lee Curtis). Also look for Samantha Morton in the rather uncompromisingly cold Morvern Callar and Tobey Maguire in the Oscar long shot Seabiscuit.