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Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film Hardcover – September 17, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Topless Robot, October 17, 2011
“All in all, the Alien Vault is a fitting testament to a film that has not only fresh and frightening in the 30-plus years since its original release, but has rightfully become a cinematic classic.”

io9, October 20, 2011

The new book Alien Vault gives you a terrific insight into the insane amount of craftsmanship — and the craftsmanlike touches of insanity — that went into Ridley Scott's Alien. Ian Nathan's new book is a ridiculously comprehensive and beautifully assembled tribute to one of science fiction's all-time great movies.
Portland Mercury (online), November 1, 2011
For those who've watched all the Blu-rays and dug through every yellowed issue of Starlog, much of this info will be familiar, but as a total experience—combining the stories of writing, producing, shooting, and editing the film, right alongside rare and frequently striking images from its preproduction, production, and marketing phases—Alien Vault feels more unified and cohesive than previous looks at the making of the film. Here's hoping Nathan has plans for a similar book—an Aliens tome in this format feels like the obvious next step, but I'd almost rather see Nathan follow Scott to the set of his follow-up to Alien: Another damn-near perfect film, 1982's Blade Runner.
Book Legion, November 1, 2011
The vault is a hardcover book with a nice slipcase that features the iconic image of the alien egg with the green burst coming from the crack. The book opens up to reveal page after page of in-depth and detailed information about the film, along with reproductions of various affirmia and collectibles from the era. This book is without a doubt our favorite book of the fall and is a MUST have for any respectable sci-fi nerd! This one is a complete WIN!

FEAR.net, October 11, 2011
The problem with most "vaults" -- scrapbooks, if you will, offering a variety of paper ephemera devoted to a specific genre franchise -- is that the bulk of any such franchise is pretty lame. (If I'm paying top dollar for a Star Wars boutique item, I'd prefer that eighty percent of it not be devoted to prequels and spin-offs.) Fortunately for fans of Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror masterpiece, such is not the case with The Alien Vault, a handsome, lavishly illustrated slipcased book packed with concept art, designs, photos and info on the original classic (no AvP nonsense here, thank you very much). While at 176 pages I'm not sure it is, as it boasts, the "definitive story of the making of the film," it's certainly the most gorgeous; and the first vault I've seen that -- though affordably priced -- is worth every penny one puts into it. Now I just need an Aliens Vault and my life will be complete.”
SUVUDU.com, October 1, 2011
This is the single most comprehensive volume on the making of the original classic film that I’ve ever seen. Author Ian Nathan’s beautifully packaged book begins with the film’s embryonic stage to its final explosive burst into the horrified psyche of the American public. Full of exclusive interviews, never before seen script notes, photos, behind the scenes stories and more, this is the definitive guide to this groundbreaking film. I imagine that this is going to be on a lot of fans’ Christmas lists this year.”
Cinema Spy, October 8, 2011
Finally, somebody took on the task of chronicling the production, from script to final cut: author and executive editor of Empire Magazine Ian Nathan. In it, Nathan has collated interviews and anecdotes, and amassed a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes material that has rarely been seen before… and Voyageur Press’ Alien Vault is the result. How does it fare? Well, the writing is clear, concise, and makes for an entertaining and informative read, and the pages are illustrated with a good number of never-before-seen photos, paintings and screen captures. Particularly interesting is the description of how the project came to be, from the initial inspirations to the studio green light. I especially liked the on-set accounts of the filming of key scenes...”
Making the Movie (blog), October 10, 2011
Part book, part fetish object, Alien Vault lives up to its subtitle. I cannot imagine a more definitive tome on the seminal sci-fi/horror film Alien. With creature concept art by H.R. Giger, scads of intimate behind-the-scenes photos and duplicates of script pages cramped with director Ridley Scott's handwritten notes, author Ian Nathan and publisher Voyageur Press amply illustrate the making of the film.”

The Retroist, October 21, 2011
“This book I truly believe lives up to it’s title, this is the definitive source on the making of Alien. It is superbly written and I can say that for any fan of the film they need to add this book to their collection.”

YES! Weekly (print and online), October 26, 2011
“Even the most jaded and knowledgeable Alien aficionado will be amazed by the breadth and depth of research Nathan has done. The book truly is everything you ever wanted to know about Alien but were afraid (for whatever reason!) to ask. In addition to conducting extensive interviews with the film’s creative team, Nathan has also packed the volume with behind-the-scenes photographs (some never-before-seen) and a variety of inserts and enclosures, including reproductions of Ridley Scott’s storyboards, HR Giger’s conceptual art, sketches, blueprints, advertising materials and more.”

The Insider.com (CBS Television online), September 28, 2011
“As the excitement builds towards the release of Prometheus, a brand-new book on the making of Alien has arrived: Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film. Written by Empire magazine executive editor Ian Nathan, the book is a film geek's dream, with amazing, never-before-seen photos and insightful, new details about one of my all-time favorite films in crisp detail with a colorful layout. The handsome hardcover also features the added interactive element of vellum envelopes containing cool, meticulously recreated artifacts -- "show-and-tell" style sleeves containing posters, storyboards, blueprints, Giger art, a Nostromo logo sticker and much more -- to enhance the experience.
“As I sponged up page after page of revelations from the Vault, it dawned on me that with all the time I spend time web surfing, watching movies and TV, reading magazines and just being social, that I haven't actually read a book cover to cover in years. Scarier than the Facehugger itself, I know. But I broke that streak with Alien Vault, and for good reason.
“I guess in space, no one can hear you read?”
AVPGalaxy.com, September 20, 2011
“Ian Nathan writes with a passion that only a fan can. It almost felt as if I was sat across from him, talking to him and hearing the excitement in his voice as we discussed his favorite movie. If Nathan considers this a biography of Alien then he a very close friend determined to tell its story...It collates plenty of information from multiple sources (all indexed at the back of the book) and is quite probably the paper equivalent of the Quadrilogy set in that it’s detailed but not quite “definitive” yet. Ian Nathan has written with so much passion and love you can’t help but want to go pop that disc in the Blu-ray player again. If you can spare the pennies or find a good deal it’s definitely worth picking up.” (4 out of 5 stars)

About the Author

Ian Nathan, who lives and works in London, has been a film writer, producer, broadcaster, and magazine editor for twenty years. As executive editor of Empire, the world's leading film magazine, he is allowed to feed his passions on a daily basis: generating, editing, and writing articles as a thinly veiled excuse to provide the world with his opinions. Like any healthy cinema obsessive, he grew up on James Bond, Indiana Jones, and sneaking into horror movies when he was tall enough. it has grown into a magnificent obsession with everything from Hitchcock to Kurosawa, from arcane film theory to picking your favorite Harrison Ford punch. He has had the immense good fortune of traversing the globe, interviewing the great and good: watching the godlike Steven Spielberg at work, eating ice cream with Peter Jackson and a tableful of orcs, buying Sigourney Weaver breakfast, and behing hugged by both Oliver Stone and Kate Winslet, not a once. Nathan has regularly contributed to books; newspapers such as the London Times and Independent; and magazines; had a weekly radio show; and produced TV documentaries and award ceremonies. The work of Sir Ridley Scott, in particular the extraordinary Alien, has been seminal in inspiring him to what film could be, and how much there is to discover within it.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press; First edition (September 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760341125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760341124
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
'Alien Vault' is simply a handsome rehash of every 'Alien' anecdote that has been discussed umpteen times before. Although visually pleasing, and attractive in its slip case and hardcover binding, it's a disappointment in every other aspect. Author Ian Nathan has simply relied upon the 'Anthology/Quadrilogy' documentaries and earlier published interviews, review material, etc. to provide a rather uninspired retelling of tales already told. Although a bibliography is included, the text itself lacks footnotes (which is rather telling), and it appears Nathan didn't conduct even one new interview (circa 2011) with anyone involved in the making of 'Alien'. 'Alien' fans will recognize direct quotes from the BD/DVD documentaries, which, when simply retold, lack the authenticity and enthusiasm of eyewitness recollections and, as such, are completely tacky in printed form.

The 'pouches' of materials included are nice, I suppose, but nothing to get too excited about (if you want Giger prints or Nostromo patches, they're easily available on internet auction sites). The odd 'new' photo is really nothing much, either.

The most damning criticisms pertain to the errors Nathan makes. Veronica Cartwright is continually referred to as Veronica 'Cartright'; Nathan states that Jones the cat was encouraged to snarl by Ridley Scott saying 'Boo!' (we all know Scott had a dog hidden behind a screen that he revealed when he wanted the appropriate reaction from the cat); the Nostromo patch lacks initials; etc. Nitpicking? No. When your book is subtitled "The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film" it DAMN well better be definitive! 'Alien Vault' is nowhere near the definitive statement on 'Alien'.
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Format: Hardcover
Length: 1:25 Mins
Alien Vault is the movie companion to the masterpiece of Ridley Scott.

The 176-page book comes in a nice slipcase. The pages are filled with photos, artwork and some printed artefacts like Ridley Scott's annotated storyboards and other interesting stuff enclosed in vellum envelopes.

As for the content, much of the visual content were actually released in a much earlier book called The Book of Alien, just that the presentation is different. Some of the set photos are the same, as with Chris Foss' design for the Nostromo spaceship, Moebius design for the spacesuits, etc.

Alien Vault focuses on the movie production. The interviews and stories are interesting to read, especially when movies made nowadays are prone to using CGI for special effects. There are lots of insights to movie making and you can find out the little camera tricks they use. The content layout is organized, the artwork and set photos are great.

It makes more sense to get this if you've don't have the earlier book or the Alien DVDs with extras, or just new to Alien. It's 5 stars if you've not seen the content before.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his foreword to Alien Vault, author Ian Nathan recounts his first experience with Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi / horror masterpiece. Right away this book struck a chord with me, because the film planted the same hook in me at almost the same age, with a key difference - I actually saw "Alien" during its original theatrical run in the summer of 1979 at the tender age of 8. The movie mesmerized and terrorized me and I loved it (the fact that I saw the movie in the theater at such an early age is, in my mind, not the fault of poor parenting but rather attributable to parental capitulation in the face of constant nagging - post "Star Wars," I was mad for anything that hinted of space adventure or SF).

I love many films in many ways, and it's hard (and really rather pointless) to try to identify any movie as my "favorite;" but "Alien" comes as close as any. In the 32 years since its release, I've probably seen it at least 30 times; I usually watch it at least once a year. The recent release of the film and its sequels on the Blu-Ray format was a major event for me.

So, with my bona fides as an "Alien" buff established, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There are a few puzzling omissions (for example, Nathan completely ignores the fact that one of the original concepts for "Alien," a story called "B-17," was animated and then refitted with the story arc of the movie "Heavy Metal" for inclusion in that film). There may be little if any new ground broken with the book, but it would probably be hard to find any major new revelations on a three decade-old production.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must say that being a watcher of the Alien movies for the past 20-or-so years in videos, DVDs, multiple viewings on TV, I'm not really that educated in the intricate detailing of the Alien movie universe. Other than some well-known facts that four great directors directed the four movies (I won't count the AVP movies), H. R. Giger designed the original creature, and that it has gained an everlasting fandom among sci-fi fans, how the Alien movie idea came to be remained elusive for me. That is, until I read this book.

Some other reviewers said that this book contains things already discussed many, many times before elsewhere, but still for one latecomer like me remain fascinated to discover the real story of how the alien concept came to be. The book is filled with polaroids from the making of the movie. The retro feelings make you appreciate how the filmmaker went all out to make this film in the 70's. This was a time when cheesiness was still reigning and Star Wars was the new undisputed champion of blockbuster movies. They obviously took a leap faith in ushering Alien to the opposite tone of the cheery Star Wars.

The book comes with a slipcase and pouches filled with small goodies like the Nostromo logo sticker, blueprints of the spaceships, Giger's Alien designs, etc. Nice touches on the goodies, but I'm more into the book's information than these small gimmicks.

All in all, the Alien Vault is informative and inspiring without being too tedious. Though not perfect in the structuring the contents, it is a valuable resource to sci-fi fans in general, and especially the Alien xenomorph aficionados.
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