Episode 36: Aliens

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After skating the parched streets of SoCal in the last episode, Sean and Cody get shot into space for the first time since Episode 21 as they commando-drop onto desolate planet LV-426 to meet its disagreeable inhabitants. In the classic 1986 sci-fi action epic Aliens, space jockey Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) wakes up after 60 years in cold storage to find the monsters she tangled with in a previous movie have run amok on a distant planet. She joins up with a gang of misfit Marines who can’t seem to shoot straight in a “bug hunt” that becomes an apocalyptic duel with power loaders and mommy issues. Environmental issues discussed center around invasive species: what they are, how they propagate, how (and how not) to eradicate them, and whether, as some characters in this film surmise, humans are the worst invasive species of all.

Are invasive species really “invasive,” or do humans just think they are? What happens when millions of rabbits took over one of the Hawaiian islands in the 1890s? What are lampreys, why do Great Lakes fishermen hate them, and how come nothing has been done about them since the 1940s? Whatever happened to the “murder hornets” that were supposed to be invading the Northwest in the early days of the pandemic, are they still around? Why is Ripley the ultimate action hero? How did James Cameron basically build the genre of the mid-80s action movie? Why don’t the titles of the various Rambo sequels match up with one another? Which member of the cast of this film was illiterate until well into adulthood? Is this going to be a stand-up fight, or another bug hunt? All these questions and more are waiting to be nuked from orbit, because it’s the only way to be sure in this action-packed episode of Green Screen.

Original 1986 trailer for Aliens.
Early in Aliens, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) learns of her long hypersleep, and also that she apparently has PTSD after tangling with the gruesome creature in the previous film.
After a bit of bad luck and some meddling by the titular creatures, twitchy Marine Hudson (Bill Paxton) prematurely declares “Game over!” Paxton was associated with this utterance for the rest of his life, until his untimely death in 2017.
The beleaguered survivors in Aliens realize too late that some unwanted visitors are in the room with them. This specific scene is discussed late in the episode.
The final battle between Ripley and the queen alien, the iconic scene of the picture. SPOILER ALERT: this is basically the ending of the film.

Additional Materials About This Episode:

Invasive Species Generally

Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species, Commission of the European Communities report, December 12, 2008 (source of the definition of “invasive species” used in this episode):

Charles S. Elton, The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants (London: Metheun, 1958), “the book” on invasive species (Archive.org link):

Lampreys in the Great Lakes

What the channel North American Fishing would like you to know about the lamprey problem. Despite the spin put on the subject in this 2013 video, “lampricide” chemicals are not a magic bullet to deal with the issue, which continues.

Laysan (Kauo) Island and the Rabbit Invasion

U.S. Department of Agriculture/University of Iowa, “Report of an Expedition to Laysan Island in 1911,” National Agricultural Library, 1912 (Archive.org link):

Carlos Eylses, “The King of Lasysan,” Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Multi-Agency Education Project, September 17, 2002 (Archive.org link):

max schlemmer

Max Schlemmer, the German-born guano hunter whose entrepreneurial schemes effed up Laysan Island beyond all hope of repair. Schlemmer’s canned meat empire never took off; he died, working as a janitor, in 1935.

kauo island

Witness what Schlemmer wrought: this is the desolation of Laysan/Kauo Island as it appears today, post-rabbit and post-sandbur grass.

“Murder Hornets”:

The article that started the whole “Murder Hornets” thing: Mike Baker, “‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet,” The New York Times, May 2, 2020 (Archive.org link):

Conrad Bérubé, “Giant Alien Insect Invasion Averted: Canadian Beekeepers Thwart Apicultural Disaster,” American Bee Journal, February 2020:

The Movie:

Tim Pelan, “The Risk Always Lives: Words to Live By on the Set of James Cameron’s ‘Aliens,'” Cinephilia & Beyond:

Tim Pelan’s Twitter account: https://twitter.com/johnneyred

A montage of action scenes demonstrates James Cameron’s impact on the development of the genre.

Melissa Leon, “Game Over, Man: ‘Aliens” Cast Remembers the ‘Irreplaceable’ Bill Paxton on Alien Day,” The Daily Beast, April 26, 2017:

Regarding Vasquez. Richard John Ascárate, “Latino Images in Film: Stereotypes, Subversion and Resistance,” Film Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 2 (Winter 2003-04):

Regarding Lance Henriksen. “A Case of Literacy,” Ellensburg Daily Record, September 30, 1988:

Aliens (1986) on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090605/
Aliens (1986) on Letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/film/aliens/

Next Movie Up: Jaws (1975)

The still associated with Aliens is copyright (C) 1986 by Twentieth Century Fox. Its inclusion here is believed to be permissible under fair use. We are not the uploader of any YouTube clips embedded here.

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