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Beautiful Monsters:
The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To The Alien And Predator Films
David McIntee
Telos paperback £7.99

review by Alasdair Stuart

Every now and again, a film emerges fully formed and pre-wired to plug straight into the popular conscience. From the musical aliens of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to the Brechtian serial killer in Scream, there are some ideas so simple, so perfect, that they become part of the scenery of the genre they form part of. Both Alien and Predator are films like this.

David McIntee's passion for his subject matter is apparent from page one. Each film's full credits are listed along with a production history, references between them, an examination of how each film develops the mythos and a detailed post-mortem from McIntee on each one. This is a film fan's paradise, with each entry crammed full of the sort of facts that'll never quite leave your head. Did you know for example that Jean-Claude Van Damme played the predator in some shots of the original film? Or that the script for Alien Vs Predator featured an extra subplot involving John Yutani, the other founder of the all pervasive Weyland Yutani corporation?

If the book just contained factoids like these that would be impressive enough but there's so much more here. McIntee's analysis of how coherent the seven (including AVP) movies are is fascinating in itself, but it's backed up by some absolutely rock-solid film criticism. He argues passionately and convincingly that Alien in particular set the tone for decades to come and that each movie, even the much maligned Alien Resurrection has its own merits. Likewise, the role Predator played in turning the action genre on its head is intelligently argued, well enough to move both films up my 'must watch again' list.

Rounding the book off is an exhaustive breakdown of tie in merchandise, most of which is justifiably devoted to the computer games and comics. Here once again McIntee demonstrates the remarkable coherence of the series, showing how ideas from the computer games would make their way into AVP and how the years of comics published by Dark Horse fit together to form a remarkably coherent whole.

If you're looking for pretty photos from the sets of the films then this won't be for you. However, if you're a fan of the films and want to read some genuinely interesting, passionately argued and occasionally very funny insights into their evolution and the role they played then this is not to be missed. Highly recommended.
Beautiful Monsters

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