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Album Cover Art
1987 Album
2001 Album
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Greig McRitchie

Performed by:

2001 Album Produced by:
Nick Redman
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Varèse Sarabande (Original)
(October 25th, 1987)

Varèse Sarabande (Deluxe)
(May 1st, 2001)
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Both albums are regular U.S. releases.
Nominated for an Academy Award.
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Decorative Nonsense
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you have proven to be a hardened fan of James Horner's very distinct early action styles, because Aliens is the last entry in that era of harsh brass and dominant percussive rhythms.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear either originality within Horner's own career or a score that impresses outside of its fifteen or so minutes of ambitious action material.
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WRITTEN 5/12/01, REVISED 10/19/08
Aliens: (James Horner) Seven years after the highly successful Alien by Ridley Scott, an equally terrifying sequel was shot by relative newcomer James Cameron. Overcoming a somewhat limiting budget, Cameron managed to extend the concept without simply rehashing the first film's plot, gaining critical praise even if the box office didn't completely reflect the success. For the director, it was only the second popular film of his career, but for his composer of choice (with whom he had shared credit for Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars), it was one of the last in a long string of similar action and science-fiction projects. While the production was not immediately embraced by audiences, Aliens received seven Academy Award nominations, including one of two concurrent firsts for composer James Horner that year. With decades now past since their debut, both the first two Alien films continue to be regarded highly as examples of the finest horror ever to be set in the science fiction genre, putting to shame the further, degenerative sequels that attempted to steal from that success in the 1990's. Likewise, the scores for both the first two films are considered strong. The Jerry Goldsmith original was not nominated for an Academy Award, although a select few cues from that score were ultimately used by Cameron in Aliens. The Horner effort for the 1986 sequel marks the end of the many motifs of his early days of scoring, opening the way for his next stylistic choices of composition that would be typified by Willow and The Rocketeer. Perhaps related to this retirement of Horner's earliest phase, the process of working with James Cameron for Aliens turned out to be one of the most exhaustive nightmares of the composer's career.

Horner assembled the London Symphony Orchestra in an effort that would tax even the best of their abilities, as the composer and director could not see eye to eye on practically every cue's insertion in the film. While Cameron did not dismiss Horner altogether, the hacksaw methods by which Cameron seeks his directorial perfection sometimes causes the scoring of his films to be nearly impossible for any composer (except, perhaps, for Brad Fiedel, whose scores are so simplistic that some massive editing doesn't particularly harm them to any great extent). As a result of Cameron's hair-raising editing techniques, all but the opening and closing cues of Horner's score were altered, cut, replaced with Goldsmith's original, replaced by percussive rhythms written by little known composers, moved to other scenes, or chopped beyond recognition. Horner did not have the time or frame of mind to keep up with all of these changes, and although he was excited to be part of such a large budget and a potentially classic film, he walked off of the scoring stage a frustrated man. It was a bittersweet experience that would cause Horner and Cameron to dislike each other for nearly a decade, before some persuasiveness from Horner and some reluctant acceptance by Cameron would, of course, lead to a reunion on Titanic. With the monumental success of the 1997 epic ,the subject of Aliens between the two of them has smartly been dropped. Opinions about the merits of the Horner score for Aliens vary widely. Some consider it a classic of all time in the horror genre. Others consider it too repetitive of his previous scores to warrant much attention. When looking at the work from a technical standpoint, it's hard not to belong to the latter crowd, although the repetitiveness of the score is only one of its flaws.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.45 Stars
***** 408 5 Stars
**** 392 4 Stars
*** 368 3 Stars
** 187 2 Stars
* 162 1 Stars
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Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
In Futile Escape.   Expand >>
Kevin Smith - April 11, 2007, at 1:45 p.m.
2 comments  (4222 views)
Newest: April 7, 2008, at 1:32 p.m. by
Percussion only edits   Expand >>
Thulsa Doom - November 3, 2006, at 11:12 a.m.
2 comments  (3801 views)
Newest: April 7, 2008, at 1:38 p.m. by
extended score, please share!!   Expand >>
Joel - October 26, 2004, at 6:47 p.m.
3 comments  (5018 views)
Newest: February 22, 2007, at 10:12 a.m. by
Thom Jophery
JS Park - September 16, 2004, at 2:24 p.m.
1 comment  (2317 views)
Alternate Ending?   Expand >>
Derrick - July 3, 2004, at 10:48 a.m.
4 comments  (5669 views)
Newest: October 21, 2004, at 3:06 p.m. by
Mark - 224
from the Liner notes   Expand >>
Mark - 224 - May 30, 2004, at 9:22 a.m.
2 comments  (4129 views)
Newest: April 13, 2008, at 6:10 p.m. by
Kevin Smith

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1987 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 39:57
• 1. Main Title (5:10)
• 2. Going After Newt (3:08)
• 3. Sub-Level 3 (6:11)
• 4. Ripley's Rescue (3:13)
• 5. Atmosphere Station (3:05)
• 6. Futile Escape (8:13)
• 7. Dark Discovery (2:00)
• 8. Bishop's Countdown (2:47)
• 9. Resolution and Hyperspace (6:10)
2001 Deluxe Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 75:44

Notes Icon
The 1987 album includes no extra information about the film or score. The 2001 "Deluxe" edition includes lengthy notes about both.
Copyright © 2001-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Aliens are Copyright © 1987, 2001, Varèse Sarabande (Original), Varèse Sarabande (Deluxe) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/12/01 and last updated 10/19/08.
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