Bob Grimm named his dog Ripley

Until now, the high watermark for DVDs had to be the Lord of the Rings Special Editions, without argument. While Rings may still take the top prize, the new nine-disc Alien Quadrilogy boxed set will surely get some first place votes from DVD junkies. Each of the four films in the series gets a disc featuring its original theatrical version and a special edition version. Alien: The Director’s Cut, which just completed its theatrical run, has made it into the box set, and that’s a good thing. Director Ridley Scott has restored some beautiful footage, including a sequence where Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) stumbles upon an alien cocoon nest where Dallas (Tom Skerritt) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) are not having the best of times. Alien, Aliens and Alien Resurrection get full cooperation and commentaries from their directors, but David Fincher, director of the unfairly maligned Alien 3, refused to participate. In his absence, Fox has put together what they are calling “The Assembly Cut” of Alien 3, and the restored footage is remarkable, a definite upgrade to the theatrical version. As for the series, my favorite film remains Aliens, Cameron’s militaristic thriller that basically turned the series upside-down, a drastic change from Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, a lone monster creature feature. Alien Resurrection is a good film until its last half hour, where that stupid Ripley alien baby provides more guffaws than shrieks. Fincher’s contribution, Alien 3, was far better than most critics have complained, and a restored intro shows that Fincher, without the infamous studio meddling, probably would’ve produced a better film than what the public saw.Special Features: In addition to the movie discs that all contain commentaries, each film gets a separate disc containing special feature documentaries. The last of the nine discs contains yet another newly produced documentary on the series, as well as supplements that were contained on the laserdisc productions. The documentaries are manna from heaven for fans and full of discovery. High point: A supplemental feature for Alien contains a multi-angled look at the chest-bursting sequence. An outtake shows the little creature bursting from John Hurt’s chest, then scurrying across the table and pushing a salad bowl directly into the camera lens, punctuated by an ornery Scott yelling, “Cut!”

Movies: Alien (Theatrical Version: A-; Director’s Cut: A), Aliens (Both versions: A), Alien 3 (Theatrical: B-; Assembly Cut: B), Alien Resurrection (Both versions: C+)

Special Features: A+ (If I were a DVD Box Set, this is the one I’d want to be!)

Geek Factor: 10