There were plenty of commissioned and spec scripts written for unmade Alien and Predator sequels, but did you know Hellboy screenwriter Peter Briggs wrote an Alien vs. Predator movie in 1991?
Briggs’ spec script The Hunt: Alien vs Predator would be an adaptation of the Darkhorse comics, which the two AVP films ignored for the most part. Taking place off-world and in the future, what fans had hoped to see but didn’t get.
The script written in 1991 was originally put together when Peter got tired of his career as a camera operator and wanted to dip his toes into screenwriting. Sending in his spec script to Predator producer Joel Silver thinking it would lead to rewrite work, the studio took interest in it and asked him to write a second draft.
The main beats of the film would focus on a clan of predators using random worlds as hunting grounds for xenomorphs, seeding them with eggs they have on their ship, excluding ones with queen face huggers. Their leader nicknamed Broken Tusk (also known in the comics as Dachande) keeps a queen in the batch as they unleash them upon on the jungle planet Ryushi, which is much more lush and inhabited than LV-426.
The planet is a communications outpost manned by a small group of colonists.
In the comics, this location was a desert planet with a colony, not unlike the Mars settlement that was seen in Total Recall.
Ryushi was a ranching planet at the edge of the Chigusa Corporation’s holdings in the Beta Cygni system. It was very hot during the day, making it hard for vegetation, as well as all other living beings, to survive. The entire planet was a huge desert with some canyons. The planet had two suns, too, so finding a shadow was hard during the day. The days on Ryushi lasted 33 hours, 19 of which were double-sunned. It was barely inhabitable.
Instead of just attaching themselves to humans, the face huggers also have indigenous animals as hosts as well. Breeding new types of aliens, including a very imposing rhino-like version and other types based on the different animals on Ryushi.
It’s also an interesting way to increase the number of xenomorphs without having a huge amount of colonists.
The variety of xenomorphs was first established with David Fincher’s Alien 3, as a face hugger uses an ox or dog as a host (depending on the cut you’ve watched) making the new xenomorph look and move in a very different way from ones with human hosts.
Hiroko Noguchi ( a reworking of comic book heroine Machiko Noguchi), an administrator at the comms outpost, is the protagonist of the script. Her eventual self-sacrifice to save fellow colonists by putting herself in the path of an attacking xenomorph earns the respect of Broken Tusk and by the end of the film, he is adopted into the predator clan.
At the end of the day, it’s a simple script and could have been very fun compared to the two movies we ended up with. The action sequences were very ambitious and might have been costly at the time when CGI was still in its early stages. However, with a smooth rewrite, it could have been great in the right director’s hands.
You can read more details of the script here.
Originally, the predator-alien-hybrid was only going to be hinted at, but a later version would instead want the film focus mostly around that cross-breed xenomorph as confirmed by Briggs. It would become the primary creature in the extremely forgettable AVP: Requiem.
One of the things that started the crumbling of Briggs’ script being used in future incarnations was when Roland Emmerich attached to the project, who would toss Briggs’ script and considered developing his own with longtime writing partner Dean Devlin. Emmerich was pursued on the heels of 1992’s summer release Universal Soldier, which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren.
For whatever reason, things didn’t come together and the project fell apart.
This is somewhat confirmed by a scanned magazine article from 1992 posted by AVPGalaxy.
If you didn’t already know, Jean-Claude has a direct connection to the Predator franchise, as he was originally cast as the predator only to be replaced with larger actor Kevin Peter Hall. Arnold Schwarzenegger would keep in touch with JCVD, as he visited the set of Universal Soldier.
Keep in mind, this was way before things like Independence Day or Godzilla. Roland was best known for the science fiction action flick Moon 44. The film took a bulk of its cues and visuals from James Cameron’s Aliens and included actor Brian Thompson. Thompson got his first break thanks to a small role in Cameron’s Terminator.
Years later Roland and Dean would create their own alien vs. humans film set on a distant desert planet with Stargate.
You can maybe understand why Fox would consider him for the gig, after the nightmare development/production and backlash from Alien 3 it seemed like Alien 4 wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Looking at a writer-director with a writer partner seems like a good situation after all that craziness. Fox was seriously considering moving forward with Alien vs. Predator instead of a fourth Alien film, which they would later reconsider with Alien: Resurrection in 1997.
But, I’m still relieved that Emmerich never got to play in the sandbox.
A second incarnation was written by The Negotiator‘s James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox in 2002, which was another adaptation of the comics, Predator producer Jon Davis rejected it too. DeMonaco is best known for his successful Purge franchise that he writes and directs for Blumhouse. This version would be the first to exclude the female lead originally written in The Hunt.
“A man becomes a Predator after discovering a crashed Predator ship. His team of researchers uses the Alien eggs to create an environment of conflict to lure the Predators back to study their technology and prolong his life.”
It’s possible producers and Fox kept rejecting these scripts based on the comic book incarnations due to the fact comic book films at the time weren’t entirely successful. Although, men with Predator-tech sounds a lot like the Predator sequel that Robert Rodriguez wrote.
Davis among other producers seemed hellbent on a crossover film set on Earth. Sigourney Weaver had been against seeing xenomorphs on Earth when she returned for Resurrection. The third act had originally been set on Earth with xenomorphs, and Weaver made them change it before she agreed to reprise the role of Ripley.
Davis and the others, of course, would get their way eventually.
Paul W.S. Anderson‘s third and horrible final take would absorb some elements from Briggs’ script which included predators creating a xenomorph outbreak and a female human being earning a spot in the predator clan. A female protagonist was also put back in.
Except, the PG-13 film would have a contemporary Earth setting (promoted by producers like Jon Davis), a stupid move as it took away from the interesting futuristic off-world settings from the Alien franchise that would have complimented the established crossover mythology in both the comics and video games.
Anderson’s version felt like some oddball love letter to John Carpenter’s The Thing meets Michael Mann’s The Keep and Roger Corman’s Galaxy of Terror (James Cameron created sets and effects). AVP, H.P Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, The Keep and Galaxy of Terror would also seemingly influence Prometheus years later.
Thinking about how this film could have been shot in 1992-1994, I’ve come to a conclusion someone could have made this more than just a “Frankenstein Meets Dracula” picture.
I personally would have loved to see Fox reach out to someone like Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, who proved with Robocop and Total Recall that with a big splash of satire a well made schlocky sci-fi action premise can turn out very entertaining and fun.
I feel like a communications outpost seems dull on paper, but if Paul had the colonists engaged in frontier habits like gambling and sex, TV monitors scattered across the outpost airing super crazy futuristic TV shows and satirical media reports, along with corporate propaganda all over the installation it would have made for an interesting take on the Alien universe for sure.
It’s regrettable that we never got to see this with Hadley’s Hope in Aliens, what that colony looked like from a day-to-day basis, we only got the aftermath of the outbreak. A slight glimpse from the director’s cut, but we didn’t get to see the shit hit the fan due to budget/time limitations.
Verhoeven’s schedule would have worked too, as Basic Instinct was released in 1992 and Showgirls wouldn’t be released for another three years in 1995. Hypothetically, he could have directed this film and made it work with some creative rewrites. Then again, Paul had repeatedly stated his disdain for science fiction.
Paul would jump back into the genre again six years later with another satirical sci-fi action romp Starship Troopers, which shot at the same studio space while Alien: Resurrection and James Cameron’s Titanic were also in production.
Robocop and Troopers saw female characters (Lewis and Dizzy) on the frontline and on an equal playing field as their male counterparts. He also cast Latina actress Rachel Ticotin as the main heroine Melina in Total Recall. So, we have to assume that Paul would have been game for an Asian female lead in Alien vs. Predator.
Total Recall‘s script had been written by Alien screenwriters Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, it wouldn’t have been so terrible if they had taken a crack at rewrites since they knew this world and helped create it. It should be noted that Alien was really just a horror reworking of O’Bannon and John Carpenter’s Dark Star script.
Producer Joel Silver could have even asked Lethal Weapon‘s Shane Black to take a crack at rewrites since he almost did script work on Predator before taking a role in the film instead. Another writer that could maybe have added some flare to the dialog and perhaps give a little more weight to supporting characters.
Others that would have fit nicely into the mix include Near Dark and Point Break director Kathryn Bigelow, who was still open to making genre films in the 90s. While she attempted making Wolverine and The X-Men, it’s possible that James Cameron would have talked her out of it making the crossover. Cameron being quite vocal about his disdain for the idea likely would have chipped away on the positives. Kathryn would eventually tackle science fiction on her own with Strange Days written by James Cameron.
According to Briggs, he imagined actresses Joan Chen (Twin Peaks, Judge Dredd, Tales From The Crypt, Marco Polo) and Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World, True Lies, Rising Sun, Showdown In Little Tokyo) in the role of Hiroko Noguchi.
This would have been at the height of Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat’s cult international hero status, so studios might have been open-minded about having an Asian lead. Depending on the director and who they were able to get in supporting roles.
If Predator producer Joel Silver (Road House, Executive Decision, Die Hard, Last Boy Scout, Lethal Weapon) had stayed on as a producer, I could have seen him consider actors like Patrick Swayze, Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson for the role of head mechanic Don Kamen.
Kamen’s role could have been beefed-up to be similar to Hicks.
Swayze was wanted to lead Predator 2 but got injured on the set of Road House, putting him out of the running.
Patrick had also originally been cast in the role of Douglas Quaid in the first incarnation of Total Recall for Aussie director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy), but it folded when the original production company went bankrupt. Arnold Schwarzenegger had Carolco Pictures purchase the script as a package for himself to star.
Having a Hollywood sci-fi action film led by Asian actress would have been progressive at the time, and it’s shame the studio never took the concept seriously. Ending up with a cheaper and less creative alternative.
What do you think of an Alien vs. Predator film almost being made in the early 90s?