With ‘Alien’ back in theaters, ‘Alien: Romulus’ director teases how the new film connects

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This image released by 20th Century Studios shows a scene from "Alien: Romulus." (20th Century Studios via AP)

Ridley Scott’s “Alien” is back in theaters Friday for its 45th anniversary and to get audiences excited about the new installment coming in August.

The Alien franchise has sunk its teeth into different genres over the years, but for “Alien: Romulus,” filmmaker Fede Álvarez wanted to take it back to its roots: Horror.

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“It’s a return to form,” Álvarez told The Associated Press. “At its core, at its heart, it’s a horror thriller.”

The original two films were formative for Álvarez, known for the 2013 “Evil Dead” reboot and the 2016 horror “Don’t Breathe.” He recalled a “primal memory” of watching them on VHS and feeling like he was watching an R-rated Star Wars.

“It was a world that felt familiar, that I thought I knew, but it was going into way more adult and scary places,” he said.

Though he was a bit too young to see “Alien” in its first run, he got a peek at the new print coming to theaters and said it looks “incredible.” Showings will also include a conversation between Alvarez and Scott.

The new film (opening Aug. 16) is set around the time of “Alien” and “Aliens,” focusing on a group of 20-somethings, including Cailee Spaeny, David Jonsson and Isabela Merced, looking to escape their dull lives in a mining colony. But of course, it comes with some complications from that terrifying creature who likes to lurk in the corners.

He enlisted a lot of the behind-the-scenes creatives and concept artists who worked on the Scott and James Cameron films to help get the look right. Sometimes, they were excited to use new technologies that weren’t available in the 1970s and 80s. And other times, they realized the old school way is still the best way. Case in point: Álvarez said a big question was how they were going to get the set to melt when it’s hit with the alien’s blood.

“It’s not an easy CG thing to create,” he said. “It's like it has to be practical.”

Luckily, special effects expert and creature creator Alec Gillis was there to help.

“He was like, ‘I’ve done it many times. I’ll show you how,’” Álvarez said.

His secret? Styrofoam and acetone.

Scott has seen “Alien: Romulus,” by the way, and has given it his blessing.

“He was the first person to see it, out of my circle. As soon as it was ready I showed it to him,” Álvarez said. “He walked in the room and said, ‘what can I say? Fede, it’s (expletive) great.’ It was the best day of my life.”

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