Episode 50: Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)

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DIMINISHING RETURNS: A comedy podcast about movie sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots. Hosted by Allen and Chris. WARNING: Contains Scottish accents and spoilers.

 

In This Episode:

In celebration of the shows half century episode tally it felt like the right time to look at one of the greatest sequels of all time, Aliens (1986) – which happens to be Chris’s favourite movie,  and the movie that kicked of the whole franchise, Alien (1979).

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In Space No One Can Hear You Scream:

Now, on this show, Ridley Scott has come under fire for his latter day tampering with the franchise and his disappointing prequels, in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, but Alien is a stone cold classic. Released in the immediate aftermath of the Star Wars phenomenon at the tailend of the 1970’s. With the public’s appetite whetted for more science fiction cinema movie studios were more than happy to get on board and fund projects. However it’s hard to know if 20th Century Fox new what they were in for when Walter Hill’s Brandywine Productions hired Ridley Scott to direct Alien, from Dan O’Bannon’s heavily rewritten script. The original working title of Star Beast would be changed, O’Bannon choosing Alien due to the frequency of the words use in the screenplay. With O’Bannon and, producing partner/co screenwriter, Ronald Shusett on the verge of signing a deal with Roger Corman’s studio a happy accident brought the script to Brandywine, a production team with links to major studio 20th Century Fox.

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H.R. Geiger’s Necronomicon IV

Where George Lucas had created a colourful adventure, stuffed with outlandish and weird characters, which owed a huge debt to episodic pulp serials of the 1930’s and 40’s, Scott created, with significant aesthetic input from H.R. Geiger, a dark horror movie on board a spaceship. Riffing on the paranoid Sci-Fi of the 1950’s Alien would play like Jaws in space as the blue collar crew of the Nostromo face off against a merciless killing machine. Alien’s brooding atmosphere and deliberate pacing would ratchet the tension and a feeling of dread in the silent isolation of space, where no-one can hear you scream.

Although completely different in tone to the space opera created by Lucas Alien would profit from the public’s desire for science fiction pictures and would become a global success, both critically and commercially. However it’s hard to know just how much money it made at the box office due to creative Hollywood style accounting practices. With Fox claiming to have lost over $2 million on the film. Regardless, the cultural impact of Alien cannot be overstated. The movie would kickstart a franchise and spawn tie-in novels, comic books, video games and toy lines. Most importantly it gave the world a strong, capable female lead character in Ellen Ripley, launching Sigourney Weaver to superstardom and tying her inextricably to the franchise.

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This Time It’s War:

Franchise cinema is so prevalent in the modern world that it is odd to consider a time when an actor would not automatically be signed up for any potential sequels, prequels or spin-offs a movie might generate. Or that a successful movie would have subsequent installments. That was the scenario with the sequel to Alien.

 

With the follow up delayed while Brandywine and Fox resolved their issues regarding the film’s profits it would be almost ten years before Aliens would hit screens. A pre-Terminator James Cameron was hired by Fox to write sequels for First Blood and Alien, after passing on making Sparticus in Space, and with some time on his hands due to the production on Terminator being pushed back, to allow Arnold Schwarzenegger to film Conan the Destroyer. With Sylvester Stallone choosing to rewrite Cameron’s take on the second Rambo film, changing the titular hero from a battle damaged vet into an unkillable, gung-ho, Reagan-era, jingoist, Cameron was able to retool aspects of his version of that script for Aliens incorporating PTSD as an aspect of Ripley’s character, and to underpin her motivation. Writing Aliens, with a photo of Sigourney Weaver pinned to his wall, Cameron was keen to focus on the damage done to her psychologically in surviving her first encounter with the alien.

 

No-one, however, had thought to sign on Weaver for the second film. With the producers refusing to pay her agents asking fee, they instructed Cameron to write her out of the movie. The young director held fast, saying that Weaver’s attachment to the project had been one of the main reasons he took the job, and at his insistence Fox paid Weaver $1 million to return as Ripley. With the success of the film, and her performance earning Weaver an Academy Award nomination, she became a truly bankable star able to open movies.

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What makes both of these films successful? In each case the plots are pretty thin and if both handled differently could have just become forgettable B-Movie shlock made in the wake of Star Wars. However, in treating the material intelligently, investing in the concept and giving depth to the characters and the world they inhabit are just some of the reasons these films work. Of course in both cases we have incredibly artful, talented directors working with casts of hugely talented character actors. Some fateful planetary alignments were at play too, from O’Bannon meeting Geiger during the aborted Dune movie to Cameron having to wait for Arnie and stumbling into Aliens while saying no to the Space age Sparticus remake.

And in the case of the sequel telling its own story in its own way, never rehashing what we’d already seen, and pushing the character in a new, but logical, direction opens out this world and gives us that rarest of beasts. A sequel that betters the original, and when that original film is Alien that’s no mean feat.

 

We are an independent podcast, so remember please subscribe, rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. Have friends that like cult films and can understand Scottish accents? Send them a link to the show. We rely on you spreading the word.

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The sequel we are all really waiting for!

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How did we do? Did we miss something, get something wrong or is there a franchise you’d like us to cover? Let us know. Comment below or email diminishingpod@gmail.com

 

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Episode 49: Swimming in Pod-Cash

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DIMINISHING RETURNS: A comedy podcast about movie sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots. Hosted by Allen and Chris. WARNING: Contains Scottish accents and spoilers.

In This Episode:

In between ‘proper’ episodes (where we delve into a particular film or franchise) we’ll be doing bonus episodes where we talk about wider trends in sequel culture, sequel news, new trailers and whatever the hell we like.

 

In the spare minutes between counting their cash and buying yachts, Allen and Chris make time to talk about sequels and stuff along the way there are Backdraft sequel rumors, a look at the highs and lows of Barry Sonnenfeld, obscure football trivia and a discussion on Podcasting as a viable career option.

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We also get in to “sexy” Dumbledore and the decision to out him and how that may be played, or ignored, in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel.

Chris also did a little research for a joke and rediscovered a Stan Lee creation that will never make it to the MCU, not matter how ambitious their crossovers get, in our  #MeToo world. Stan Lee thinks Stripperella “is for everybody“. This was created in the 21st century people FFS!

Plus we mention killer robots and exploding heads. This episode has it all!

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Trailer Talk:

Mary Poppins Returns:

Avengers: Infinity War:

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald:

We are an independent podcast, so remember and subscribe, rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. Have friends that like cult films and can understand Scottish accents? Send them a link to the show.

COMING SOON ON DIMINISHING RETURNS: Episode 50. Alien and Aliens.

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How did we do? Did we miss something, get something wrong or is there a franchise you’d like us to cover? Let us know. Comment below or email diminishingpod@gmail.com

 

Episode 48: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life

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DIMINISHING RETURNS: A comedy podcast about movie sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots. Hosted by Allen and Chris. WARNING: Contains Scottish accents and spoilers.

In This Episode:

This month sees the release of the Tomb Raider reboot with Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft so it’s a perfect time to look back at the Angelina Jolie starring duo of films, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider: Cradle Of Life. For a video game franchise built, partly, on the pneumatic physique of the main protagonist, it was natural for there to be some debate about the physical attributes of the actor selected to bring Lara to life on screen. Time and progress would have removed that issue we would hope, but it seems Tomb Raider 2018 is still mired in this topic.

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This asshole!

We’re sure that for those in the Tomb Raiding business biceps are more important than boobs, but I guess you can’t please some people. After all Lara has come a long way since her creation in the mid nineties.

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There were also some slightly more troubling, albeit minor aesthetic, issues with the costuming, beyond bra padding for Jolie. With the poster featuring a belt buckle with a Nazi insignia. We can only imagine it was a simple mistake, and the image was meant to project a pirate mentality with a side of bad assery and not Far Right affiliation.

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We also go deep into the secret passageways and tunnels of the production, shining a light on such riveting topics as European tax loop holes, movie title colon usage, the difference between film and game narrative participation, the Illuminate’s project time management and full system cosmological orientation. Don’t worry we make some jokes about boobs too!

 

While the world awaits a truly successful video game movie adaptation, one that captures both the look and spirit of the game pleasing fans and critics alike, you can head off to see Tomb Raider (2018) at cinemas world wide now.

 

We are an independent podcast, so remember and subscribe, rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. Have friends that like cult films and can understand Scottish accents? Send them a link to the show.

In the coming months we would like to increase the number of iTunes reviews we have. We are aware that not everyone is a wordsmith so, to take the pressure off, all you have to do to review the show is go to our iTunes page and leave the name of your favourite actor. That’s it, two words. Trust us that helps us and helps you not have to think too much about your feeling on our babbling.

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How did we do? Did we miss something, get something wrong or is there a franchise you’d like us to cover? Let us know. Comment below or email diminishingpod@gmail.com

Episode 47: The Karate Kids Are Alright

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DIMINISHING RETURNS: A comedy podcast about movie sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots. Hosted by Allen and Chris. WARNING: Contains Scottish accents and spoilers.

 

In between our ‘proper’ episodes (where we delve into a particular film or franchise) we do a bonus episode where we talk about wider trends in sequel culture, sequel news, new trailers and whatever the hell we like.

In This episode:

Allen gets to nerd out this news segment where he talks up Karate kid sequel: Cobra Kai, Dungeons and Dragons (again), a Steve Martin remake (of a remake) and asks why Die Hard won’t die.
In there Chris asks what’s Evangeline Lily been up to since Lost, how few movies he’s seen and taking his life in his hands to get to the recording.

Trailer Talk:

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Ant Man and The Wasp

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Solo: A Star Wars Story

COMING SOON ON DIMINISHING RETURNS: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life if you want to do the prep.

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We are an independent podcast, so remember and subscribe, rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. Have friends that like cult films and can understand Scottish accents? Send them a link to the show.

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How did we do? Did we miss something, get something wrong or is there a franchise you’d like us to cover? Let us know. Comment below or email diminishingpod@gmail.com

Episode 46: Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker.

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DIMINISHING RETURNS: A comedy podcast about movie sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots. Hosted by Allen and Chris. WARNING: Contains Scottish accents and spoilers.

 

IN THIS EPISODE:

Do you want to hear two cis-gender, Scottish men talk dirty about two of cinemas most erotic movies of all time? Of course you do, you’re a human being with feelings, needs and desires and we are hilarious!

So hear Allen and Chris get sexy in this post Valentine’s special.  They pick over the smash-hit film adaptations of EL James’ first two blockbuster books. It started off as Twilight fan fiction before being reshaped into the non-supernatural tale of a virgin and a kinky billionaire. As the third film, Fifty Shades Freed, is released- the Fifty Shades series is undoubtedly a cultural juggernaut, but are they good films?

No, obviously. But we watched the first two installments anyway.

 

We discuss sexual awakenings, how darker is Darker than Grey?, Christian Grey’s method, Kim Basinger’s previous work in the field, Chronicles of Riddick (somehow) and giggle about sex stuff, like real grownups.

 

We also talked about Vancouver doubling unconvincingly for Seattle, but you won’t hear that as the section was cut for time. You can, however, watch this great video about the topic.

We are an independent podcast, so remember and subscribe, rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. Have friends that like cult films and can understand Scottish accents? Send them a link to the show.

 

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How did we do? Did we miss something, get something wrong or is there a franchise you’d like us to cover? Let us know. Comment below or email diminishingpod@gmail.com

 

Episode 45: Out with the Old, in with Keanu

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DIMINISHING RETURNS: A comedy podcast about movie sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots. Hosted by Allen and Chris. WARNING: Contains Scottish accents and spoilers.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

It’s the first bonus episode of the 2018 and as usual In between ‘proper’ episodes (where we delve into a particular film or franchise) we talk about wider trends in sequel culture, sequel news, new trailers and whatever the hell we like.

Allen and Chris return to talk new beefs, plot twists and trailers.
So let’s Crank again with Neveldine/Taylor, hope we get an Excellent sequel for Bill and Ted and address the The Last Jedi controversy. Along the way Allen has a boy band flash back and Chris goes to war on Aaron Sorkin and Steven Spielberg.

We also refer several times to the AV Club’s series A History of Violence by Tom Breihan.

TRAILER TALK:

Oceans 8

Deep Blue Sea

Overboard

Coming Soon:

Our next franchise episode will cover Fifty Shade of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker just ahead of the release of Fifty Shades Freed. Come get sexy with us.

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How did we do? Did we miss something, get something wrong or is there a franchise you’d like us to cover? Let us know. Comment below or email diminishingpod@gmail.com

 

Episode 44: Lethal Weapon 1 & 2

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DIMINISHING RETURNS: A comedy podcast about movie sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots. Hosted by Allen and Chris. WARNING: Contains Scottish accents and spoilers.

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In This Episode:

We’re back, we’re bad! Allen’s ginger, Chris is mad!
That’s right kids, our first franchise ep of 2018 we get into Shane Black era Lethal Weapon, inspired by our friends at Spocklight: The Audio Podcast who had an actual interview with director Richard Donner.

It’s well documented on the show that we love some Shane Black. So imagine a movie written by him. Add Richard Donner at the helm with the infectious chemistry of (pre-meltdown) Mel Gibson and Danny Glover and release it in 1987. Which looks, in retrospect, like the greatest year for cinema.

Buddy cop movies are nothing new. Whether it’s Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dog (1949) or Freebie & the Bean (1974) through to 48 Hrs (1982) and Beverly Hills Cop(1984). The Lethal Weapon franchise arguably solidified it as a genre in of itself. Inspiring all manner of imitators from K9 and Turner & Hooch (1989) to Bad Boys (1995) and Rush Hour (1998) and the inspired lunacy of Tango & Cash (1989) and spawned a spoof in National Lampoon’s Lethal Weapon 1 (1993).

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Mismatched partners forced to get along in order to crack the case, before they kill each other, it’s an action movie staple. And no one does it better than Shane Black. He created Riggs and Murtaugh then went on to give the world The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Other Guys and even found time to slip some buddy elements into Iron Man 3.

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How did we do? Did we miss something, get something wrong or is there a franchise you’d like us to cover? Let us know. Comment below or email diminishingpod@gmail.com