Some science fiction films/TV shows get lucky, their futuristic weaponry are designed with love and care by a skilled prop-mastery artisan. Films like ALIENS, BLADE RUNNER, and Logan's Run all received interesting sci-fi weapons that have earned cult follows and stand out as prime examples of excellent sci-fi weaponry. Others are not so lucky. Despite, the massive success and talent behind the magnum opus of 1979's ALIEN, the futuristic hand-weapons used by our motley crew of space truckers are a bad joke. I recently bought the 2003 Director's Cut of ALIEN and while admiring the dark beauty of this landmark film, I saw a few quick seconds of the poorly understood Nostromo handgun being pulled by Kan when he was examining the egg. After this brief scene, the handgun was on-scene once more, and not used to hunt down the xenomorph. After googling a few images, I decided to devote a minor blogpost on this oddball sci-fi gun and finally give it some attention.
What is the Nostromo EVA Pistol?
In the 2003 Director's Cut, Kane pulls out his pistol has he approaches the eggs in the silo, but the scene only lasts a few heartbeats.The clearest photos of the pistol were seen in promotional stills and on-set photos for magazines of the day, but there is little information on what the EVA pistol was. Several model kits of the gun now exist, and we know that imprinted on the frame of the pistol are the words: NOSTROMO and LIGHT SYNC. DIAL. If Kenner had moved forward with production of the 3 3/4 inches action figures, than the Nostromo EVA handgun would have been packaged with the Dallas figure. The later highly detailed 2008 Kane and Dallas figures from Hot Toys were featured with the pistol and the odd holster. There are some hints about why this pistol looks so funky. From an interview with special effects supervisor Nick Allder that the pistol has fiber-optics for the prop to emit a real laser beam (similar today's laser pointers) from the bottom of the magazine well cylinder most likely. He stated that there was an dial installed to allow for adjustment of the length and time of the laser, which could allow the pistol to still be in operation even if the shooter dropped it. Why was this done? Was Ridley thinking of the crew using their laser guns against the alien? Or could this early movie laser be an aiming device for whatever the pistol fired? Inquiring minds wanna know...
Why Didn't the Crew Uses this Gun Against the Alien?
You don't dare kill it." Also, given that intrepid space truckers were not Colonial Marines, the creature that they saw prior to Brett being kill was small...a little too small for our crew to risk discharging their EVA Rexim pistols at the damned thing and risk damaging the ship.
Why is this Pistol Not in Prometheus or the rest of the ALIENS films?
The Real-Steel Weapons of the Nostromo Handgun
The Other Nostromo Pistol?
There is another pistol from that 1979 film, the 'Webley', and was constructed for a specific purpose: to be in the hands of children. When ALIEN was being filmed, the studio was breathing down Ridley's neck about costs, especially associated with his massive sets. To help cut-down on costs and still maintain his vision, he used his sons, Jake and Luke, along with Cinematographer Derek Vanlint son dressed in spacesuits to communicate the massive scale of the human and alien spacecrafts.
This wasn't without its risks. A rare heat wave in Britain along with poorly designed spacesuits that did not vent the co2, caused the actors to pass out, children and adults. Given Ridley's nature to get things right, he had the prop department construct several handguns on a smaller scale to on the suits, just like the adults' full-sized laser blasters. These smaller framed futuristic pistols utilized the Webley Junior Mk.II air pistol has their base, with added touches from the full-sized EVA pistol to complete the look. This is pretty amazing level of detail devoted to such a small thing, and demonstrates why Scott is a great filmmaker.
What We can Learn from the ALIEN EVA Pistol
Similar Sci-Fi Weapons
The Black Hole Sentry Laser Blaster (1979)
When Star Wars came out in 1977, and made huge piles of cash, ever one was jumping onboard the sci-fi bandwagon...including Disney. In 1979 space adventure oddity, The Black Hole, the robotic sentry units onboard the massive research vessel, USS Cygnus use an odd twin-emit laser blaster.
The Neutra-Laser from Bravestarr (1987)
This was another American animation program that attempted to teach lessons about survival and manners via a backdrop of an Space Western and selling some toys along the way. The main character used this oddball H-shaped blaster that was mostly a large-framed stun-gun. The toyline featured a IR-shooting toygun that interacted with the action figures and playsets. I had a friend who had one of these back in the day, and I can recalled the steer size of this thing. Much bigger than the Lazer Tag or Photon.
The Visitors' Laser Blaster from V (1983)
One of my favorite laser blasters from my childhood was the original V TV series Visitors DEW pistol. Much like our EVA pistol, the pistol was large-framed with a bottom piece that made it a difficult prop to form a holster to, and but was big enough to be seen on-screen. I can clearly remember making one of these out of Legos...ah, the 80's.
The Double-Emitter Arturis Pistol from Star Trek: Voyager
The SE-14 series of Blasters from Star Wars
The SE-14 series of blasters from BlasTech Industries is an interesting weapon, and has been seen in various forms across the saga. The base prop gun is from the Swiss Rexim-Favor Mk5 9mm submachine gun, and fitted with twin scopes. The SE-14C was seen on-screen for a few seconds when Dr.Cornelius Evazan in the Cantata whips it out, and Obi Wan Kenobi cuts him down. While the SE-14R was a backup repeating machine-pistol for Stormtroopers and could be seen in still photos. During the Clone Wars, the SE-14 blaster was in service with the Droid Armies. Some of the original prop from Star Wars: ANH was used to construct the EVA pistol.
The ALIEN EVA pistol? I never really thought of that pistol as being a laser, we never see it fired and don't really know what it is. I can see that it might be intended to be a laser weapon, though. It kind of mixes the SW "laser blaster" with the old-style ray-gun style. Probably it was influenced by SWs, especially as it is built off of a vintage real-steel firearm.ReplyDelete
If it is a laser, then it begs the question why the crew of the Nostromo use fricken laser beams while the Colonial Marines in the future use plain old bullets!! Part of the answer might lie in the fact that in the original script of ALIENS, the pulse rifles and steadycam guns are plasma rifles described as firing lightning-like streams of energy, thus the rather ray-gun like moniker "pulse rifle". The plasma pulse rifles could be more technologically advanced and destructive than EVA lasers.
The secret history of ALIEN-'verse energy weapons, I suppose, if things had turned out differently, we might have seen the humans battling the aliens with futuristic lasers and plasma-stream rifles rather than old fashioned bullets. Instead the director chose to base the Colonial Marines tech off ofmodern military technology, inspiring a whole generation to emulate this style.
Laser and plasma weapons might actually be quite well suited to exterminating xenos, since lasers and plasma scorch everything they touch, and those aliens hate heat and light.
Really, though, if you say ALIEN and weapon too me, what immediately comes to mind is the flamethrower. I had never seen a flamethrower used on a spaceship before ALIEN. XD
Ha ha, I kind of like those odd twin-emitter laser (and phaser) pistols, they kind of look neat. And if you carry two, you can fire four beams at once!!
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This is one of those oddball blogposts that I put up on FWS that I've never seen anywhere else...and I didn't know that about the weapons in ALIENS being plasam-based....hmmm. Would have changed the current trend of bullets back in sci-fi by a few years...man, I would have missed the M41a1 if it had never existed! It would have been cool to see a plasma flamethrower though....ReplyDelete
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It still bothers me (and always has) that the crew of the Nostromo never even tried to use these weapons against the alien. I understand the logic of not wanting to poke holes in what was essentially an 8 foot tall, walking vat of super-strong acid, but there should have been at least some attempt in the film to make this clear to the audience. The fact that there was not is the one and only plot hole that I have ever found in this movie (in contrast to Prometheus, the entirety of which was pretty much one big plot hole). Not that it really detracts from the greatness of the film in any way, it's just somewhat annoying for those of us who have a tendency toward being detail oriented (aka "anal") about our sci-fi :).ReplyDelete
I wanted the same thing when I re-watched the movie for this blogpost. I am grateful that in the sequel, that wasn't the case.ReplyDelete
Lazor (Light Amplification by Zero Output of Radiation because physics) best laser tag setsReplyDelete
regarding the reason why the colonial marines use bullets while the nostromo has lasers, I think comes down to practicality.ReplyDelete
the nostromo was a civilian ship, and not expected to need weapons (heck until the dock the crew were intended to be in stasis) so the weapons were for emergency use, and as they were likely to be used in unknown situations by untrained people they needed something that could be easy to use, and aim without having to worry about ballistics and recoil. that could operate in any environment without needing much in the way of general maintenance hence a laser. they may also have the possibility to be used less than lethally (such as pulsed energy projectile)
now by comparison the colonial mariens know what situation they're going to be operating in (if you look at the weapon racks on the sulaco there are a lot of weapons that don't get used including what appears to be AR-15 rifles) so they choose weapons that are reliable and effective. a 10mm armour piercing high explosive round is going to do a lot of damage, compared to a laser which would need to drill through the target. they are on a planet, with good gravity, they know the atmospheric composition so don't have to worry about flammable gasses, and recoil. and want something that can put down a target fast and hard.
also in a potential combat zone lasers have too many problems compared to ballistic weapons. dust on laser lenses is going to ruin the lens. a civilian who may only need to shoot the weapon once or twice doesn't have to worry about that, a soldier who's life depends on his weapon not burning it's own lens does. ballistic weapons are also tougher, if they're going to get knocked about, dropped in mud and water, bumped against walls ect, you don't want something that could fail due to a wire working lose or a laser diode becoming misaligned or a battery shorting out.
then you have atmospheric blooming due to water vapour and dust that reduces the range and power of lasers (lets face it LV426 doesn't have the best sunbathing weather)
it's the same reason that we don't have soldiers running around with laser weapons despite the fact that you can buy a class 4 cutting laser on ebay that will punch a hole in a steel plate at range.
I want to grab all these weapons. Hopefully a day will come that the technology will become so advance that weapons could be used so precisely that it'll hit the target with precision without killing other innocents.ReplyDelete
What would you say about the mythological weapons. Here's what I found:
Most Powerful Mythological WeaponsReplyDelete