Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror epic, Alien, is almost as well-known for the deleted scenes that didn’t make the cut as the scenes that did.
The original movie – and many of its sequels – had the same issues that the first did, mostly because the plot itself is so dire and bleak that it’s almost impossible to make it out without some true darkness and terror, which manifests as graphic violence – where nothing and nobody is safe – and other adult content. From the chestbursters being an allegory for male sexual assault to H.R. Giger’s Xenomorph designs, which were all somewhat phallic in nature, there was plenty of sexuality interspersed throughout the series, even though the movies, themselves, tended to be light on sexual content. This is because they cut most of it out.
One particular scene in David Fincher’s Alien 3 got cut not only because of its heart-wrenching background, but because of the level of graphic violence that would have shown the detailed aftermath of a relative taboo in the horror genre: the death of a child.
One of the heroines in Aliens, James Cameron’s sequel to the 1979 original movie, was Newt (Carrie Henn), whose full name is Rebecca Jorden. Newt’s age has never been consistent in the franchise, ranging from 7-8 to some saying as old as 12 in Alien 3. Regardless, Newt got a sudden, terrible death during the events of the third movie. It was revealed by script writer Vincent Ward that he intended the character to die simply because she annoyed him; beyond that, he considered her death to be an impetus for Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) to exercise further strength due to her suffering, as Newt was something of a surrogate daughter.
Aliens 3 was renowned director David Fincher’s feature directorial debut, and he almost made the film a lot darker by including the young character’s full autopsy in graphic, horrific detail. This would seem on par for the series, and the reasoning behind doing such an autopsy might have been solid, but it was still a decision that likely would have caused the film to suffer more, in hindsight, than be worth the exercise of artistic license up front, especially when Fincher was trying to make a name for himself. The reason for Newt’s autopsy was expressed by Ripley to Dr. Clemens (Charles Dance), who was a prison doctor on Fiorina 161; Ripley initially claimed it was to examine Newt for cholera, but in actuality, Ripley was concerned Newt’s body might be harboring a chestburster. Clemens was skeptical, but carried out the procedure anyway, but didn’t find anything unnatural inside Newt’s body.
The deleted scene was performed using a gelatin double that was almost identical to the young actress who played Newt, adding eerie realism to the scene. In the scene, there was a close-up of Clemens opening the chest cavity with a scalpel, then digging his hands inside the rib cage for further exploration of her internal organs. The gelatin double was rigged with organs that pumped fake blood.
Special effects artist Alec Gillis stated, „it’s one thing to kill Newt’s character, and it’s even more disturbing to dissect her. But that scene is part of David Fincher’s brutal world, it’s been cut down with each preview, he uses that autopsy to show audiences that Alien 3 isn’t going to be a fun experience.“ Greg Cannom, a make-up artist on Alien 3’s team stated, „I like certain gore in films, I do it, and it made me sick. It really grossed me out and I remember that people got up and left, walked out of the theater at the time. And I was just thinking, this’ll never be in the film.“ Ultimately, the autopsy scene was cut significantly as it tested poorly with audiences, and the full version wasn’t even included in the alternate version of Alien 3, which is known as „The Assembly Cut“.
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