James Horner

" It isn't a regular event that such a action and horror score receives an Oscar nomination. "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release, the music as heard in the movie and the deluxe edition

Collaborations like these were never so rocky but director James Cameron and composer James Horner had a big difference that included the music for Aliens, 1986's biggest action movie. Their collaboration began and started with disputes and no matter how the end result sounded like, both wouldn't be happy, no matter how it turned out. Surprisingly their other collaboration was for the immense blockbuster Titanic and it seems that both Cameron and Horner can deliver something that surpasses both their talents. If they can keep their eye on the project and their hate off the set.

Still what Horner delivered for Aliens was far from a regular soundtrack. His score is half the musical accompaniment and half the sound effect or background. Together they form one of the biggest action thrilling and sheer spine tingling results of Horner's career. This super Deluxe Edition promises and delivers, including the most part of Horner's score (no, this release is still not complete) and extra variations and alternations of some of Horner's discussed cues.

The opening track has always been the mood setter of Aliens, with the horrific music for the logo, continuing with the desolate music for space, that seems to pack Hornerisms with a classical piece, surprise surprise. As background score, atmospheric setting and horrifying support, Horner delivers everything what he can accomplish with his orchestra. And the London Symphony Orchestra performs it with sheer size. This to the annoyance of some fans, but realizing what it does in the picture, it is truly a work of art. The score really creates this environment that I haven't felt in other scores since Poltergeist or The Omen. Tracks like "Dark Discovery / Newt's Horror", "Atmosphere Station", "Sub Level 3", parts of "FaceHuggers" and the total atmospheric "The Queen" are truly excellent through their feel and impression. I know this isn't the best part of listening material, but having seen the film I know what it accomplishes in the movie as pure terror.

The action tracks are truly the best part of each release of Aliens. Sharing resemblance with Star Trek II, but delivering their own purpose when those rumbling action moments start to happen on screen. Militaristic, powerful, strong and fast, these moments are a pure delight. "Ripley's Rescue", the second part of "FaceHuggers" and "Futile Escape" deliver everything that you want to hear.

Then we receive the bombastic preparing and climax of Aliens with "Going After Newt" and "Bishop's Countdown". Also we have the variations I picked up in several tracks. "The Queen" is pure background and misses the action music when Ripley starts to destroy the eggs (the music as heard in "FaceHuggers"). "Bad Dreams" doesn't use the Aliens theme but remains pure horrifying all the way through. The mystery is "Resolution and Hyperspace", which was used in Die Hard and finishes with the ultimate greatness and delight.

As extra unreleased material the track "Combat Drop" is one of the best. Still, this piece wasn't used in the motion picture and if Cameron was arguing about this scene I would have to agree. This is fantastic music that listens like if Cocoon and Sneakers would have been mixed. But it wouldn't have fitted with the scene. It makes the scene sound promising and adventurous but it should've sounded completely the opposite. The soldiers don't know what kind of horror is waiting for them and it was replaced with a drum rhythm in the movie.

The extra alternate tracks aren't much worth actually. We receive two percussion tracks, almost the same version of the "Bad Dreams" track and a nice scary ending of "Hyperspace" that will give you a run for its money. But as debated, this Super Deluxe version isn't still complete. The absent turret action music that is heard on the bootleg is still a great loss. Still what Aliens The Deluxe Edition offers is plenty and more than enough. Fans of Horner's classic action and outer space score will be thrilled with the deserved expanded release. You receive the best treatment of sound possible. Extended liner notes explain the quibbles and arguments, and the dozen uses of mixing and editing. It is like the other recent Deluxe Editions, something to grab instantly and never let go of it.

Aliens remains one sheer action packed horror treat with all the basic statements of Horner's doing. I'm extremely glad that the Academy board thought the same. It isn't a regular event that such a action and horror score receives a nomination in the first place. They have witnessed and realized what this score delivers and movie fans have rightfully thanked Horner for the immense result he delivered in such difficult circumstances.


1. Main Title (5.11)
2. Bad Dreams * (1.22)
3. Dark Discovery / Newt's Horror * (2.07)
4. LV-426 * (2.03)
5. Combat Drop * (3.29) Excellent track
6. The Complex * (1.34)
7. Atmosphere Station (3.10)
8. Med. Lab * (2.02)
9. Newt * (1.14)
10. Sub-Level 3 (6.36)
11. Ripley's Rescue (3.17) Excellent track
12. FaceHuggers * (4.23) Excellent track
13. Futile Escape (8.26) Excellent track
14. Newt is Taken * (2.04)
15. Going After Newt (3.16) Excellent track
16. The Queen * (1.45)
17. Bishop's Countdown (2.50) Excellent track
18. Queen to Bishop * (2.31)
19. Resolution and Hyperspace (6.27) Excellent track

Bonus Tracks
20. Bad Dreams (Alternate) * (1.24)
21. Ripley's Rescue (Percussion Only) * (3.18)
22. LV-426 (Alternate Edit - Film Version) * (1.12)
23. Combat Drop (Percussion Only) * (3.24)
24. Hyperspace (Alternate Ending) * (2.09)

* Previously Unreleased

Total Length: 75.46
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 131 votes - average 3.89/5)

Released by

Varèse Sarabande 302 066 241 2 (deluxe edition 2001)
Varèse Sarabande 302 066 241 2 (deluxe edition 2001)

Orchestrations by

Greig McRitchie

Performed by

The London Symphony Orchestra