Alien3 (yes the actual title includes the 3 as a superscript) was an attempt to return to the feel and set-up of the first film with a group of unarmed people who know nothing about the xenomorphs, other than Ripley, who are in an isolated location with no way of escape and forced to face off against a lone alien, often in claustrophobic situations.
There were a few things working against this movie from the start. While the prison colony facility on a windswept and hostile planet is a bit different than the Nostromo, trying to replicate the classic Alien feel is nearly impossible. That movie relied on a lot of surprises that have since been blown…the look and capabilities of the alien, the mouth inside the mouth, the chest burster, all of that is rehashed with better looking special effects (for the most part) but none of it is surprising anymore, and not much of it is scary.
Aliens worked so well because it didn’t try to repeat what the original had done, merely added another chapter.
Also working against Alien3 was the cast of characters. At the end of Aliens, Ripley, Newt, Hicks, and half of Bishop’s android body all survive and are put into stasis for the trip back to Earth.
The audience is then asked to accept a lot. The Sulaco from the second movie experiences a bad fire and the automated computer launches everyone’s cryotubes away from the ship in an emergency escape pod (supplemental materials say not much time passes between films).
GUNS of Alien 3 (1992)
The pod crash-lands (no explanation is given as to by it crashes) on Fiorina 161, a former massive foundry facility and penal colony that is only inhabited by a skeleton crew of all male inmates and a couple administrators now that the foundry is shut down.
The inmates recover the pod. However, Newt and Hicks are killed in the crash, leaving Ripley as the only survivor. Yep, after all that effort in the last movie, two characters who had become beloved by audiences since Aliens came out six years earlier were just wasted off screen.
Ripley later finds the remaining parts of Bishop, who was badly damaged in the crash, after being torn in half at the end of the last movie. He informs Ripley that the Sulaco detected an alien life form aboard before the fire and that a queen facehugger was in the pod with the survivors.
Somehow, it got into Ripley’s cryotube and implanted an embryo in her while she slept. And then it caused the crash before it died? It doesn’t make a lot of sense as the movie started shooting without script and was plagued by production problems.
As the prison colony has no weapons, there are precious few guns in this Aliens installment. The inmates are forced to fight the alien with improvised hand-to-hand weapons and a couple torches and very primitive flamethrowers they construct.
At the very end of the movie, when the commandoes from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation finally arrive on the planet responding to the facility’s distress call. Of course, they show up after the alien has been defeated. Their intention is to take Ripley and the Alien Queen inside her back for study.
The commandoes are armed with the Pulse Rifle from Aliens and they fire one on Aaron after he strikes Michael Bishop (Lance Henricksen) with a wrench. It’s not clear if this is another android of the same model as Bishop in the previous movie, or if it’s the human the android was modeled after—but he does appear to bleed whereas android have a milky substance in place of blood.
The only surviving, functional, Pulse Rifle from Aliens was used in this scene. The others were all non-functioning props made of vacu-formed plastic shrouds. Consequently, none of them feature the LED round counters on the side.
GUNS of Alien: Resurrection (1997)
This last Alien movie of the 1990s was indicative of the “sci-fi” films of the era, it had a large scope, a lot of CG, and a lot of grandiose action scenes. It was also the last movie in the official Alien canon of films (no, I don’t count the newer Prometheus and Alien: Covenant) Perhaps this movie was trying to capture the same tone as the more action-y Aliens, but it missed the mark quite a bit. However, it’s a lot more entertaining than Alien3.
As it takes place on a military space facility and follows a group of mercenaries, there are quite a few guns in this one, though this time around, they are all 100 percent props with no real guns underneath. The muzzle flashes were all added in post.
The movie takes place a few centuries after Aliens and Alien3, so the guns aren’t even recognizable from the series.
Even though Ripley died at the end of the last movie, she is reborn in the future via cloning. The military successfully clones her and the alien embryo that was inside her when she died (the science is…shaky at best here).
They surgically remove the alien and miraculously Ripley survives. The scientists eventually realize that through the cloning process, the new Ripley has integrated some of the Alien DNA into her own. Her blood is now slightly acidic and she has enhances senses, strength, and durability.
The Corporation finally gets what they always wanted: their own Alien Queen and eventually a bunch of facehugger eggs. They then use the cryotubes the mercenaries stole for them as unwilling hosts for embryos. They eventually create 12 xenomorphs, who fairly quickly escape their containment facilities and take over the ship.
Draco Double Burner
One gun that could be seen as an update from the Pulse Rifle is hardly seen at all. The Draco Double Burner is a “versatile multi-mode weapon employed by the United Systems Military.
It is primarily a flamethrower unit that also functions as an assault rifle and grenade launcher—sort of like the gun Ripley cobbled together in Aliens.
It features an LED round counter on the side with red numbers, tying it to the Pulse Rifle nicely. Johner (Ron Pearlman) uses it at the end of the film to kill the Alien that bursts from Purvis’ chest through the evil doctor’s forehead. He also uses it during the loooong underwater scene in the flooded compartment as a grenade launcher (which apparently works underwater).
This was kind of a cool scene because we get to see how the aliens move and function in water.
In her most emotional scene, Ripley uses the Draco in flamethrower mode to destroy all the deformed, failed clones of herself that she finds while the group makes their was through the facility to their ship.
While they’re just props, there are a couple interesting concealed guns carried by the mercenaries that they are able to get past military security in a number of ways.
Johner carries a concealed, high-powered pistol or shotgun that is hidden inside a thermos. The Thermos actually holds liquid, his own recipe for moonshine, but converts into a gun quickly.
He uses it when the military personnel attempt to put the mercenaries under arrest for Call’s actions (Winona Ryder).
Vreiss (Dominique Pinon) keeps a collapsible double-barreled pump action firearm in pieces disguised as parts of his electronic wheelchair.
While he’s gathering parts from the space station’s supply room, he sees an Alien advancing toward him in the ceiling. He slowly assembles the gun as the alien draws closer and actual scores a hit when he fires at it, though its acid blood drips on his ear.
The gun later jams after the swim through the flooded galley and isn’t seen again.
Christie (Gary Dourdan) keeps his hidden guns on two quick-deploy arm anchors that look to have a robotic mechanism that shoots them into his hands from being concealed under his sleeves. He delploys both in the gym scene, but is only seen with one after that scene. He uses one to kill the alien hanging on his leg after the flooded kitchen scene.
The anchors were reportedly inspired by the drawer slide mechanism used by Travis Bickle with his Smith & Wesson Escort in Taxi Driver.
Lacrima 99 Shockrifle
The Lacrima 99 Shockrifle is the standard issue assault rifle used by the United Systems Military personnel in the film. In its primary fire mode, it appears to fire solid slugs of some kind.
The gun is rarely seen being fired on screen, but the assault rifle mode is used by both Ripley and PFC. Distephano (Raymond Cruz) to combat Xenomorphs at various times in the film.
The rifle can also be fitted with an under-barrel shock device which acts like a Taser. We see this function in use when personnel stun Ripley when she is strangling Wren. The rifle is also notably dual-wielded with an Incinerator by Elgyn (Michael Wincott), but he never gets to fire either.
Okee-Doke Corral Cowboy Pistol
We do see one real gun..,or at least an image of one in the movie. When Johner, Christie, and Call are watching a shopping program on the space station, one of the items up fro sale is an M1911 pattern pistol that is being sold as the “Okee-Doke Corral Cowboy Pistol,” showing both a perversion of the OK Corral and Colt 45 over the centuries. Hundreds of years in the future, the difference between 1911 and 1885 probably doesn’t seem that significant.
The actual gun resembles the Colt/Detonics 1911 Hybrid from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Oddly enough, even though the movie is set far in the future, the handgun’s price isn’t that far off from a present day M1911 clone.