Eric Red's Alien III was a 1989 script draft for a sequel to Aliens. Red was the second of six different writers to tackle the Alien3 project. The story bears no relation to Alien3 as it was ultimately made, and instead focusses on a character named Sam Smith battling Xenomorphs aboard a space station, part of which consists of a giant glass dome containing an entire small-town USA settlement called North Star. It was written after William Gibson's script was rejected, and was followed by David Twohy's attempt.
A team of unarmed soldiers led by a man named Sam Smith boards the Sulaco as it drifts in space. After discovering Bishop's severed legs, the team find that three of the cryotubes in the hypersleep bay have been smashed open, and amidst the shredded human remains sit three Xenomorph Eggs. Sam finds a tattered nametag bearing the name "Ripley". At that moment, they are attacked by a Xenomorph hiding in the ceiling. With no weapons to defend themselves, the soldiers are massacred in short order.
Sam wakes up at home, making it unclear if the preceding events were real or simply a nightmare. However, as he goes about his day, it becomes clear the incident was real — Sam was horrifically wounded but somehow survived, and has now been repaired with cybernetics, including a robotic right arm. He has no memory of what caused his injuries, and his father John, a General in the US Army, tells him that his wounds were the result of a devastating electrical fire on board his ship two weeks previously. He confirms that the fire killed the rest of Sam's team.
Sam and his family, consisting of father John, mother Mary, and younger brother and sister Mark and Karen, live amongst the farms on the outskirts of North Star, a rural farming town typical of middle America. The town and its surroundings are revealed to be part of a space station, with extensive modern military and research facilities in the levels beneath. There has been a massively increased military presence in the two weeks Sam has been unconscious, and the families of the men killed on his team have all mysteriously left the station.
Sam and John descend into the lower levels so that Sam can have additional rubber skin grafted onto his incomplete robotic arm. While underground, Sam discovers that an area labelled "Sector C" is under tight military lockdown. After the operation, Sam is debriefed by his superiors, including a Dr. Rand from the military's scientific research division, although he remembers nothing of the accident that nearly killed him. As they leave the underground facility, Sam sees a bodybag fall from a military truck departing Sector C, and sees inside an android that has been totally eviscerated. That evening, at a bar in North Star, it becomes clear there is hostility between the locals and the military. Several farmers complain that soldiers have been confiscating their livestock.
The following day, Sam returns to the military labs and attempts to view the tapes his team recorded on the mission where they were killed, but is rebuffed. On his way back to the surface, Sam bumps into a member of his supposedly dead team, still alive and now working the gas pumps in a large underground garage. He discovers the man has been lobotomized. Sam returns to the labs and demands at gunpoint to be shown the recordings. The tapes show his team being torn apart by a Xenomorph aboard the Sulaco. Sam confronts his father regarding the deception, but his father claims he only lied to him to protect him.
Unconvinced, Sam sneaks aboard a military truck that collects several pigs from a nearby farm and rides it into Sector C. He ends up being tipped into a large chamber where he discovers all the confiscated animals are being intentionally impregnated by Facehuggers. After narrowly escaping several Facehuggers and a dog Alien, Sam flees through the ventilation system. He oversees his father being injected with something in one of nearby laboratories, before watching a presentation being given to the military command by Dr. Rand regarding the Xenomorphs. She shows how the Xenomorph's DNA is able to take over that of any other creature, and can even assimilate metals. She claims to have domesticated the Xenomorphs, proposing to use them as a biological weapon, but as soon as the example subject is released from its restraints it brutally kills her, before turning on the audience. Some of the spectators manage to escape, but many others, including Sam's father, are trapped in the room with the creature when the doors automatically seal.
Sam returns at the head of a squad of soldiers and sneaks into the room alone while the others attempt to break in the door. He discovers his father and a military Sergeant named Chong are still alive, hiding beneath corpses, but many of the other victims have been spun into cocoons and are apparently transforming. The Xenomorph responsible is dying, apparently of natural aging. Sam rescues Chong and his father just as the cocoons hatch, revealing adult Xenomorphs. The soldiers burst in, but discover the creatures have already broken through a wall and escaped.
The soldiers pursue the Xenomorphs, but many of the military personnel, including Chong, are killed by explosive decompression when acid blood breaches the station's hull. The remaining Xenomorphs flee across the station's outer hull and re-enter beneath the huge dome that covers North Star on the surface. They immediately go about attacking the population, starting with the remote farms surrounding the town. After Sam rescues his family from their home, they regroup with the others in the town and arm themselves.
The Xenomorphs, now numbering in the hundreds, attack. After a protracted battle, the humans emerge victorious, although many are killed. In the aftermath, it is decided to send as many women and children as possible on ahead to the incoming rescue ship using the station's only shuttle, while the remaining survivors wait for it to arrive. As they wait, Sam's father John begins to look unwell. It is revealed that the injection Sam saw him receiving in the labs contained Xenomorph genetic material. Suddenly John undergoes a monstrous transformation, tearing the skin from his body and becoming a new form of human/Xenomorph hybrid. Worse still, a mosquito that bit him moments earlier has also transformed, and its now infecting animals all over North Star. The situation deteriorates further when a Xenomorph chicken lands in the town's reservoir, spreading the infection to the water supply.
As Sam and his family flee, the town begins to collapse in on itself. Along the way they are attacked by a huge Xenomorph, consisting of twenty human/Xenomorph hybrids all fused together into one enormous, amorphous creature. Sam, Mary, Mark and Karen manage to outrun it and they reach the last remaining ship on the station, a small fighter craft, as the entire structure beneath them begins to tear apart and reform. Unfortunately, the ship sits on the far side of a chasm and they cannot reach it. The mutated John reappears and prepares to attack, but Sam pleads with his father's remaining humanity and the creature relents, lifting his family gently onto the shuttle. They take off, and behind them the disintegrating remains of the station fuse with John and all the other Xenomorphs to become one giant biomechanical creature.
Aboard the shuttle, Sam puts his family into hypersleep and records a final distress message for the incoming rescue ship. Suddenly, the shuttle itself comes alive, also infected by the Xenomorph virus. The creature that was the space station reappears, closing in on them fast, forming into a colossal mouth. Sam and his family don spacesuits, and before blowing the access hatch and ejecting themselves from the transforming shuttle, Sam fires its nuclear warheads. The resultant explosion kills the Xenomorph creatures. Sam, Mary, Mark and Karen drift in space as the rescue ship arrives.
While Red's brash screenplay has largely been ridiculed since its release — even Red himself has since disowned it, claiming it was far removed from what he had intended and purely the result of frantic and confused studio pressure — it does contain some noteworthy elements that either reference earlier aspects of the series or were carried over into the later films. Perhaps most significantly, it was the first of Alien3's drafts to propose killing off the surviving characters from the previous film at the very beginning of the story (in this case, all of them). This was a plot point that would controversially feature in the movie that was ultimately made. However, no explanation is given for where the Xenomorph that kills Ripley, Newt and Corporal Hicks and turns them into Eggs may have come from.
Despite these noteworthy features, by far the most obvious problem with the script is its consistent poor writing, bringing about numerous curiosities and plot holes. For example, the draft repeatedly names the station on which North Star is located as Sulaco Space Station, even though this name has already been used for the USS Sulaco in the opening sequence. Similarly, the shuttle that the Smiths escape on at the end is also called Sulaco. Another source of confusion is Sam Smith's cybernetic arm — much is made of it in the opening scenes, but after this it plays absolutely no part in the plot and is completely superfluous to the story. It is only mentioned again when it is severed aboard the transforming shuttle at the end of the screenplay.
Strangely, the script describes the weapons being used in the film as contemporary to the time at which it was written — characters use "Colt .45s", "M16s" and "Browning machine guns", and at one point Sam Smith's mother arms herself with a Winchester Repeater (a particularly unlikely choice as such a weapon would be at least 260 years old by the time of the story). This is despite the fact that the preceding film, Aliens, presented a much more futuristic depiction of firearms in the 22nd century, with Pulse Rifles and Smartguns predominant.
Lastly, the script is considered excessively violent even by the standards of the Alien series, with numerous sequences featuring incredibly over-the-top levels of gore. Perhaps chief among these are a gratuitous sex scene, in which two victims are graphically mutilated by the Xenomorphs mid-coitus, and the exaggerated depiction of the effects of decompression in space, which Red describes as causing victims to spontaneously explode "in showers of meat, blood, intestines, teeth, brains, and skull tissue". Ironically, William Gibson's script previously featured a far more scientifically accurate depiction of a person being exposed to the vacuum of space.
As with all of the unproduced Alien3 scripts, Red alters the nature of the Xenomorphs, bestowing the creatures with fairly substantial new abilities in his story. In fact, his script almost certainly includes the most drastic changes to the Xenomorph creatures of any of the Alien3 screenplays. Aside from being far larger in this story — the standard creatures are said to be around 15 feet in height, making them at least as tall as the Queen in Aliens — the script resurrects the idea of the Xenomorphs cocooning their victims and transforming them into Eggs, a concept originally filmed for but cut from Alien (although the footage was later reintegrated into the Director's Cut). In fact, one scene in Red's script recreates the deleted sequence from Alien exactly — the characters discover the station's military commander cocooned to the wall, and when he begs to be killed Sam incinerates him with a flamethrower, mirroring Dallas' fate in the Director's Cut of Alien.
The Xenomorphs also exhibit an ability to transform their cocooned victims directly into new adults, bypassing the Egg stage altogether. Through the use of these cocoons, a single adult in the script is able to multiply rapidly in a very short space of time. The adult responsible then dies, apparently of natural ageing, implying Xenomorphs have only short lifespans, an idea that was later proposed in the book Alien Vault, about the making of the first film of the franchise.
While Gibson's preceding script briefly mentioned Xenomorphs derived from lemurs, Red's is the first to thoroughly explore the idea of Xenomorphs bred from non-human hosts, with Alien pigs, dogs, cats, cows and even chickens featuring in the story. Red's screenplay is the first in the Alien franchise to feature a genetically mixed human/Xenomorph hybrid creature (foreshadowing the Newborn featured in Alien Resurrection), as well as similar hybrids between various farm animals and Xenomorphs.
The concept of a "Xenomorph virus" is also reused and expanded upon from Gibson's draft — in Red's script, the virus is no longer airborne, but is capable of assimilating and altering any genetic material it is mixed with, leading to many of the more curious Xenomorph forms, including a Xenomorph mosquito and the large gestalt creature seen towards the end of the story. The virus is even able to take control of inorganic matter and technology, ultimately turning the space station itself and the shuttle the Smiths flee aboard into giant Xenomorph organisms at the climax of the screenplay.
- For all of its faults, Red's draft contains an arguably higher level of horror than the previous films and scripts, with many standard horror movie tropes and scenarios making an appearance.