Alien Wars @ The Arches, 6 Dec - 21 Mar

Alien Wars returns to its original home after 15 years.

Article by Erin McElhinney | 05 Dec 2008
  • Alien Wars

So you're sitting in your Glasgow flat one evening, you've just finished watching Alien for the umpteenth time with your fellow film-buff pal. You're discussing how cool it would be if you could actually enter that world and really experience it, just for a few you decide to ring the head of Twentieth Century Fox and ask him to let you take one of the world's most successful film franchises and create just such an experience. And he says yes. That's a pretty good day.

Ok, we are simplifying, but only slightly. Gary Gillies and John Gorman were successful artists in their own right – music production and set design respectively – but had no contacts, no money and no clout, just a lot of Glasgow cheek and a really, really good idea. Alien Wars was first launched at The Arches in '92, and caused a pretty big media storm at the time, culminating in none other than Sigourney Weaver herself opening its London season with the original flamethrower prop from the movies.

Fifteen years later, Gillies – now running his own record label – and Gorman – art director for Hollywood blockbusters – caved in to pressure to resurrect (geddit?) Alien Wars. They knew there was no other location but The Arches, its original home, to stage its comeback: "When we first thought it up, we were determined to do it in Glasgow; its people won't put up with anything stupid, so we knew if it worked here, it'd work anywhere. And The Arches has the best atmosphere for it – even people that attended both the Glasgow and London events said the northern setting had the edge." Now set in the supposedly haunted basement tunnels of the venue, this Alien Wars has a whole new monster, storyline and set. The boys actually decided to go it alone without Fox this time, as the film corporation were "too scared of someone having a heart attack. They were constantly scaling back, and we finally thought 'Right, let's just do it on our own and we can really go to town.'" Considering that the tamed down version had Michael Jackson's bodyguards running for the emergency exit, and (after one unfortunate accident) made it routine for a clean set of underwear to be kept on set at all times, we're thinking it's probably going to deliver.

The basic premise is that you enter as yourself, a civilian, and are guided to safety by a marine, after things – inevitably – go slightly wrong. Expect a lot of smoke, sirens, shouting, surprises and general mayhem. Says Gillies: "We have actually lost people in there. But you know, not often..."

See our January issue for a full review by our brave reporter. Who is now wondering why the hell she signed up for this.