Aliens: Ride at the speed of fright was a 1996 motion-simulation ride based on the movie Aliens. The ride was located at Pier 39's TurboRide Simulation Theatre in San Francisco and Granada Studios in Manchester, England. The ride also debuted in three theatres in Japan.
The pre-show opens up with a distraught marine named Hyer, played by Jeffery Combs of Re-animator fame, inside an escape shuttle heading back to the USS New Jersey. Once onboard he is greeted with a cold reception, when asked about the rest of Hyer's squad a flashback sequence shows us Hyer and A squad on a routine check on the mining colony of Takia 3. When they get there it's discovered that all 3000 + colonists have been taken as hosts for the aliens.
A squad decides to arm a nuclear bomb in order to wipe out the alien menace when they are attacked from all directions. As A squad makes their escape in the APC, the driver loses control and crashes into some debris. Hyer manages to escape and finds an escape shuttle. After hearing Hyer's story the marines realise that it's possible some of A squad could still be alive. With the clock on the nuke ticking away, they decided to go on a suicide mission to retrieve any survivors. Hyer is also dragged along. The pre-show is inter-cut with scenes from Aliens. The marine's weapons and armour are nothing like the film itself, (neither is the acting!) with being on a low budget they had to make do with what they could.
"This will be a film beyond anything you've ever experienced. Not only will you see the action, you'll feel it too. It really is the next generation of film experiences."
- Stuart Gordon
Eventually, B arrives at the damaged APC. Inside some of A squad are still alive and are rescued. Suddenly, they are attacked by aliens from all around; one marine ends up with acid on her face. B squad quickly makes a get away inside their APC speeding through corridors until they accidentally fall through a hole into the queen's nest itself. The queen takes a swipe at the APC and B squad have to blast their way out to the safety of the dropship.
As the marines decent to the planet the audience rides with them on special simulator seats. These seats move as well as vibrate and jolt to each action sequence on-screen. Like the pre-show video the main feature is also spliced with scenes from Aliens. Produced by Praxis Films in association with Iwerks Entertainment, the film itself was directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-animator) with Paul Gentry as cinematographer. For a realistic appearance of the sets, life-sized props and miniatures were used as computer-generated effects lose their realism when enlarged on big projector screens. For the set design artists who had worked on Aliens, from the British crew, used Giger's alien book as a reference for dressing the sets. For each level, the APC drove through the same trench set was painstakingly re-dressed and re-used using a special snorkel lens attached to a motion controlled rig to film the action inside the tight spaced miniature set. Les Paul Robley was the gentleman in command of the motion control camera. The first motion controlled shot took just over a week to shoot! That included the lighting, programming, shooting and re-shooting. Filming began in February of 1995 and the entire sequence itself took over a month to shoot.
"It's good they're doing it, but i would like to be informed."
- H.R. Giger
The pre-show and main ride footage are available on youtube and as an extra on the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set.
Youtube videos by Andrew Kasch & Ash959.