"I have written the screenplay for Alien II. It does exist. What will be done with it, no one really knows. I can't really say anything more about Alien II than that it does exist."---James Cameron, 1984.

Cameron adapted the screenplay from a story he put together with David Giler and Walter Hill, both who wrote the original Alien. With Cameron in the directing chair, his Terminator colleague (and later ex.wife) Gale Anne Hurd acted as producer. Principal production chores were handled by production designer Peter Lamont, cinematographer Adrian Biddle, film editor Ray Lovejoy and the score composed by James Horner. Stan Winston took on the task of creating the massive array of alien creations. Aliens was filmed on sets at England's Pinewood Studios.

Gale Anne Hurd has been involved with many big league pics since, including Armageddon, The Abyss, Terminator 2, The Relic and Alien Nation, but Aliens was her first time in major studio production with a sizeable budget, which also spawned two more sequels and various comics and novels, which she had no involvement. "We had our eyes wide open when we made a deal on Aliens. We knew that basically we had a very great amount of artistic freedom, but finanically our remuneration would not be as great as if we had done an original project. But we got what we wanted from Aliens. We gave the audience and fans a terrific and entertaining movie and we were able to make a film on a larger budget--at least as far as we were concerned--and to do a really great special effects number.

"People tell me, 'Oh, I saw Aliens'. And I ask, 'At the Avco?' They say, 'No, at home on cable.' And I go, 'You didn't see Aliens. That's not Aliens. Aliens was meant to be a 70mm six-track magnetic Dolby stereo experience. That's what movies are all about. That's why I like doing movies, no matter what the budget, that are big movies, that hopefully will lure people out of their couch potato existence and back into the movie theaters."

With all the monsters running around and military weaponry going off, it would be easy to dismiss Aliens as nothing more than a sci-fi action flick, yet Cameron worked hard to make us care about Ripley’s plight. "One of the dramatic approaches I wanted to get off my chest is the sense of taking a character to the absolute limit of what they think they can stand, and then giving them a reason to go far beyond that," he explains. "Ripley is a type of character which has always fascinated me, in a general sense – someone who has been through a very traumatic experience, and how it affects them, and affects their life. I'm fascinated by characters who carry some great weight with them. I think you can see it in Terminator's Kyle Reese – somebody who has this tremendous psychic burden and how it affects and colors him."

Ripley’s maternal instincts towards young Newt was essentially the drive behind the character’s transformation from victim to warrior."In fact, I started the story synopsis that we gave to Fox with the line, 'Sometimes, survival isn't enough,' " he recalls. “Ripley survived her first encounter with the Alien, but this film takes her to the point where she's probably ready to blow her brains out because that's what it can be like. You know, so many veterans who came back from Vietnam, who killed themselves – all they could think about while they were there was surviving, and then they got back and too much of their world had been swept away in the process, their attitudes had changed too much.

"The whole idea of the little girl is a `light at the end of the tunnel' concept. If Ripley was to go into it alone and survive another encounter with these organisms, after I've set up in the first act that the first time completely destroyed her life, then that's not going to be a satisfying ending. There must be a sense that, when she comes through the fire this time, it's an end to the cycle. She will have the tools to go on. So, the relationship with the little girl, Newt, is absolutely critical. The other idea that I've always been fascinated by is: would you be willing to go into hell for someone? And if so, who would it be, and what would your relationship to them be? And so, really, it's a love story – not between a man and a woman, but between a woman and a little girl, who becomes her surrogate daughter. If this all sounds sappy, I think it's OK because there are many other elements that balance it out. "

Aliens was a smash hit, and naturally Cameron was offered another sequel by 20th Century Fox. I have no interest in directing another Alien sequel," the director said in 1991. "At the time I was finishing Aliens, there was some talk at Fox about my doing another one. I told them if they could get Ridley Scott to direct Alien 3, then I would do Alien 4. But they didn't, so I won't."