SANTA MONICA, California — You might not think "Alien vs. Predator" fans have much in common with Paul McCartney, but these days, both are singing the same tune:
"I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time — it can't get no worse."
Type the words "Alien" and "Predator" into Google, and three thoughts on the state of the franchise become clear: The fans consider 2004's "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" to be a mockery of all they hold dear; they maintain hope that some filmmaker, someday, will capture the magic of the comics, novels and video games that established the brand; and finally, that the new red-band trailer for December 25's "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" kicks some serious ass.
"The studio knew that, although the last movie made a lot of money, it didn't really resonate solidly with the fans," admitted Greg Strause, one-half of the filmmaking duo billed as the Brothers Strause. "To get the same people back into the theater a second time, it was gonna be a bit of an uphill battle."
"We really have to prove to the fans," added his brother Colin, "that this movie's gonna be very different from the last one."
On August 24, the first-time filmmakers renowned for highly regarded music videos (Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Californication") and movie effects ("Titanic," "300") launched their initial attack. "Hence, the red-band trailer comin' out," grinned Greg, leaving the edit bay to grab a quick hamburger with his brother.
The duo recently spent a weekend sneaking into theaters and watching the blood-drenched, adults-only clip play in front of shrieking fans — assuring them that they're on the right track with their sequel.
"We wanted to [go R-rated] with it," added Colin, who not only wears the same sunglasses as his 1-year-older brother, but even orders his burger the same way. "I mean, we chest-burst a little kid!"
"Yeah, he dies," Greg confirmed of the ill-fated child. "Onscreen, and very painfully. It's pretty f---ed up, but breaking some of the rules is a good thing here."
Given the go-ahead to make their hard-R flick, the Brothers Strause are steering clear of the PG-13 traps that rendered their predecessor so despised that an "AVP" podcast recently declared, "The only thing [director] Paul [W.S.] Anderson did correctly was bring people closer together in their community hatred of him."
"I don't think anyone wanted us to talk to him," Colin laughed, confirming that they haven't met with Anderson. "This movie works even if you didn't see [Anderson's]."
With that, the duo gave us an exclusive peek at several minutes of intense footage, as well as a breakdown of their franchise renovations.
Say Hello To The Predalien: After bursting from a Predator's chest at the end of the first flick, "Requiem" picks up with an Alien/Predator hybrid slaughtering several Predators. "The Predalien wreaks havoc and causes a different Predator ship — it's actually a Predator scout ship in this case — to crash on Earth," Greg explained. "You see a bunch of Predators get whacked at the beginning."
The Big Bad Wolf: "Basically you're following this one Predator — the star of this movie," Greg said of the hunter in pursuit. Added Colin, "We call him the Wolf internally because basically he's Harvey Keitel from 'Pulp Fiction.' He's the cleaner. He shows up and he's not there for the trophies. ... If anybody gets in his way, he'll just cut 'em in half."
Cleaning Supplies: "At [an early] point in the movie, [the Wolf] takes a gun off of a dead Predator, and so he has double shoulder cannons," Colin explained. "There's also a cleaner case where he stores all his new weapons. It has an implosion bomb that he uses for imploding the crash ship to basically get rid of it. ... That's a new type of bomb he has."
Death To The Working Class: Avoiding the billionaires and adventurers of the first flick, the soon-to-be battlefield of Gunnison, Colorado, is populated with working-class characters similar to the early "Alien" films. "You've got a small-town sheriff [John Ortiz, 'Miami Vice'] who everyone doubts a little bit," Colin explained. "We've got a brother story between Steven Pasquale ['Rescue Me'] and Johnny Lewis ['The O.C.'] ... There's also a mom [Reiko Aylesworth, 'Mr. Brooks'] returning from the war and trying to get reunited with her family and re-establishing her relationship with her daughter." Added Greg, "She gets very Ripley-esque; she's a tough chick."
Whip It Good: One of the "Wow!" moments in the trailer comes when the Wolf quite literally whips out his new weapon. "[When weapons were being designed,] there was this one picture of a Predator with a bullwhip," Greg recalled. "We were like, 'Sh--, this has to be in the movie! This is the coolest thing I've ever seen!' The concept is that maybe it's been made out of pieces of an Alien tail, so it has these serrated edges. ... If this whip tightens around you, it functions like a chainsaw blade and cuts you in half."
Predator, Heal Thyself: "The med kit's also back because he gets kinda f---ed up in one part," Greg said of a for-the-fans déjà vu moment with the Predator. "You get to see him do the whole med-kit scene where he's healing himself, which we didn't have in the last movie."
She's Got The Look: "The Predalien wants to hunt and reproduce," explained Colin, confirming that while there won't be an Alien queen in the new flick, the Predalien serves essentially the same purpose. "She's got a big queen head." Added Greg: "The main concept is that a Predalien should still be primarily Alien [with] very strong Alien features but with Predator mandibles and Predator dreadlocks. It walks a little more upright than a normal Alien does, but it also has the tail. It uses that tail quite a bit, and it's got a much bigger tail than a normal Alien." The brothers confirmed that the Predalien won't use Predator weaponry.
About Face: "We've also completely redesigned the Predator's face," Greg said of what the Wolf will look like when he takes off his mask. "This Predator has some Alien acid-blood scarring on his face." Added Colin, "One of his mandibles has been melted off, which is a throwback to the one Predator called Broken Tusk in the comics. ... A whole side of his face looks like Freddy Krueger. You can tell this guy's been through a million battles. ... His mandible design is very much like 'Predator 2'; he has multiple fangs on each mandible. ... We added a lot of these extra horns on the crown of his head as well."
The Voice Of Aliens Past: "One of the cool things is we got Fox to go back and digitally remaster the original recordings of the Aliens from 'Aliens,' " beamed Greg. "All of [James] Cameron's sound elements have been digitally remastered — the shrieks, the computer sounds — because we wanna tie it into 'Aliens.' ... The Alien design is also a throwback to Cameron's version. It's different, but it's inspired by the warrior Alien."
Save It For A Rainy Day: "The whole final battle between the Predator and the Predalien is pretty damn cool," Greg said. "['Requiem'] is like two different films. The first half of the movie is one tone, and the second half is when the rain's coming down ... [and] it kicks into higher gear and has more of an action thread."
Leave Your Foam Finger At Home: "We got rid of all the armor on the Predators because those guys [in 'AVP'] literally looked like football players," explained Greg. "We were like, 'The Predator in the first two movies didn't need armor!' "
After their meal, the Brothers Strause went back to the edit bay to screen two scenes: one in a morgue that ends with the Predator dissolving an Alien's face with liquid from a blue-lit container, and another with the civilians stocking up at a gun store and listening on a radio while the National Guard are taken apart by Aliens.
"I'd like to do another one but I'd like to do it in space. The next one either has to be more of the bridge after this and before 'Alien,' or you could do something after 'Aliens,' " Greg said, getting back to work. "We have a pretty finite ending to this, but we have a cliffhanger per se; it's a setup."
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