Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant’ Makes SXSW Scream

As he took the stage of the Paramount Theatre on Friday night, Ridley Scott admitted this was his first trip to Austin. He complimented the local food as good and the tequila as even better. But this wasn’t a holiday for the prolific 79-year-old director.

Scott was at SXSW to introduce 15 minutes of footage from “Alien: Convenant,” the sixth installment of the Twentieth Century Fox tentpole, which opens on May 19. “My mantra has always been to scare the living sh-t out of you,” he said, just as the lights dimmed.

That wasn’t an empty promise. Judging from the Austin crowd–a fairly accurate bellwether for box office success–“Alien Covenant” is now poised to be one of the biggest hits of the summer. The reaction among the fanboys (and girls) was uniformly enthusiastic, with screams and hoots erupting in the theater.

After 2012’s “Promethus,” which was met with mixed reviews for its slower pace, Scott has returned to form. Set on a deserted planet, a space crew is under attack by alien forces. These creatures reveal themselves by erupting from the mouths of their host bodies in fountains of blood–a terrifying sequence that brings to mind the original “Alien” meets “Jurassic Park.”

Scott re-emerged for a Q&A with his cast and he momentarily forgot the full name of his star. That would be Katherine Waterston (“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”), who continues a tradition started by Sigourney Weaver. “She’s a very strong female,” Scott said.

Waterston didn’t know what part she was meeting for when she landed the lead. “You kind of have to not think of how awesome it is when you’re shooting or you wouldn’t be able to function,” she said, adding that a director friend would send her email reminders that Daisy Ridley from “Star Wars” had a strong sprint. “I was really obsessed with my run. I still think I look like a Fraggle. But I f–king tried.”

Michael Fassbender, who appeared in “Prometheus,” plays an android in the new movie that sounds like R2-D2 by way of Norman Bates. How did he pull off the robotic character? “Easy,” the actor joked. “I’m half German.”

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