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Alien Nation (1988)

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In 1988, Earth makes the first contact with an alien civilization. In 1991, these aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after three years of quarantine.


Graham Baker
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Caan ... Matthew Sykes
Mandy Patinkin ... Sam Francisco
Terence Stamp ... William Harcourt
Kevyn Major Howard ... Kipling
Leslie Bevis ... Cassandra
Peter Jason ... Fedorchuk
Conrad Dunn Conrad Dunn ... Quint (as George Jenesky)
Jeff Kober ... Josh Strader
Roger Aaron Brown ... Bill Tuggle
Tony Simotes Tony Simotes ... Wiltey
Michael David Simms Michael David Simms ... Human Dealer
Ed Krieger Ed Krieger ... Alien Dealer
Tony Perez ... Alterez
Brian Thompson ... Trent Porter
Francis X. McCarthy ... Capt. Warner (as Frank McCarthy)


A few years from now, Earth will have the first contact with an alien civilisation. These aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after years of quarantine but are victims of a new type of discrimination. When the first Newcomer police officer, Sam Francisco is assigned his new partner, he is given Matthew Sykes , a mildly racist veteran, the animosity between them soon gives way to respect as they investigate the Newcomer underworld, and especially Newcomer leader William Harcourt. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Los Angeles, 1991. They have come to Earth to live among us. They've learned the language, taken jobs, and tried to fit in. But there's something about them we don't know. See more »


Action | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

7 October 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Future Tense See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »


Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Originally, in the scene where Sykes is talking with Cassandra in night club, there was a part where George is searching through the rooms (this is why Sykes is pointing him to go out in the earlier scene) when suddenly, he is attacked by another newcomer called Todd Watson. When Watson tries to escape, Sykes and George chase after him and manage to get him. After questioning him, they let him go, but when they leave, Watson is knocked out by Harcourt's men and taken to the beach. In the scene where Harcourt talks with the Newcomer, whom he calls "Strader", he is actually talking with Watson, but this scene was changed during re-editing, which is why Harcourt is not shown saying "Mr. Strader" on-screen. Later, when Strader's dead body is found on the beach, he has two bullet holes in his chest, but as seen in the earlier scene, Newcomer "Strader", who is actually Watson, was killed by sea water, and he also wears different clothes. A later scene, where Cassandra tries to kill Harcourt, when she realizes that he killed Strader, was also changed, originally in the scene, Harcourt admitted killing Watson, her boyfriend, which is why she tries to kill him. Also in the scene, where Sykes and George are chasing after Harcourt and Kipling, there is a part where Sykes knocks out one Newcomer that comes out of nowhere. If you look at the clothes that this Newcomer wears, you can see that it's the same Newcomer who was beaten and killed by Harcourt's men on the beach, Todd Watson. This scene was originally part of the previously mentioned chase scene in the middle of the movie, where Sykes and George are going after him. This also explains the continuity mistake where Sykes is first seen going down the stairs with his gun, then when he fights with the Newcomer, he doesn't have his gun, then when the scene cuts to George pointing his gun at the police car that Harcourt and Kipling took, Sykes is again seen in background running down the stairs carrying his gun. See more »


During the car chase when the criminals' car jumps the center curb while it's in the air the rear tire is seen and is twisted pointing 20 or 30 degrees towards the center of the car but after it lands they keep going and it is straight again. If it was damaged to where it was turned in like that the car would be unable to continue or would be swerving around and be very difficult to drive. See more »


Det. Sgt. Matthew Sykes: [Sykes has just cornered Harcourt] Hands Up!
[Harcourt raises his hands, producing a tube of ja-bru-kha]
Det. Sgt. Matthew Sykes: You make one move and you're history.
William Harcourt: Not history... ETERNITY!
[consumes a big dose of the ja-bru-kha]
See more »

Alternate Versions

In UK cinemas, 2 versions were shown in different cinemas. In some cinemas, certain Newcomer native dialogue was subtitled into English and in others it was not. This happens most notably in the scene where George and the morgue attendant discuss the Newcomer corpse and recognise aspects of the body as representing the drug addiction. Also a short dialogue between Harcourt and Kipling after Harcourt first meets George and Matt where Kipling tells Harcourt that Sykes was the policeman in the shootout at the film's opening. See more »


Referenced in South Park: Member Berries (2016) See more »


Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love
Performed by The Beach Boys
Courtesy of Deck Records
By Arrangement with Original Sound Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Well made Sci-Fi
19 October 2005 | by Lt_Coffey_182See all my reviews

Alien Nation is a cross over between Sci-Fi and the 'buddy cop' genre. What separates this from the usual buddy film is that instead of the difference being ethnic/class/gender, it is human (James Caan) and alien (Mandy Patinkin).

The clichéd beginning with the main character's partner being killed is done very well with stylish gunplay and set pieces. Caan really shines in the action scenes and it is great to see him in such a tough guy role. Caan is a great actor and can do more than macho as he shows in the scenes involving his daughter when Caan displays remorse, making the audience feel more sympathetic towards him. Caan aside, the cast is fairly mediocre, full of average actors except Terrence Stamp who puts on a good show as the bad guy.

Something I loved about this film is how similar everything is to The Terminator. This is due to the film being produced by Gale Ann Hurd and there being other members of the Terminator crew present. Like Terminator, Alien Nation greatly benefits from the dark, murky feel of the environment, giving it an edge over a lot of Sci-Fi films which suffer from being too 'shiny'.

The film does a great job at exploring racism, giving the impression of time repeating itself regarding the Western civilisations treatment of blacks when they were forced in to the country. Caan's conversion from despising the "Newcomers" to accepting them is admirable and convincing. It is not an overnight change and it is done discretely, very convincing.

As with a lot of escapism films, you can not take Alien Nation too seriously so it is best to approach this film with an open mind and desire to be entertained rather than wishing to be introspective. A very well made, enjoyable film.

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