Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the proverbial alien waters, Ridley Scott has announced plans for up to three Prometheus sequels. The news is obviously quite startling, given the poor reception Prometheus itself received. It’s difficult to tell what has led to this decision from Sir Ridley.

When it was first announced that Scott was setting about reviving the Alien series from the steady decline that beset it after James Cameron’s quite brilliant Aliens, fans rejoiced. Unfortunately, the final product ended up the equivalent of finding an escape pod, only to then discover that it has been claimed by a Xenomorph; or that that the Engineers were no more than some sort of irresponsible, irate albino giants with god-complexes.

In his defence, the director had intimated very early on that there would be a sequel. The ending of the movie implied as much. But three sequels?! The immediate question has to be, why? Is there genuinely that much mileage in what precedes the events of Alien? Of course, we cannot forget that this is meant to be a very different beast to the Alien movies proper. The recently revealed title of the first sequel, Paradise Lost, indicates the continued concern with loftier themes of mankind’s striving for knowledge leading to its ultimate destruction.

Scott had this to say:

“It won’t be in the next one. It will be … after this one (Prometheus 2) or maybe even a fourth film before we get back into the Alien franchise.

I always thought of the Alien as kind of a piece of bacterial warfare. I always thought that that original ship, which I call the Croissant, was a battleship, holding these biomechanoid creatures that were all about destruction.”

If we go by those words alone, it’s fair to wonder if the movies will accomplish little more than further dissipating the allure and fear-factor of the Alien. Much of the original magic of these creatures, after all, lay in their mystique. The more that mystique is dispelled, the less the terror factor remains.

That said, it could be argued that a significant amount of that “xeno-factor” had already been eroded by what came before Prometheus. And this is Ridley Scott after all, the visionary who brought us not only Alien but also a classic big screen adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Surely he’s earned enough credit that the benefit of the doubt should be given to him; maybe the sequels are indeed merited, and will form a magnum opus of sorts.

Whether this turns out to be the case remains to be seen. For now, our worst fears lurk in the shadows, ever watchful, never far. Let’s hope, this time, Ridley Scott has remembered to pack the Pulse Rifles.