a) Giger's bloody plucked supermarket turkey
Giger's first design for the chestburster based on this had more than one mouth.
The mouth was the most important thing because it had to come out of the human body, to chew and claw its way out suddenly and unerringly.
He thought that they looked like chickens without feathers and wasn't happy with them and then he tried to build the thing.
It was covered in blood and hand a large underhung jaw with some really lethal teeth on it,, Ridley found it totally obscene and very frightening.
Giger created this chestburster puppet and showed it off to Ridley with dismay.
Giger appeared with great frustration in Ridley's office with a large black bag over his arm, obviously hiding something.
Giger said "So I've done it"
Ridley responded "Whats it look like?"
Giger then said " you want to see it now"
Ridley replied "Sure, okay"
Giger thn slowly peeled back this black bag and it actually looked like he stuck his hand, up the backside of a turkey, and there was this lumpy turkey with these teeth at the end and Giger looked at Ridley saying "No good, uh?"
Ridley responded "Don't think so. I"m trying to work out how I get that inside John Hurt's chest"
To Ridley it looked like a twenty four pound turkey
Giger responded " Okay, it's impossible, I must concentrate on the other things."
|Giger's Chestburster concept painting|
b) Roger Dicken takes over
The job of creating Giger's approved design was soon handed over to Roger Dicken who was not too happy about it.
Dicken said "You want me to make this? It looks like a turkey."
And Ridled and the others said "Yes, that's what we want"
To Roger, it looked like a plucked turkey, a veined repulsive looking thing with fangs, and indeed that's what they said they wanted.
There wasn't anything too complicated in the design though since all it had to do was force its way through the chest and then flop onto the table, so they decided that the best approach was to build it as a hand puppet, about three times life size, so that he could get his hand up into the neck.
Obviously though, you couldn't have something the size of a large turkey coming out of a human chest but they would cheat the shot somehow.
c) Dicken working from his house
He worked out of his home in Pangbourne, that was about an hours drive from Shepperton where the studios were.
Dicken began work on the chest burster in Mid-March, sculpting it out of plasticine, and then casting it in foam plastic with a latex rubber skin. After spending about three weeks on it, he took it into the studio for a trial run.
d) Dicken finishes Giger's initial concept
However Dicken reproduced it very faithfully and what looked great on paper didn't translate itself very well into Dicken's puppet making. Dicken normally worked everything like a glove puppet and he brough this thing in and propped it on his knee.
While he was talking, he kept moving the head around so the thing kept looking back and forth across the room, from Gordon to Carroll to Ridley and then up his nose. The thing looked winkled and ancient looking like a malevolent Muppet.
The way Ridley talked about was Dicken was doing with it on his hand might make one think about the old Rod Hull and Emu act.
So the whole thing was entirely comical for Ridley and the thing looked like some kind of plucked demented turkey. and Ridley feared getting a giggle at this time in the film and so they ditched the whole concept and started again.
e) Giger never gives up
Despite the fact that Dicken had nearly finished the smaller Alien forms, Giger still wished to create his own versions to make sure that everything looked the way he wanted, while he was working on the big alien, on his work bench were his versions of the facehugger and the chestburster.
Dan O'Bannon indeed thought that they were better than what was used on the film, especially the Chestburster.
It was much larger in proportion to the rest of the body and the teeth were like oversized fangs, fully extended, a set on both top and the bottom, and it was certainly something design for biting its way out. Dan could imagine those fangs going through a piece of steel.