- Dan O'Bannon: There's a line of dialogue here where they talk about the skeletons with perfect teeth and he thinks that there's a skeleton farm in India. Well, in fact, when i was working on Alien. HR Giger asked them to obtain some real skulls for him to work from, to build the alien, the full size alien. And they did, and they purchased them and they brought him skulls which were wrapped in plastic just like that and they were the most beautiful skulls I had ever seen, they were like works of art, I was struck by the perfection and the teeth were all perfect, and I was told that they were ordered from India, and then sold for medical purposes but the production had bought them for Giger to use, and he took a hacksaw and cut them into pieces and put them back together, and subsequently when i was working with Tobe Hooper, who was meant to direct this film himself, we were talking about this scene. Hooper was aware also that medical skeletons were purchased from India, and he said that the eeriest thing. Tobe did did, he thinks that they have a skeleton farm in India. I thought about it a while, it was such a creepy idea that when i wrote the script, I put that in. The picture was released and a few months after the picture opened, i read a news item that the government of India had suddenly stopped the deportation of all skeletons for medical purposes, and ever since then it's very difficult for medical schools to get them. They use plastic skeletons and it may have been a coincidence or the film may have indeed come to their attention and they put a stop to it. I have a feeling, the creepy feeling that there was something very criminal going on in India. At what age does a person have an absolutely perfect skull and set of teeth? When they're young. (commentary for Return of the Living Dead)
- Dan O'Bannon: Three of the most perfect human skulls I've ever seen in my life. They were beauties, they must have borrowed them off a living person to get them that perfect, every tooth was intact, not a filling. I think they cost something like $700 each, they were so primo (Fantastic Films #10, p14)
- KATE: To create these moments, you had incredible art direction.
Your art director, Robert Burns (for Texas Chainsaw Massacre), was pretty industrious. I read that you
ended up using real bones and animal cadavers that would actually start
to rot during filming.
HOOPER: Yes, some of the skeletons were real. When he’s impaled on the tombstone in the beginning. It’s a real human skeleton underneath it. That was a practical, budgetary thing. It was less expensive to get real human skeletons from India than to buy plastic reproductions.
KATE: That’s crazy.(https://www.interviewmagazine.com/film/tobe-hooper)
- In 1985 the Indian government banned the export of human bones after
human rights groups raised questions about how the bones were being
collected, particularly in north-eastern areas of India, forcing the
Before the ban, traders legally purchased corpses from relatives of the
dead before exporting the skeletons. See:https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/asia/ban-fails-to-stop-sales-of-human-bones-1.528471/ "Ban fails to stop sales of human bones"
|A stock photo of anatomical skeletons.|
Prior to a 1985 ban, India was one of the world's leading exporters of human remains.
- Dan O'Bannon: The face of the thing is a real skull. He took a human skull and jammed it right on the front, riveted it in place and then started modifying it. It was such a beautiful human skull. It has been a real person, not like one of those plastic model kits, and he takes out his hacksaw and he saws the jawbone off and extends [it] like six inches. He puts an extension on it, and creates this distorted jawbone. Then he starts attaching other fixtures to it and building a new extension on the back of it. He's doing this to a real human skull. When he finally [finished] ,a cast was made of it. It was a craftsman who actually cast the rubber costume of Giger's sculpture. When they were finished casting in rubber, he used his airbrush and painted the costume the same way he does his paintings. I truly believe that that monster in Alien is absolutely unique looking. I think it is two strides beyond any monster costume in any movie ever before. (Cinescape vol 3 #9 adapted from the intervview from Fantastic Films #10)
- Dan O'Bannon: - the face of the thing is a real human skull. He took one of the human skulls and jammed it right on the front, riveted it in place, and then started modifying it. It was such a beautiful human skull, you know, it has been a real person, not like one of those plastic model kits - and he takes out his hack saw and he saws the jawbone off and extends the jawbone, like six inches, puts an extension in it, and creates the distorted jawbone! Then he starts attaching other fixtures to it and building a new extension on the back of it. He's doing this to a real human skull! (Fantastic Films # 10 (US), p14)
- Dan O'Bannon: The face of the thing is a real human skull. He took one of the human skull and jammed it right on the front, riveted it in place and then started modifying it. (Fantastic Films #10, p14)
- Dan O'Bannon: It was such a beautiful human skull, you know. It has been a real person, not like one of those plastic model kits, and he takes out his hacksaw and he saws the jawbone off and extends the jawbone like six inches, puts an extension on it, and creates this distorted jawbone! Then he starts attaching other fixtures to it and building a new extension on the back of it. He's doing this to a real human skull. (Fantastic Films #10, p14)
|Giger works on the Alien, with Peter Voysey standing behind him and Eddie Butler on the right|
- H.R.Giger: I started thinking that that long skull ought to have a function too. I prefer always to have these big long heads for the monster. So if it has a long head, there's space for a long tongue. And I also gave his tongue teeth. I thought it was very good as a filmic device. (Cinescape vo.3 no.9, p22)
- H R Giger: It’s funny, the double teeth came when I did my first
drawings. Ridley Scott told me to make it so that it could move. I
hadn’t studied any animal. My instructions were that it should be
somehow frightening and horrible, and I did my best. (www.nytimes.com, September 11th 2007. If the First Bite Doesn’t Do It, the Second One Will By CARL ZIMMER)
- H.R.Giger: Hmm. During the last shot you can see the Alien's "tongue" slowly coming out. And always to have these big long heads for the monster, because I worked as an industrial designer. Every object needs to have a function. So if it has to be a long head, there's space for a long "tongue". I gave his tongue teeth . I thought it was very good as a filmic device (Film Monsters # 156, p30, /Warren Present Alien Collectors Edition, p34)
|The mouth of Necronom IV with double perhaps double rows of teeth|
|face of the alien and the head of a Pazuzu relic from The Exorcist|