Alien: Roger Dicken's big alien

Image of reflection of Ridley with hand on the back of the alien head.
The room in this old house has wonderfully wooden paneled walls
Perhaps Ridley's pretending to be some sort of subject for a Vermeer painting.

detail of reflection of Ridley with hand on the back of the alien head
a) Roger Dicken begins work on the Alien
Roger Dicken was originally to do the big alien, he created a maquette of the creature and begun to sculpt the full size creature but as soon as he got involved in it, he soon found that Alien was a "board room picture".  He did his best to create a life size version of Alien Monster IV, including the very elongated cranium and translucent skin. He noted as an example that amongst the producers, one man wanted a foot one way, another man wanted the tail another way, or at one point they didn't want a tail and in the final alien of course the creature did have a tail.

Ridley with hand on the back of the alien head

b) Roger bows out to avoid a nervous breakdown
The producers didn't quite know what they wanted and the arguments dragged on and on, Roger found it difficult to work, and to avoid having a nervous breakdown because of this situation he decided to call it quits and he wrote a letter to the producers telling them that he didn't want to be involved in creating the big creature. This created pandemonium of course and they told him that he was letting the picture down but he had to be honest with them due to what was going on. 

Roger walking around the sculpture

Bodycast of Bolaji . Image taken from

body cast and Roger Dicken

body cast and Roger Dicken

c) Giger's dismay with Dicken
On Friday 2nd of June,  Giger went to see Roger Dicken's work at his house, often referred to by Giger as the "Witch House" (perhaps after HP Lovecraft's story "Dreams In The Witch House"), however he was dismayed by the results that Roger Dicken was coming up with and Giger has a big furor about this, He went to the Kings Head pub to think about the whole issue, and at home in the evening he was going crazy about this whole thing to Mia telling her that what Dicken came up with was complete bullshit 

He knew that he himself had to sculpt the alien creature to make what he wanted it. The following night, Saturday 3rd of June, Giger spent a sleepless night working on sketches for the construction. He assumed that his decision was lifting a weight off Roger Dicken. Roger carried on making the smaller life forms (the facehugger and the chestburster) but the big creature's production was taken over by Giger with a larger team, Giger sculpted the main creature's body itself, and then Carlo Rambaldi would sculpt and mechanise the hero head based on the head that Giger had sculpted for the creature. 

See: Creating The Alien

d) Roger's views in hindsight
However in hindsight once he had seen the movie,  Roger Dicken noticed that there were elements that he was being asked to do that had he had trouble with and had he known that the creators of the final adult alien themselves would give up trying to do in the end, they gave up the translucent skin and cut the length of the head down by half, and there was the fact that the adult alien was hardly shown in the final movie, with this in mind he believed that left to his own devices he would have been able to come up with the goods in a satisfying way. 

maquette seen from the front. Roger to the left and Gordon seated to the right

Alien maquette seen from the side, without complete tail. 
Facehugger to the right (from 

Source Quotes
  1. Dicken was originally to do the big alien, but decisions on how it should look dragged on and on and, according to Dicken, " they (the producers) didn't know what they wanted. For instance, first they said no tail on the alien but then in the end it had one!" He sent a letter to the producers explaining that he no longer wished to be involved in the full sized alien. "Pandemonium broke out, " says Dicken. "They said I was letting the picture down. But I told them honestly, that I wasn't going to give myself a nervous breakdown making a creature when I had no idea exactly what I was trying to make." Dicken was replaced by, as he describes it, "a whole team," led by H. R. Giger and Carlo Rambaldi." Rambaldi did the head, but I heard a rumor that someone else was building another head in Europe in case his didn't work out. A fortune spent and I don't feel, after seeing the film, that it was warranted. What did you see of the alien? Nothing! If I had been left to my own devices, I certainly would have given them visually what you see now, but I'm sure a lot more. For the aggravation involved, I think Fox blew it with their beast." (Cinefantastique, vol 9, no. 1, p33)
  2. Roger Dicken: I was originally engaged to make a big creature and I got involved in it, but I soon found that Alien was a "board room" picture. One man wants a foot this way, another man wants a leg this way or a tail that way and I can't work like that. However I did construct and manipulate the two smaller alien life forms, the "face hugger" and the alien that bursts out of John Hurt's chest. The face hugger was from Dan O'Bannon's design and the chestburster was a combination of ideas from one of Giger's drawings, and Ridley Scott's ideas and mine as I built it. However I couldn't work like that and sent a letter to the production office, and told them i didn't want to carry on and make the large alien creature, though I did complete the smaller alien elements. After that they got a whole workshop onto the project including Carlo Rambaldi. What it cost them I don't know. But personally I think what they got in the end was disappointing. I think they blew it. I feel that if they left me to it they would have got what they wanted. (Starburst n15, Dicken's Aliens, p11)                                  
  3. HR Giger: I sit in the garden at the King's head with Mia, thinking over what I said when I went to see Dicken. After the disappointing results we got from Dicken and from a video-tape we've received from America (where they made an alien that looked much more like a dinosaur that like my sketches), I was sure that it would not be possible to leave the Alien as I saw it to anyone else. I'm just beginning to realize what I've let myself in for in the job of modelling the monster myself. Everyone agreed with my suggestion at once, and Dicken was presumably greatly relieved to be rescued from this phantom by my decision. (Giger's Alien, p60,  2nd June, 1978)               
  4. Roger Dicken found it ironic that a number of the most bothersome specifications he had been given to work with had been cast aside -most notably the suit was no longer transparent and the head had been scaled down by nearly a half. (Cinefex 1 p59)  
  5. See also HR Giger's Alien Diaries , 2nd and 3rd of June 1978

Ridley seated , probably looking at Giger's Necronomicon again, with
Riger looking over his shoulder., with maquette seen by the window
Roger Dicken before the alien maquette's tail is connected

Maquette seen from the side with tail attached.
Gordon Carroll standing in the background.

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