Alien: Francis Bacon vs Alien vs Eraserhead vs Shivers

leading from 
Alien Afterthoughts

a) Francis Bacon got there first
Back in the 1940s, the famous British artist Francis Bacon had created the paintings Head 1 and 2 (1947-1948) that showed a strange toothy mouth emerging from a humanoid head and in painting number 2 definitely looks as if the teeth have a definite small skull of it's own. He was someone whose work that inspired Ridley Scott, HR Giger, and David Lynch, and Giger own contributions to the Chestburster's designs echoed the idea of these paintings (especially the Head one). Cronenberg appreciated the works of Bacon and would find comparisons being made between their work to be legitimate.

See: Alien vs David Lynch's Eraserhead

See: Alien vs Cronenberg's Shivers

Detail from Francis Bacon's Head 2

b) Giger recalled the painting
Giger admitted that Francis Bacon's work gave him the inspiration for how the chestburster would come tearing out of the man's flesh with its gaping mouth, grasping and with and explosion of teeth and here we come back to Francis Bacon's Head 1 and 2

Head 2 by Francis Bacon from 1947-48

Head 1 by Francis Bacon (1947-1948)

Francis Bacon (28 October 1909 – 28 April 1992)

Source Quotes
  1. "I was blown away by Bacon,” says Lynch, who visited the British painter’s 1968 show at Marlborough-Gerson Gallery on a trip to New York with fellow PAFA students.  (
  2. DAVID LYNCH: Ah, well, Francis Bacon is one of my giant inspirations. I just love him to pieces. (
  3. HR Giger “It was Francis Bacon’s work that gave me the inspiration. Of how this thing would come tearing out of the man’s flesh with its gaping mouth, grasping and with an explosion of teeth … it’s pure Bacon. (
  4. MARTIN SCORSESEA vision that is genuinely original ... Cronenberg’s best movies still have the capacity to cause a Jungian culture shock. They’re like Buñuel, or Francis Bacon: wit and trauma, savagery and pity. (Dossier 21: David Cronenberg” BFI) 
  5. Beaux Arts Magazine: On cite volontiers le peinture de Bacon à votre sujet; de nombreux artistes contemporains se réclament de votre univers et vos problématiques (Le corps, la mutation, l'organique, la technologie, le prolifération des images, le virtuel... ) recoupent largement celle de l'art d'aujord'hui. Que pensez-vous de ces anologies?
    Translation: One gladly cites the paintings of Bacon to your work; many contemporary artists claim to your world and your problems (body, mutation, organic, technology, the proliferation of images, virtual ...) largely coincide with that of the art of today. What do you think of these anologies?

    David Cronenberg: Elles me semblent parfaitement légitimes. J’adore Bacon en effet et cela me semblerait tout à fait étrange, voire impossible d’être seul dans mon temps à aborder ces sujets. L’artiste possède selon moi des antennes; il a cette capacité de capter ces choses intangibles qui sont dans l’esprit du temps. Le but n’est pas d’être original au point que plus personne ne puisse vous appréhender. Tout le monde peut inventer un langage incompréhensible, mais enjeu de l’art est précisément de communiquer au point de frapper l’entendement
    Translation: They seem perfectly legitimate. I love Bacon indeed and this would seem to me quite strange, if not impossible to be alone in my time to address these issues. The artist has in my opinion the antennas; He has this ability to capture those intangible things that are in the spirit of the time. The goal is not to be original to the point that nobody can understand you. Anyone can invent aincomprehensible language, but issue of art is precisely to communicate to hit the understanding (Beaux Arts magazine 198, November 2000)

March 2015

Leading from

Tuesday 31st March 2015
1) Added Francis Bacon vs Alien vs Eraserhead vs Shivers and will indeed have to find quotes to back up everything

Sunday 29th March 2015
1) Added separated images from  Bob Penn's A3601-A3630 contact print
2) Made minor corrections to Alien Q and A at the Genesis Cinema, August 24th 2014  

Thursday 26th March 2015
1) Updated Summoner of the demon identifying Pazuzu as an entity that some seemed desperate to incorporate into Lovecraftian mythos
2) Added Bob Penn's photo contact sheet photos A4458-A4487 separated

Wednesday 25th March 2015
1) Uploaded transcription of the Alien Q and A at the Genesis Cinema, August 24th 2014 
featuring Ivor Powell and Terry Rawlings being interviewed by Wayne Imms

Tuesday 24th March 2015
1) Early Ridley Scott Space Jockey face inspired by Giger's National Park

Monday 23rd March 2015
1) Added Crowley (The Beast 666)
2) Added Ghost of Walter Pichler's "TV Helmet" in Giger's Necronom IV? 

Friday 20th March 2015
1) Added Summary Of Necronom IV to the page Development of Necronom IV
2) Re-Edited Was sceptre, head of Alien? and included comparison between the Necronom IV head and the head of a Was-Sceptre from the treasures of Tutenkhamun
3) Added comparison between the Alien and the Pazuzu face to Small Pazuzu head relic from Exorcist

Thursday 19th March 2015
1) Rewrote Ash' Self Awareness
2) Seperated the elements of Neill Blomkamp and Alien 5  into separate page and still have to complete the list of quote sources for each page

Tuesday 17th March 2015
1) Re-edited and wrote summations for The Unravelling of Ash

Monday 16th March 2015
1) Continued to update page about HR Giger's painting Illuminatus (1978) 
2) Added a few more details to Cocteau and Beauty And The Beast from an interview with Giger by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein as published in HR Giger's Necronomicon 2.
3) Added statement from Ian Holm to Circus Performers Tried Out For Alien
4) Added Casting Ian Holm as Ash

Sunday 15th March 2015
1) Added Bob Penn photo contact sheets from Charles Lippincott's collection put in numerical order. However the strange blog programming makes it a little hard to put the thing in order.
2) Broke Bob Penn's contact sheet photos A2199-A2227 into separate images 
3) Broke Bob Penn's contact sheet photos A30-A59  into separate images
4) Broke Bob Penn's contact sheet photos A60-A89 into separate images

Saturday 14th March 2015
Added a page about HR Giger's painting Illuminatus (1978) 

Wednesday 11th March 2015
1) Further edited Alien: Giger's Early Facehugger Concepts and Alien: Creating the Facehugger
2) Added Alien: List of Elements to be Designed

Monday 9th March 2015
1) Divided Creating the Facehugger into two with the information about Giger's Early Facehugger Concepts being given its own page 

Sunday 8th March 2015
1) Further editing Neill Blomkamp and Alien 5 
2) Added Prometheus influence on Marvel's Age of Ultron #1 Djurdjevic variant cover (2013)
3) Added Echoes of Prometheus 

Saturday 7th March 2015
Neill Blomkamp and Alien 5 has been further updated with more interview transcriptions and more details and then broke it into two sections, the second half becoming Blomkamp's Alien 5 concepts

Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Updated Neill Blomkamp And  Alien 5 with additional information from the Dazed and Confused article and Screencrush article.

Monday 2nd March 2015
1)  Added information from Starlog May 1979, p28 and Fantastic Films #12 to Veronica Cartwright cast as Lambert 
2) Added page about Ridley's  Idea Of The Alien As A Fawn for Alien

Early Ridley Scott Space Jockey face inspired by
details from adapted from "National Park"
in Giger's Necronomicon

Leading from

a) An early concept that Ridley Scott had in his storyboards for the head of the space jockey appeared to be basically two strange biomechanoid heads from Giger's painting Jurassic Park merged together, as he did with the head for his early version of the egg silo.

Detail from upper left of National Park
b) One the remains of a rotting head with tentacles in place of its mouth and a large spine formation coming out of the back of its skull but with a slit rinning along it.  He sealed up the skull but kept the thickness of it along with its eye sockets and the placement of its ear holes along with pipes running along the shoulder and down the front , along with ribbing between the latter pipe and the pipe coming out of the mouth

Detail from lower right of National Park
c) He replaced the tentacles with a single large breathing pipe with smaller ones at the side coming out from its mouth. The way the large pipe extends from the mouth reflects another head detail on the lower right of the painting, and a small side pipe coming into the side of its jaw in the Ridleygram also emanate from this image. Perhaps he has also used the nasal cavity removing any signs of cartillage.

Giger's painting "National Park " from 1975.

Ghost of Walter Pichler's "TV Helmet" in Necronom IV?

leading from 

TV Helmet (Portable living room), 1967, Walter Pichler

a) Revelation
For some years, despite the fact I was slowly discovering origins of the Necronom IV running through ancient Egyptian images, and Ernst Fuchs paintings,  I wondered about the Necronom IV suit being like echoing the form of some sort of entity with a submarine or torpedo shaped head without a clue about how that could be.

Later Fred Blanchard was able to bring the question to Facebook on March 23rd 2015 at Charles Lippincott's Facebook page. Many thanks to Fred Blanchard for pointing out the "TV Helmet". So if Giger hadn't been directly inspired by this, they are a product of the same time and in  parallel one another.

Walter Pichler, TV-Helm, 1967 Courtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

b) Giger's elongated skulls
From 1965, Giger worked on polyester head sculptures long necks and long skulls as strange as those in the reliefs of Akhnaten and Nefertiti.  In 1967, he was drawing a humanoid with a mechanical extension out from the front in the drawing "Mother and Child", and from 1967 to 1968, Giger worked on his shell for a dog for Swiss Made 2069, and in 1968 Giger was working on his extra-terrestrial suit for Swiss Made 2069 which had a cine camera inserted into the front of the head.

The suit from Swiss Made 2069, made in 1968

No 53, Kleiner Kopf, edition of 23, 1976, 
bronze cast, ca. 35 x 25 cm ;
based on a polyester sculpture from 1965

c) Walter Pitcher's monster appears in 1967
Interestingly back in 1967, in Austria which neighbours the country of Switzerland, Walter Pichler had created a fascinating piece of headgear called the TV Helmet that resembled some sort of long torpedo with a television inserted into the front. It looked very unlike anything that Giger would have designed, but by 1976 Giger would have evolved the idea of his post apocalyptic environment suits with elongated head as in Necronom IV and V.

TV Helmet (Portable living room), 1967, Walter Pichler

d) Did "TV helmet" inspire Giger?
Giger's final Alien beast in the movie would also have the head placed on the human's head in almost a similar way to "TV Helmet" although the latter needed heavy support on the chest and the shoulders. If Giger had seen this contraption and thought further about what he had made for Swiss Made 2069, it might have been up to him to wonder how long he could possibly make the heads for a future biomechanoid suit to horizontally stretch. So, despite the very interesting parallel, we don't have any information showing that Giger had an interest in Pichler's work, however Walter Pichler's "Gebäudemodell" shows up in Ernst Fuchs' "Architectura Caelestis" book which Giger read and was very inspired by. So Giger would have been conscious of Pichler's work.

TV Helmet (Portable living room), 1967, Walter Pichler

HR Giger's Necronom IV, 1976

Source Quotes
  1. The TV Helmet of 1967 is a technical device that isolates the user while imbedding him or her in an endless web of information: closed off against the outside world, the wearer is completely focused on the screen before his or her eyes. This work by Walter Pichler doesn't merely formally anticipate the cyber glasses developed decades later. He also articulated questions of content in relation to the media experience long before the "virtual world" was even discovered. Pichler called his invention a Portable Living Room, and this is usually interpreted as scathing sarcasm. When at least the tube is on in the living room, then we can easily do without varnished cabinets and potted violets, the title seems to say. But that is not the only way to interpret it. (
  2. Around forty-five years ago a  man wore a submarine-like white helmet that extended from front to back. His entire head disappeared into the futurist capsule; only the title betraying what was happening. TV Helmet created in 1967 is a technical device that isolates the user while imbedding him or her in an endless web of information: closed off against the outside world, the wearer was completely focused on the screen before his eyes. (
  3. b 1936 in Deutschnofen, South Tyrol (A). Studied at the School of Applied Arts in Vienna (A). Lives in St. Martin/Burgland and Vienna. Since the 1960s he works in the border zone between sculpture and architecture, specializing in architectural designs for utopian city-planning projects and three-dimensional models confronting space and individual perception. In 1967, he presented the «Prototypes», a.o.the «TV Helmet (Tragbares Wohnzimmer)» (1967), pneumatic sculpture «Großer Raum» (Large Space), symbolically charged paraphrases of furniture and apparatuses as body extensions. Together with Hans Hollein he demanded that architecture be free from the constraints of construction and that sculpture be free from the limits of abstraction. In a text dedicated to Pichler, Oswald Wiener had developed the phantasy of a cyborg as an apparatus which would free consciousness from its organic base, the body.  (
  4. Fred Blanchard: I know that many out there consider Giger as a genius who invented a style that didn’t exist before him..
    To me he was « just » a great artist who had incorporated ancient influences to his art in order to build his own style (you can spot influences that go from Art Nouveau to Symbolism in his images). 
This to say that when I saw Walter Pichler’s « TV Helmet » a couple of years ago in Stockholm I was puzzled… Could it be that « Necronom IV » (aka « the proto-Alien » Ridley Scott loved so much) originated in this portable TV room (there’s a TV screen inside) that was made in 1967, one year before SWISS MADE 2069, a SciFi film for which Giger designed a rather similar apparatus, was released ?
    (Facebook, March 23rd 2015)

HR Giger's Crowley (The Beast 666)

leading from
Crowley (The Beast 666), 1975, work 274

a) Giger's interest in Aleister Crowley
His interest in Aleister Crowley was generally just there because of his interest in magic and the occult, but he did try to study his books and his system of magic, but he found it quite difficult to understand it. However Giger was interested in what kind of paintings the man made, but it was many years before he was actually able to see them. He managed to get a copy of the catalogue produced for the Crowley art exhibition that was held in London in 1998 and a catalogue for the Berlin exhibition in 1932. Most of the works he'd seen were portraits of Crowley's friends who he made look very evil. The paintings of the ladies were also very terrible looking, which was very different from the way that Giger did his, as beautiful goddess.

Source Quote
  1. ArtSync: How about Aleister Crowley
    GIGER: Well, everyone who is interested in magic and the occult is familiar with Aleister Crowley, though I must say that I tried to study his books and his system of magic and I found it quite difficult to understand him. I was always interested in what kind of paintings he made, but it took many years before I was actually able to see them. I have a copy somewhere of the catalogue that was produced for the Crowley art exhibition that was held in London back in 1998, and a catalogue for an exhibition in 1932, in Berlin. Most of the works I've seen are portraits of his friends. He made them look very evil! He also painted the ladies very terrible looking. In my painting women are beautiful goddesses — to me, anyway! (ArtSync Magazine, Fall 2009)

Aleister Crowley image as a Giger Skateboard design

b) Giger's Explanation
The main focus of this painting is Aleister Crowley whose portrait dominates the left part of the painting, based on an elderly photograph of him when he created a sensation with his exposition of paintings at the Gallery Pforzheim in Berlin. The pointed hat , Giger was able to state, represented Crowley's first ascent of the K2 mountain in the Himalayas, and in his hand is an ice cream cone which is an inverted version of his hat with a humanoid face on it, representing Crowley's dogma, such as "belows as above" or "Macro-Microcosmos".

Source Quote 
  1. HR Giger: Crowley (The Beast 666), 1975, Work no. 274,  (200 x 140), shows the portrait of A. Crowley, the best magician, who - with his pointed hat - occupies the left part of the painting. In keeping with the dogma, "below as above", or "Macro-Microcosmos", he holds the reversal of the hat in his hand, an ice-cream cone. The portrait originates from a photograph, which shows the magician in his elderly years, when he caused quite a sensation with his exposition of his paintings and drawings at the Gallery Pforzheim in Berlin. The pointed hat represents Crowley's first ascent of the K2 in the Himalayas. (

c) Shivalingam
Next to the Crowley figure is a humanoid facing down and upon the top of his head is a traditiona shivalinga, a representation of Shiva the hindu deity to be worshipped in temples. In traditional Indian society, the linga is rather seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of God, Shiva himself.  And this became an interest in Crowley's occult practices. The popular belief is that it represents a phallus and then obviously it looks as if there is a vaginal shape around it, but according to Swami Sivananda, this interpretation is a grave blunder and the shape is supposed to represent an egg form rather than the phallus that it has often be interpreted as. He made the visit to the Meenakshi temple, Madurai, to see the sacred Shivalingam there.
shivalingam head

One of many examples of a shiva lingam,

d) Seven balls spinning in the air
The seven balls spinning in the air perhaps originate from chapter 2 of Aleister Crowley's 1881 erotic  "Nameless Novel" from his collected book of writings "Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden": "But the Archbishop’s vanity was aroused; he saw that I was losing interest in himself; and this was no part of his plan. Dashing into the arena he frigged himself violently into the air, catching the gobs of sperm with great dexterity and tossing them up like a juggler, while moulding them little by little into a solid mass. He did not stop until (in one hundred and eighty two orgasms) he had collected seven balls of about four ounces each, which he kept gaily spinning in the air, and then hurling them with unerring accuracy at the exposed cabbage-patches of his numerous lady friends. “Come” he said, rising, with a sad sweet smile, “to our reminiscences! This is weary work.(

seven spinning balls

e) Additional thoughts
The other side to this painting is these humanoid mutants of various kinds and how the frame work with these character sticking out of the frame work reminds me of a certain photo from the American liberation of the German Nazi concentration camps at the end of the second world war

Former prisoners of the "little camp" in Buchenwald stare
out from the wooden bunks in which they slept three to a "bed."
when the camps were being liberated by the Americans
 (National Archives and Records Administration, College Park,
Md.; US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Kubrick wanted to know about
the Chestburster scene

Leading from

Ridley would occasionally find himself talking on the phone to Stanley Kubrick, he never actually met him though and it appeared that Stanley had a fascination with the film Alien.

One day Ridley got a call and someone one the other side of the phone asked "How did that guy come out the chest?"

And Ridley replied "Who's this?"

The voice replied "Stanley Kubrick"

Ridley having great respect for this film director associated with this name suddenly responded "Oh hi! Do you want me to explain the thing on the table. He's underneath and very uncomfortable"

Stanley responded, "I get it, I get it. I can't find the cut"

"Ah, well, there it is" responded Ridley

 Quote source
  1. Ridley: No, I never met him.
    Interviewer: Really

    Ridley: I just used to talk to him and he called me up the first time and said" How did that guy come out the chest?" 
    And I said" Who's this?"
    "Stanley Kubrick"
    "Oh Hi"
    "And erm, I said well, do you want me to explain the thing on the table, he's underneath and he's very un.."
    "I get it, I get it. I can't find the cut"
    "Ah, well there it is"
    And I, the last time I talked to him, he said we should have dinner and he died.(Behind Closed Doors with Ridley Scott)

Alien : Casting Ian Holm as Ash

 leading from 

Ian Holm: It was around this time that I was offered the part in what my agent Julian Belfrage described as 'a very expensive B movie". It was called Alien. I read the script and met the director, and Englishman called Ridley Scott who had made a name for himself in  advertising And had directed I well received film which I had not seen, The Duellists.

It was difficult to tell from the script what kind of film it would be,  or rather what kind of film it would become. Scott told me that it had been through several rewrites (nothing new in that) but that he was now happy with it.  He was young and wore a beard which I didn't think particularly suited him.  His clothes, the way he presented himself, all these seemed somehow secondary, artificially bolted is on and irrelevant to his curiously internal restlessness and energy it was as if he was burning up with ideas and the kind of private imagery which he wanted,  he needed, somehow to explain to you.

The script seemed very high-concept,  though good in that way. Still, hardly Chekhov or Shakespeare but I didn't mind that anyway. I had done my share of flimsy meaningless films. I was intrigued. 

And unusually in projects like this, a star was not being used to act as a focal point of the financing, Normally if there was no name attached then a project like Alien, was peopled with recognisable B-list actors, the kind of actors who would do a competent job, and whose presence would signal what kind of film (i.e. shock-horror) it was going to be. But this was not the case either. Here the cast seem to be made up of evocative American character actors and a couple of respected British names. I think Jon Finch was mentioned as being the 'other one',  though he was soon replaced by John hurt.

I asked Scott about the casting

'I want alien to move this kind of films up to the next level 'he said' I don't want it to be one of those low budget sci-fi things"

'You want me to play Ash the science officer?' he nodded 'And he is a robot?'

'Yes a bit like the mother computer in 2001 but broken down into a person. Well - sort of. Do you know Kubrick?'

Well of course I did, in a funny kind of way so. I nodded and change the subject.

'Why is the change to a person? A robot person?'

"We were thinking that one day all computers will talk. It's an extension of that idea."

In truth I was prepared to do the film almost as soon as it was offered. Though there was something that troubled me about playing a robot.  I asked Scott about this wondering how he saw the character on screen. I knew even then that he would have something to say about this. To him, ideas were an itch that begged for a scratch.

'I think Ash should be realistic.'

'How do you mean?"

'Realistic human,  it's the same for the monster. The realism will make it work - not fantasy'

This was the bit that worried me.  When I'd done the Lost Boys,  I had established an immediate instinctive rapport with J. M. Barrie, or at least my version of the character I felt Barry to have been. This was more or less how I did all my work,  Playing a smuggler of secrets for the television production Mirage, I had met the real person on whom the drama was based and immediately become him adopting mannerisms, transforming my face with his expressions and turning my hands round like him.

 I never felt this amounted to mimicry or mere imitation, though I do think that apery is part of the art of the acting but with the non-character of Ash, I had no leads, no way  in. I supposed Scott meant that I should in some may fall back on myself and be 'human' in that way.

I accepted the part and brooded about a way to do it. Around then I was good at brooding.  Part of the trouble was that I was spending too much time with my own thoughts and coming up against the unflattering mirrors they provided. And I have plenty of time to think. (Ian Holm: Acting My Life p209-p212)

HR Giger's Biomechanical Landscape III "Trains" (work 418) (1979) references Radio Times 13th-19th March 1976 cover advertising "The Last Kingdom of the Kalash"

Leading from

a) Biomechanoid train ride through the Hindu Kush
On the 14th March 2017, I find an image of the Radio Times cover from 13-19 March 1976 at the Radio Times Collectors page on Facebook , showing some architecture of a village in the Hindu Kush advertising the TV series, "The Last Kingdom of the Kalash" which is associated with the valleys of the Hindu Kush.

I don't have much information about the program or the area so I can't be that specific.

I suddenly realised that because of what I've seen of Giger's familiarity with the Radio Times, this obviously would have been a photo that inspired him in some way and he would latched on the chance of possibly using it.

Looking through his images, I thought it might have been shortly after Alien because it was an image from a couple years before the production and if he encountered it then, he might want to do a painting relating to it when he had some time.

I then realised that Giger appeared to have used it as reference for his painting Biomechanical Landscape III "Trains" (work 418) (1979).

For this painting I was probably hoping to find a train station photo or painting instead but here I realise that could never be.

Cover photo from Radio Times 13th-19th March 1976,


b) Stretched across the biomechanic landscape
So the idea is that he's taken the different levels of the dwellings and liberally turned them into separate trains along a platform, shown from a different perspective, stretched across the landscape.

The fronts of these buildings with their wall, roofs and platforms sticking out of the front would be generally speaking turned on their sides and inside out into bulbous train like forms.

The planks sticking out would be transformed into strange ribbed forms.

Shadows would be transformed into strange deformed areas

There would be at least another source of reference to consider for this painting. 

(Still trying working on describing the transformation that went on here)

Biomechanical Landscape III "Trains" (work 418) (1979)

Cover photo from Radio Times 13th-19th March 1976, and
Biomechanical Landscape III "Trains" (work 418) (1979)

Cover photo from Radio Times 13th-19th March 1976,