Francis Bacon vs Alien vs Eraserhead vs Shivers

leading from

Detail from Francis Bacon's Head 2
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.”

Head 2 by Francis Bacon from 1947-48
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

Head 1 by Francis Bacon (1947-1948)

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. 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)

Francis Bacon (28 October 1909 – 28 April 1992)

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?

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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 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 s 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"

Aleister Crowley image as a Giger Skateboard design

Source Quote 
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. 

b) 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,

c) 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

d) 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)

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)

Bathroom traumas and Ernst Fuch's demons

leading from

a) In Giger's Necronomicon, Giger has talked about a dream that he had about a bath, and there was a little boy about five years old who was completely violet blue with little horns. 

b) He acknowledge that the demons from his dreams are more related to the bible and they look a little bit like like the demons that Ernst Fuchs claims that he can see rather than anything typical of his own paintings. And Giger's view about how this was so, is because they must share, as Gustave Jung theorised, a common archetype

Ernst Fuchs
  1. HR Giger: I was lying on my bed watching Li dancing in a yellow dress, which sprayed sparks of yellow light across the room. The space was interwoven with red geometric shapes and the pictures on the wall were coming away in layers. The walls pulsated in step with my heartbeat. The first sign of anxiety came when I suddenly had to piss and went to the lavatory. The edge of the bowl grew slowly toward my penis like a wide-open vagina as if to castrate me. At first, the idea amused me. But suddenly the whole room began to grow narrower and narrower, the walls and pipes took on the aspect of loose skin with festering wounds, and small, repellent creatures glared out at me from the dark corners and cracks. 

    I turned and hurried toward the exit, but the door was infinitely far away and very narrow and tall. The walls hemmed me like two paunchy lumps of flesh. I leapt or the door, drew the bolt, and rushed into the corridor, gasping for breath. Rid of the specter, I went to Li’s room and lay down. Little Boris (son of Li’s friend Evelyn) was also in the room and wanted to play with me. He began to trample on the bed beside me, kicking me. I was as helpless as a small child and could not defend myself. Li finally rescued me from my diminutive tormentor, who had by now turned into a little violet-green devil with an offensively mean and aggressive expression. Li took Boris to his mother, who was hanging around in the kitchen.
    But the couple of kicks in the stomach had been enough. I felt sick. The air in the room was stifling. My only thought was to throw open the window and escape to the garden, for the room was at ground level. But at the last minute, I noticed a woman looking at me strangely. The vomit already in my mouth, I turned round, rushed into the corridor and suddenly stopped dead – I was afraid to go into the narrow lavatory again. In the kitchen, I noticed Evelyn with her son, both staring at me. The only sanctuary was the small bathroom and the rusty blue bathtub with its flaking enamel. So I grabbed Li by the hand and dragged her into the bathroom, where I vomited into the bathtub. The vomit spewed endlessly from my mouth in the form of a thick, gray, leathery worm turning into a kind of primeval slime, and once into the living intestines of a slaughtered pig. 

    During this whole performance, I had held Li firmly by the left wrist. She had been struggling to free the clogged waste pipe by poking at it with a ballpoint pen. Finally, she could no longer stand the repulsive garlic-impregnated smell, and we both vomited together into the bathtub, hand in hand, while the gas water heater glared at us malevolently, Now  I was afraid of being aloen,  and Li had to keep holding me by the hand, like a small child, I wanted to leave the house and get out into the fresh air. She put on my coat and shoes and we went into the street, but I was overcome with panic again. We had to make wide detours round harmless passers-by whom my brain had turned into crazed murderers. Everything seemed hostile towards me - houses, trees, cars - only water could calm me down. A trench by the roadside threatened to swallow me up. Despite Li's assurances that it was not so, the pavement seemed to slant violently, so that I kept sliding sideways into the trench. I clung to Li with tear filled eyes, for I seemed to be lost without her. Li had to suddenly get some chewing gum, to get rid of the sour taste in her mouth. She went to the kiosk, and I had to stand alone and helpless a couple of minutes on the corner. When she finally came back I was frozen and shivering, and wanted to return to my little room in Feldeggstrasse. This was a mistake, however, for hardly had we entered the room when the warmth and confined space brought back my nausea. I vomit into a basin and ordered Li to turn all the pictures face to the wall. All of them frightened me and I grew more and more panic stricken. Li had to carry out my orders with lightning succession. The fear of losing control of my senses made me more and more confused in my actions. Suddenly I felt I could not stand the torment any more! I had to kill myself. Now the loaded revolver became highly dangerous. I asked Li to empty it and throw the ammunition away. But as she did not know how, I had to take hold of the revolver to do it myself and, in doing so, suddenly became aware of the ridiculousness of my fear. My horror vanished and – thanks God – I awoke. (Giger's Necronomicon, p14)
  2. Fear: Have you ever met a demon in your dreams?
    Giger: Hmm. In Necronomicon, I had this dream about the bath. A little boy about five years old was completely blue-violet and he had little horns. Your demons are not "Gigeresque" then?
    Fear:Are they more biblical?

    Giger:In the way they look?
    Giger:That's strange. They look a little bit like Ernst Fuch's demons. He told me he can see demons like that. [Pause] I think there are people, as Gustave Jung theorised, who share a common archetype
    (Fear magazine, December 1990, p22) 

Alien: List of Elements to be Designed

Leading from

a) Surprise Phonecall
Dan O'Bannon who was in LA and H R Giger who was in Switzerland were communicating via phone. Giger noted a 30 minute conversation that took place in July 1977 when Dan called him to talk about the Alien film project, he spoke very slowly down the phone and Giger with his poor English could still understand what was being said. It was then that Dan told him about how when the Dune project collapsed, he went back to Hollywood. Soon afterwards was very ill with a tiresome stomach trouble and so had lain sick at the home of his friend Ron Shusett. However he had still managed to work on the story of Alien with his friends help. Dan had written to SF Horror Story and had also made the suggestion that the fearsome Alien monster should be created by Giger. Brandywine Productions were approached to put up capitol for the film production. And Dan would have a letter sent over to Giger setting out the main things that he wanted created. However there was not much money available but enough to advance Giger a thousand dollars so at least he would not be working for nothing as he did on Dune.

b) List of Elements to be Designed
Twentieth Century fox had finally sent Giger a cheque for $1000 and with it came the list of the things that Dan O'Bannon wanted. It arrived on 11th of July at Giger's house.

part of Dan O'Bannon's letter
(Giger's Alien, p10)


EXTERIOR, ANCIENT TEMPLE. Approximately twenty meters tall. Should suggest an ancient, primitive and cruel culture.

INTERIOR, TEMPLE.  This is where the Spore Pods are stored. This room is entered through a vertical tunnel in the roof ( the normal entrance had long since collapsed). The Spore Pods can be seen ranked around the altar in the centre of the room.

THE ALIEN, FIRST PHASE. This is a small, possibly octopoidal creature which waits inside the Spore Pod, the lid flies off, and the small Alien (First Phase), leaps out and attaches itself to the face of the victim

THE ALIEN, SECOND PHASE.  Once the Alien (First Phase) has attached itself to the face of a victim, it lays eggs in the victim's stomach, and the egg grows into the Alien (Second Phase). This is a small creature which bites its way out of the victim's body.

THE ALIEN, THIRD (NATURE) PHASE. Having left its victim, the Alien promptly grows to a man-size, where upon it is terrifically dangerous. It is very mobile, strong, and capable of tearing a man to pieces. It feeds on human flesh. This creature should be a profane abomination. Our producers have suggested that something resembling an over-sized, deformed baby might be sufficiently loathsome. In any events, we wish you to feel free to create your own design. 

c) See also : Giger's early facehugger concept
Source Quotes
  1. H R Giger: Early Design. July 1977 I get an entirely unexpected telephone call from Dan O'Bannon in Hollywood. He speaks very slowly, so that in spite of my poor English, I can understand the important things in store for me. He is talking about a new project for a film called Alien. He tells me that, when the Dune project broke down, he went back to Hollywood, and soon afterwards he was very ill. A tiresome stomach trouble. He had lain sick in bed at the home of his friend Ron Shusett, and had still managed to work out the Alien story with his friend's help. When he was better, he had written to the SF Horror Story and made the suggestion that the fearsome Alien monster should be created by me. Brandywine Productions, consisting of Gordon Caroll, David Giler and Walter Hill, were approached to put up the capital for the production of the film. He says he will let me have a letter setting out the main things he would want me to create. Unfortunately there isn't much money available yet, but enough to advance me a thousand dollars, so that I shouldn't feel that I'd be working for nothing anymore. However, first I have to wait for the letter, to see where the whole thing is really going to interest me. We are about half an hour talking on the telephone. Now I wait excitedly to see what will happen next. (Giger's Alien, p8)

Giger's Alien I facehugger version IV

leading from

Still Collating

Alien I Facehugger version IV (work 379) (1978)
a) Ideas
Giger's idea was that the creature was going to be very smooth and slimy with eight long, fine but
strong fingers, as if it were made from two hands and the fingers would be at the front, however the main difference between his idea and the final one was that his was going to be translucent.

A 2nd version of the painting found
online but with a rounder body.

b) Attempting to construct
He started building the chestburster and the facehugger, he had to give up on the chestburster, it was known that his design for this was going in the wrong direction however which left him unsatisfied with it, but the the reason he gave up on the facehugger was that the producers wanted him to get the big Alien finished in time.

A 3rd version of the painting found online but with an even rounder body (
Source Quote
  1. HR Giger:The first creature is like a crab sitting in the egg, I worked as an industrial designer in Zurich, so when they told me what the alien had to do, I could see the beast in terms of its func- tions. I designed the face-hugger with a tightly coiled tail so it could jump out of its egg, using the tail as a spring. I gave the first one a tail the shape of a spring, because its function commanded that it could jump out at the face. And also two hands so it could grab a hold of the head. (Cinescape vol 3,#9)
  2. HR Giger: Later on he said that, er, I should do it smaller, so I think something with human hands is always scary , so I , I had the finger, long fingers what is the most important part of the facehugger, and then it's a part, there's the little sexual like, yuh, and erm, the tube for erm that this beast has to... to... to... put in the... in the mouth, and then late, I had this hands in front, and then Dan O'Bannon draw them side... sidewards, that was better (Alien Quadrology  documentry)
  3. HR Giger: At school I worked as an industrial designer so everything must have a function. The Facehugger was determined through its function. You have to show that. I was thinking that something jumps out and then holds onto someone's face needs fingers or hands. Normally if someone is sitting on your face, you can't breathe through your nose, so you automatically open your mouth. Then the monster goes down. So it looked a little bit like a crab or a spider. I like long fingers, so it had these long fingers, then two hands and a spiral tail. That was it, The hands hold onto Kane's face and the tail wraps around his neck.(Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror, p70

Alien: Giger's Early Facehugger Concepts

O'Bannon's sketch, Egg with facehugger
(Giger's Alien, p10)

a) Initial letter
Dan's letter to H R Giger arrived with descriptions in basic English of what he wanted the Facehugger to do, that it was supposed to be small, and it was an octopus like creature that would leap onto the person's face, wrap its tentacles around behind the person's head and then it would have an organ that was an ovipositer which would be shoved down the person's throat. Dan had also sent a sketch that he had drawn of a facehugger popping out of the egg that looked more to Giger like a flying omelette.

work 364a, Giger's facehugger sketch (Giger's Alien, p10)
b) Giger's initial idea
Following his background as an industrial designer, everything must have a function, and good design, the function of the object ought to be clearly visible and so the facehugger's form would be determined through its function. Giger took note of the descriptions that he had been given as well as the sketches. He understood that the creature was supposed to jump out of a big egg, so he thought that it must be a creature large enough to fill the egg, and when it jumped out, it has a tale like a springfender or a spring as in a jack-in-the-box. He started out with a body that looked like a giant sex organ which to Giger was what it really was, and was thinking that if something that jumps out and then holds onto someone's face, it needs fingers or hands. Giger liked long spidery fingers and so he gave the creature these.

work 365a, Giger's Facehugger sketch. (Giger's Alien, p10)
c) Depositing the embryo
The idea was that normally if someone is sitting on another person's face, that other person can't breath through the nose, and would automatically open his mouth, then the monster goes down.  Emrbyos are formed in a sack (See work 365). Then the facehugger sinks its tube-like proboscis into the throat of the victim to deposit its embryos. Also since the creature had to pry open the victim's mouth, it would be given an pince-like instrument (See work 364) like the old Egyptians used on their dead to force open the mouth and allow the person to eat and drink in the after life, although Giger's interpretation at the time was was that the ceremony allowed the spirit of the dead person to be released. (See also Inspired by the Opening of the Mouth Ritual)

LAX airport 1978
d) Trouble up at the airport customs
A few weeks later, Giger mailed large photographic transparencies to O'Bannon and others at Fox. When they arrived at the airport, the custom officials didn't understand what they were and became alarmed. They had to personally come down to LAX  from Fox and pick what H R Giger had sent up.
work 364, (Giger's Alien, p11)
e) Vision of the fingers
When Dan O'Bannon finally got these photographs for the designs, he held them up to the light where he could see them, and was stunned at what he saw. There was the lobed creature attached to the face of a person, but instead of tentacles, there were fingers! It was these fingers that amazed Dan and as soon as he saw those fingers he knew that he would do whatever he had in order to get those fingers into the film. Hollywood itself had still not said yes to Giger's work. He also sent O'Bannon the first copy of the newly published French edition of "H.R. Giger's Necronomicon", with the ink still wet from the printers

f) See also Alien: Creating the Facehugger 
work 365. (Giger's Alien, p11)

Source Quotes
  1. HR Giger: 11 July 1977. O'Bannon's letter has arrived. One version in German and one in English. Also some explanatory sketches by Ron Cobb (who also had been working with Jodorowsky) and by O'Bannon himself. The cheque for the promised thousand dollars has also arrived. Now I realy must get down to work (Giger's Alien, p10)
  2. HR Giger: The story tells of spore capsules (eggs) inside a pyramid. This gives me the idea of using the Swiss egg-box for the basic structure of the pyramid (plate 363c). The eggs themselvs, which according to O'Bannon's sketch (plate 363b). (Giger's Alien, p10)
  3. HR Giger: Plates 364a and 365a show the first sketches, as Alien I, the Facehugger, jumps out of the egg. In a good design, the function of the object ought to be clearly visible, so I give the Facehugger a tail to be used as a spring for taking off (like a tail on the jumping devil toy, plate 364a. ). The Facehugger, which clings to the face of its victims, gets spidery fingers on both sides (plate 363/364/365).  (Giger's Alien, p10)  (click here for work 363)
  4. HR Giger: Once it gets its claws in, the Facehugger sinks its tube-like proboscis into the throat of the victim to deposit its embryos. Plate 364 shows how it uses a pince-like mechanism to force open the mouth. Plate 365, a variant, shows the sack in which the embryos are formed.(Giger's Alien, p10)
  5. HR Giger: The Face Hugger, that was my first thing I did for Dan O'Bannon when he sent me I think about a thousand dollar to do some paintings for Alien and er, he gave me an explanation and erm drawings, and he said that it's jumping on a big egg , the egg is about that, so I thought that must be quite a big monster, so I did an enormous facehugger like a... and erm, he was jumping, I thought he could jump when his tail is like, is curved like a springfender or whatever, a jack in the box. (Alien Quadrology :documentry)
  6. HR Giger: As an idea of what he wanted, Dan O'Bannon sent me a sketch he had done of this thing popping out of an egg [the face-hugger) it looked like a flying omelette. I started out with a body that looked like a giant sex organ - which is what it was really. I did two paintings of it, and sent slides of them to Dan O'Bannon. (Neon, DECEMBER 1997)
  7. H.R.Giger: Since it had to pry open the victim's mouth, I gave it an instrument something like the old Egyptians used on their dead to force open the mouth and let the spirit out. (Cinefex 1, p36)
  8. HR Giger:These are my proposals for the job they have given me. I have transparencies made of the pictures, sketches and models, send them to O'Bannon, and wait.
    Still no answer from Hollywood. My book H.R. Giger's Necronomicon (in the French version) has just been published. I send O'Bannon the first copy, the ink is still wet from the printers.(Giger's Alien, p10)
  9. Dan O'Bannon: (35:53) I'm over here in LA, Giger's over there in Switzerland, we're communicating on the phone, Twentieth Century Fox has finally sent him some money to get started, and I sat down and wrote out some very simple parameters for what I wanted him to start designing, and I described in the simplest terms what the Facehugger was to do, that it was supposed to be a small, sort of octopus like thing that would leap onto a person's face, wrap its tentacles around behind the person's head and then it would have an organ , an ovipositer which would be shoved down the person's throat. ( Alien commentary from Alien Quadrilogy DVD and Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)  
  10. Dan O'Bannon: A few weeks later, Giger mailed these large photographic transparencies to us at Fox, they came through through customs, they didn't understand what they were and were alarmed, we had to personally come down to LAX and pick these things up, and I finally got these photographs that Giger had made for the designs he had done for the facehugger and I held them up to the light where I could see them, I was stunned at what I saw, there was the  (37:00) There was the lobed creature attached to the face of a person, but instead of tentacles, there were fingers! fingers! As soon as I saw those fingers I knew that I would do whatever I had to do to get those fingers into the film, ( Alien commentary from Alien Quadrilogy DVD and Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)  
  11. HR Giger: These are my proposals for the job they have given me. I have transparencies made of the pictures, sketches and models, send them to O'Bannon, and wait.
    Still no answer from Hollywood. My book H.R. Giger's Necronomicon (in the French version) has just been published. I send O'Bannon the first copy, the ink is still wet from the printers.(Giger's Alien, p10)