The Alien Creature

Leading from
Alien: Making the Movie   

3) Ridley Scott's Alien Monster
a) Into The Necronomicon
b) Looking for the Alien's Nucleus
c)  The Sudanese
d) Bolaji Badejo from the Gold Coast
e) The Salamander People
f) The Chestburster
g) The Facehugger
h) The Egg
i) Paintings that inspired the big Alien
j) Roger Dicken's big alien
k) Creating the Alien

l) Human to Spore stage
m)  An intermediary stage 

n) The Alien as a folded up box 
o) Saliva Story 

The Space Jockey

Leading from
Alien: Making the Movie   


At the beginning of the Alien production, the corpse of alien pilot was known as the alien pilot. Giger's his diaries freely refers to the crew of the Nostromo as Space Jockeys, but eventually the name The Space Jockey stuck on the alien pilot and today when people might talk about a Space Jockey in science fiction, often they're referring to the alien pilot in Alien and the original open use of the term perhaps since Robert Heinlein's scifi novel from 1947 "The Space Jockey" has almost been forgotten.
  1.  Roots in "Swiss Family Robinson"
  2. Early Designs for the Space Jockey
  3. Unlocking the design of the Space Jockey
  4. The Space Jockey's Story 

The Planetoid

Turkish Pyramid Dwellings

Plans for Turkey
When the silo and the derelict were still perceived as separate Scott had planned at stage one to film part of Turkey where people lived in large pyramid structures, but this didn't cut to budget and keep everything safe in the studio. Was he talking about the strange mounds of Cappadocia? Or perhaps the cone dwellings of Harran?
  1. Ridley: I'd seen looking at some spots for another picture that would have been beautiful for Alien , particularly in Turkey where there are these pyramid like dwellings - huge, mountainous structures which cover hundreds of square miles. Absolutely extraordinary. But it was a practical budget decision not to go away on location, so we just did what we could in the studio. (Cinefex 1, p64, 1st paragraph (also repeated in Alien: The Archive, p40, apart from the last sentence)

dwelling s made from the fairy chimney rock formations of Cappadocia

the fairy chimney rock formations of Cappadocia

Cone Dwellings of Harran in Turkey
Cone Dwellings of Harran in Turkey
Cone Dwellings of Harran in Turkey

Alien: Brett's death in the Claw Room -
Temple Environment

Leading from
The Nostromo

a) Brett Enters the leg room
Brett goes into a room, and there was a big argument about the room but Ridley stuck to his guns.
The studio people were asking "how would you have water dripping inside this room?"

Ridley's response was "why not?"

They asked "Why the chains?"

Ridley responded "Well, the chains aren't very high-tech. yeah, you know what, you've still got to let things down, so it's still going to be rope or water, it's not necessarily electronic"

He had the chains dressed because the room looked a bit blank and he needed the movement in there.

Then they were asking " How's it moving?"

He responded "I don't care"

'Where's the water coming from? " they continued

Ridley responds "Condensation"

The next question was "Why the condensation?"

Again Ridley must answer a question, "Because something's gone wrong in the ship's air conditioning and it's not life threatening, they'll put up with it"

Even Ivor Powell, near enough sci-fi grounded found himself asking Ridley "what-what-what's all this wet business, I mean, wha-what-what's the raison d'etre for it"

And Ridley would respond " oh no, it's great, you know"

And it was Ridley coming from the point of someone with an artistic eye for detail

Terry Rawlings as the film editor with a background in sound editing loved the sound of the dripping water surrounding the viewer as if it were like entering a rain forest

This room was the landing leg room where the floor would open and the leg would go down and support the ship. Brett knew that he was in trouble, but after all, the thing that he is looking for ought to be small, but of course it isn't

The cat snarls. To get this reaction out of the cat, so next to Harry Dean Stanton,  he had a German shepherd hidden behind a sheet of board on a leash, so obviously it couldn't get near the cat. They raised the board and Ridley got the reaction he wanted. As if the cat went "What!"

It gets to the point where there's the sound of water landing on the peak of Brett's had and down his face, he's cooling off, and there's a long stretch that leads up to something.

The Claw (images taken from the film and merged on Photoshop)
b) The Claw as an Idol
The landing leg itself becomes the idol that almost filled up the room but remained suspended in the air. Ridley wanted to see the landing leg, the "claw" the idol seen through the gap between the massive doors as big as the wallls. The "claw" would be so big that it almost touched the walls but was still hanging in the air.

The Claw as seen from the rafters (image taken from the film)

c) Reference to Heath Robinson
He also mentioned Heath Robinson in his comparison, an artist who drew cartoons featuring unlikely machines, and so his name entered the language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption.

Heath Robinson cartoon
d) Connection with another temple environment
As it happens, the derelict space craft is also a temple in this way, with the space jockey as a central idol (which becomes interesting in view that the Space Jockey chair and occupant are inspired by the Henu Barque which would have taken central place in its own chapel) and becomes connected to the claw room temple by a piece of music played in both environments.

Space Jockey a central idol of a temple environment

e) Leg interior

f) Alien descending
The cat is peering around the corner and going backwards, and then suddenly the alien is descending. Ridley brought the creature in upside down and what it was at first was a tale coming down behind his back and then a jellified almost aspic like forehead, Brett turns around

The alien's head was seen as something beautiful in a streamlined way, and Brett doesn't know what he is looking at, and suddenly it comes up, its face is seen, the famous mouth opens up, the viewers would know that Brett was in real trouble and death occurs.

Harry Dean Stanton felt that he screwed up with this scene because he could never play terror. He knew how to laugh, how to cry and do everything else but playing terror. It would happen later that he would understand that rather than look scared, he should just look as if he had not seen anything like whatever it was before.

Parker and Ripley would have rushed in but somehow it seemed too normal and Ridley decides to leave Brett to die in a lonely fashion and then they would come to the discussion in the room. The cat would have been the only witness.

g) Editing Brett's death
Originally the scene where Brett was killed was longer and there was the rain in the falling water. and because the stuntman had his arms outstretchced, it looked as id the creature was on a cross hanging up but couldn't be seen properly because he was diffused by the falling water.
They were saying to Terry, "take it out because you're giving it away"

But Terry responded "No one's going to know what they're looking at 'cause you've never seen it ,

Source quotes:
  1. Fantastic Films: In the film the landing foot is a claw like thing, but in the storyboard it's a tapered roller

    Ridley Scott: This is how these things change. After I thought about it for a while I decided not to have these huge steel rollers. Eventually it developed into a foot and the foot became a claw after a while longer. We ended up using the claw in two places. Somehow when one does a storyboard, you can suddenly work out a method to show how big the ship is( Fantastic Films #11, p28)
  2. Ridley Scott: I wanted a huge claw room down in the bilge, where the ship's feet would be retracted during flight, like the anchor cable tier on an ocean liner. (Fantastic Films #11, p34)
  3. Ridley Scott: The visual idea I had in mind was to fill the entire room with the "claw" so that it almost touched the walls and floor, but is still apparently hanging free in the air. (Fantastic Films, #12, p25-26)
  4. Ridley Scott: These are jet engines standing on end. And we used all the stuff as essentially real, so I just got stuff. And this is like, I always thought was like Egyptian treasure.. treasure trove, this room, so I said the whole room should be gold, and so we made it, sprayed it all gold, and I got that really off the first moon landing vehicle which of course had all that, it looked like what I call in English Heath Robinson, kind of a simple lashup with a lot of copper, tin foil underneath to protect it and er, so we kept that in mind. (Alien director's commentry dvd)
  5. Ridley Scott: First thing I wanted to see was something that you didn't understand, so when Harry Dean Stanton goes after the cat, I figured I just bring him in from upside down, which was basically just a tale coming down behind his back, then a kind of jellified almost like aspic forehead , then he turns around, then it comes up and you see the face, and then you knew that you were in real trouble. (Alien Saga documentary)
  6. (Harry walks into the next room and wets his face in the dripping condensation)

    He knows he's in trouble, but after all, the object he's looking for is small, isn't it. Now, to get this reaction out of the cat, I had a leashed on my ad for all animal lovers because my cat wouldn't behave so I had a German shepherd behind a sheet of board on a leash, so it obviously couldn't get near the cat. l just raised the board and I got the reaction. (chuckle) The cat went
    "what!" (chuckle)

    I always like this when he, and the sound on the peak.. on his peak... down his face, he's cooling off... silence again...long stretches ...leading up to something

    (Image of the cat peering around the corner)
    There he is

    And here we have it

    (alien descending)

    There it is, perfect reaction, and there ... beautiful head, I wanted it to be beautiful, and I guess that's beautiful in a streamlined way, and the cat going backwards is perfect. And he doesn't know what he's looking at, no idea what he's looking at, and there's the famous mouth.

    (jaw tongue comes out at Brett)

    The uh, we used to have, uh, you know, Ripley and er, Sigourney and ...and er Yaphett rush in, but somehow that was too normal, it was more elegant to leave him to die in a lonely fashion and then come to them here. The cat was the only witness. (Alien Legacy dvd commentary)
  7. (1:01:10 /1:03:47) Ridley Scott: And yeah, I remember running the film in, I think we were in London? Or as it L. A., the Egyptian, but I remember running it in London and er, and the film in L. A., and I knew we had something really extra-ordinary (1:04:00) because of mainly because of the reaction, not just during but afterwards
    (1:01:27 /1:04:06) Sigourney Weaver: Mmm
    (1:01:27 /1:04:06) Ridley Scott:There was this kind of stunned silence and er, and I remember Harry coming up to me, I think it was in the Egyptian, and he's so sweet, and Harry looked at me and said "Thanks for the closeups man"
    (1:01:40 /1:04:19) Sigourney Weaver: Aaah, sweet
    (1:01:41 /1:04:20) Ridley Scott  : Yeh, and er, and he meant when he walks through and goes "here kitty kitty kitty"
    (1:01:47 / 1:04:27) Sigourney Weaver:Yes
    (1:01:48 /1:04:27) Ridley Scott :which is great.
    (1:01:49 /1:04:28) Sigourney Weaver:Yes
    (1:01:49 /1:04:28) Ridley Scott: That moment you know he is gone,
    (1:01:51 /1:04:30) Sigourney Weaver:I know
    (1:01:52 /1:04:31) Ridley Scott: but but er, he was very sweet and er, he and Yaphet made this great duo, you know.
    (1:01:58 /1:04:37) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
    (1:01:58 /1:04:37) Ridley Scott: And, er, in fact I think the whole (01:02:00) to me is probably the best ensemble I've ever had
    (1:02:04 /1:04:48) Harry Dean Stanton: Now this is where I screwed up, I could ne... I could never play terror. Oh, I can play crying, I can laugh, I can cry, I can do everything but playing terror, and I didn't know it at the time but I found out later how to play terror.(1:05:00) And I didn't use it in this part. It worked, but I wish I had known it, you don't look scared, you just look like "I've never seen anything like this before"
    (1:02:28 /1:05:12) Tom Skerrit: like... "woo-oo-ooh"
    (1:02:29 /1:05:14) Harry Dean Stanton: that's all you have to do
    (1:02:30 /1:05:15) Veronica Cartwright: Urrrgh, there's the skin, it's shedding its skin
    (1:02:35 /1:05:20) Tom Skerrit: Something's up Harry
    (1:02:37 /1:05:23) Harry Dean Stanton: God, these sickening images are gonna get'im
    (1:02:40 /1:05:26) Veronica is laughing
    (1:02:42 /1:05:29) Harry Dean Stanton:  Disgusting
    (1:02:46 /1:05:33) Terry Rawling: This is great soundwise too, when you just enter this like rain forest with the rain and the dripping just surrounding you
    (1:02:57 /1:05:46) Ridley Scott: Again, sticking to your guns. 
    Why the water? (01:03:00)So I just say," why not?
    Why the chains? "Well, the chains aren't very high-tech". 
    I said, "yeah, you know what, you've still got to let things down, so it's still going to be rope or water, it's not necessarily electronic", (1:06:00)
    So I had the chains dressed because the room looked a bit blank and I need the movement in there uh. How's it moving? I said, "I don't care."
    Where's the water coming from? I said "condensation". 
    Why the condensation? "erm because er, something's gone wrong and the ship, but they can... it's not, it's not life threatening, they'll put up with it."

    (1:03:36 / 1:06:24) Tom Skerrit: The clinking

    (1:03:38 /1:06:26) Veronica Cartwright: Yuh, the chains and the...

    (1:03:39 / 1:06:26) Tom Skerrit: Oh, yeah. Oh Ridley! Ridley! Ridley!

    (1:03:43 /1:06:30) Veronica Cartwright: And the rain, see like that there. There's that, all that moisture that's coming in. You wouldn't get that moisture in outer space, I don't think but...

    (1:03:51 /1:06:38) Tom Skerrit: You do now

    (1:03:53 /1:06:40) Harry Dean Stanton: That was my idea, Ridley loved me for that one, he took ....  he lapped it up immediately.

    (1:03:57 / 1:06:44) Tom Skerrit:Yeah


    (1:04:22 /1:06:53) Ridley Scott: There's always this sense that "Had I made it too slow?" But I think the slowness.  It isn't slow, I think it makes it more tense, (1:07:00) you know something always is going to happen. This was always amusing, I couldn't get a reaction from the cat, so I said I'll know what I'll do, so I put a board along side Harry Dean Stanton and had a German Shepherd there and we just lifted the board, it was on a leash so it never harmed the cat, but that's how you get that reaction from the cat, it's basically going "Whaaaat!" and erm, it... there. And that's where it sees the shepherd (01:05:00) and Harry's trying to ignore it.  That's still a pretty unique look at a new movie beast. I think it was very  confusing when people saw that. I mean, diffused and horrified and I think particularly after what happened on the table, I , think that it got to a moment where some people wanted to leave. And there were. We have people walk out at certain points. Which I was really nervous about and I was told afterwards "no no no, actually, in this instance , that's a plus. 'cause that will drive the word of mouth". And so I started to realise that word of mouth is as important as anything else on a film.

    (01:07:37) Would I do this today? Erm, not really, I'd be "queeda"(?), I'd still be going for the tension, I'd still be going for nothing happening, but erm, but I think it worked pretty well. Sometimes you look at these things and then go "I want to cut, I want to cut, over". (1:08:00) (Alien commentary from alien quadrilogy)
  8. Wayne Imms: It might be a silly question, but how do you know, how do you know how to make a film like that?

    Terry Rawlings: Well, it's perfectly instinctive, you've got to feel it yourself. I mean, there's no rule book is there? There is no rule book, you do it until you're happy with it, and then obviously when an audience see it, er, they either let... tell you it's working or isn't working, and er , and that was , as I say, that was a difficult thing with that film. but er, I think looking at it again today, everything worked, and I think apart from the one in the, the rain room with the chains, when Brett gets killed, the first one, this, yeah, erm, well the second one really, no whatsit
    Other voice (possibly Wayne or Ivor): What, other than Kane?
    Terry Rawlings: Yeah, other than Kane, he's the first one, that was longer originally, we had it, I had it longer, and I found it more tense and more stressful, and the thing is, I remember there was a shot I had of the alien in the water, like on a cross. It looked like he was on a cross hanging up, but you couldn't see it properly 'cause he's all diffused with the water coming down, and he starts looking up and you know, the way he looks and he thinks he's seen something, and the thing is, they said "take it out because you're giving it away". I said "No one's going to know what they're looking at 'cause you've never seen it" , but when we see it, they know they've seen it.  (Alien Q &A, Genesis Cinema, August 24th 2014)(
  9.  Ivor Powell: no, yeah, well, that's a difficult one because I mean erm, I mean , well talking about the rain, the rain sequence, I mean, I, erm, again being sort of scifi grounded, I sort of said to Ridley, "what-what-what's all this wet business, I mean, wha-what-what's the raison d'etre for it" etc and he said " oh no, it's great, you know", I, (Alien Q &A, Genesis Cinema, August 24th 2014)

Cosmic Incubation

a) In Time Out magazine back in 1979, Helen MacKintoch interviewed H R Giger and wrote an article about what he said rather than typing out the interview word for word, she made a reference to H R Giger referring to "Cosmic Incubation" and there was no more mention of this phrase.

b) In the Giger's Alien documentary, Giger talks about the facehugger and its antiques, leading to the beginning of the cosmic incubation.

c) In Ancient Astronaut Special Edition Star Wars vs Alien, in the latter part of 1979, Giger mentioned that Mia named the movie The Cosmic Incubation.

d) However 2013 when Giger's Alien Diaries were released, it was revealed that this came from a subheading for Alien that Mia came up with and Giger liked.
  1. Time Out 7-13 September 1979: As the Nostromo party wander through the derelict's vaulted, dimly lit passages, they come to the vast and threatening silo, home of Giger's 'cosmic incubation.' Here he says, 'you can find the eggs, where it's coming from, the Evil.'
  2. Voiceover reading Giger's words:The facehugger, the design for the small alien monster named The Facehugger is lying in wait inside the egg to be awakened out of its beauty sleep by the slightest touch of the astronaut's hand. It flings itself onto its victim, eating its way through the helmet and settles on the man's face, forcing its long snout down into the helpless victim's throat in order to deposit its horrible seed . The cosmic incubation has begun (Giger's Alien documentary)
  3. H R Giger (August 29th 1978) : Mia found a good subheading for Alien in German "Alien - Cosmische Inkubation [" Alien Cosmic Incubation. ] (Giger's Alien diaries p519)
  4. HR Giger: Mia named it: The Cosmic Incubation (Ancient Astronaut Special Edition Star Wars vs Alien,  fall 1979, article: HR Giger The Nightmare Maker,p20)

Alien Resources

Leading from  

Interview and Commentary transcriptions
i Edited Ridley Scott commentary for the Alien 20th Anniversary DVD  
ii. Raw Ridley Scott Commentary for the Alien 20th Anniversary DVD 
iii. Edited Alien Laserdisc Don Shay interview with Ridley Scott
iv. Raw Alien Laserdisc Don Shay interview with Ridley Scott 
v. interviewed Brian Muir at Heroes...
vi. Online version of the early Alien script by Dan O'Bannon
vii. Alien commentary from Alien Quadrilogy DVD and Alien Anthology Blu-Ray
viii. 2009 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival: Dan O'Bannon's "Howie" Acceptance Speech
ix. WTF with Marc Maron; Alien segment from Harry Dean Stanton interview
x. Dan O'Bannon on Alien (from Moebius Redux dvd extras)  
xi. Film4's Ridley Scott introduction to Alien
xii. Famous-monsters-of-film-land-159-p29-1979

xiii. Alien Q & A at the Genesis Cinema, August 23rd 2014

My original essay from about 1998 that led me to do this site
Dissecting the derelict

Transcription of Film4 Ridley Scott's introduction to Alien

leading from

The alien was always regarded as a C- movie which I was the fifth choice. I had done The Duellists and erm, got a prize at Cannes, and erm I think by being being fifth choice they were definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel and er, they sent me this script, 'cause I remember by the reaction, when I said "I love the script",
"you do?"
"any change? "
 "you don't?"

What I did, I went to Hollywood, I was in Hollywood within about twenty two hours from making that call

So I was standing in the office at Fox, what do you want to do with this and that. no no no, I don't want to touch it no, but I'd like to do this and that, and they said, while we negotiate why don't you go back to London and I went back to London and I storyboarded the whole film, I went to spend the next month storyboarding, my negotiation took forever and I storyboarded the movie and then I took it back, it was this thick and like this and erm, the budget was 4.2 million. The Duellists was £800,000 and the erm, and the alien would be 4.2, I went back and we doubled the budget, we went straight to 8.6, just shows the power of a little bit of pen on paper, 'cause they went wow, 'cause they had no idea what could be done, everything, just a sequence where, you know, guys in space just wakin' up, where they have breakfast, where they, all these things of, brought all that to life, and erm, do the budget doubled and suddenly became a... I think it was well done so it became an A movie.

The thing I was really... most concerned about was, not about cast and getting a great cast, you can always get, there's some great actors out there so I, apart from having a really really good cast, erm the, the biggest headache would be the Alien himself, the eighth passenger. If I hadn't had that , I wouldn't have been able to save the film, I knew that.

When I saw Giger's stuff, I thought, this is it, and he wanted to redesign it and I said no no no. It was a book called Necronomicon. 
I said "no no this is it",
He said "but I could...",
I said "no, this is it, you don't change it , you just make it wor,. If we could make it work, that's a big enough challenge, because then all the other elements have to be designed in between like.. what is the chestburster effect? What does the face hugger look like? What does the egg look like?"

And oddly enough he couldn't get the chestburster right, so we we we took that away and went somewhere else for that. We worked out the chestburster on the back of an envelope. The chestburster became a, a, a erm, the baby, it has to be a birth on the kitchen table

Alien's studio environments

Alien Studio environments:
Giger's work studio, Shepperton Studios

leading from

a) At Shepperton Studios,  Giger finds himself using a room with a bare brick wall, upon Giger's work bench we see his toothy chestburster creature taking form although it would be soon abandoned, and also we see him working on his facehugger which would also be abandoned. Against the wall behind the bench we see Giger's derelict painting and also his bone landscape for the planetoid.

b) The first photo we see Dan O'Bannon visiting Giger , and in the second photo we see someone else standing quite tall in the background, standing before a drawing featuring of a humanoid with spikes radiating out behind it.

Dan O'Bannon wth HR Giger in workroom, view towards workbench and wall
view of room from work bench side of brick wall
and drawing in the background reflected in the mirror
Giger working on the facehugger at from work bench side of brick wall
and drawing in the background reflected in the mirror

artwork in the background

Alien Studio environments:
The Art Department, Shepperton Studios

leading from

a) Dan O'Bannon and Ron Cobb discuss work problems 
Dan O'Bannon and Ron Cobb can be found talking about work related problems in a photo of the two of them sitting in the art department, Dan is smoking a cigarette.  There are numerous photos of the room to be found and very slowly they begin to add up into a room in with dimensions that can be guessed. It has various low shelves against the wall, and tables that can be pulled around. It is lit by long fluorescent light bulbs across the ceiling.

Once Ridley Scott had told Dan to go ahead with designing the Facehugger, Dan went over to the art department with Roger Dicken, they took a drafting table and a huge piece of paper with some pencils. Ron who inhabited the room while doing his drawing work for the film would sketch out a skeletal understructure (see The Facehugger)

Dan O'Bannon and Ron Cobb in the art department

b) Room dominated the Hieroglyphics painting
Later in August 1979, after various disgreements about the quality of work from Giger and the blame being put on Giger by Clinton Cavers for the fact that the Alien had not been finished, H R Giger had been moved away to a new studio to work in, the Art Department. At first he had no interest in this new place for him at all but Mia set it up beautifully diminishing his frustration by half.

A room which Giger uses with a wall that is painted white, against the wall in the back, there is Giger's Hieroglyphics painting. On the wall next to it but separated by a small case of shelfs is a painting that might well be a study for part of the alien's body, and he is painting the derelict ship tail fin, while sitting on a chair with pale material. The windows have been covered over that would be found next to the shelves on the right.

This area would have been used around September of 1978

Giger and the Alien Hieroglyphics (Alien Anthology blu-ray)

See Giger's Alien Life Cycle hieroglyphics
Giger and the Alien Hieroglyphics (sourcr 
See Giger's Alien Life Cycle hieroglyphics
Giger painting the derelict's tail fin. Hieroglyphics painting in the back on the left
See Giger's Alien Life Cycle hieroglyphics

c) Other uses
He also uses this room to paint the alien eggs and later the "Brett egg" would be photographed within the chamber against a photograph of the planetoid landscape altered with the airbrush by Giger. The Alien costume

Giger reading something (source HR Giger - Kunst Design Film)
Giger goes to work on an egg  (From Giger's Alien)

In England during the 1950s, the very popular TV adverts featuring the words "Go To Work On An Egg", 
so this photo might a strange variation on the idea
Giger goes to work on an egg
other end of room while airbrushing the alien suit worn by Bolaji Badejo.
On the door in the background is a poster of Baphomet , work 272  
(image from Giger's Alien documentary)
Baphomet: work 272

Giger carrying the alien's upper torsoe with backpipes. 
On the wall on the right is a drawing of a leaping alien 
In the background on the left if Giger's drawing Astro Eunuchs.
In the centre on the wall is Giger's initial derelict entrance painting.
Along the cupboard on the right, derelict pilot chamber painting and then alien landscape painting
(source HR Giger - Kunst Design Film)

leaping alien drawing as seen on the wall on the right

Giger's Astro-Eunuchs as seen on the studio wall

Giger airbrushing the hanging alien costume parts in the Art Department (still from video: Giger's Alien)

Worlds Apart art poster made up from two images from the video

Dali's Sleep that features in the bottom left corner of the Worlds Apart poster

The Brett Egg  (Source: Giger's Alien) See: Human To Spore

Alien suit in the room ( Creating The Alien)

Escher's visions etched
on the mind of Brian Johnson


a) The derelict as an Escher optical illusion
In one interview about his work on Alien, Brian Johnson the special effects supervisor, talked about Giger's original concept for the derelict being too hard to work out how to build because it looked like an Escher optical illusion,

b) Building the Nostromo like an Escher optical illusion
It would come to a point where Brian would talk about the design for the Nostromo with Ridley and he showed him a perspective drawing of the top of the tower. Under what context Ridley needed to see it is unknown. Was it something to do with the refinery towers? Whatever the reason, the sketch was described to be like an Escher optical illusion in the way of the drawing "Waterfall". However the subject of Escher's work at the time was seen to be a strong reference point for Brian going by the interviews.

Giger's Derelict preproduction painting (work 374: Wreck)
that bears qualities of an Escher drawing
Visit The M. C. Escher official website (

  1. Regarding Giger's original derelict design 

    Brian Johnson : "It's a wonderful design, but as it turned out, we couldn't build it. It was like an Escher optical illusion. As a two-dimensional painting  it look very logical, but there was not actual way you could build it in three dimensions."(Cinefex 1) ( see also Giger's work from The Design Of The Derelict)
  2. Building the Nostromo
    Brian Johnson
    :This was at Bray. Bray Studios. What I did here was, because Ridley is- Ridley is an ace sketch artist, that’s what he used to do before he became an art director, and before he got involved in other things – commercials. So he used to go away and on a bit of paper scribble, you know, I want it to look like this. And then Ron Cobb used to turn it into a 2-dimensional work of art. And then Ridley would say yeah that’s pretty good, I like that.
    Brian Johnson working on the Nostromo
    So in the end what happened was, I said, okay, and I showed him a perspective drawing/sketch of the top of the tower, which is one of those trick of eye things, so that it looks like the water is always going down the waterfall, but you know, if you follow it around at one point it has to… you know?
    So I said okay, do you want me to build this? Got the message, so I said, I’ll build you a small scale model of the Nostromo, and then you can do whatever you want to it. You can always cut it in half, extend it, you know. But if we start with sort of a 16-foot model, we’re never going to finish it. So that’s what I did. (