Alien : The incineration of Ash's head

leading from
 



a) Ian Holm watched the incineration
As Ian Holm watched the fake head being incinerated, he watch the blue-yellow blaze around the head and perceived through it his own life being consumed. He wasn't exactly happy at the time, he reasoned that just as good things had happened to him, he supposed that it was only proper that over the years some bad things would seek him out. And the random shapelessness of it all could certainly not be explained or symbolised by chunk of burning rubber filled with onions.
  1. Ian Holm: Afterwards, when he has been subdued and his decapitated head has been electronically probed for information about the corporations intentions, Ash's head is incinerated, Scott decided to use a "real fake" for this scene and it was strange sensation to watch my likeness go up with flames.  For the purposes of this narrative it would be felicitous to say that as I watch with blue-yellow blaze around my head I saw my own life being consumed. It's true I wasn't happy but I reasoned that just as good things had happened to me, so I suppose it was only proper that over the years some bad things would seek me out. And the random shapelessness of it all could certainly not be explained or symbolised by chunk of burning rubber filled with onions. (Ian Holm: Acting my life, p222) 

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
and
 

a) Looking for an atmosphere in the leg room

At the beginning of the picture, Ridley Scott and Nicky Allder were talking about having fire and CO2 etc coming from the engines, but then it came to the point where they were filming the landing leg chamber, referred to at the Claw Room by Ridley and the leg locker by Allder. When they were shooting the scene where Brett "gets it" in the chamber, Ridley was looking for a strange visual touch to enhance the atmosphere which also would lead to the idea of the engines for the Narcissus at the end of the movie). They started out putting steam and smoke and various other things in the engine area and it wasn't quite right. So for no other reason that just to see what it would look like, Allder decided to try drops of water and Ridley responded "Yes, that's exactly what I want. "




So they had this gentle dripping coming down and during one of the shots Ridley seemed to pan the camera up into the roof and what would be seen were all these water droplets falling, very heavily back-lit and Allder found the effect to be very beautiful, but there was a big argument about the water drops in  room but Ridley stuck to his guns.

b) Questions about the falling water

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

Water dripping down the leg chamber


c) Brett enters the leg room
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)
d) The Claw Room idol
The forty foot tall, left over from an earlier filmed landing seqence, has been hoisted a few feet off the stage and the chamber has been constructed around it. To heighten its visual eeriness, criss-crossed shafts of light streamed through the overhead latticework and the water condensation trickled incessantly to the floor. 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" idol seen through the gap between the massive doors as big as the walls. 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)

e) 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
f) 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
g) Brett gets it

They were quite limited in what they could do with the alien. At one point, the script called for it to run up and down the corridors like a human being: but when they got the finished costume, they stayed late one evening  at the end of a day's shooting - just to see what it looked like in the sets and to shoot a few tests. And of course, they found it would look ridiculous to see this thing running around - it would give the whole thing away immediately. 

So when they came to film that actual death of Brett, Ridley brought Allder onto the stage and said to him " I want Brett to get it now, but I don't just want the creature to dart out and menace him to start with. I'd rather have it reach out and sort of caress his head - almost kind of inquisitive at first. Then you see it squeeze up, and the blood starts running down Brett's face, and it cracks his head open.

So they ended up doing this virtually on the spur of the moment. They ran blood tubes into Harry Dean Stanton's cap and through his hair, and the blood ran out and down his face.

Storyboard for the Alien ripping Brett's heart out


h) Alien descending
The cat is peering around the corner and going backwards, and then suddenly the alien is descending.

The thing now is in its mature form, transformed beyond recognition to a large seven foot engine of destruction. Ridley wanted the creature to be be perched on one of the ship's retractable landing legs. To maintain the gravity defiant position, Bolaji was suspended on a wire right.

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 articulated tail, which was to slide between Brett's legs and hoist him up, had to be operated by overhead wires since its internal cable mechanism was not altogether succesful 
(See :The Alien's Tail )

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.

Since the scene called for Brett to be swept from his feet and carried up into the tower, a separate harness had to be employed for harry Dean Stanton as well

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.





i) 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)
    (1:04:00)

    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

    (laughter)

    (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)
  10. Nick Allder: At the very beginning of the picture, we were talking about actually having fire and CO2 and God knows what else in the engines. But then, when we were shooting the scenes where Brett gets it in the leg locker, Ridley was looking for kind of a strange visual touch to enhance the atmosphere - and that's what really led us to a final solution for the engine effects at the end.  We started out putting steam and smoke and various other things into that leg area, and it wasn't quite right. So for no other reason than just to see what it would look like. I decided to try drops of water. And Ridley said 'Yes, that's exactly what I want. " So we had this gentle dripping coming down, and during one of the shots, Ridley kind of panned the camera up into the roof, and what you saw were all these water droplets falling - very heavily back-lit - and it was a really beautiful effect.  (Cinefex 1, p68)
  11. Cinefex: The first use of the full-size alien coincided with its initial appearance in the film. Brett, foolishly wandering off in search of the ship's cat, is the first to fall victim to the creature in its mature form, transformed beyond recognition to an awesome seven-foot engine of destruction. The encounter takes place in the lower recesses of the Nostromo's utility deck, in a towering chamber housing one of the ship's retractable landing legs. The forty foot leg, left over from the earlier-photographed landing sequence, had been hoisted a few feet off the stage and the chamber constructed around it. To heighten its visual eeriness, criss-crossed shafts of light streamed through overhead latticework and water condensation trickled incessantly to the floor. (Cinefex 1, p59)
  12. Cinefex: For its first appearance, Ridley Scott wanted to have the full-size alien perched on one of the ship's retractable landing legs. To maintain the gravity-defiant position, Bolaji Badejo was suspended on a wire rig. Since the scene called for Brett to be swept from his feet and carried bodily into the tower, a separate harness and wire rig had to be employed for Harry Dean Stanton as well.  (Cinefex 1, p59)
  13. Cinefex: In keeping with his wish to instill the creature with balletic grave, Ridley Scott wanted to have it curled up, in total defiance of gravity, about ten or twelve feet up the side of the landing leg. Then as Brett entered the chamber, the beast would slowly unwind and swoop-down, snatching the unsuspecting engineer and disappearing with him up the shaft.(Cinefex 1, p59)
  14. Cinefex: During the filming, however, Scott came up with an additional embellishment, "Ridley brought me onto the stage." Nick Allder related, " and he said: " I want Brett to get it now, but I don't just want the creature to dart out and menace him to start with. I'd rather have it reach out and sort of caress his head - almost kind of inquisitive at first. Then you see it squeeze up, and the blood starts running down Brett's face, and it cracks his head open." So we ended up doing it almost on the spur of the moment. We ran blood tubes into Harry Dean Stanton's cap and through his hair, and the blood ran out and down his face." (Cinefex 1, p59)
  15. Cinefex: The remainder of the sequence was somewhat more complicated. In addition to his already cumbersome alien outfit, Bolaji Badejo had to be fitted with a harness and wire rig in order to appear suspended on the side of the giant landing leg.  The articulated tail, which was to slide between Brett's legs and hoist him up, had to be operated by overhead wires since its internal cable mechanism was not altogether successful. Then Harry Dean Stanton, too, had to be fitted with a flying harness so he could be lifted off the ground. Coordinating all the movements in a realistic manner proved to be an arduous problem one that was never satisfactorally overcome. (Cinefex 1, p59)

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
Alien

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. FollowTheNerd.com 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



http://www.film4.com/special-features/interviews/ridley-scott-introduces-alien

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? "
"na."
 "you don't?"
"no".

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

The death of Parker

leading from



a) Filming took place as usual at Shepperton. As the Alien closed in on Parker, Yaphet noticed that its projected mouth organ was headed straight for the space between his eyebrows, and he associated that with the spiritual eye, or the third eye. He wondered what this was all about.



Source: http://toutlecine.challenges.fr
b) Yaphet's mind screamed "Why is Ridley doing this? Why aim at the third eye. What was he, Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett trying to say "



c)  Nick Allder's brain busting rig
What happens to Parker is simply a suggestion in the final film. Perhaps no more than three or four frames long. Over at Bray studios, Nick Allder actually took a casting of Yaphet Kotto's head, and then constructed a dummy skull out of fibreglass - except for a section of the forehead which was done in wax. Since it was going to be a very large closeup, he made a special rig so they could just mount the alien's tongue and make it dart in and out and hit a specific spot on the forehead piece. Inside the skull, Allder put real pig's brains; and then they put special little barbed hooks on the end of the tongue. So during the shot, the viewer actually saw it punch through the forehead and pull out the brain.


Yaphet Kotto's brain busting rig using a casting
from Ian Holme's head as a test, shot at Bray Studios.
(infor:http://www.zen171398.zen.co.uk/Alien%20%28page7%29.html)
 (Photo by Pat Lowry)

d) Yaphet's assumptions
When Yaphet went ahead with the scene, a curious a sense of depression was starting to set in as he continued with the scene and the spell eventually broke. When he filmed the attack, he had hair in the scene, and when the alien bit through the head, the head seemed to lack hair and it was as if they had used a melon . Whatever the effect consisted of, at least he felt a psychological release as if it wasn't really him or Parker, it was just something that seemed like a bald melon.









  1. Yaphet Kotto: "As the Alien closed in on Parker I noticed that its projected mouth organ was headed straight for the space between my eyebrows, the so called location of the spiritual eye. Why was Ridley doing this? My mind screamed. Why aim at the 3rd eye what was he and Dan Obannon and Ron Schusett trying to say. Depression immediately started to set it as I continued in the scene, but the spell would eventually be broken. When I watched the filming of the attack, I had hair in the scene. When the alien bit through the head on a melon they used did not have hair. I felt a psychological release as if it wasn’t really me or Parker. It was a god damm bald melon! ( The yet unpublished Yaphet Kotto’s Alien Diary)
  2. Nick Allder: What happens to Parker is simply a suggestion in the final film. I doubt it it's more than three or four frames long. But I actually took a casting of Yaphet Kotto's head, and then constructed a dummy skull out of fibreglass - except for a section of the forehead which was done in wax. Since it was going to be a very large closeup, I made a special rig so we could just mount the alien's tongue and make it dart in and out and hit a specific spot on the forehead piece. Inside the skull, I put real pig's brains; and then we put special little barbed hooks on the end of the tongue. So during the shot, you actually saw it punch through the forehead and pull out the brain. (Cinefex 1, p63)
The dead Parker, curiously sitting in a meditative position.

Giger's Shed In The studio

leading from

The Studio Shed in A studio
Giger's shed on the far end of the studio, while the rest of the studio is 
taken up by the parts that make up the Nostromo's garage and the leg room
from the photos collection of Charles Lippincott, taken by Bob Penn

a) Life in Giger's studio
In the studio, people with a right to be there could go in to the cubicle and talk to Giger but he was very intense about getting his work done. Mia Bonzanigo would be working away on the alien with the help with the likes of Eddie Butler. Dan O'Bannon would come in and make recommendations such as adding the opposing digit. Ridley would come along to see how the alien was getting along and then later the studio bosses would also want to have a look


Mia Bonzanigo and Eddie Butler working on the alien



Art studio rooms (Bob Penn - Alien ©1979 20th Century Fox Film) scanned by Charles Lippincott

b) Ghost in the Shed 
Mia disliked being in the Studio for too long, she thought that she could hear voices or sounds, and felt a presence, to the extent that she became creeped out by the experience and hated being there alone

To wonder about the nature of that experience, one might draw all kinds of associations because of the nature of Giger's work for the film, and perhaps the fear being generated by the film's story as a horror movie. Perhaps the studio simply haunted by the presences of actors and film crew from over the decades or perhaps the human skulls used in the alien sculpture had brought their own ghosts and it would be some years later that their secret would dawn on Dan O'Bannon.  
(See Human skulls from India in Giger's Alien head)





However no one encouraged Mia to walk around the set and mingle, so she stayed with Giger working, often still after the crew and wrapped for the day and left and perhaps for that reason she might have been glad when the film finally wrapped

 Art Studio rooms (from The Book of Alien)

c) In the photo above , in the room at the front of the photo, we see paintings; part of the egg silo and derelict pilot chamber below to the far left, and the derelict as seen from above in the middle and the derelict as seen from a distance at the right. At the bottom of the left is a maquette of the space jockey by Peter Voysey. 





d) In the room in the background, this is the main workroom where work is done on the Alien sculpture and in the background , the second and third versions of side view concept paintings for the alien.


Giger at work on the alien sculpture

e) See also Sculpting the alien costume and Giger's Alien head


Source Quote
  1. Charles Lippincott: Giger and his girlfriend were always in their little cubicle working. You could go in and talk to him, but he was very intense about getting his work done. His girlfriend disliked being in the studio all the time. She thought she could hear voices or sounds and was creeped out remaining in the studio all the time, but no one encouraged her to walk around the set and mingle, so she stayed with Giger working. I think she was glad when the film wrapped. (Charles Lippincott, 4th September 2014, www.facebook.com)
  2. Charles Lippincott: Mia and Giger worked for hours preparing the Xenomorph for shooting, often working after the crew had wrapped and left. She hated being on the set alone, saying she felt some kind of presence there. ( Charles Lippincott , Thursday Jauary 29th 2015, www.facebook.com)