The Alien Creature

Leading from 
Alien


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 :
The Alien
 

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

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali (source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/)

a) Giger on Dali

b) Elongated skull apparitions by way of Dali 

c) Dune and the Gathering

d) Did Pablo Gargallo's Horse Sculptures inspire Dali's Autumnal Cannibalism? : An example on how Dali transformed objects and other people's art into his own art with his surrealist creativity

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 para)

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

Claw Room - Temple Environment

Leading from 
The Nostromo

a) The Claw
Originally the Nostromo was to have undercarriage featuring tapered rollers, then it was changed to a landing foot and later that became a claw and Ridley wanted a huge claw room down in the bilge of the ship where the ships feet would be retracted during flight, like an anchor cable tier on an ocean liner

The Claw (images taken from the film and merged on Photoshop)
b) The Temple Environment
Ridley Scot decided to transform the landing leg room of the Nostromo into a temple environment
Roger Christian went out and bought two Canberra bombers and dismantled them.  The jet engines became the columns of the room which gave it the feel of a temple. Inspired by the way the Apollo Lunar Lander was partly covered in gold foil, the walls of the room accompanying the vehicle; land crawlers, helicopters and other flying machines and equipment that the crew would use in their work on and around the refinery, and when they land on various planets. were covered in gold paint would become like "the Egyptian treasures". Tutenkhamun's treasures would still have been fresh on the minds of the public at the time


c) 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)

d) 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
e) 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


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: As I was working with the art director I decided to make it feintly glittery, I wanted to have anodized gold everywhere. Not steel,gold. Did you know that space landing craft are covered with gold foil. Amazing! So I thought, Why make this out of steel? Let's make it all warm, oppressive, massive and gold. (Fantastic Films, #12, p25-26) 
  4. Ridley Scott: We got hold of marvelous actual parts of actual huge jet engines and installed them, and they're like coppery metal with some steel. We used them as four main supports, like columns, and they give a lot of feeling of a temple. We played the same music we used in the derelict alien craft and we had two temples. The idol I wanted was through these massive gold doors which were as big as a wall, with a gap in them through which the claw can be seen, When the set was dressed, it looked like Aladdin's cave. (Fantastic Films, #12, p25-26)
  5. 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.  Just outside the claw room is a huge maintenance area, a garage, filled with the equipment that the crew would use in their work on and around the refinery, and when they land on the various planets - land crawlers, helicopterers, other flying machines. (Fantastic Films, #12, p25-26) 
  6. Ridley Scott: A lot of the stuff we used here, see that egg crating , that's all just standard, um, industrial pallets, we just created most of the sets out of the pallets, and the rest were tube and exotic looking pipe work and conduits from aircraft. In fact, at one stage, Roger Christian went off and bought two Canberra  bombers and just (58:00) dismantled them. And of course on each bomber is millions of parts.(Alien director's commentry dvd)
  7. 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)
  8. Ridley Scott: Just the remains of a helicopter there sprayed gold, er, jet engines there sprayed turned on end and sprayed gold with gold foil on them just to make it more peculiarly , um, hi-tech.  (Alien Quadrilogy and Blu-Ray commentary dvd)

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

c) 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. 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)
  3. 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. O'Bannon's list of elements to be designed by Giger for Alien
xi. Dan O'Bannon on Alien (from Moebius Redux dvd extras)  
xii. Film4's Ridley Scott introduction to Alien
xiii. Famous-monsters-of-film-land-159-p29-1979

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

Transcription of Film4 Ridley Scott 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 work, 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 http://fanat1k.ru) 
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 Brian Johnson's mind

From:

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, and later he talked with Ridley about the design for the Nostromo and 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 (http://www.mcescher.com/)

sources:
  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. (http://www.originalprop.com/blog/2009/04/23/interview-with-brian-johnson-special-effects-artist-special-to-the-opb/)


The Realism of Giler and Hill's earlier drafts

Leading from : 
Alien

a) David Giler the producer, continued to rewrite the script numerous times over the Spring, rewriting until there was little resemblance to the original and he did not want Dan O'Bannon's involvement. Ron Shusett revealed in interviews extra information about various drafts of Alien that David Giler and Walter Hill wrote that went to extremes and during this time it was as if the alien ship, it's alien pilot's remains and the egg silo were disappearing or being totally transformed beyond recognition in pursuit of Hill and Giler's need for their sense of realism
depiction of Attila the Hun

b) In one description of the different drafts, the crew of the Nostromo would have the ability to call people from the past to fight the alien. In one instance they would call Hercules to fight the Alien and another instance they would call Genghis Kahn to fight the alien. In another description of the different drafts, the crew would be brought to fight past monstrous villains from history such as Attila The Hun and Jack The Ripper. As pointed out by the Ask Mr Kern radio program, the plot sounded more like the "Savage Curtain" episode of Star Trek.

Ridley had been approached with these different ideas from Giler and Hill. Shusett remembers Ridley as finding himself saying "I can't be here having to satisfy the different master, they want their draft shot and I'm choosing not to shoot that"
depiction of Genghis Khan
c) He also discussed the appearance of a futuristic bunker just made out of concrete and plastic and it looked as if some advanced race had a war there which echoes what Book of Alien mentioned about Cobb's painting of the "Black Ship and Cylinder" where searchers find a lost Earth base where previous travelers fought a losing battle with aliens.. In one instance Ron also talked about it being like a twentieth army bunker. The presence of a bunker linked in with the earlier script where a human made derelict space ship and a cylinder shape man made silo are discovered, and the aliens are most like a product of a man made experiment. The reference to the incarnation of the bunker was talked about by Ron Shusett when he was being told that the Space Jockey would be too expensive and instead they would show a bunker constructed at angles instead of a derelict ship. (See Landscape with alien astronaut corpse)

d) When  tried to take the derelict ship away and replace it with a bunker and reduce everything to their sense of realism, and the studio bosses were okay with that


Ridley responded "No no, they can't use space things with realism like that, okay.

He was keen to stay with Shusett and O'Bannon's draft instead with the exception of the robot head which came from Giler and Hill. 

Friction built up between the director and his producers Giler and Hill, and as a result, Giler and Hill felt antagonised and so eventually left the studios during preproduction because of the friction developing and Hill went off to direct another movie



Ron Cobb's"Black Ship and Cylinder"
Source Quotes
  1. Dennis Fischer: Are they doing , without too many changes, your original script?
    Dan O'Bannon: Well, David Giler, who is one of the producers, sat down and just kept rewriting it all Spring, and just kept rewriting it, and rewriting it, and rewriting it 'til there was very little resemblance to the original screenplay, and then I wasn't allowed to participate in that because he didn't want me to. He was producer.  (Rocket Blast's comic Collector, no.148)
  2. See Ron Cobb's concept design for the derelict
  3. Ron Shusett: Regarding Giler and Hill, they did eight various drafts. And they went off in many different directions and so there were as different, I can’t even describe how many, so it was almost a different story many times. But it kept getting closer and closer back to the original cos the director kept thinking he liked the original better. For example, instead of the space jockey, they one time thought it would be, it looked like a futuristic bunker just made out of concrete and plastic and futuristic plastic and it looked like some advanced race had a war there. That was one idea they had. And so that you wouldn’t have that, replace that scene. Another idea they had let’s go really far out there, let’s have the ability to call people from the past to fight the alien. They would call Hercules or and it was ridiculous and everybody was laughing, ok this doesn’t work. They were trying, roping, you always have to see how far you can push the envelope. It got ridiculous when you got Genghis Kahn to fight the alien. So you can see how far apart it got. And then it got closer and like that bunker, but less spectacular. So they tried every level through eight drafts making it more outlandish to make it more realistic, but Ridley kept coming back to the structure we had which was working superbly in every way and they wrote a lot of dialogue that later remained, but structurally only one thing they did remained. And that was a masterpiece of an idea I thought. The second best idea in the whole movie.( report from what was additionally said in the interview for "Alien Evolution", 2001)  
  4. Ron Shusett: They wanted that to be an army bunker for some reason, I guess they just, "okay this will give it realism", and that's boring, you can't, you know, once you're committed to that, you can't go back to a steel, you know, twentieth century army bunker. It's, it's, it's, it's er... that goes backwards in imagination where as that Giger design which he hand painted, airbrushed that whole wall himself personally, like he did his artwork, and that's why it looks so eerie, and and er the creature inside it too, the crew called Space Jockey. So that was one thing where they wanted realism, and then they said, "okay", Ridley said, "no no, they can't use space things with realism like that, okay." Then they said, "we, more out there" and then they said something like, which sounds good on paper, but as you said, "we don't know the road not taken", their idea was somehow every past villain in history they would have to fight, somehow, Attila the Hun, ah, you know, ah, I can't even think of some of the classic, ah ah, classic monsters, not monsters, these were more human, famous historical villains, ah, that they would have to challenge at different times, not monsters, but people for, that were Hitler type people, people that were mass murderers, er, or or, some cases maybe a creature, but a creature that you, Jack the Ripper, well that was one of them. They wanted...
    Interviewer: What, are you talking about Alien?
    Ron Shusett: Yuh, so they, so that just threw it into a turmoil
    Interviewer: That's the craziest idea ever
    Ron Shusett: yes, pardon me
    Interviewer: That sounds like the craziest idea ever
    Ron Shusett: I know, it sounds crazy (http://www.askmrkern.com/page3.php October 27, 2012)
  5. Ron Shusett: And to Fox's credit, they looked at his commercials, they said this guy's a visual genius, we'll got with it. He shot that down. And there were other things he wanted to do which Ridley thought about hard and finally said "no no" these are just attempts, honest attempts, sheer attempts on your part to make it better and it's getting worse. So I'm gonna just go back to the Shusett - O'Bannon draft with the exception of the robot's head, and that, of course that antagonised them and then eventually they didn't choose even though they were... I was executive producer, and they were producers with Gordon Carroll, their third partner, but they eventually had to leave the location in preproduction because there was too much friction with the director and Ridley said, "I don't have... I can't be here having to satisfy the different master, there, they want their draft shot and I'm choosing not to shoot that", so they just decided to go back, and they both went back, and Hill went on to make another very good movie right after that himself.  (http://www.askmrkern.com/page3.php October 27, 2012)
  6. Ron Shusett: They said ''This is not your main set.''
    ''You're just gonna have to walk by and see a skeletal imprint in the mud of this 15-foot creature, and then you'll walk into this strange-looking building.''
    ''lt'll be a bunker or something that's constructed at angles.
    ''
    (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)

Harboring the remains of Li Tobler

leading from


Li II

a) Rumours about a skeleton
There were horrible stories being handed around where it was made know that HR Giger kept a skeleton of his late wife or fiancée who had committed suicide. In his past, his girlfriend Li Tobler fell into a state of depression and took her life with a gun. More than one person had heard the rumour about the skeleton during the Alien production but HR Giger himself was kept unaware of the matter entirely. David Giler was told that the skull swinging in Giger's doorway belonged to his deceased wife,  Sigourney Weaver and Ron Shusett also heard the rumour about Giger keeping the skeleton of his dead fiancé, Brian Johnson was able to pin it down to stories to the time when everyone would go to the bar at night to wind down, and Giger was tinkling away at the ivories playing jazz piano, Mia, the girlfriend of Giger, would tell stories about the bones of Giger's wife hanging up in his living room, on the wall and up on the beam in his house. When they looked at Giger's drawings, they'd think "Yeah, that's about right", meanwhile Alan Dean Foster heard that it was the skeleton of a former mistress hanging from the rafters.

b)  The End of the Rumour
But when Dennis Lowe talked to Giger about it in 2009, Giger did seem to be very surprised about the rumour, in fact he declared that he was not mad enough to do such a thing. If he didn't know about it in 2009, had he forgotten about the whole thing or was Mia telling this story as a joke behind Giger's back?

c) Blood and bullet holes
However Bill Malone who had worked with Giger on concepts for film that were never made noticed that while he was at HR Giger's cottage when his paintings were stacked about four or five feet deep against the walls,  and one of them had little holes in it

Bill said to him "Giger, someone damaged your painting here"

Giger's response was "No, that's where my girlfriend blew her brains out."

Giger had left bullet holes with the blood on the painting as part of the art.


Li Tobler

Source Quotes
  1. Ron Shusett There was always these horrible stories, we heard he kept the skeleton from his fiancée which had committed suicide. (Alien: Behind the scenes documentary,  1:08:12 approx)
  2. David Giler: We walk into Giger's house which is floor to ceiling with all of Giger's drawings and you know, candles everywhere and what I'm told is the skull of his deceased wife swinging at the doorway.  (as reported from the Alien Evolution documentary interview)
  3. William Malone (film maker): His flat was painted all black. All of the walls and his paintings were stacked about four or five feet deep against the wall. They're huge paintings. And one of them, as I was walking around, had little holes in it. I said, "Giger, someone damaged your painting here." He said, "No, that's where my girlfriend blew her brains out." Turned out to be true and he left the bullet holes with the blood on the painting as part of the art. (from Masters of Horror Explore the Art Hidden in the Nightmare By:stacilayne, Updated: 02-20-2010 http://www.horror.com)
  4. Interviewer: tell us a little bit about your perception of Giger
    Sigourney Weaver: Well I met Geiger when we were making the movie and he…his work is, you know, extremely powerful and bizarre and…but he himself is a delight, you know, he’s very funny, very charming, very mischevious. And, he always wore black, his girlfriend always wore black. And I had dinner with him a couple of times and they were so much fun. That’s what I would remember. And then you would hear these stories about how he has his wife’s skull or some sort of, kind of, you know morbid stuff in his house. And I think he has, you know, he has one persona as an artist and his persona as an artist is obviously not something I got to have dinner with. I just had dinner with a great, very charming, mischevious guy. (report from interview for Alien Evolution documentary)
  5. Brian Johnson: We used to go in the bar at night and everybody'd wind down. And Giger'd sit there and play jazz piano. And, er, and we'd hear all these stories from his girlfriend... ..about the bones of his wife hanging up in his living room, and er on the wall, up on the beam and everything,  We'd look at his drawings and think "Yeah, that's about right." you know (Alien Legacy Documentary)
  6. Alan Dean Foster: Alien is the only movie in which the most important contributor of the film was not the director, actors or writers, but the set designer - H.R. Giger. He's a very interesting man, who has the skeleton of a former mistress suspended from the rafters of his Switzerland home, which may help explain some of the bizarre images in his art. Why would anyone do such a thing? Well, because Giger's a Salvador Dali-type character: completely off-the-wall and audacious. (Starlog 81, April 1984, p52) 
  7. Dennis Lowe: Brian Johnson told me that you have your bones from your first wife
    Giger: What my...?
    Dennis Lowe: The bones from your first wife
    Giger: No
    Dennis Lowe: No?
    Giger: No no!
    Dennis Lowe: Not anymore?
    Giger: Ah, you mean Li! no.
    Dennis Lowe: Was it Li?
    Giger :No. no-, no no
    Dennis Lowe:  So it's a myth
    Giger: Yus,
    Dennis Lowe: It is not true
    Giger: No-no, no, Shit. I'm not mad you know
    Dennis Lowe: No, no I know that
    (Giger laughs)
    Dennis Lowe: No, no,  because I have to ask that because it's good to have this recorded
    Giger: No, that's no true
    Dennis Lowe: Yes, yes.
    Giger: It's Shit (giggle)
    Dennis Lowe: No no
    Giger: Yah, they are tell, they are telling that, oh my god
    Dennis Lowe:  You know, so, it's, it, the thing is, what I'm trying to do you see  with this film is is to get,  you know there's nothing but people talking
    Giger: yuh yuh
    Dennis Lowe: It's to get the truth
    Giger: At least, I can tell you that's not true (giggle)
    Dennis Lowe:  'cause that's the idea of somebody's film trying to get the truth and not the myths. (outtake from Dennis Lowe's Alien Makers 3 documentary interview with HR Giger)

Alien: The Script out of the blue

leading from

Gare de Sarlat

a) Epiphany in Dordogne
In 1976, Ivor had picked up a copy of Metal Hurlant at a magazine rack at the Gare de Sarlat as he and Ridley waited for their train for their return from a trip there for The Duellists.  While they sat on the train going back to Paris, Ridley sort of saw it and picked it up , and there was Dan O'Bannon's comic book story illustrated by Moebius called The Long Tomorrow which would later become an inspiration for Ridley's look for Blade Runner. The images from the magazine hooked Ridley,  so he would examine the illustrations carefully and enjoy them. It was like an epiphany and from this he figured that he knew what to do with science fiction.


Metal Hurlant, May 1976





Interim 
Time went by and Ridley Scott had just done The Duellists and got it out into the public. It didn't actually do that well but people loved it. Seven prints of it were made.

Ridley loved the experience of doing The Duellists with David Puttnam, and then started talking about perpetuating this place, Dordogne in France with another piece of history and so thought it would have been a good idea to put his head on the chopping block again and made Tristam And Iseult.

While in LA with the Duellists,  Puttnam took him to the Egyptian to see the Science fiction movie, Star Wars, and this was the first piece of science fiction since 2001: A Space Odyssey that made Ridley sit up and in view of his Tristam And Iseult project he thought "my god, what am I doing this for?"


Ridley in 1978


b) The script out of the blue

About six weeks later Ridley Scott and Ivor Powell were in the little tiny offices in Ridley's place in Lexington Street in Soho, over about three floors and the script came in out of the blue or rather it came through his English agent called Harry. Ivor could see that it was science fiction with a title like Alien, he thought that he was the one who would know more about Science Fiction since Ridley was the sort of person to pooh-pooh nearly every science fiction film there was apart from The Day The Earth Stood Still, and of course there was 2001 A Space Odyssey which had been Ridley's personal,  and now in 1977, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars. It was as if the two of them had wrestled over it, as if they were saying "me first", "me first", "me first" but Ridley finaly say "No, I'm going to read it first, it's been offered to me" and these were his his winning words before he went into the adjoining room of their office with two adjoining rooms.

His reading time was considered absolutely sacred and God forbid anyone who disturbed him. Once he's turned the page of whatever he's reading, he's locked into it and he will read it and Ivor had to sit for near a period of time that would stretch over the years in reports from forty minutes to an hour and a half going by Ridley's memory while he sat in the room next door reading it, screaming out "Oh my god, Oh my god", "Fucking Hell" or "Oh Fuck Me!" as he came to certain bits and Ivor would be saying out "Right. Hurry up Ridley. Give it to me!"

What Ivor thought that he recalled about the script was that it was written in a very visceral manner with moments such as somebody opens the airlock door and revealing the Alien which promptly gets hold of his head rips it off and then scuttles across the ceiling and disappears into some store room and , obviously as Ridley read it, he loved it and he obviously having his own kind of potential take on it. It was certainly a script that really hit him between the eyeballs and he thought it was amazing.

c) The decision

Ridley had been involved in a deal with Paramount where he was about to make his film Tristan And Iseult but it had stalled, the writer had dropped out, and Ridley feared that another nine months later he wasn't going to see it take flight and he said "I can't see myself doing another nine months without filming, I have to film!"

In one version of the story, Ridley had read the Alien script around November 1977 and would come to shelve it due to commitments to another project Tristan and Iseult and would be in Hollywood two weeks after finally saying yes to Alien, and the other version of the story he came to read the script one morning and he was off Hollywood within about twenty four hours

Going back to the much more well known version, by lunch time he had decided that he was going to make it. At 5pm in London, it was first also first light in California. He called his agent Harry

and then he talked to Sandy Lieberson who originally sent the script. He said "I want to do this"
The reply was "you do?"
Ridley's response was "Yeah, Absolutely"

d) Ridley's thoughts on the script

What Ridley liked about it was that it was very direct and linear, a nicely structured B movie, absolutely pure, there was no fat, so it was a really lean piece of material. Having read it in what seemed like forty minutes, he sensed it would play even faster than it read.

With his background as an illustrator and art student, Ridley had been examining science fiction by reading comic strips such as Metal Hurlant featuring the works of artists such as Jean Giraud also known as Moebius with his illustrator eye.

Quote source
  1. Ridley Scott: Almost three years ago, I was shown the reworked Dan O'Bannon script. At the time I was at a standstill with TRISTAN AND ISEULT, an Arthurian tale about knights and sorcery. So I was looking for something. I was immediately attracted to Alien for the same reasons I was attracted to Joseph Conrad's novella, The Duellists. It was so simple, so linear, absolutely pure, an idea with no fat. The script was short and very specific - an unbelievably violent. It took me less than forty five minutes to read. That really impressed me. I sensed that it would play even faster than it read. What little science fiction I'd seen had been too similar. 2001 was my personal revelation and I began to speculate on what else could be done in space. The came Star Wars and Close Encounters of The Third Kind, and I realised the tremendous quality that was possible in making these films stand head and shoulders above the usual quickie space flick or horror movie. I saw something new in Alien. I was attracted to the theory of over-powering industrial influence, the conglomerate mass control, the Big Brother syndrome. Most of all, though, it was the thrilling aspect of the unseen, inescapable force of evil. (Cinefantastique vol 9: issue 1)
  2. Ivor Powell: I seem to remember it started, Ridley had offices in erm, Lexington street, which is where his sort of commercial operated out of and then er, this was over like three floors, and then one day through the door, courtesy of, he never gets enough credit for it, Sandy Lieberson, who was head of Fox in Europe, and he had seen the Duellists and was an admirer of it and Fox had got this picture that had been in development for quite some time, called Alien, and thought chemistry wise it would be quite interesting to put that script, which i think at the time sort of pretty full on kind of horror, and to put it with the director who had done the Duellists, you know, it was a slight tussle with it because well, I'm, I can just this, I sort of said, I'm the, I know about science fiction and all that and I'd often showed Ridley these science fiction movies and he'd looked at them and said "what a pile of crap that was", you know all my favourite sort of movies, I think the Day the Earth Stood still he quite liked, erm, and anyway, he, he won the tussle and  he went into this office, we had two little sort of adjoining rooms, and erm I remember sort of sitting there thinking, right I want to read that, i want to read it, and I was listening to him reading it, and I hear every now and again,, I hear, "FUCKing Hell!" like that as he, as he was reading it, Oh Fuck Me, and everything like that and I was saying  right , hurry up Ridley, give it to me. Anyway this was every time, because the way it was originally written was very kind of visceral, like, er, you know, somebody opens the airlock door and revealing the Alien which promptly gets hold of his head rips it off and then scuttles across the cieling and disappears into some store room and thing, and erm, anyway he, he read it and he loved it and he obviously had his own kind of potential take on it and so we ended up doing, the next movie was The Alien. We knew really there wasn't going to be enough. (Alien Makers 2, documentary)
  3. Ridley: Someone had seen The Duellists at Cannes which got a prize, at Cannes, and er out of the blue came this offer, I think it must have been about, within about six months actually, and I read the script, and I think within twenty six hours I was standing within Hollywood. I read the script, so I'll do it. They said , you will, I said, yuh, so I was flown out. So I suddenly started to feel the Hollywood machine kicking in. (Direction and Design : The Making of Alien)
  4. FF: When did you first become aware of Alien?
    Fantastic Film: While I was developing Tristan a nd Iseult, I was receiving tons of screenplays. I always read everything myself. You can't employ a reader. You've got to go through the chore of reading the book, the screenplay, whatever. I read one thing called Alien and I thought "Jesus Christ!" It was so simple, so linear that no one could have spotted it for me. This is why you must read it yourself. I think, honestly, even with a Walter Hill screenplay, the normal director with a TV or theater background would have ditched it. But it hit me between the eyeballs. I thought it was amazing (Fantastic Film #11, p13-14)
  5. Ridley Scott: Out of the blue this script arrived from some producers that had seen the film, The Duellist in Cannes. So you put that association together, I had made the Duellist and somebody said what about science fiction. So I got the script., it came through my then English agent Tim Corry or was it Harry, I don't know but anyway... I got the script that morning and I read it in 1 hour and 10 minutes flat out. And decided by lunch-time that I was going to make it. First light in California I called them, at 5 o'clock London time to... directly. I forget who I called.. Harry was probably with me and I called Harry and said that I wanted to do do this and he said "You do?" and I said absolutely. The material was very direct, there was no fat, it was a really lean piece of material. And I think its fair to say that it was likely a nicely structured B movie. It was a B movie and I think because I had been examining , you know I started to examine Science Fiction, mainly through comic strip, good comic strip artists like heavy metal, metal Hurlant? the heavy metal comics and because I was an illustrator and you know, art student, I would examine the illustrations carefully and enjoy the illustrations and I figured that I knew what to do with science fiction, so I said yes (Alien Legacy Starbeast)
  6. Ivor Powell (7:34): And we were in little tiny offices in Ridley's place in Soho, and er, the script came in and as it was science fiction with a title like Alien, I remember that the two of us wrestled with it, so that you know, it was a me first, me first, me first thing, but anyway Ridley won, so I had to sit for an hour and a half while er Ridley sat in the next room reading it, screaming out, Oh my god, Oh my god as he came to certain bits in it, anyway, it was a good fast fantastic read. (Alien Legacy Starbeast)
  7.  Starlog: But at the time, Scott was at work on another project, a "post-holocaust treatment of the story of Tristan and Isolde, and had to shelve Alien. He assumed he would not do it at all. That was November 1977.
    "About Christmastime I had quite a problem with the Tristan thing. The writer dropped out. I thought: I've got to do something, got to do a film. So I called up Fox and asked what had happened with the Alien script. They said nothing was happening with it, and I said I'd like to do it. And I was standing here in Los Angeles about two weeks later." (Starlog September 1979)
  8. Ridley: l read the script and l think within 26 hours l was standing in Hollywood. l said ''l'll do it.'' They said ''You will?'' l said ''Yeah'', so l was flown out. (ALien Quadrilogy Documentary
  9. Ivor Powell (10:23): One afternoon the script arrived and I being the scifi fanatic and Ridley, to be honest, not being the scifi fanatic, erm, we had a bit of a wrestling match, with this, er,  with this script which of course inevitably Ridley won. (Alien Evolution documentary)
  10. Interviewer: Tell us how you first came across the script of Alien? What was it called and who was credited as writer?

    Ridley Scott:…I came across the script of Alien when I…it during…actually I was finishing off The Duellists, I think. I’m trying to…I have to remember now.

    Interviewer: I think the Duellists was finished.

    Ridley Scott: was it?

    Interviewer: I think so.

    Ridley Scott: ok. Ok. Now I remember now. I was in the first film syndrome and you know, when you are first unpracticed at the process of working in between or doing more things at once, you know, more things…several things at once…I was totally fixated on The Duellists and we got it out and, you know…that was…the history…and then I decided to address something, what was I going to do. And The Duellists didn’t actually do that great. In fact, here they ran, made 7 prints. So it actually did really terrible. But everybody loved it. That was what was interesting about town even then. The ones that counted really adored it. So even in those days a minority were going back and back to see this film. And out of the blue came a script, I was sitting in London actually and it wasn’t even through an agency, they found my address and it came to me through David Giler I think. And Giler and Hill were the producers at that moment with Gordon Carroll and on the front cover was Dan O’Bannon and Ron Sushett and I think I sat down in the morning and it took me about one hour and twenty minutes to read it. And I knew I was going to do it. I knew I’d do it in the first read. And I was then hunting down to try and find where their telephone numbers were, and I finally found them, called them, I think I called them that afternoon, that day when they got up. And I think I was then standing in LA within about 2 days. they just brought me straight out. That’s when I discovered that in fact I was about the fifth in line, you know, they’d passed it around all kinds of people, even Robert Altman, and Robert Altman’s great, but Robert Altman? You’d give Robert Altman the Alien? I don’t think so. But it had gone through Walter Hill’s hands and I forget who the other ones were. Maybe even Friedken actually. But they’d all said no, thinking it was a B movie, you know. Cardboard box with a monster charging around. And I’d just read it and saw it. And because I’d been steeping myself…I’m trying to think back…I was steeping myself into…between The Duellists and this read, that’s it, it’s coming back. I went to see, because I was planning to do Tristam and Isolde because I loved the experience of doing The Duellists with David Puttnam and in fact we’d all enjoyed it tremendously and we’d been in a fantastic part of France and we were always talking about `why don’t we perpetuate this place with some other piece of history’ and basically we’d put our head back on the chopping block and go do Tristam and Isolde. And while I was here with The Duellists David had taken me to The Egyptian to see this film. So I went and saw Star Wars and that was the first piece of science fiction that really made me sit up apart from Stanley’s, and thought `my god, what am I doing this for?" I’m thinking about Tristam while this guy’s doing this. So that really changed my whole thinking at that moment. That was the in between bit. Low and behold, six weeks later this script arrived that I’ve just described.

    Interviewer: Ivor Powell said he could hear you in the next room reading the script.

    Ridley Scott: yeah it was…it was like…and particularly when the…the rhythm…the dynamics were right on the page and I couldn’t really understand how anyone would miss it. Which is think means that a lot of people read things half, you know, you can’t read a script seven minutes, put it down, come back this afternoon, read another 20 minutes, put it down. You can’t do that. My read time is absolutely sacred. God forbid anybody who disturbs me. Once I’ve turned the page, that’s a lock and I’m in for what it takes. Normally it takes, you know, a normal script, 2 hours, 2 and a half hours. But the read is everything and so yeah, undisturbed I read it and I knew I was going to do the film. I said that’s it, I’m doing this movie. So…(as known to he said in the interview for the Alien Evolution documentary)
  11. Ivor Powell: one day we were travelling back from our first wrecky down to the Dordogne in the South of, in Sarlat, sort of mid France, and on the Station waiting for the train, there was this magazine rack, and there was this comic there called Metal Hurlant/ Heavy Metal and I bought it and we were sitting on the train going back to Paris and Ridley sort of saw it and picked it up and there was one of Dan O'Bannon's erm, er comic strips in there, erm which was about, which was part of the foundation for. for , for Blade Runner. Anyway, that, the images in that Heavy Metal comic absolutely hooked him, he suddenly, it was like he had an epiphany, and so I think vaguely that was the kind of oh no, he just kind of saw the light there, and though that wasn't the seed of Alien, what happened was that after the success of The Duellists , erm, I think he had some fan Sandy Lieberson who was then head of Twentieth Century Fox in England, erm, sort of basically past him this script that had been going 'round Hollywood with various directors and kind of happened... hadn't happened... and erm.. Ridley and I had a little tussle with the script because it was scifi and I thought well I should read it first, but no, he said "No, I'm going to read it first, it's been offered to me", so anyway, so he shut himself in an office next door, our offices in Lexington Street in Soho, and all I could hear was "Fuck me!" every time he used to get to one of the various scenes in the original script which changed quite a bit, So anyway, and I read it, you know, the rest is history, I mean he, he , he saw it, he saw the, he saw the potential in it and did it his own way and voila, that's my story (Q&A at Genesis Cinema August 23rd 2014)