Aliens: Designing the side view of the Alien Queen

Leading from

Biomechanic Landscape II (work 417) (1979)

a)  Looking for the Alien Queen's Side Profile
Although I decided that HR Giger's Alien Monster IV was the starting point for Jim Cameron's Alien Queen when I saw how the hands were borrowed from the painting once the book "The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio" came out into the shops in 2006, I could not easily work out where he was getting the details of the design of the side design of the head along with the neck and upper upper body. In January 2016 it started to reveal itself to me that the design was picked out of the details of Giger's painting Biomechanic Landscape IV. Perhaps even parts of the larger arms were inspired by some of the crescent shaped tendril like structures. This painting is shown in Giger's Biomechanics II that came out in 1985 when Aliens went into production.

Biomechanic Landscape II (1979) with areas highlighted to show which parts I think were borrowed for the Alien Queen

b)  Pareidolia?
Although to look at it, one could easily state that identifying signs of the beast here would be like "pareidolia", but still there are an interesting flow of shapes for an inventive mind such as Jim Cameron's or Stan Winston, and one is counting on their own "pareidolia" to be working full throttle for inventive purposes and ones own ability to track where it was coming from within the context of Giger's artwork.

Upper body of the alien queen

Upper body of the Alien Queen
concept art by by James Cameron

Ribbing from the Biomechanical Landscape and the neck ribbing from the Alien Queen

Full scale Alien Queen puppet

Giger talks about Aliens and Poltergeist 2

 leading from

a) During the time of Aliens, Giger found himself involved in the creation of a demonic Gorgon like creature referred to as "The Great Beast" in Poltergeist 2. While Giger's designs for the film were inventive, they failed to translate through the art department of the film into anything of worth, in fact he found the puppet created from his paintings of the Great Beast to be terrible.

H R Giger, 1988
b) Later he found out that Aliens was being made without his involvement which at the time upset him, but the great Alien Queen designed together by James Cameron and Stan Winston was something that Giger could admire. Another thing to note that both Poltergeist and Aliens required the designs for large ferocious biomechanoids. If they had been successful with following Giger's design for the Poltergiest 2 Smoke Beast, one wonders which of the two creatures would have been the most talked about.
Giger's concept sketch for the Great Beast from Poltergeist

c) At first Giger thought that Aliens was too much of an action movie in the style of Rambo for his liking and over the years he found that he enjoyed it more and more.
The face of the Alien Queen
  1. Les Paul Robey: What did you think of the changes made to the designs of your creatures in "Aliens?"
    GIGER: I thought the whole mechanization was very well done. Though, I was a little depressed because nobody asked me to work on this film. I was in Los Angeles at the time working on "Poltergeist II" and I asked around about "Alien 2." People told me they didn't know, that it was in England. For me it would be the most logical thing to work on that film. I also heard they didn't ask Ridley Scott about this movie.(Easy Reader 14th July 1988)

  2. Giger:" Aliens was also terrific. I am sorry I was not asked to work on it. At first I thought, This  is like a war film,' but it is really powerful. But I didn't like the ribbed cranium of the Alien warrior, although you couldn't see the aliens very much. However I loved the Alien Queen designed by James Cameron.  " (FX magazine, July 1999)
    Alien Queen upper body from side

  3. CFQ: What did you think of the changes made in the design of your creature in ALIENS?  Giger: I thought the mechanization was done very well. I was a little depressed because nobody asked me to work on this film.  I was in Los Angeles at the time working on POLTERGEIST II, and I asked around about ALIENS. For me it would have been the most logical thing to work on that film. I was very anxious to collaborate but nobody called me. I'd much rather have done a second ALIEN than a second POLTERGEIST because naturally I felt more related to ALIEN.  Perhaps the POLTERGEIST II people wanted to keep me away from ALIENS for fear of losing me. I inquired everywhere but no one could or would inform me about it.
  4. HR Giger: That was really great, I liked the queen, it's really great. It's not I mean, it can't, it will work also without me very well (Alien Saga documentary)
  5. CFQ: You received compensation, though...

    Giger: No! Nothing. They put my name in the credits as designer of the original alien concept, but I never got any money. In my contract, Fox can make as many films as they want. It's always the company's rights, and they do what they want.

    CFQ: Did you like ALIENS?

    Giger: Actually, I expected more after all the enthusiastic reviews. It's a bit too American for me—too much action. I prefer suspense. Half of the action in ALIENS would have been sufficient for one film, I think. Far too much is happening. It's a bit like RAMBO.

    The Power Loader
    CFQ: What about the film's art direction, especially the design of the Alien Queen?

    Giger: It's all beautifully done, everything, the designs and the way they're executed. I'm particularly fond of the robot, which is operated by Ripley— Das war ganz toll, nicht?—that yellow  monster with those pincers. The Alien Queen is also nice. She's a bit smaller in the face than my alien but my basic design was very well studied. She was frighteningly well animated. Of couse in that respect a lot has been learned in the past eight years. The facehuggers were well done, too. As far as the designs are concerned I've no criticism, only the film's pace bothers me. And I believe a lot of Europeans react like that. They would rather see a series of slow build- ups towards climaxes instead of one immense build-up towards a single climax.
    (p26, Cinefantastique vol 18, issue 4)
The Great Beast as seen in the film Poltergeist 2
alien costume with ribbed cranium

From Zig Zag Devil via Delville
Giger to Cameron's Alien Queen

leading from: 

4. "Alien Monster IV" to James Cameron's Alien Queen
a) Realising the Alien Monster IV connection, b) Semi Spiralling Life form,
c) Queen Alien Hand Syndrome, d) The Egg Sack
e) Another big question about the design

Alien Monster IV to James Cameron's Alien Queen


a) Realising the Alien Monster IV connection
When Giger's Alien was released in the 1980s the painting Alien Monster IV caught my imagination because I thought it could be the next stage in the Alien creature's evolution after the humanoid form that we know well from the original film Alien. In the late eighties, I found the  German edition of the book was available at The Forbidden Planet bookshop in central London , then based in Denmark Street, before the English version had been published. However soon after being made aware of this book, James Cameron made Aliens which featured a huge alien creature that was a next phase in the alien's evolution, the alien queen egg layer. At first I made no real connection between Giger's Alien Monster IV but after seeing Aliens, I realised that the painting presented something that if interpreted in a certain way could look like a very large alien laying an egg through the egg tube curling around it's back.

b) Semi Spiralling Life form
One might be led to believe that that the general form of Giger's Alien Monster IV painting inspired James Cameron to come up with the very large Alien Queen monster in his movie Aliens. The Alien Monster IV might be imagined by some to be a depiction by Giger of a creature that erupted out of the Space Jockey seen in Alien inhabiting the biomechanic environment of the derelict ship or somewhere else on the planetoid as seen in the film. However nothing in the form of an interview has been published or presented in any other form for the general public. And if James Cameron took inspiration from Alien Monster IV for his Alien Queen, he has not spoken about it directly but of course we know that he used Giger's artwork from the book Giger's Alien published in 1980. Once we have got over the fact that Giger never got to be directly involved in the creation of the alien life forms and environments in Aliens, we can acknowledge the fact that Giger was pleased with Cameron's Alien Queen and also find signs of its heritage in Giger's Alien Monster IV and the curious and questionable forms that it is composed from.
The semi spiralling form of the Alien Monster IV by H.R.Giger
Stan Winston and James Cameron's Alien Queen presents itself to the camera  
twisting semi spiralling form

c) Queen Alien Hand Syndrome
i) It was when the book The Winston Effect was released in 2006 that I was able to truly establish a confirmed connection between the hands of the Alien Queen and the creature from Alien Monster IV when decent photos of the hand sculptures were published.

ii) One can see on this creature, the hands that James Cameron used for his Alien Queen in the movie Aliens ( but the resemblance had gone from the newer version of the Alien Queen featured in the movie Aliens vs Predator) and then it wasn't easy to tell that the hands of James Cameron's Alien Queen were actually based on the hands of Alien Monster IV until photos showing the well lit sculptures of the hands were made available in a way that the public would have taken notice of them, so the public were less likely to be aware of that connection until 2007 when The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston's Studio's was released which is when I first introduced the connection to forums devoted to Alien on December 7th 2007 once I had a camera with which to take a digital photograph of the images from the book
The hand from H R Giger's Alien 
Monster IV (source , p 7, Giger's Alien)

The hand sculpted for James Cameron's Alien Queen ( see p82, 
The Winston Effect: The Art and  History of Stan Winston's Studio)

d) The Egg Sack 
Because of Alien Monster IV, James Cameron may well have decided to have an egg sack connecting to the back of his giant Alien Queen by deciding that the transparent tube coming in from the right  might be an ovipositor with a spore art the end, and this would make this creature huge, and if this ovipositor was part of an egg sack and connected to the Alien Monster, then this could be further developed
James Cameron's Alien Queen concept with membranous egg sack ending with an 
ovipositor and the tail incorporated into the upper part of the egg sack forming a ridge

Alien Monster IV detail.   Penile form slithering around the hips of the alien creature. Is this some 
sort of an embryonic creature with it's arms at the side within the sheath like skin or is it perhaps 
an egg tube ending with an ovipositor and at the tip is a small egg being helped out. Did this 
inspire James Cameron to give the Alien queen a translucent egg sack

e) Another big question about the design
For the Alien Queen as seen from the front along with the head design as seen from above in relation to Giger's art, see: The Spell III and the Aliens queen