a) Human To Spore confusion
The events regarding the creation of the human to spore stage props remain something of a mystery and a blur. First of all, the main thing that most people saw for many years was what was in Giger's book Giger's Alien which showed the Brett transforming into an egg sculpture, which almost implied the idea of Brett's remains melting away and transforming into an egg. However over decades since, Ridley words about the matter have come to the surface, the film clip was made available to the public, James Cameron's own confusion regarding the matter came to the surface too. In the final movie, Brett's remains have been surrounded by the alien egg shell that seems to be growing around him, the first image of this in Warren Presents Alien collectors edition showed the spore shell with an interesting zigzagging pattern across it's surface, but it was not easy to make out what this photograph was all about. Some people have been so inspired to imagine that Brett and Dallas were literally metamorphosing into spores to the degree that a caterpillar was metamorphosing into the butterfly, James Cameron believed this and then couldn't accept it as an idea for the alien's life cycle
|Ridley's Ridleygram for Ripley finding the nest with the remains of one|
of her crew members merged with the organic substance on the wall
|Ridley's storyboard for when Ripley finds Dallas in the Alien nest still alive|
b) Creating the Spores
We are to find out from one of the cut scenes from Alien that the way these things are created are by the aliens themselves with the aid of victim's bodies. When loose on the ship, the new alien begins to lay eggs in the bowels of the ship. It lives to propagate and must find food for its offspring. As Ridley informs us, in this case the crew members of the Nostromo, upon whom the young aliens can feed in their eggs until a new host comes along prodding the eggs, and then the cycle begins all over again. Ridley Scott also observed that filmed scene shows that the walls are covered with this thick butter-like stuff and Dallas, still alive, is attached to the wall in a cocoon-type of thing. It's some sort of reproductive cycle, because Brett, or what's left of Brett, is more fully absorbed in the background, slowly turning into one of the eggs. Dallas says , "Kill me!" and she incinerates the room, killing Dallas and Bret. It is a slightly vague description of what is happening never the less it is still one
|Ridley Scott's sketch for cocoons (393 A)|
|Ridley Scott's sketch for cocoons (393 B)|
c) Victims Eaten Away
Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett actually suggest in their original script that the victim Standard (later to be renamed Dallas) by his own experience is being eaten, the online version has the cocooned character Standard's actual reason in words for not wanting to be saved as "It's eaten too much of me" and in the DVD version of the script "Too much gone". O'Bannon's point of view about when Parker too was taken away by the Alien after being killed by it was that Ripley finds Captain Dallas spun into a web in the hold of the Earth ship, and Brett and Parker have also been spun into cocoons which are in the process of metamorphosing into the very same type of egg found in the pyramid. Giger understood that the alien drained the blood out of its human prey and developed the husk into a cocoon, which gradually developed back into an egg. The idea of a metamorphosis only relates to the cocoon transforming into the egg and not transformations of victims inside. As far as Sigourney Weaver understood, Captain Dallas was being eaten alive.
|Giger's illustration of Brett turning into an egg and Dallas cocooned|
The explanation behind the idea of the human to spore "transformation", even without Ridley Scott's explanation, the victim inside the cocoon was being eaten away alive and indeed the silk cocoon turns into the spore shell. And so following this, Scott actually went with the idea of showing human bodies being eaten away alive by the cocoon material putting Dallas in a state of agony, as the spore shell grew around the humans' remains.
When Giger came to design the cocooned victims, he imagined it to be the way a spider wraps its victim and sticks it to the wall.
(See: Comparison to saprophytic fungus)
|Add work 393c: Part of the Bret Egg cocoon , |
polyester, in the Art Department ( Source: Giger's Alien, p50)
very much like Giger's visualisation for Brett as seen above
i) On Monday, they want to film the burning of the cocoon. There are two cocoons glued to the bottom of the landing leg of the Nostromo. One is supposed to be a few days old and the other is the partially eaten corpse of Brett, the first victim of the stage 3 Alien
ii) The task of creating the cocoons has been passed to HR Giger and Peter Voysey who are not entirely sure what they should be doing and Ridley Scott who is involved in filming has almost no time do deal with their concerns. They have to hope that they've grasped what Ridley wanted.
iii) Giger worked on a pattern for the egg that would engulf Brett's remains. He liked a pearly colour and perhaps the egg would be light green, blue silverish and quite bright. Brett is supposed to have acquired the shape of an egg and has become particularly slimy and bloated, his colour would be the same as the egg's. The second, Dallas would be wrapped in slime and still alive, and according to the story, begs to be killed out of mercy by a flame thrower.
|Spore that would engulf Brett's remains, with a new pattern|
and pearl like light green, blue silverish bright colouring, in the Art Department
(From Giger's Alien Diaries)
v) For the fresher cocoon, only partly enveloped, he takes a plaster impression of the crouching actor (Tom Skerrit), who of course has got to be recognizable.
vi) The two figures of the cocoon should be cast and wax and are then to be garnished with latex scraps of Alien stage 3, like the way a spider wraps its victims and sticks it to a wall.
vii) So they have to replace the actor with a latex doll, in four copies, because they will play the scene four times, and one doll has to be burned each time. That was promising to be an interesting Monday
|Brett becomes an egg|
Monday 18th September 1978, Ridley Scott and the filming crew turn up and by Giger's account , he cursed. Ridley didn't liked the nest with the two cocoons, and Giger didn't like it either, feeling that if he had taken a look at it on Sunday, he might have been able to make changes.
Friday, 22nd September 1978, despite the fact that the worked on it all week, it still didn't look good to Giger. He would have like to continue working on it but he didn't like the feeling of it.
One of the parts of the cocoon would be broken up and filled with maggots, so that the viewer would get the impression that the entire nest is crawling with maggots.
|Dallas cocooned in the glutinous substance|
Ridley found himself removing the human to cocoon scene. Terry Rawling the editor was involved in the decision as well, he thought it was quite horrendous and one shock too many. As an editor, when one is timing something , there's a correct order for when things happen and how many should happen. If there are are five things happening , a sixth can diminish the other five. When they were analyzing the sequence, they decided that was no reason for Ripley to back down into the leg chamber and it seemed so tacked on and illogical. Giger was led to understand that the cocoon scene could be used because it interrupted the steadily mounting tension in the film.
|The ultimate ALIEN secret! The huddled corpse of Brett peeks out from the top of maturing|
cocoon. This was the chilling scene cut out of a film already too full with frights
(Warren Presents Alien Collector's Edition)
h) James Cameron's Big Misunderstanding
Without this scene, the information within it isn't recognised as part of the alien mythos anymore, and instead we have spores layed as eggs by an egg laying queen seen in Cameron's 'Aliens' film, that's another stage of the alien's life cycle, that might have layed enough eggs to fill the derelict's egg silo. See also: Cameron removes human to spore stage.
|The final fate of Captain Dallas.|
Again, in an edited scene, the still-living body begins a terrible transformation.
(Warren Presents Alien Collector's Edition)
i) Return of the cocoon scene
Ridley would years later add the sequence back into the film for the extended cut known as the directors cut, probably for the purpose of the public's curiosity because many people were so excited about the possibility of that scene, but the original released version of Alien was what Ridley considered to be the real director's cut. Terry Rawling however really didn't know what reason they had to put it back in.
- Ridley Scott: Loose on the ship, this new alien, begins to lay eggs in the bowels of the ship. It lives to propagate and must find food for it's offspring - in this case, the crew members of the Nostromo upon whom the young aliens can feed in their eggs until a new host comes along prodding the eggs. Then the cycle begins all over again. (S&S v48.n.1 Winter 78/79, p26)
- H R Giger: Like the way a spider wraps its victim and sticks it to the wall. (Giger's Alien Diaries p545)
- Dan O'Bannon: Ripley finds Captain Dallas spun into a web in the hold of the Earthship. Brett and Parker have also been spun into cocoons which are in the process of metamorphosing into the very same type of egg found in the pyramid. (Starburst 15, p41)
- Ridley Scott: When Ripley is running around on her own at the end of the film, she discovers that the alien has actually started a nest aboard the ship. The walls are covered with this thick butter-like stuff and Dallas, still alive, is attached to the wall in a cocoon-type of thing. It's some sort of reproductivity cycle, because Brett, or what's left of Brett, is more fully absorbed in the background, slowly turning into one of the eggs. Dallas says , "Kill me!" and she incinerates the room, killing Dallas and Brett ( Fantastic Films #11 , October 1979)
- Terry Rawling: It was quite horrendous and one shock too many. When you're timing something as an editor, there's a correct order for when things happen and how many should happen. If you have five happenings in a scene, a sixth dimimishes the other five. When we were analyzing that sequence in Alien, we decided that there was no reason for Ripley to go back down, it was tacked on and too illogical (Starlog, February 1986)
- HR Giger: The Chestburster , the original "Bambi Alien", grows into a giant killer alien, it has acid in place of blood and must be battled with flame throwers. It drains the blood out its human prey and forms the dried husk into a cocoon, which gradually develops back into an egg. (Giger's Film Design, p31)
- HR Giger: 4th September 1978, Shepperton Studios. The cocoon in the Alien story is a stage through which a victim of Alien III passes before he himself becomes an egg. Ever since I've been in the studios I've been laned with all the most complex, difficult jobs, which even the chief designer and the art director have difficulty carrying out. I pass them on smartly to Voysey; that is, we share them between us. We brood together over Scott's rough sketches and try to produce something subtle from them (plates 393a and b). Since shooting began, Scott has been busy filming from morn till eve, and it's a job to interrupt him even for a few minutes to talk about our problems. Often we simply have to work things out for ourselves in hope that we've grasped what he wants. Voysey takes an egg, gets himself a skull and disappears into the plasterers' workshop. He wants to use my clay sausage method to make the cocoon. For the fresher cocoon, only partly enveloped, he takes a plaster impression of the crouching actor (Tom Skerrit), who of course has got to be recognizable. The other victim (Harry Dean Stanton) of the murderous Alien III is almost completely cocooned, so Voysey can use the invaluable rubber latex for the figure. ( Source: Giger's Alien, p50)
- HR Giger: I worked on the pattern for the egg in the paint shop. A pearly color looks quite good. I envision the egg rather light green, blue silverish, quite bright. Peter Voysey began to work on the second cocoon. It's a bit of an overkill. The egg that is supposed to lend its shape to the figure disappeared underneath the bubbles and lost its shape. The two figures of the cocoon should be cast in wax and will be garnished with the latex scraps of Alien III. Like the way a spider wraps its victims and sticks it to a wall. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Monday 11th September, 1978)
- HR Giger: On Monday, they want to film the burning of the cocoon. There's two cocoons glued to the bottom of the aircraft. One is supposed to be a few days old, and the other is the partially eaten corpse of Alien III's first victim. The corpse has acquired the shape of an egg and is supposed to look slimy and bloated. The color should be the same as the egg's. The second victim is also wrapped in slime and still alive. and according to the story, begs to be killed out of mercy by the flame thrower. So we have to replace the actor with a latex doll, in four copies, because they will play the scene four times, and one doll has to be burned each time. This promises to be an interesting Monday. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Saturday 16th September, 1978)
- HR Giger: In the morning, R Scott and his crew showed up at the leg room and cursed. He doesn't like the nest with the two cocoons at all. I don't particularly like it either. It would have been better if I had taken a look at it on Sunday. A lot could have been changed. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Monday, 18th September , 1978)
- HR Giger: The cocoon still looks shitty despite the fact that we worked on it all week. I should do some more work on it, but I don't like the feel of it. One of the parts will be broken up and filled with maggots, so that you get the impression that the entire nest is crawling with maggots. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Friday 22nd September 1978)
- HR Giger: May 1979, Monte Carlo, first showing. The cocoon scene wasn't used there, since it would have interrupted the steadily mounting tension in the film. ( Source: Giger's Alien, p50)
- Sigourney Weaver: There was a section where Ripley found Captain Dallas, and he had been cocooned. He had maggots crawling all over him. Anyway, to get to the area where I find him being eaten alive there was a metal ladder, hung over a space about 20 or 30 feet above the ground, and I had to be up inside this tube, and have a lit flame-thrower put over my shoulder by this prop guy - I had to catch it, and come down with one hand. Of course they put grease all over the pole, and water, because it looked better. (SFX Magazine, December 2003, p34)