- Michael Seymour; "After the first stage had died and left us, we can assume that it has layed its egg inside the human character's chest. So the next stage, which is the creature that gives birth to itself by bursting through the wall of John Hurt's chest, we referred to in our own private language as the "Chest-Burster" (American Cinematographer, August 1979, p805)
- Ridley Scott: I think, I think finally when you want to be really scared, you've got to have a very private thought. You've got to think about what it is that make very physically uneasy, that upsets you in a primal way. And I'm not easily upset.. But we looked at various painters' works, and the one that caught us was by Francis Bacon, the three flesh necks with the jaws on the end. The primality, if there is such a word, was what interested me. (Cinefantastique 9:1 p14)
- HRGiger: "My first design of the chestburster had more than one mouth. The mouth was the most important thing because it had to eat out of his body. But we made it smaller and Roger Dicken built the small alien". (Alien Collectors edition, p32)
- FX: What about the Chest-Burster?
HRGiger: Ridley Scott asked me to do something based on a crucifixion painting by Francis Bacon, in which the only thing of the figure you see is a mouth and some flesh behind. He wanted something like that which could go into the stomach or come out of it. (FX,07,1999)
- Cinefex: Roger Dicken was Giger's approved design for the intermediate form, which came to be known as the chest-buster. "To me , it looked like a plucked turkey, "Dicken remarked, " a veined, repulsive looking thing with fangs. I said: "You want me to make this? It looks like a turkey." And they said, yes, thats what they wanted. Well there wasn't a need for anything very complicated, since all it had to do was force its way through the chest and then flop onto the table; so we figured the best approach was to build it as a hand puppet, about three times life-size, so I could get my hand up into the neck. Obviously, you couldn't get something the size of a large turkey out of a human chest, but initially they were going to cheat it somehow."
|H R Giger's sculpture for his chestburster design.|
(Source: H.R.Giger's film design)
- Working out of his home at Pangbourne, about an hours drive from Shepherton - Dicken began on the chest-burster in Mid-March, sculpting it out of plasticene, and then casting it in foam plastic with a latex rubber skin. After spending about three weeks on it, he took it into the studio for a trial run.
"Giger's drawing was a kind of a Francis Bacon-type thing," Ridley Scott explained, " and it looked just hideous. It was covered in blood and had a large underhung jaw with some really lethal teeth on it - totally obscene and very frightening. And in fact, roger Dicken reproduced it very faithfully. The problem was that what looked great on paper didn't in actuality. Dicken normally works everything like a glove puppet, and so he brought this thing in and propped it on his knee. And while he was talking, he kept moving the head around so the bloody thing kept looking back and forth across the room - from Gordon Carroll to me, and then up his nose. The whole thing was entirely comical - it looked like some kind of a plucked demented turkey. I was frankly terrified at the thought of getting a giggle at this time in the film, so we ditched the whole concept and started again." (Cinefex 1, p43)
H R Giger's sculpture for his chestburster design
- Cinefex: Once established on the Shepperton lot. Giger made a unilateral bid to reaffirm the intergrity of his highly personal vision by commencing to sculpt his own versions of the two smaller forms as well. - this despite the fact that Roger Dicken's renderings of both were virtually complete. "He was trying to do all of them ," Dan O'Bannon affirmed. "He was, of course, working on the big one: but on his workbench he was also well underway on both the face-hugger and the chest-burster. They were exquisite pieces of sculpture, too. Better, I think, than that were used in the film. Especially the chestburster. Giger really gave that thing a nasty mouth. It was much larger in proportion to the rest of the body, and the teeth were like oversized fangs, fully extended - a set on both top and the bottom. I mean he was building something designed for biting its way out - those fangs looked like they would go through a piece of steel" (Cinefex 1, p47)
- Roger Dicken was given Giger's design and, despite his objections to it, he was asked to build it as Giger had painted it. Dicken constructed a hand puppet sculpted in plasticine, cast in foam plastic with a latex rubber skin. Dicken showed Ridley Scott and the producers the finished puppet, and it was then that the decision was made to completely change the concept (Alien Laserdisc Archive)
- Ridley Scott "We went back and re-examined various illustrations and ideas, and tried to come up with something we thought would be the most frightening, I wanted more of a biological link between the baby which is what we were really designing, and what the final creature would look like. And I wantd it to be a very smooth object. The other was all wrinkled and ancient looking like a malevolent Muppet. And when it came out, , I wanted it to look very rude - and totally carnivorous. So to be honest, that beast was very much the product of several people - Giger, Dicken and me, and even a bit of Gordon Carroll."(Cinefex 1, p43)
Roger Dicken's earlier chestburster
- Ridley Scott: "We decided that the big chap, in embryo form, would have a head either tilted down or titled back. We tilted it back because it seemed more obscene that way, more reptilian, more phallic. " (Starlog, September 1979, p25)
- Giger: Visit to Dicken. On instruction from Scott who has given him plate 303 from H.R Giger's Necronomicon to work from, he has made a preliminary model of plasticene with an interior framework of aluminium. The creature has a long section ending in an attached tail. These attached extremities still remind me of dinosaurs, and I don't like them at all. It will be better to shorten the fore feet and scrap the hind feet altogether, so that there will be no sort of resemblance to any known animal." (Giger's Alien, p 56, Entry: 2 June 1978, England.)
secondary alien form, the chestburster," which explodes from Kane's
body was built by Dicken from a design suggested to him by director
Ridley Scott. "Ridley decided the 'chest-burster' should look like the
Giger drawing with the elongated head," says Dicken.
Roger Dicken's earlier chestburster
- Roger Dicken: "Sure.
The overall look of the chest burster was this long banana shaped
thing with a head on it from the Giger drawing. I made various models
of it. One afternoon, Ridley Scott came over here and over cups of tea
we literally constructed the thing by trying on different tails and so
on, and it was finally agreed that that was what it would finally look
like. So I married the head up with the body and the flexible tail that
I designed. I gave it moving gills on the side, a moving jaw and the
chest of the creature would breathe and so on. Time was running out at
this point and Ridley had to come to some decision. The chestburster
was an activated model. I couldn't get my hand inside it to operate it,
it was too small. It's an articulated foam model on a handgrip and I
had air tubes coming off it working all the appendages. I had it burst
up through the false fiberglass chest, physically turning it by hand
and had other people working the air tubes to give it "life."
special effects people on the film insisted that my model wouldn't
burst through the chest, so I had to make a solid model from my moulds
which they fitted on a cantilever. On the day of shooting, they tried
this out. It burst through the false chest, which was full of guts, but
would not go through the t-shirt that Hurt was wearing. What you did
finally see come through was my model. I held it and pushed it up
through the chest and the T-shirt."
Starburst: "It is the one shot in the film where you actually get to see the alien fully, without the use of special or strobe lighting"
Roger Dicken: "I built it to stand up to the work and the camera. Hurt was going through extreme discomfort, lying under this false chest, built up around with blood and guts from the abattoir. To me though, the creature looks like a porpoise, I'm not really happy with the finished thing. I had a different idea as to how it should come out of Hurt's chest. The special effects department were telling Ridley it should burst out like a bullet, but what I visualised was that it should burst its hands out, and squirm its way out of the chest. To me that would have been much more horrifying."
Starburst: "Something like the birth of Ymir in 20 Million Years to Earth"
Roger Dicken: "Something like that"
Starburst: "Would you have animated that, rather than use an articulated model."
Roger Dicken's near final chesthurster
Roger Dicken: "I think I would have attempted something like that. For the shoot across the table where the alien scoots across it, I lay under the table on the trolley with my arm up holding the alien. The table was split in two with one side higher than the other, with the camera on the high side. The special effects boys yanked me out on the trolley under the table, knocking all the cups and saucers over as it went speeding across the table top. Alan Bryce, one of the effects technicians rigged up an air hose to the special tail which made it lash about and gave it that much more "life". " (Starburst #15, 1978)
- Mechanisms of the chestburster
Roger Dicken's near final chesthurster
Cinefex: Dicken was beginning to have misgivings about the collaborative nature of his Alien involvement, but never the less plunged into the revised chest-burster in Mid-April. "Ridley ran over to Roger's house one day to have a look at it." Dan O'Bannon recalled.' It has a head that was pretty much a miniature version of the big one, and kind of an elaborate body with legs - like little dinosaur legs. It was just in clay at that point, and Ridley looked over a bit and then reached out and pulled off the legs. The he wadded up little pieces of clay like dolphin flippers and stuck them on either side behind the head and said "There- that's it"
Roger Dicken's near final chesthurster
"The final thing ended up looking sort of porpoise-like "Dicken explained" "The head of the big alien with a tail on the end was literally all it was, But constructing it wasn't so simple, mainly because they wanted it actual size and it wasn't big enough for me to be able to put my hand inside and operate it. What I came up with was a curved metal rod which which ran down into a hand grip. About half way along - up where the neck would have been if it'd had one - was a flexible steel spring, and then the rest of the rod went up into the head area and then down underneath the jaw to give it strength. I ran a wire, through a series of eyelets, along the whole length of the rod and then down into a ring which fit around my finger: so when I pulled on the ring, the spring
Roger Dicken's near final chesthurster Roger Dicken's near final chesthurster Roger Dicken's near final chesthurster
- CFQ: "How did you make it run past the camera?"
Ridley Scott: "It was purely mechanical, a rail system to get him off fast, In that instance I wanted it to move with great violence across across the table, so that you've got the impression that, though he was small, he was lethal." (Cinefantastique 9:1 p14)
- CFQ: "How did you achieve the sound effects of its bark?" Ridley Scott: "A mixture of three things, which we then distorted: a viper, a pig's squeal and a baby's cry." (Cinefantastique 9:1 p14)
|H R Giger's sculpture for his chestburster design|
Roger Dicken's Earlier Chestburster
|Roger Dicken's near final chesthurster|