Alien: List of Elements to be Designed

Leading from

a) Surprise Phonecall
Dan O'Bannon who was in LA and H R Giger who was in Switzerland were communicating via phone. Giger noted a 30 minute conversation that took place in July 1977 when Dan called him to talk about the Alien film project, he spoke very slowly down the phone and Giger with his poor English could still understand what was being said. It was then that Dan told him about how when the Dune project collapsed, he went back to Hollywood. Soon afterwards was very ill with a tiresome stomach trouble and so had lain sick at the home of his friend Ron Shusett. However he had still managed to work on the story of Alien with his friends help. Dan had written to SF Horror Story and had also made the suggestion that the fearsome Alien monster should be created by Giger. Brandywine Productions were approached to put up capitol for the film production. And Dan would have a letter sent over to Giger setting out the main things that he wanted created. However there was not much money available but enough to advance Giger a thousand dollars so at least he would not be working for nothing as he did on Dune.

b) List of Elements to be Designed
Twentieth Century fox had finally sent Giger a cheque for $1000 and with it came the list of the things that Dan O'Bannon wanted. It arrived on 11th of July at Giger's house.

part of Dan O'Bannon's letter
(Giger's Alien, p10)


EXTERIOR, ANCIENT TEMPLE. Approximately twenty meters tall. Should suggest an ancient, primitive and cruel culture.

INTERIOR, TEMPLE.  This is where the Spore Pods are stored. This room is entered through a vertical tunnel in the roof ( the normal entrance had long since collapsed). The Spore Pods can be seen ranked around the altar in the centre of the room.

THE ALIEN, FIRST PHASE. This is a small, possibly octopoidal creature which waits inside the Spore Pod, the lid flies off, and the small Alien (First Phase), leaps out and attaches itself to the face of the victim

THE ALIEN, SECOND PHASE.  Once the Alien (First Phase) has attached itself to the face of a victim, it lays eggs in the victim's stomach, and the egg grows into the Alien (Second Phase). This is a small creature which bites its way out of the victim's body.

THE ALIEN, THIRD (NATURE) PHASE. Having left its victim, the Alien promptly grows to a man-size, where upon it is terrifically dangerous. It is very mobile, strong, and capable of tearing a man to pieces. It feeds on human flesh. This creature should be a profane abomination. Our producers have suggested that something resembling an over-sized, deformed baby might be sufficiently loathsome. In any events, we wish you to feel free to create your own design. 

c) See also : Giger's early facehugger concept
Source Quotes
  1. H R Giger: Early Design. July 1977 I get an entirely unexpected telephone call from Dan O'Bannon in Hollywood. He speaks very slowly, so that in spite of my poor English, I can understand the important things in store for me. He is talking about a new project for a film called Alien. He tells me that, when the Dune project broke down, he went back to Hollywood, and soon afterwards he was very ill. A tiresome stomach trouble. He had lain sick in bed at the home of his friend Ron Shusett, and had still managed to work out the Alien story with his friend's help. When he was better, he had written to the SF Horror Story and made the suggestion that the fearsome Alien monster should be created by me. Brandywine Productions, consisting of Gordon Caroll, David Giler and Walter Hill, were approached to put up the capital for the production of the film. He says he will let me have a letter setting out the main things he would want me to create. Unfortunately there isn't much money available yet, but enough to advance me a thousand dollars, so that I shouldn't feel that I'd be working for nothing anymore. However, first I have to wait for the letter, to see where the whole thing is really going to interest me. We are about half an hour talking on the telephone. Now I wait excitedly to see what will happen next. (Giger's Alien, p8)

1 comment:

  1. That's a great Giger quote (RIP you manic depressive artistic genius), I was curious what 1000 was worth in 1977, it's $4090 today, IDK if this is good for an artist of Giger's caliber or it isn't but, it's safe to say Alien wouldn't have been quite the same movie without the bizarre Alien creature that probably only someone like Giger could ever design -