Alien: The Spores

Dan O'Bannon's sketch for Giger

a) Initial Egg Design
For Dan O'Bannon, H R Giger painted the egg design for the painting Alien I which showed the cross section of the (2ft 6 inches) spore.

A hollow plaster egg is made for Giger in the plasters shop from his mould and this would be used as a modelling base for the opening and the construction.

Later, in Zurich, he changed this picture to give the egg a more organic look.

b) Roger Dicken contributes an egg idea
After Dicken read the part of the script that described the Egg Chamber, he made a little plasticine egg that was about three inches tall, with an orifice at the top and sort-of-roots at the bottom. 
He took it in and gave it to them as a suggestion. 
He was sure that Giger must have liked it because he drew up what seemed to be it and then they used his drawings as the blue-prints for the full-sized models.

c) Giger starts the egg
Giger then got to the point where he would prepare a full-size mould for the 80cm high egg

The spores would be fondly referred to as "Organic Footballs: by HR Giger
  1. Giger calls them "Organic Footballs" (Book of Alien, Scanlon & Gross)

Giger's earlier egg design for Dan O'Bannon. 
Work 363i -Cross section through the alien egg (VI)

d) Inspection of the egg with the vaginal opening
Ridley Scott, Les Dilley, and Ivor Powell come to inspect Giger's work just as he started to apply texture.

The lid of the egg which in O'Bannon's sketch sprang open like a jack in a box, Giger transformed into an organic vagina like opening.

When he takes the plastic sheets in which his work is draped, there is a howl of laughter from the whole group.

He had lovingly endowed the egg with an inner and outer vulva us made from clay covered in sausage skins layer around the pink aperture.

e) The Boardroom Meeting
In a meeting in the boardroom upstairs at Bray Studios, Nicky Allder recalled that after Ridley had seen the egg, someone said "What do you think of the egg?"

Ridley's exact response was "I think it's fucking obscene" and there was a deadly hush and everybody looked at each other

Gordon Carroll said "Ridley, what do you mean by "the egg looks obscene"?"

vaginal opening of the original spore design

Ridley responded "well, it looks like some great fanny" ("fanny" is an English term for "vagina")

There was another hush in the room before Gordon Carroll said in a voice that sounded like perfect Queen's English "Ridley, you have an alien running around with a three foot penis on his head, the alien spaceship has got three fifteen foot tall vaginas that the space people are walking through and you call the egg obscene!?"

Giger's work 363, Alien egg version II
f) Giger's Solution
Giger is then told that Ridley thinks that it is too good and Gordon Carroll admits that it is too specific, he is afraid  that it will get them into trouble especially in the catholic countries.

Les Dilley has an idea about having something more like a flower opening and so H R Giger takes this and decided to double the bud effect, laying the two slits across each other that seen from to Giger, from above,  the opening would have the shape of a starfish and also this would form a cross that the Catholic people are known to be fond of looking at.
Giger told them ‘Well, if it’s a cross, then it’s religious, and people don’t worry about that."
He was able to satisfy himself, the producers and the public at home and abroad all at once.
Roger Christian would compare it to a hot cross bun, which is something that the British ate during easter
Giger's work 381; Alien Egg version III


Giger painting the final eggs

Source quotes
  1. SPORE PODS. These leathery, egg-shaped objects about one meter tall, which contain the larva of the Alien. They have a small "lid" in the top, which can pop off, when a victim approaches (Dan O'Bannon's letter to Giger, Giger's Alien, p10, )
  2. HR Giger: In O'Bannon's script, the top of the egg wasn't organic, but completely mechanical. I didn't like it that way. (Cinefantastique vol 9, no 1, p35)
  3. HR Giger: Scott had a new idea for the egg set. A field of laserbeams will cover the eggs. Then the space jockey dives into the field, slips, and is completely immersed in this underwater atmosphere, where the ground is covered in slime. The entire set is now supposed to consist of the egg silo, which, filmed from another angle, will be transformed into the cockpit. How they're going to do that is beyond me. (July 7th, 1978)
  4. HR Giger: They brought me a model egg from the plaster shop.  (Giger's Alien Diaries, July 27th 1978) 
  5. HR Giger: They brought the egg already mounted on a stand. (Giger's Alien Diaries, July 28th 1978) 
  6. HR Giger: Worked on a picture for the new set eggs. (Giger's Alien Diaries, July 30, 1978)
  7. HR Giger:  Eddie at the finger and feet nails, then he tried to make various structures for the egg (Giger's Alien Diaries, August 1st 1978)
  8. H.R.Giger  First, for O'Bannon, I painted the egg of Alien I, the Facehugger in cross-section. Later, in Zürich, I changed this picture giving the egg a more organic looking. Now I've reached the point of preparing a full-size mould for the 80-cm-high (2ft 6in) egg. A hollow plaster egg is to be made for me in the plasterers' shop from this mould, to use as a modelling base for the opening and the construction. (Giger's Alien, (August 2nd, 1978, Shepperton Studios Car Par) p46. )
  9. HR Giger: I tried to give the opening of the egg a shape different from that of a vagina.(Giger's Alien Diaries, August 7th, 1978)
  10. HR Giger: Coloured the alien egg black(Giger's Alien Diaries, August 19th 1978)
  11. HR Giger: R.Scott arrived with his factotum. He doesn't like the egg anymore. I will turn it back into a vagina(Giger's Alien Diaries, August 22nd 1978)
  12. HR Giger: Painted the plaster model of the first draft of the Alien egg interior an electriction. Peter Beale, the director of Fox, assured me that this will make it possible for Cent Fox to save £20,000 on electric installations. I guess the craftsmen appreciate my work much more than I ever expected. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Wednesday, August 30th1978) (Does Egg interior refer to Egg silo interior?)
  13. HR Giger: In the evening, they inspected the egg in the plaster shop. Judging from their laughter the opening, i.e. the vagina, is a bit too realistic for them. Gordon Carroll was afraid that the object would make trouble, mainly in the Catholic countries. So I have to change the shitty egg again. A vertical crevice and a horizontal one.   (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, August 30th1978)
  14. H.R.Giger: Scott, Carroll, Dilley and Powell appear to inspect my work, I had just started to apply a texture. The lid of the egg which in O'Bannon's sketch sprang up at a touch, I changed it into an organic, vaginal like opening. When I take off the plastic cloths in which my work is draped, there is a howl of laughter from the whole group. I had lovingly endowed this egg with an inner and outer vulva. To make it all look more
    organic, I filled some more preservatives with clay and arranged these semi-transparent little sausages on the pink aperture. (Giger's Alien, p46,  Friday, September 1st 1978, Shepperton Studios)
  15. H.R.Giger: So I build up this egg with a top like a vagina. But when the producers turned up in my studio, they exclaimed, "Oh that's too specific! We can't show such things in Catholic countries. Can't you change the egg just a little bit?" So to satisfy Catholic audiences, I modified the egg, and made the opening a cross on the top. (Cinefantastique vol 9, no 1, p35)
  16. Nick Allder: (33:14) They used to have, we used to have these meetings in Bray studios in one of the board rooms upstairs at the end of a shoot, we had er, it was Alan Ladd Jr who was the head of Fox at the time, one of the producers, lovely quiet American guy called Gordon Carroll, a real American gentleman if you want to put it that way, very soft spoken, beautifully spoken, Ivor Powell, Peter Beale was head of Fox UK and all that lot and we'd be sitting up, sitting up in the office in this board room and we'd be going through like a walk-round at Ridley's scene because we shot, while we were shooting the models, we also shot lots of inserts stuff for the rest of the main movie like for example the egg, and the egg, and Peter Voysey was a terrific sculptor, he'd actually sculpted the egg and they were making the egg for the very first time and they moulded it and done everything with it and the original egg and it opened up like that and anyway, Ridley had seen it, and we were sitting there having this meeting and er I think, I can't remember who it was, somebody said "what do you think of the egg?" And Ridley's exact words, "I think it's fucking obscene" and there was this deadly hush and every body looked around at each other and er Gordon Carroll said "Ridley, what do you mean, by the, the er, the egg is… looks obscene?", he said "well it looks like some great
    fanny". Well to English people a fanny is a… is a… is a woman's vagina, in the states a fanny is somebody's backside, it's referred to as totally different  things but, so American people would understand it, to really get down to it, it's a woman's private parts (35:00). So it was this little hush that went around and then Gordon Carroll said "Ridley, you have the alien running around with a three foot penis on his head, " he said " the alien spaceship has got three fifteen foot tall vaginas that the space people are walking through and you call the egg obscene." I mean and that just cracked everybody up, it was the way he said it, it was a beautiful quiet kind of English spoken, perfect English, Oxford almost English, not American, it was the accent that disappeared as he came out with this you know three foot penis on his head and the the fifteen foot vaginas, anyway if you've noticed to this day that egg has got four, four quarters to it, and er, you know, that's how that, that's how that came about, but that happened to be a true story, but that was a bit of Ridley (Alien Makers IV)
    the original alien egg with a single slit vagina shaped opening, finally seen 
    to be enclosing the body of Brett in the cocoon seen reinstalled  and very 
    briefly seen in the Directors Cut of Alien (source Alien Diaries)
  17. H.R.Giger : When the gentlemen are beginning to get over it, I allow myself to ask whether they like it. Scott thinks it's too good, and Carroll too specific. He's afraid it will get them into trouble, especially in the Catholic countries. Dilley would rather have something more like a flower opening. This suggestion gives me the idea of doubling the bud effect and laying the two, one across the other. Seen from above, they would form the cross that people in the Catholic countries are so fond of looking at. Once again I can satisfy the producers, myself and the public at home and abroad.(Giger's Alien, p46, (1st September 1978, Shepperton Studios))
  18. HR Giger: In the plaster shop, I change the egg once again. Seen from above, the opening has the shape of a starfish. I hope that this is finally the last change (Giger's Alien Diaries, Friday September 1st 1978)
  19. HR Giger: At the plaster shop in the morning to model the surroundngs of the egg in clay. The eggs has been partially cast in plaster. In the afternoon, Mia filmed how I poured hot rubber in the interstices. Half the surroundings of the egg are enough to cover the entire set.  (Giger's Alien Diaries, Sunday September 3rd 1978)
  20. HR Giger. In the original film, the floor where the eggs stand was meant to give the impression of being slimy and full of worms. Working in day, I model a sort of carpet with streaks and snaky folds in the shape of a half-segment of a circle. The plaster form is spread with a thin coat of lats and then frothed up. Even before it's painted, one begins to get the feeling that this long shape could become life-like. (Giger's Alien , p48. Sunday September 3rd 1978. Shepperton Studios, plasterers' workshop)
  21. HR Giger: I showed R.Scott the egg surroundings. He liked them. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Wednesday September 6th 1978)
  22. HR Giger : The second egg was cast very sloppily in the plaster shop. Nobody's making an effort anymore. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, September 7th 1978)
  23. HR Giger: I worked on the pattern for the egg in the paint shop. A pearly color looks quite good, I envision the eggs rather light green, blue silverish, quite bright (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, September 7th 1978)
  24. HR Giger: Peter Voysey started the inside of the egg. Special effects will mechanize the egg that opens when the space jockey touches it. etc (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, September 29thth 1978)
  25. HR Giger: Was at the printer's yesterday. Luckily I was able to remove an illustration of Alien, the egg, before they printed it because I have no copyright. That would have been a catastrophe. Fox could have blocked the book. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Tuesday, October 3rd 1978)
  26. HR Giger: Painted the second egg for a test in the A stage. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Tuesday, October 3rd 1978)
  27. HR Giger: A stage, where the interior of the egg silo is being built up, they beamed the laster across the field of eggs. Special effects mixed it with oily smoke. Maybe the effect is better on film. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Wednesday, October 4th 1978)
  28. HR Giger: The rushes of the egg silo's interior look better on film when they're covered with the laser beam. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, October 5th 1978)
  29. HR Giger: Another great day. My egg-silo is filmed. Some laster specialists, based in a villa next to the studios belonging to Roger Daltry of The Who , have installed two laster-guns. A blue film of light permeated by smoke and drizzling rain now lies mysteriously over the eggs. Above, from the scaffolding, the astronaut is slowly let down into the depths. John Hurt, the actor, doesn't do this himself. it's done by a stunt-man. He uses the chest-elements  that the wall is made of as steps. Cautiously he gropes his way along the track between the eggs, slips and falls into the middle of them. Picking himself up, he staggers forwards as if drunk on the slightly yielding floor. He plays the light from his torch all round the area, and finally comes to a half in front of the prepared egg. Hesitantly he stretches out his hand to touch it, and ... Scott sitting in the frustrated cameraman's place again, and the cameraman stands beside him behind the camera. He films the staggering astronaut, who is cut in two optically by the laser beam, once below and once above the dividing line, in his smoky blue inferno. (Giger's Alien, 9th October, Shepperton Studios, Stage A)
  30. Roger Dicken: For example, after I read the part of the script that describes the Egg Chamber, I made a little Plasticine egg, about three inches tall, with an orifice at the top and sort-of-roots at the bottom. I took it in and gave it to them as a suggestion. Well, Giger must have liked it because he drew it up and then they used his drawings as the blue-prints for the full-sized models.(
  31. The first ones he did looked much more like a woman’s private parts, and the producers all worried,Christian explains. Giger said, ‘Well, if it’s a cross, then it’s religious, and people don’t worry about that.’”
  32. It’s the stuff of nightmares. But to one of the movie’s art directors, Roger Christian, the Alien egg evokes — of all things — a delicious British pastry traditionally eaten on Good Friday. “It’s like a hot cross bun,” the Oscar winner tells EW, laughing.
spore with cross opening

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