Alien: Roger Dicken's big alien

Image of reflection of Ridley with hand on the back of the alien head.
The room in this old house has wonderfully wooden paneled walls
Perhaps Ridley's pretending to be some sort of subject for a Vermeer painting.

detail of reflection of Ridley with hand on the back of the alien head
a) Roger Dicken begins work on the Alien
a.i) Roger is contacted

Perhaps it was Ivor Powell who had phoned him up , but in later years he wouldn't be so sure. 

Originally he was asked to concoct the big beast as well as the two small beast

a.ii) Starting work
Roger Dicken was originally to do the big alien, he created a maquette of the creature and begun to sculpt the full size creature.
However, as he got involved in it, he soon found out that Alien was a "board room picture".  

He did his best to create a life size version of Alien Monster IV, including the very elongated cranium and translucent skin. 
a.iii) Producers and their different opinions
He noted as an example that amongst the producers, one man wanted a foot one way and another man wanted the tail another way,
At one point they even didn't want a tail but in the final alien of course the creature did have a tail.

Ridley with hand on the back of the alien head

b) Roger bows out to avoid a nervous breakdown
b.i) Conflicts leads to a nervous breakdown

The producers didn't quite know what they wanted and the arguments dragged on and on, 

Dicken found it difficult to work, and to avoid having a nervous breakdown because of this situation he decided to call it quits.

b.ii) Handing in his notice 
He wrote a letter to the producers telling them that he didn't want to be involved in creating the big creature. 

This created pandemonium of course and they told him that he was letting the picture down but he had to be honest with them due to what was going on. 

As far as he would later recall, it was before Giger came aboard.

However he would stick to the two smaller forms.

Roger walking around the sculpture

Bodycast of Bolaji . Image taken from

body cast and Roger Dicken

body cast and Roger Dicken

d) Roger's views in hindsight
d.i) The things that they had let go of
However in hindsight once he had seen the movie,  Dicken noticed how they had given up on elements that he was being asked to do but had trouble with.
They gave up on the translucent skin, cut the length of the head down by half, and there was the fact that the adult alien was hardly shown in the final movie, 

d.ii) How more people were involved

He also took notice of how they got a whole workshop onto the project, including Carlo Rambaldi doing the mechanical head in America, with another mechanical head was being built in Europe as a standby, and what it cost them he didn't know, but he felt that the fortune spent was unwarranted. 
d.iii) What he would have done if only he had known

For the aggravation involved, he thought that they blew it with their beast

Had he known what that the creators of the final adult alien themselves would give up trying to do in the end, and considering what little they showed of it in the actual film, he believed that left to his own devices he would have been able to come up with the goods in a satisfying way and give them a lot more.

maquette seen from the front. Roger to the left and Gordon seated to the right

Alien maquette seen from the side, without complete tail. 
Facehugger to the right (from 

Source Quotes
  1. Dicken was originally to do the big alien, but decisions on how it should look dragged on and on and, according to Dicken, " they (the producers) didn't know what they wanted. For instance, first they said no tail on the alien but then in the end it had one!" He sent a letter to the producers explaining that he no longer wished to be involved in the full sized alien. "Pandemonium broke out, " says Dicken. "They said I was letting the picture down. But I told them honestly, that I wasn't going to give myself a nervous breakdown making a creature when I had no idea exactly what I was trying to make." Dicken was replaced by, as he describes it, "a whole team," led by H. R. Giger and Carlo Rambaldi." Rambaldi did the head, but I heard a rumor that someone else was building another head in Europe in case his didn't work out. A fortune spent and I don't feel, after seeing the film, that it was warranted. What did you see of the alien? Nothing! If I had been left to my own devices, I certainly would have given them visually what you see now, but I'm sure a lot more. For the aggravation involved, I think Fox blew it with their beast." (Cinefantastique, vol 9, no. 1, p33)
  2. Roger Dicken: I was originally engaged to make a big creature and I got involved in it, but I soon found that Alien was a "board room" picture. One man wants a foot this way, another man wants a leg this way or a tail that way and I can't work like that. However I did construct and manipulate the two smaller alien life forms, the "face hugger" and the alien that bursts out of John Hurt's chest. The face hugger was from Dan O'Bannon's design and the chestburster was a combination of ideas from one of Giger's drawings, and Ridley Scott's ideas and mine as I built it. However I couldn't work like that and sent a letter to the production office, and told them i didn't want to carry on and make the large alien creature, though I did complete the smaller alien elements. After that they got a whole workshop onto the project including Carlo Rambaldi. What it cost them I don't know. But personally I think what they got in the end was disappointing. I think they blew it. I feel that if they left me to it they would have got what they wanted. (Starburst n15, Dicken's Aliens, p11)                                  
  3. Roger Dicken found it ironic that a number of the most bothersome specifications he had been given to work with had been cast aside -most notably the suit was no longer transparent and the head had been scaled down by nearly a half. (Cinefex 1 p59)  
  4.  Roger Dicken : As these things always do, it began with a phone call. I think it must have been the producer Ivor Powell, but you’ll forgive me for not being sure, its been a while. I was asked, originally, to concoct the big beast as well as the two small beasts, but there was so much argument and mind-changing over the big one that I eventually had to tell them that I just wasn’t interested; and I stuck to the two small forms - The Face Hugger and The Chest Burster. This was before Giger came aboard. (

Ridley seated , probably looking at Giger's Necronomicon again, with
Riger looking over his shoulder., with maquette seen by the window
Roger Dicken before the alien maquette's tail is connected

Maquette seen from the side with tail attached.
Gordon Carroll standing in the background.

No comments:

Post a Comment