Alien Design: The Terrible Beauty of H.R. Giger

You can’t have a discussion about the Alien films without talking about the beautifully horrible works of Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger. Creating the creature, its environment, and the derelict spaceship in which it is found, Giger’s designs for the film reverberated not only throughout the series but also across the cinematic landscape as a whole. When you look at it, Giger’s biomechanical designs really are the key to the entire Alien milieu. It was his work that convinced scriptwriter Dan O’Bannon, director Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox that the first film could be made, and has driven the look of the rest that followed.

As an example of where Alien started, these, in order, are Giger’s Necronom IV and Necronom V, from his 1977 book of illustrations called Necronomicon. They are the two images that convinced Scott that they could have an alien creature that wouldn’t seem ridiculous to audiences. Always wearing its Freudian aspects on its sleeve, the work of Giger does much more than that: it haunts your dreams and kindles a feeling of disquiet deep in the soul.

Necronom IV, by Alien designer H.R. Giger
Sometimes, an elongated head is NOT just an elongated head: Necronom IV


Necronom V, an image by Alien designer H.R. Giger
From a dangerous mind: Necronom V


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