Alien designer HR Giger: 'I am afraid of my visions'

From The Guardian

As Ian Holm tells the crew of the Nostromo before sputtering out of juice, the Alien is the "perfect organism". "It's structural perfection is matched only by its hostility … I admire its purity." He had a point. The creature in Alien and its many spin-offs was, and still is, one of the most genuinely alien things the movies have ever given us – the perfect movie monster.

Up to that point in 1979, screen horrors were still very much of this earth: psycho-killers, werewolves, spirits, sharks, that sort of thing. Suddenly, here was a creature both incomprehensible and relatable. It had a biological credibility, with its acid for blood and its bizarre, parasitic life cycle. It looked like an egg, then a sort-of crustacean, then, ultimately, one of us. Or a hideously deformed reflection of us, with its oversized head, its spindly limbs, its lack of eyes, its telescopic jaw. Like every great monster, Alien chimes with our deepest fears – death, sex, bodily violation, all iced over with the chill of the uncanny.

It took an out-there imagination to dream it up, and HR Giger was undoubtedly the man for the job. Apparently even other crew members were spooked on set by this softly spoken Swiss man, who dressed all in black and preferred to loiter, Dracula-like, in the shadows. There were rumours he kept the bones of his dead wife, Li Tobler, in his studio. They turned out to be untrue, though Giger was very much in touch with the dark side. As a child, he claims to have been beset by regular nightmares. Tobler, the model for many of his early works, had committed suicide in 1975, after an apparently tumultuous and bohemian marriage. That only fed further into his disturbing visions. Alien's co-writer Dan O'Bannon later recalled meeting Giger for the first time, in a Paris hotel. Giger offered him some opium. O'Bannon asked why he took it. "I am afraid of my visions," Giger replied. "It's just your mind," O'Bannon said. Giger responded: "That is what I am afraid of."


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