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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

H.R. Giger

H. R. Giger's Alien (model). Yes, that's a human head at its feet.
The movie poster, one of
the most horrifying movies
ever made.
In the past when I've written about classic films I always write about the movie itself, the producers, director, the cast, background, storyline, and any special features and faults which I, or others, have found with a particular example of the moviemaker's art. And if you follow what I've written for sometime now, you'll know I have a fondness for classic science fiction films--Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001, etc. and others. Likewise, there is one particular genre of filmmaking that I absolutely abhor--horror movies. And despite the fact I like sci-fi, no amount of spaceships, laser swords, and supersonic fire-fights, will suffice to make me like a combination of the two. Take Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien and its four sequels, for example. First let me say I've never seen any of them, and second, that I never plan to.

Necronom I, 1977, H. R. Giger
This is about the Swiss artist, Hans Rudolf Giger (rhymes with bigger). Giger was the surrealist painter and filmmaker (short features) who Ridley Scott tapped to scare the hell out of his motion picture audience. With a budget of around $10-millon, Alien raked in nearly $200-million worldwide at the box office. I don't care about that, I wouldn't spend a dime to be scared out of my wits when I can suffer the same fright whenever I look at my bank account or shop for groceries. But I do have to say this, Scott and Giger were both very good at what they did, despite the fact I personally hate the results.

The warped mind and imagination of H. H. Giger died in 2014.
Born in 1940, H.R. Giger was a surrealist painter who came to prominence at the end of the 1960s. He studied architecture and industrial design in Zurich. A remarkable artist, Giger's seminal work was his Necronomicon in which he creates incredible, a nightmarish landscapes, characters, and details, of what he called his 'biomechanical' world (today we'd call such creatures "cyborgs." Perhaps most widely known for his work designing Alien (both the creature and much of the production design itself). Giger continued his art in Switzerland after winning an Oscar for his contribution to Alien. That led to a second major film, Dune. With the proceeds from his Hollywood epics he created a namesake museum with his H R Giger bar in Curl, Switzerland. Giger was a pioneer in making imaginative, macabre worlds. His work in Alien and Dune Sci-fi film classics catapulted him to stardom. In his museum and bar Giger’s oeuvre is on full display, from a biomorphic vaulted ceiling to Harkonnen chairs to intricately designed flooring patterns.

The "chestburster," as seen in Alien.
Giger's groundbreaking work in Alien received a 1979 Academy Award for special effects. The "chestburster" (above), was shoved up through the table and a false torso by a puppeteer. The scene has been recognized as one of the film's most memorable. In addition to his work in motion pictures, Giger's paintings and sculptures often show macabre scenes of humans and machines fused into hellish hybrids. The "facehugger" (below) was the first creature Giger designed for the film, giving it human-like fingers and a long tail.

The "facehugger" plants an egg inside the human host.
Giger's style and thematic execution were influential. His books of paintings, particularly Necronomicon and Necronomicon II (1985) and the frequent appearance of his art in Omni magazine continued his rise to international prominence. Giger was admitted to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013. He is also well known for artwork on several music recording albums including Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Deborah Harry's KooKoo. Despite the museum and all his other media accomplishments, H. R. Giger's most memorable work remain the godawful horror he brought to life with his Alien (below).

Bolaji Badejo in costume as the Alien. The suit was made of latex, with the head as a separate piece housing the moving parts which controlled the second mouth. The creature has no eyes.

For more on Giger and his alien, click below:


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