'Alien' Artist H.R. Giger Dies: 6 Things to Know About His Terrifying Work

H.R. Giger AlienThe Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger has died from injuries suffered in a fall. According to the administrator of the H.R. Giger museum in Gruyeres, Giger passed away in a hospital on Monday. He was 74.

Giger has a truly amazing body of work, but he's best known for his contributions to the iconic sci-fi horror film Alien. Director Ridley Scott assigned Giger to work on all of the alien designs in the film, including the planet and the three stages of the alien creature itself. Without Giger, Alien surely wouldn't have the enduring legacy it does (despite being released in 1979, it has seriously held up over the years). In Giger's honor, here are some fascinating bits of trivia about one of the most terrifying and awesome movies ever made.


The original aliens had eyes.

In Giger's original illustrations, the creature has eyes:

For the movie, Giger insisted that aliens have no eyes, because he wanted the appearance of a cold and emotionless monster.

Drawings of the facehugger gave U.S. customs the heebs.

Giger's initial designs for the facehugger were held by customs agents who were perhaps understandably freaked out by what they saw. Alien screenwriter Dan O'Bannon had to go to LAX to explain to them that they were designs for a horror movie.

The iconic 26-foot-tall Space Jockey sculpture was designed, built full-scale, and painted by H.R. Giger himself:

The movie's production company almost pulled that scene from the movie for cost reasons, but the filmmakers managed to convince them it was critical. It's astounding how good this still looks, thanks to using real set design instead of CGI.

Giger's designs were changed several times because of their, ah, blatant sexuality.

Can't imagine why …

H.R. Giger's inspiration for the Chestburster design came from Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion:

Speaking of the Chestburster, you know that one scene? Yeah, THAT scene?

Apparently the actors really had no idea what they were in for during the filming of the forever-terrifying chest-bursting scene.

We read the script. They showed us a mock-up, but they didn't show how it was going to work. They just said, "Its head will move and it's going to have teeth." All it said in the script was, "This thing emerges." -- Sigourney Weaver

They have four cameras going. You see this thing start to come out, so we all get sucked in, we lean forward to check it out. They shout, "Cut!" They cut John's T-shirt a little more because it wasn't going to burst through. Then they said, "Let's start again." We all start leaning forward again and all of a sudden it comes out. I tell you, none of us expected it. -- Veronica Cartwright

When the blood hit (Veronica Cartwright), she passed out. I heard from Yaphet Kotto's wife that after that scene he went to his room and wouldn't talk to anybody. -- Executive producer/ screenwriter Ron Shusett

If an actor is just acting terrified, you can't get the genuine look of raw, animal fear. -- Director Ridley Scott

RIP, H.R. Giger, and thanks for all the nightmares.

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Images via 20th Century Fox, HRGiger.com

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