Remembering the Beautiful & Terrifying Work of 'Alien' Xenomorph Creator H.R. Giger

The Alien quadrilogy is a one of the greatest crown jewels of American sci-fi horror. It has been touched by many different producers, DPs, and screenwriters, even 4 of the biggest directors in the industry. The legions of fans suffering from horrific nightmares, however, is due largely to the love for and fear of that very grotesque, very angry alien, the design of which was inspired by Swiss surrealist artist H.R. Giger who unfortunately passed on Monday. To celebrate his incredible career, we've shared a few videos that highlight his delightfully terrifying work.

Though Giger had done quite a lot of artistic work outside of the realm of film, his monster designs for Alien garnered him quite a lot of fame and visibility, even winning him an Academy Award in 1980 for Visual Effects. In fact, he states in one of the videos we share below that working in film significantly helped him to finance his own art projects.

But where did the idea for his famous design of the xenomorph from Alien come from? Well, his Alien is the stuff of nightmares -- literally. Giger was known to have had suffered from night terrors, and because of this, he always kept an artist's pad near his bed so he could sketch what he saw. And one gloriously terrifying night -- he saw it, sketched it, created a lithograph, and named it "Necronom IV," and included it in the first major compendium of his work called Necronomicon. This book was shared with Ridley Scott in L.A. while he was still in pre-production for Alien, and the rest is history.

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Ridley also made a statement after his passing:

I am very saddened to hear of Giger’s passing. I think back on how committed and passionate he was, and then consequently, all the security we built up around his ‘lock up’ studios at Shepperton. I was the only one allowed the honor of going in, and I absolutely enjoyed every hour I spent with him there. He was a real artist and great eccentric, a true original, but above all, he was a really nice man. He will be missed.

Giger was greatly influenced by artists Ernst Fuchs and Salvador Dalí. His"biomechanical"style has inspired, intrigued, and terrified those who have come upon his work. The melding of human bodies with machinery and their dark, nightmarish qualities are perhaps all the more interesting/disturbing because though he's a surrealist painter, his designs are eerily realistic in their depictions of what seems like a world where humanity has given in to the lifelessness of technology -- a world without vibrance, emotion, or love. Perhaps that's what made the Alien so scary.

Check out every xenomorph scene from both Alien and Aliens.

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"Necronom IV"

Here are a couple of videos highlighting Giger that you may find illuminating. The first one was commissioned by the "Swiss Design in Hollywood" exhibit several years ago, and we get to hear Giger talk about his work while sitting in his personal garden (when you see this "garden," it'll make you smile). The second is a twofer: the first 40 minutes is a piece about Giger's paintings. Proceeding that is a documentary about the making of Alien. (The video quality on this second video is pretty poor, since it was originally taken from a VHS.)


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Are you a fan of H.R. Giger? Has he influenced your work? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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An amazing artist, a true original indeed. His mark on the film industry is prolific and his stamp is seen in everything from The Matrix to music videos like the Aphex Twins 'Window Licker'.
And there should be a Giger Bar in every major city!

May 14, 2014 at 12:28PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


For interesting insight to the precursor of Dan O'Bannon & Giger working together on Alien, check out the doc on Jodorowsky's Dune.

May 14, 2014 at 6:55PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I quote "The Alien quadrilogy is a one of the greatest crown jewels of American sci-fi horror". Pedantic I know, but it was quite an international affair..........if memory serves me correctly.

May 15, 2014 at 7:29AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Jack Holt

The first two are crown jewels, the other three... um, er... not so much.

May 16, 2014 at 3:43PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Dan H

Fusing the erotic, gothic and surreal Giger was an art movement unto himself. He inspired me from an early age with his fantastic dreamscapes and esoteric imagery. I was compelled to illustrate a tribute to him this week drawing imagery from his own works including Alien and the Birthing Machine at . Drop by and share how his artwork opened your own mind!

May 15, 2014 at 1:38PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


As a girl growing up with my brothers watching the films ...his art was so unique. I talked about it constantly with classmates, many of whom dismissing his style as easy to emulate - but every effort they tried failed...his work was very very unique.

The more the alien and predator franchise got away from using his talents, the less impact the films had.

imo despite great directors....there is no Alien movie franchise had it not been for gigers stamp of the exotic all over it.

May 15, 2014 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Steffi Hawk