When Alejandro Jodorwosky’s would-be version of “Dune” went belly up, it would forever change the face of movie monsters. That’s because one of the special effects artists, the soon-to-be-famous Dan O’Bannon, saw the art work of a strange little Swiss man by the name of H.R. Giger.
Hans Rudy Giger’s art is perhaps the most powerful ever created. Erotic, alien, disturbing, unforgettable — all appropriate when describing Giger’s special brand brand of madness. It’d be hard to imagine anyone viewing it not to feel something, not to remember it later during a nightmare.
Well, O’Bannon remembered it a few years after “Dune” folded when his script titled “Alien” had been picked up by 20th Century Fox. O’Bannon — who once thought he would direct — had shown some of Giger’s work to the just hired Ridley Scott, who actually would be directing. Scott’s reaction was the same as O’Bannon’s, and he immediately knew he’d found his monster man.
Giger would become intimately involved in not just the design of the various alien forms the crew of the USCSS Nostromo would encounter, but the alien ship itself. Beyond conceptual art, he also built the first suit, a sort of demonic sculpture. He even helped paint the sets, and as much as is possible in such a huge movie, created the alien ship and landscape.
The end result would be what is arguably the most frightening monster ever created for movies. It’s hard to understate the impact his creature had on movie making. Beyond helping start a multimillion-dollar franchise, his creation (and subsequent popularity of his artwork) would influence a generation of movie makers and fine artists. All other scary monsters would ultimately be compared to Giger’s dark idea.
Giger died this week at age 74 after falling down in his home/museum. He was one of the few indisputable geniuses in an industry filled with creative people. Despite his dark visions, I hope he made it to heaven — for through his art we can see a brief glimpse of hell.