Mini-documentary about H.R. Giger's Alien design

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For years I thought of Alien as sci-fi. Then I sat down to share it with my (I think) 12-ish son. He didn’t last ten minutes, and I realized it’s not sci-fi. It’s a horror movie set in space. I was probably the last guy to figure that out, but I still felt smart.


Alien: Horror
Aliens: Action/Adventure
Alien 3: Horror
Alien 4: bad Sci fi
lets just ignore the AVP movies entirely
Prometheus: bad Sci fi

The problem with both A4 and Pro is it was bad scifi…over explanation, over thought, over blown dramatics, dumb dialogue, dumb characters, etc etc etc.(and I enjoyed A4 mainly because it was a fun thoughtless popcorn flick).

What made A and As so good even though they were completely different is that they stuck to a continuous story arc and stayed within the genre they encompassed. The others all dabbled into other things too much.


I watched it pretty early as a kid and it struck me more of a suspense kind of movie rather than horror. But i suppose most would think of it as horror. To me the alien killing off people was kind of besides the point, it was about the tension of being hunted by a mostly unseen predator and also with the threat of anyone ending up as a walking incubator for facehuggers.


My dad had a bunch of Omni magazines from the 80’s and some of the issues had art by Giger, something i did not know at the time because i was so young to be familiar with his work. But those illustrations always stayed with me, they were borderline grotesque, melancholic, and beautiful. His stuff reminds me very strongly of a Baroque church if that makes any sense, just with an organic component that riffs off of the human form.


Here’s the short version of the documentary: It’s a dick.


Which corresponds to:

Alien: :flag_gb:
Aliens: :flag_us:
Alien 3: :flag_gb:
Alien 4: :flag_fr:
Prometheus: :flag_gb:

This works especially well when you factor in that the British ones are haunted houses, the french one is just an ugly house, and the American one is the Marines arriving at a house after the haunting is over and shooting up the wrong house by mistake,


So stealing this line

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I would simply state that when it comes to something like what Giger dreams up; it either needs to be squarely horror, or squarely action/adventure. Skirting between anything else just muddies the waters to the point that it doesn’t work.

Prometheus had a great teaser leading up to the movie because it made it out to be horror. All the teasers and trailers plus Scott being at the helm again told everyone “This will be like Alien”. Problem was, it turned into an action adventure half way through and that didn’t work (the bad script and awful character development hurt it too). See with Alien, we didn’t care about character dev…because we only got one character dev throughout…the Xenomorph!

In Aliens, Cameron switched it…we got character dev from the survivors (Ripley, Hicks, Newt, Burke) and none from the Xenomorphs…they were just the boogeyman to drive our heroes forward in the story.

Every other flick has sort of skirted trying to be BOTH. Alien 3 is actually not terrible. I think we hate it collectively as an audience because we do not like the eventual fates of the characters we grew to love. But as a story arc, its good. good dialogue. good acting. great premise.

my 2c fwiw.


Alien Resurrection had a good idea at its core, unchecked corporate interests driving genetic research/manipulation. One of the more effective scenes is when not-Ripley discovers all the failed clone hybrids of herself, sadly 99% of the rest of the movie was uninteresting. At least that’s what stuck most with me, only saw it the one time.


I assume because of boredom, not upset? (IIRC, it doesn’t get scary till much later. But when it does, it DOES. Dunno if I’d show it to my kid at 12…)

No it scared the piss out of him. I think we saw the trailer the previous week, so he was forewarned.


To be fair, that movie has atmosphere and suspense for days, especially if you know something about what’s coming (even if you don’t know when it’s coming).

It would depend on the kid, of course, and I’m not yet sure if either of mine would be up for it at that age (they’re nine and seven now). I read an article that made a pretty good case for Cameron’s Aliens being an excellent sleepover movie for 13-year-old boys.


Before ever seeing the movie, I read Foster’s paperback novelization of it. It was chilling, sometimes in different ways than the movie. Giger’s designs made the movie distinctly different from the book & creatively more frightening yet.

Just to share one memorable aspect. I was reading late at night in an empty house & was wearing bib overalls, the kind with fastened suspenders. The suspense was consuming & I continued reading for hours, at some point unfastening the suspenders for comfort.

Finally, with the alien still loose on the ship somewhere, I had to get some sleep & closed the book. Still in a suggestible state of suspense I stood and turned toward bed when I distinctly felt something touch the back of my legs. Stricken, I reminded myself: no one else was home. Nothing could be there, but I forced myself to slowly turn around, heart-in-mouth.

Nothing. When my heart started beating again I realized it was the suspenders that had dropped from my shoulders.


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