Alien: The Spores



 


Dan O'Bannon's sketch for Giger

a) Initial Egg Design
For Dan O'Bannon, H R Giger painted the egg design for the painting Alien I which showed the cross section of the (2ft 6 inches) spore.

A hollow plaster egg is made for Giger in the plasters shop from his mould and this would be used as a modelling base for the opening and the construction.

Later, in Zurich, he changed this picture to give the egg a more organic look.

He then got to the point where he would prepare a full-size mould for the 80cm high egg

The spores would be fondly referred to as "Organic Footballs: by HR Giger
  1. Giger calls them "Organic Footballs" (Book of Alien, Scanlon & Gross)



Giger's earlier egg design for Dan O'Bannon. 
Work 363i -Cross section through the alien egg (VI)

b) Inspection of the egg with the vaginal opening
Ridley Scott, Les Dilley, and Ivor Powell come to inspect his work just as he stated to apply texture.

The lid of the egg which in O'Bannon's sketch sprang open like a jack in a box, Giger transformed into an organic vagina like opening.

When he takes the plastic sheets in which his work is draped, there is a howl of laughter from the whole group.

He had lovingly endowed the egg with an inner and outer vulva us made from clay covered in sausage skins layer around the pink aperture.

c) The Boardroom Meeting
In a meeting in the boardroom upstairs at Bray Studios, Nicky Allder recalled that after Ridley had seen the egg, someone said "what do you think of the egg?"

Ridley's exact response was "I think it's fucking obscene" and there was a deadly hush and everybody looked at each other

Gordon Carroll said "Ridley, what do you mean by "the egg looks obscene?"

vaginal opening of the original spore design

Ridley responded "well, it looks like some great fanny" ("fanny" is an English term for "vagina")

There was another hush in the room before Gordon Carroll said in a voice that sounded like perfect Queen's English "Ridley, you have an alien running around with a three foot penis on his head, the alien spaceship has got three fifteen foot tall vaginas that the space people are walking through and you call the egg obscene!?"

Giger's work 363, Alien egg version II
d) Giger's Solution
Giger is then told that Ridley thinks that it is too good and Gordon Carroll admits that it is too specific, he is afraid  that it will get them into trouble especially in the catholic countries.

Les Dilley  has an idea about having something more like a flower opening and so H R Giger takes this and decided to double the bud effect, laying the two slits across each other that seen from above this would form a cross that the Catholic people are known to be fond of looking at.

Seen from above,  the opening would have the shape of a starfish.

He was able to satisfy himself, the producers and the public at home and abroad all at once.

e) See also: Giger's alien spore, a homage to Lovecraft's The Old Ones ?

Giger painting the final eggs


Source quotes
  1. SPORE PODS. These leathery, egg-shaped objects about one meter tall, which contain the larva of the Alien. They have a small "lid" in the top, which can pop off, when a victim approaches (Dan O'Bannon's letter to Giger, Giger's Alien, p10, )
  2. HR Giger: In O'Bannon's script, the top of the egg wasn't organic, but completely mechanical. I didn't like it that way. (Cinefantastique vol 9, no 1, p35)
  3. HR Giger: Scott had a new idea for the egg set. A field of laserbeams will cover the eggs. Then the space jockey dives into the field, slips, and is completely immersed in this underwater atmosphere, where the ground is covered in slime. The entire set is now supposed to consist of the egg silo, which, filmed from another angle, will be transformed into the cockpit. How they're going to do that is beyond me. (July 7th, 1978)
  4. HR Giger: They brought me a model egg from the plaster shop.  (Giger's Alien Diaries, July 27th 1978) 
  5. HR Giger: They brought the egg already mounted on a stand. (Giger's Alien Diaries, July 28th 1978) 
  6. HR Giger: Worked on a picture for the new set eggs. (Giger's Alien Diaries, July 30, 1978)
  7. HR Giger:  Eddie at the finger and feet nails, then he tried to make various structures for the egg (Giger's Alien Diaries, August 1st 1978)
  8. H.R.Giger  First, for O'Bannon, I painted the egg of Alien I, the Facehugger in cross-section. Later, in Zürich, I changed this picture giving the egg a more organic looking. Now I've reached the point of preparing a full-size mould for the 80-cm-high (2ft 6in) egg. A hollow plaster egg is to be made for me in the plasterers' shop from this mould, to use as a modelling base for the opening and the construction. (Giger's Alien, (August 2nd, 1978, Shepperton Studios Car Par) p46. )
  9. HR Giger: I tried to give the opening of the egg a shape different from that of a vagina.(Giger's Alien Diaries, August 7th, 1978)
  10. HR Giger: Coloured the alien egg black(Giger's Alien Diaries, August 19th 1978)
  11. HR Giger: R.Scott arrived with his factotum. He doesn't like the egg anymore. I will turn it back into a vagina(Giger's Alien Diaries, August 22nd 1978)
  12. HR Giger: Painted the plaster model of the first draft of the Alien egg interior an electriction. Peter Beale, the director of Fox, assured me that this will make it possible for Cent Fox to save £20,000 on electric installations. I guess the craftsmen appreciate my work much more than I ever expected. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Wednesday, August 30th1978) (Does Egg interior refer to Egg silo interior?)
  13. HR Giger: In the evening, they inspected the egg in the plaster shop. Judging from their laughter the opening, i.e. the vagina, is a bit too realistic for them. Gordon Carroll was afraid that the object would make trouble, mainly in the Catholic countries. So I have to change the shitty egg again. A vertical crevice and a horizontal one.   (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, August 30th1978)
  14. H.R.Giger: Scott, Carroll, Dilley and Powell appear to inspect my work, I had just started to apply a texture. The lid of the egg which in O'Bannon's sketch sprang up at a touch, I changed it into an organic, vaginal like opening. When I take off the plastic cloths in which my work is draped, there is a howl of laughter from the whole group. I had lovingly endowed this egg with an inner and outer vulva. To make it all look more
    organic, I filled some more preservatives with clay and arranged these semi-transparent little sausages on the pink aperture. (Giger's Alien, p46,  Friday, September 1st 1978, Shepperton Studios)
  15. Giger's work 381; Alien Egg version III
  16. H.R.Giger: So I build up this egg with a top like a vagina. But when the producers turned up in my studio, they exclaimed, "Oh that's too specific! We can't show such things in Catholic countries. Can't you change the egg just a little bit?" So to satisfy Catholic audiences, I modified the egg, and made the opening a cross on the top. (Cinefantastique vol 9, no 1, p35)
  17. Nick Allder: (33:14) They used to have, we used to have these meetings in Bray studios in one of the board rooms upstairs at the end of a shoot, we had er, it was Alan Ladd Jr who was the head of Fox at the time, one of the producers, lovely quiet American guy called Gordon Carroll, a real American gentleman if you want to put it that way, very soft spoken, beautifully spoken, Ivor Powell, Peter Beale was head of Fox UK and all that lot and we'd be sitting up, sitting up in the office in this board room and we'd be going through like a walk-round at Ridley's scene because we shot, while we were shooting the models, we also shot lots of inserts stuff for the rest of the main movie like for example the egg, and the egg, and Peter Voysey was a terrific sculptor, he'd actually sculpted the egg and they were making the egg for the very first time and they moulded it and done everything with it and the original egg and it opened up like that and anyway, Ridley had seen it, and we were sitting there having this meeting and er I think, I can't remember who it was, somebody said "what do you think of the egg?" And Ridley's exact words, "I think it's fucking obscene" and there was this deadly hush and every body looked around at each other and er Gordon Carroll said "Ridley, what do you mean, by the, the er, the egg is… looks obscene?", he said "well it looks like some great
    fanny". Well to English people a fanny is a… is a… is a woman's vagina, in the states a fanny is somebody's backside, it's referred to as totally different  things but, so American people would understand it, to really get down to it, it's a woman's private parts (35:00). So it was this little hush that went around and then Gordon Carroll said "Ridley, you have the alien running around with a three foot penis on his head, " he said " the alien spaceship has got three fifteen foot tall vaginas that the space people are walking through and you call the egg obscene." I mean and that just cracked everybody up, it was the way he said it, it was a beautiful quiet kind of English spoken, perfect English, Oxford almost English, not American, it was the accent that disappeared as he came out with this you know three foot penis on his head and the the fifteen foot vaginas, anyway if you've noticed to this day that egg has got four, four quarters to it, and er, you know, that's how that, that's how that came about, but that happened to be a true story, but that was a bit of Ridley (Alien Makers IV)
    the original alien egg with a single slit vagina shaped opening, finally seen 
    to be enclosing the body of Brett in the cocoon seen reinstalled  and very 
    briefly seen in the Directors Cut of Alien
  18. H.R.Giger : When the gentlemen are beginning to get over it, I allow myself to ask whether they like it. Scott thinks it's too good, and Carroll too specific. He's afraid it will get them into trouble, especially in the Catholic countries. Dilley would rather have something more like a flower opening. This suggestion gives me the idea of doubling the bud effect and laying the two, one across the other. Seen from above, they would form the cross that people in the Catholic countries are so fond of looking at. Once again I can satisfy the producers, myself and the public at home and abroad.(Giger's Alien, p46, (1st September 1978, Shepperton Studios))
  19. HR Giger: In the plaster shop, I change the egg once again. Seen from above, the opening has the shape of a starfish. I hope that this is finally the last change (Giger's Alien Diaries, Friday September 1st 1978)
  20. HR Giger: At the plaster shop in the morning to model the surroundngs of the egg in clay. The eggs has been partially cast in plaster. In the afternoon, Mia filmed how I poured hot rubber in the interstices. Half the surroundings of the egg are enough to cover the entire set.  (Giger's Alien Diaries, Sunday September 3rd 1978)
  21. HR Giger. In the original film, the floor where the eggs stand was meant to give the impression of being slimy and full of worms. Working in day, I model a sort of carpet with streaks and snaky folds in the shape of a half-segment of a circle. The plaster form is spread with a thin coat of lats and then frothed up. Even before it's painted, one begins to get the feeling that this long shape could become life-like. (Giger's Alien , p48. Sunday September 3rd 1978. Shepperton Studios, plasterers' workshop)
  22. HR Giger: I showed R.Scott the egg surroundings. He liked them. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Wednesday September 6th 1978)
  23. HR Giger : The second egg was cast very sloppily in the plaster shop. Nobody's making an effort anymore. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, September 7th 1978)
  24. HR Giger: I worked on the pattern for the egg in the paint shop. A pearly color looks quite good, I envision the eggs rather light green, blue silverish, quite bright (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, September 7th 1978)
  25. HR Giger: Peter Voysey started the inside of the egg. Special effects will mechanize the egg that opens when the space jockey touches it. etc (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, September 29thth 1978)
  26. HR Giger: Was at the printer's yesterday. Luckily I was able to remove an illustration of Alien, the egg, before they printed it because I have no copyright. That would have been a catastrophe. Fox could have blocked the book. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Tuesday, October 3rd 1978)
  27. HR Giger: Painted the second egg for a test in the A stage. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Tuesday, October 3rd 1978)
  28. HR Giger: A stage, where the interior of the egg silo is being built up, they beamed the laster across the field of eggs. Special effects mixed it with oily smoke. Maybe the effect is better on film. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Wednesday, October 4th 1978)
  29. HR Giger: The rushes of the egg silo's interior look better on film when they're covered with the laser beam. (Giger's Alien Diaries, Thursday, October 5th 1978)
  30. HR Giger: Another great day. My egg-silo is filmed. Some laster specialists, based in a villa next to the studios belonging to Roger Daltry of The Who , have installed two laster-guns. A blue film of light permeated by smoke and drizzling rain now lies mysteriously over the eggs. Above, from the scaffolding, the astronaut is slowly let down into the depths. John Hurt, the actor, doesn't do this himself. it's done by a stunt-man. He uses the chest-elements  that the wall is made of as steps. Cautiously he gropes his way along the track between the eggs, slips and falls into the middle of them. Picking himself up, he staggers forwards as if drunk on the slightly yielding floor. He plays the light from his torch all round the area, and finally comes to a half in front of the prepared egg. Hesitantly he stretches out his hand to touch it, and ... Scott sitting in the frustrated cameraman's place again, and the cameraman stands beside him behind the camera. He films the staggering astronaut, who is cut in two optically by the laser beam, once below and once above the dividing line, in his smoky blue inferno. (Giger's Alien, 9th October, Shepperton Studios, Stage A)
  31. Ridley Scott: So, I don't know how many minutes we are in now but nothing's happened yet. You don't have to start rock' n' roll you know. So here's he's being lowered into the hold really, this would be argued as the hold of the ship. This is a combination of matt painting and hard set. I managed to get the use of laser beam which I could spread in a thin blue sheet which just about photographed, and underneath the laser, releasing smoke gently, so that's why it's behaving like that on the surface as it hits the light, the sheet as I call it, of the laserbeam.

    This is a laserbeam spread thin, like a thin sheet. But it worked great here, I never thought it would photograph because it's pretty low key, but you know with the wizardry of Derek, we got it. So this is all just hand held, lay the sound on as you go through the laser beam, you can hear it, there's a sound to the laser beam, you can hear it now

    (Kane crouches down to look a closely through the laser sheet as possible)

    Like a seal.
    (Kane:There's a layer of mist just covering the eggs, reacts when broken)

    I always thought of the laserbeam as the placenta wall for the eggs. So now he's underneath, so now he's inside with'em. Though it's interesting we did pickup on the egg later, and if you watch the egg closely on the closeup, you'll see that the liquid in it is going upwards and the drops are going upwards not downwards (32:00). we did that by turning the, the camera upside down basically, indeed.

    I always love this moment, this is great. There, you see the drops going upwards, so now  he's triggered it. Inside there, that movement are my hands in a pair of rubber gloves in a fiberglass, it's clear fiberglass and they're hands in a rubber glove, there you go because you know,  I always believe if you can do it physically, do it. You could just spent a hundred thousand dollars on that movement, it's ridiculous, you don't need to. But that top opening is hydraulic and that looks serious. If you put your hand in there you're going to lose it. Unfortunately nothing looked right so, I would have somebody visit the meat market every morning and they would come back


    (Facehugger erupts from egg with high pitch squeal)

    with fresh meat which was the lacework you see there's called Nottingham Lace, which is basically the skin from the stomach of a cow, which when they pull it off in a slaughterhouse, you have this beautiful filigree of lace which is lining the stomach. So we layed that over the top, and then the thing that snaps up and hits them in the face is an intestine of a sheep which has all been steam cleaned and immaculate. Just put an airline on it and just went. I used to have rubber gloves on, a white coat and I had to dress it for every shot. I felt like a surgeon, and then the airline went on and bang. And it, you know, works.
  32. The man running the laserbeams of this particular moment who had been doing rock shows and experimental laserbeams was Anton Furst who later became an art director and actually did films such as Batman, and erm , Anton was a , was great to work with, with his very small team, and I was absolutely literally blown away by the effect of these beams, because you know, we hadn't seen it before really, and I thought this would be very useful to me to create this skin, like a... (34:00) protection. As John says, a layer of mist, and then slips, goes through unharmed, but maybe that's what is like the membrane, or the.. em.. the protecting the eggs. So let's say he's broken the membrane, Maybe he's triggered something, maybe he hasn't. But if they're now sitting there, prewarned, and programmed , like org... organisms to react if touched. (00:32:00) And of course he will touch it. If you watch carefully, the drops are going upwards, and not downwards, That's 'caused I hung the eggs upside down. (34:15)  See the drops going upwards, they're all going up, that's 'cause the eggs upsidedown, and then those are my hands in the middle there in a pair of rubber gloves, doing the old flutter as the light comes on, because again I said , we've got to have a bit of movement in the eggs, so I had a pair of surgical gloves, I just stuck my hands into the egg and backlit it and, you know, you do a little flutter flutter. There it is again, a pair of hands, it's a, there you go and it's got some liquid in there. 
    And I love the opening here, it's got a steel hydraulic on it, so you know that's gonna, that's strong. This is always a great moment, and I used actually here real organic material, this is, was delivered every morning from a...  abattoir,
    (00:33:00) with steamed cattle and sheep parts from the slaughter house, and that lacy stuff in fact, is called Nottingham lace, in fact is lining of a , people , some people eat it, of a cows stomach, and the hose that comes out, in fact is an intestine of a sheep which they used to make sausages. I used it 'cause it's diaphanous, so to actually put a airline on it, it just behaves like that, it just whips and erm, that was all discovered on the day. The same happened , the use of the, when you get the facehugger , I bought all that stuff from a very good fish market who would deliver clams, oysters and other small, rather expensive shellfish and seafood. You can't do better than that. It's real. (00:34:00)
    (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  33. Ridley Scott:The eggs were designed and made the way up they were, with the aperture at the top, with a hydraulic opening which opened, looking very threatening, with Jimmy Shields' great sounds on it. That's one of the great sounds, when it opens, and you hear the visceral... viscera. And the strength. You know it's strong. The detail that he looks at later would be shot at Bray when the film was finished.

    So we shipped one of those eggs out to Bray, and to make it really strange... lf you watch carefully, the fluid on it is going upwards. So then you flip that over. That always freaked them out, to see it dripping upwards. And then inside it was semitransparent, like a large piece of jelly. And all it was was fibreglass, with mostly glass than fibre in it, so it was nearly transparent. And l needed it to move. When we were in Bray, l kept going ''lt's dead.'' We had sticks poking it - it looked terrible.

    So we worked out a method of, as it was about to open, it kind of went... like that, lists a little bit, and then he looks in it again and inside are my hands with two rubber gloves on, washing-up gloves. All l'm doing is going... like that. And so that was how that was done. Then of course he comes and looks into the aperture, it opens, he backs off, we say ''Don't go there!'' He goes there, looks in, and what he's staring at is what they call ''Nottingham Lace'', which is fundamentally cow's stomach. That lacy, fleshy stuff is what we call tripe. So l got white, plastic buckets full of it. l had to put on a white coat and gloves when handling this stuff, and l just dressed it. l couldn't find a whiplash effect of anything that you made, like a hose, that was delicate enough. l'd seen this intestine, sheep's intestine, which is actually beautiful. lt's gossamer. lt's got little lines in it. lt was in fragments cos all you do is cover the bits. lt's not enough to have him look, then it explodes. You need every moment of it, and slowed down, because it was really fast. You turn an airline on and it goes ''whash!'' - it happens in less than a second. l think we stretched that to maybe one and a half seconds. And then it hits him. As he goes back, l've already got it attached to his face. So you need that bridge between him coming in to look, him looking in, what he sees - this is like that - explosion, up into the camera, then cut to where l've got this attached to his face as he falls backwards.(Alien quadrology documentary)
     
spore with cross opening

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