William Malone's Dead Star

leading from




a) The Dead Star script

Bill Malone was asked to develop a Sci-Fi project for Imperial Entertainment and so he had the notion of taking Philip Noyce's movie Dead Calm and turning it into science fiction picture setting it in deep space and the nearest other thing to compare it to was a Clive Barker's Hellraiser set in space. 

With that was born a script called Dead Star. 

The plot of the film, set in 2239, involved a starship commander named Tennison, absconds with a spaceship the Bellerophon to track down a demented archaeologist who murdered his wife. 

The expedition leads to the planet Daveros where the are discovered artifacts from an alien civilisation and decide to bring them back when strange things begin to happen. 

An evil character is brought back on the ship and with him comes the alien machine called the Thanatron capable of reanimating the dead and act as a portal to the world of the dead, specifically Hell, transporting people there. 

Over-eager astronauts set the mentally corrosive machine into motion and unwittingly release Satan aboard the ship wreaking havoc, and he is also known as The Thanatron. 

One side effects of the machine that you start having terrible nightmarish hallucinations, so the hero thinks he's losing his mind and doesn't realize this machine is generating these images.


William Malone's illustration of a demonic vision unleashed by the Thanatron
b) Ten days of working with Giger

Bill stopped by at Giger's home around Christmas of 1990 and asked him to design a poster for this film and it turned into him to spend time working on concepts with Giger for ten days paying him 10,000 Swiss francs. 

Quite frankly, Giger did it out of friendship, and they had known each other since the time of Alien when helped Bill with sculpting a Face Hugger for the Don Post Studios

Bill designed the spaceship interior and worked with Giger on the design. Giger, of course, designed everything in the Hellish world including the demon in the picture and a few other elements. 

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Bill received reams and reams of drawings from Giger sent over by fax, he drew everything from the spaceship that the good characters were using to other things that they never even dream of having him design.

Among the things that Giger designed was the "Shard" (the key device to the "Thanatron") capable of raising the dead, the "Thanatron" itself (looking like bundled decaying organ pipes), and most noticeably a multifaced Satan with its cloak of living souls. 

Giger did a full colour painting for the production that was used for a trade advertisements. 


The Thanatron
One, Giger sent him two pages of various holes that included arse holes, eye holes, ear-holes, holes in the head, holes in the ground and so on. 

Bill asked "what's all this for?" Giger replied "I don't know, I just needed to make some holes and send them to you."

Giger had envisioned Satan as a multifaced being with huge horns, who was draped in a cloak of living souls. 

These living souls were housed in these compartments which Giger described as being like mail slots in mailboxes. 

And then all of these skulls would then come out, Malone marvelled at the terrifying idea. 

One of the design elements featured these faces that kept splitting off, revealing an even more grotesque face lying beneath it

The work that Giger did, Malone thought was some of his best work, and even though the film production wasn't actually filmed following their visions and indeed had become a completely different film in the form of Supernova, Malone was very proud that their work together had become a part of Giger's filmography.


The unleashed Satan
c)  The project fragments
There was a lot of heat about the script, but nobody would step up to the plate and make it. 

Giger thought that perhaps it was just as well, as it would have cost a lot of money to do it well and he would have been very concerned about the quality of the the representation of his designs in the movie. 

Bill usually made his films on a very small budget, and Giger couldn't think of a way to do this film as a low budget production

Bill later lost track of it until he later heard that MGM had bought it. 

They brought in a lot of other writers to work on the picture, people credited as co-screenwriters such as David Campbell Wilson (Tomorrow Never Dies) and Daniel Chuba, and uncredited contributors Cathy Rabin and Thomas Wheeler. 

Then it began to mutate into something else far away from his story, becoming a movie named Supernova.  

Perhaps the ideas from the script inspired Paul W S Anderson's movie Even Horizon, which is an obvious conclusion that many could make. (see: Event Horizon)



Source Quotes
  1. William Malone: In 1992, I was asked to develop a Sci-Fi project for Imperial Entertainment. I came up with a script called Dead Star. The story revolves around the finding of the "Thanatron", a device conceived on a planet in deep space called Daveros. The huge machine (designed by Giger and standing some thirty feet high)  was designed as the ultimate machine in the domain of death. It was capable of reanimating the living and opening a gate to the world of the dead (specifically Hell). Over-eager astronauts set the corrosive (to the mind) machine into motion and unwittingly release Satan aboard the ship. (HR Giger's Film Design, p104)
  2. William Malone: Giger was contacted to do the production designs for the film.... and what designs they were. I spent ten days in Switzerland working with Giger at his home. Amidst the hordes of paintings stacked against the black walls, fibreglass ALIEN creatures , and strange furniture, the ideas were flying fast and furious. Quite often Giger would come up with so many great notions that I would have to slow him down so that some of them didn't get lost in the moment. (HR Giger's Film Design. p104)
  3. William Malone: Among the things he designed was the "Shard" (the key device to the "Thanatron") capable of raising the dead, the "Thanatron" itself (looking like bundled decaying organ pipes), and most noticeably a multifaced Satan with its cloak of living souls. Giger did two full colour paintings for the productions which were used for trade advertisements. To my mind, this is some of his best work, I am truly proud to be part of this filmography, even if neither of these projects has yet been made. Giger remains the greatest designer of the macabre. (HR Giger's Film Design, p106)
  4. Dead Star was to be set in 2239, when a starship commander named Tennison absconds with a spaceship to track down a demented archaeologists who murdered his wife. (ImagiMovies, 3, 1994, p16)
  5. William Malone: I thought it would be interesting to take the premise of  Philip Noyce's Dead Calm and set it in deep space. I came up with the idea of an alien device called the Thanatron; a machine capable of transporting you directly to Hell, where you would meet Satan himself, The Thanatron - which had been designed by Giger - acts as a shortcut. The story features an evil character who comes aboard the ship with the device, allowing Satan to come through this portal to wreak havoc.The problem with Dead Star was that it kicked around Hollywood for about ten years. It was a script that everyone liked but nobody wanted to make. The project then got knocked off by five or six different movies - most notably Event Horizon. I have to imagine that - because Event Horizon is so similar - major portions of it were lifted from my script. By the time they got around to making `Dead Star [as Supernova], I was no longer involved with the film, and it was very different from what I'd originally conceived (Rue Morgue #149. p22)
  6. Bill Malone: On Dead Star, I spent ten days with Giger at his home in Zurich. He and I would sit down and discuss ideas, and the only thing he at the whole time I was there was Yoplait Peach Yoghurt - nothing else! I wanted Dead Star to have these huge sets that were highly detailed and sculpted and, as we talked, Giger would draw furiously on a little pad. He'd draw so quickly that by the time I would say, "That looks great", he'd already produced two or three drawings. I'd cry "Stop! Go back two or three pages! [laughs] He was just insanely fast and could unleash a torrent of ideas - and they were all amazing. Every one of them! Working with him made you feel a complete moron. Actually on Dead Star, he once sent me two pages of various holes, you know, ass holes, eye holes, ear-holes! I said "what's all this for?" He replied "I don't know, I just needed to make some holes and send them to you."(Rue Morgue #149. p22-23)
  7. Bill Malone: The expedition finds an alien machine capable of reanimating the dead and  transporting them to Hell. One side effects is that you start having terrible nightmarish hallucinations, so the hero thinks he's losing his mind and doesn't realize this machine is generating these images. (ImagiMovies_3_1994, p17)
  8. Bill Malone: I designed the spaceship interior. I worked with Giger on the design, although I don't want to take away from his work. We definitely worked closely. He's come up with some marvelous stuff, things nobody else would have ever thought of. Giger, of course, designed everything in the Hellish world. We asked him to design the demon in the picture and a few other elements, and he sent us reams and reams of drawings and stuff which were great - he drew everything from the spaceship that the good guys were using to things we never even dreamed of having him design (ImagiMovies_3_1994, p17)
  9. Bill Malone: I had this idea to take the movie Dead Calm and make it a science fiction picture. (http://www.theguardian.com/film/2000/jun/16/2 ) 
  10. Bill Malone: I thought it would be interesting to take the premise of Philip Noyce's Dead Calm and set it in deep space. I then came up with the idea of an alien device called the Thanatron,  a machine capable of transporting you directly to Hell, where you would meet the Satan himself, The Thanatron - which had been designed by Giger - acts as a shortcut. You don't have to die to go to Hell, it will take you right there. The story features an evil character who comes aboard the ship with the device, allowing Satan to come through this portal to wreak havoc. (Rue Morgue #149. p22-23)
  11. Bill Malone: "that discovers artifacts from an alien civilisation, and is going to bring them back when a whole bunch of things happen. One of the things they pick up is a portal to death, which is a place you can actually go to, and out of that comes the devil."( http://www.theguardian.com/film/2000/jun/16/2) 
  12. Malone: I worked with Giger on a couple of projects that sadly never got made. One was called the Mirror, and one was called Dead Star, which did get made and was called Super Nova, but had no bearing on anything we did way back then. I visited his flat in Zurich, the walls were painted all black, and the paintings were stacked 4 or 5 feet deep, and one of them had little holes in and I said “Giger someone’s damaged one of your paintings” and he said (German accent)Oh no, that’s where my girlfriend blew her brains out” and it turned out to be true, and he left the bullet holes and the blood on the painting as part of the art. (http://www.quietearth.us/)
  13. Malone says that Giger "came up with some brilliant sketches. I spent 10 days working with him in Switzerland." Giger was paid 10,000 Swiss francs for his concepts and heard nothing more until 1995, when the sketches turned up in a promotional booklet for the film. It was now called Supernova and, according to Giger, suggested "a much simplified version of the script that had attracted me to the project" ( http://www.theguardian.com/film/2000/jun/16/2) 
  14. Nevertheless, says Malone, "there was a lot of heat about the script, but nobody would step up to the plate and make it. After that, I lost track of it, until I heard that MGM had bought it. They brought in a lot of other writers to work on the picture." Those were credited co-screenwriters David Campbell Wilson (Tomorrow Never Dies) and Daniel Chuba, and uncredited contributors Cathy Rabin and Thomas Wheeler. "Then it sort of mutated into something else. What it is now, I don't have a clue." ( http://www.theguardian.com/film/2000/jun/16/2)
  15. Giger: It didn't work out, and perhaps that's just as well. It would have cost a lot of money to do it well, but Bill Malone usually makes his films on a very small budget, and I couldn't think of a way to do this film as a low-budget production. He dropped by around Christmas [1990] and asked me to poster design for a science fiction film called Dead Star - sort of Hellraiser in space. I also did some production designs for the film, which I sent to him by fax. Frankly, I did it out of friendship , because Bill is such a nice person. (ImagiMovies_3_1994, p16)
  16. Rue Morgue: Giger also designed a disturbing incarnation of Satan for Dead Star, didn't he?
    Bill Malone: Yeah. He envisioned Satan as this multi-faced being with huge horns, who was draped in a cloak of living souls. The souls were housed in these compartments which Giger described as being like "mail-slots in mailboxes." All of these skulls would then come out and it was terrifying. Giger did several other amazing designs for Dead Star and I don't know if they have ever been published or not. There was one disturbing design he did that featured these faces that kept splitting off, revealing an even more grotesque face lying beneath it. In my opinion, some of the stuff Giger did for Dead Star was amongst his best work. (Rue Morgue #149. p23)

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