Did cocoon scene Ridleygram
inspire Brainstorm's hell?

leading from

Ridleygram of cocoon scene from Fantastic Films, 1979
a) Cocoon scene Ridleygram
For an cut scene from Alien, involving the humans transforming into alien spores, Ridley provided Fantastic Films magazine with a storyboard that showed a Dallas in his slow transformation represented by a empty bubble with his hands and head appearing at the top. It might not have occurred to many that this was supposed to be the character engulfed in a ball of fire rather than the spore.. But here we seemed to have a human form crying out for help in a bubble surrounded by a wall of flesh.

Ridley Scott's storyboard for Ripley using the flame thrower on Dallas in the alien nest
b) Connections with "Quatermass And the Pit"
In the movie Brainstorm released in 1983, a recording of what is seen by a woman as she dies has been made known as the Death Tape. The device used by the woman to make the recording seemed to be very inspired by a similar device in Nigel Kneale's Quatermass And The Pit optic-encephalogram, a device that records impressions from the optical centres of the brain, that enabled  other people to see what the wearer was seeing through their eyes.

scene from Brainstorm
c) Conveyor belt to Devil's Garbage disposal
A scene in this death tape unfolds where humans were stuck inside these bubbles within a landscape of flesh that was supposed to be a sort humans meshed together into a flowing form leading towards the Devil's Garbage disposal. The director wanted to have a whole landscape of flesh seen from afar but he had to settle for closeups and in the final movie only a short clip of what was intended was actually seen.
scene from Brainstorm
scene from Brainstorm
the original hell setup later abandoned for a more
claustrophobic setting (Cinefex 14: p40-41)
"Chorizo Flats"
detail of fleshscape
detail of fleshscape
The making of "Chorizo Flats".
Model worker Mike McMillen works on an organic
representation of hell. The basic construct of
foam and plastics was also fitted with translucent
domes for rear-projected images of tortured souls
Alison Yerxa confers with one of her effects
"actors" prior to shooting live-action segments
for eventual rear-projection into the hell scapes.  (Cinefex 14: p43)




Quote sources
  1. Doug Trumbull: Stan Grof was a highly thought of Freudian analyst in Czchkoslovakia in the early fifties, who was asked by Sandoz corporation to do some experiments with LSD. (Cinefex 14: p28)
  2. What the Grofs found was that the LSD caused many test subjects to regress to their own births - to the traumatic moments that begin with the euphoria of the womb., grow painful and uncertain as contractions begin, become terrifying and horrible during the actual journey down the birth canal, and then in something like a psychic explosion - end as the consciousness enters a larger, more challenging wide world, as a successful birth is completed.(Cinefex 14: p28)
  3. Doug Trumbull: The Grofs found that the moment of birth had such a powerful effect later development in the patients that there were a lot of relationships between specific things that went wrong or occurred in the patient's real life. Based on this research. Grof formulated a whole system of ideas about the way various cultures developed religious beliefs, art forms, music forms and rites of passage - how anything from a bah-mitzvah or a marriage, to an Indian ceremony of manhood is a reenactment of the birth process.
    (Cinefex 14: p28)
  4. Grof demonstrated this concept by creating a slide and music show, cobbled out of images clipped from magazines and books that was presented in four phases.(Cinefex 14: p28)
  5. Doug Trumbull: The slides in the first phases were very idyllic images of warm sunlight, soft flower petals, downy kind of things, corresponding with very gentle music - soft chimes, bells, nice sounds. Then he would go into a phase of images such as people on the sea in the wind starting to come up, or people standing on the edge of a cliff - anxiety images - and the corresponding sounds would be a little more atonal with the rhythms picking up a bit. Then he'd go into a sequence of all the horrifying images you ever think of in your life - of wars and death and destruction, dismemberment, horrible sadomasochistic torture, pain, fire, ice - real Hieronymous Bosch kind of horror, with a loud, completely atonal cacophony. Then suddenly, in a burst, the whole thing would go idyllic again. The sun would come up. Flowers would bloom, Everything would be fine - better - again. (Cinefex 14: p28)
  6. Grof showed his hour-long presentations to numerous audiences, and with remarkable results.(Cinefex 14: p28)
  7. Doug Trumbull:Some people would really go with the thing, and by the time it was over feel completely euphoric, like they'd really been through something successful - like a great three-act play. Others would get "stuck" in the hellish nightmare sequence, They'd just come unglued and have to leave the room.(Cinefex 14: p28)
  8. But the effect of the slide show itself was undeniable - and it was those gut-level responses that Trumbull decided he wanted to elicit with Lillian's Death Tape.(Cinefex 14: p28)
  9. The disintegration of consciousness had begun,. Next, the point of view would enter (Stanislav) Grof's third state of being.(Cinefex 14: p41)
  10. Doug Trumbull: Even though everyone referred to it as 'hell', it really isn't, in any literal sense. It's a hellish image of pain and torture. We used a lot of animal guts in that scene, trying to get the feeling of vulnerabluity and physical pain and compression in one rapid-fire burst of images.(Cinefex 14: p41-43)
  11. Doug Trumbull: Originally there was a glance towards nuclear armageddon, but I ultimately decided it would take people out of the film and make them think about something else, so I shied away from that. (Cinefex 14: p43)
  12. Then there was to be a much larger, more awesome approach to hell - a vast landscape of organic plains and mountains festooned with raw meat and internal organs. (Cinefex 14: p43)
  13. Doug Trumbull:I wanted something quite different where that is totally in another dimension - that it didn't adhere to any of the laws of physical science. It was going to be very organic, sort of decayed and desiccated, a horrible place with thousands of people all meshed in it, caught, trapped - all sort of flowing down towards a big Devil's Garbage Disposal, and dressed with actual entrails and cow intestines.(Cinefex 14: p43)
  14. Mark Stetson: To me, it had this kind of concept of eternity to it. We had a plateau about thirteen feet across that we call "Chorizo flats" because Alison found a distributor for sausage casings made by Union Carbide - a petroleum plastic, ninety five percent of which are sold south of the border for chorizon. We took them, filled them with flexible foam, twisted them up into intestinal shapes. (Cinefex 14: p43)

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