RIP, Alien creature designer H.R. Giger

The Oscar-winning artist made a toothy, indelible contribution to sci-fi fantasy

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Giger, during Alien's preproduction

Giger, during Alien's preproduction Photograph: Mia Bonzanigo; Courtesy HRGigerMuseum.com and HRGiger.com


This morning brings us news of the death of H.R. Giger, 74, from complications due to an accidental fall. Giger's place in cinema history is permanent: He created the original design for the acid-drooling, multijawed creature in Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), a villain that's since gone on to iconic status (and many a childhood nightmare). The Swiss-born Giger won an Oscar for that movie; he also had a long, esteemed career as a contemporary artist and leader in the school of fantastic realism.

“When I was a young boy, I was obsessed with skulls and mummies and things like that,” Giger told us in a 2009 interview, explaining his dark visions. Unexpectedly, given his brutal, airbrushed style, his demeanor was chucklesome and upbeat; we recently asked Giger to submit a ballot for the magazine's recent animation top 100 and his list included Chicken Run, Fritz the Cat and Yellow Submarine.

Apart from his work on Alien, Giger found ways to inject his style into the mainstream. Classic album sleeves for Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Debbie Harry, Danzig and Celtic Frost were captivating examples of pop-futurism—and arguably more lasting than the music contained within. Giger himself can be seen in the excellent documentary Jodorowsky's Dune (read our five-star review), as an almost-contributor to that legendary, never-made epic. His art will live on.


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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