Swiss painter and sculptor H.R. Giger is best known by film lovers for designing one of the most terrifying monsters ever to appear on the big screen – the title role in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). It wouldn’t be the last time he worked in the horror genre, later working on Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) and Species (1995), but his design for the nemesis of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is his most indelible cinematic legacy.
Inspired by his own Necronom IV, a print he had created in 1976, Giger created the design of the adult alien as well as the egg and chest-burster forms (the latter making a memorable debut smashing through John Hurt’s rib cage). Although Fox Studios were initially wary of his disturbing designs, the risk paid off, and Giger and the visual effects team were awarded an Oscar in 1980. He returned to the franchise in 1992, creating designs for Alien 3 (1992).