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ALIEN
"The Perfect Organism"

The Exorcist

One of my all-time favourite films is the original 1979 ALIEN. The creature was originally designed by Swiss artist HR Giger, an unusual artist who pioneered “biomechanical” erotic surrealism. His alien is one of the most visually arresting movie monsters ever conceived. The creature design is embedded with sexually aggressive subtext and phallic shapes; a walking totem of symbolic psychosexual dread. It perfectly suits the film’s themes of male rape and reproductive biology. At its heart, ALIEN is a fairly basic “haunted castle” story, with a monster killing off the characters one by one, but with its powerful subtextual themes, it feels like so much more. ALIEN is a B-movie elevated to A-status by outstanding design, as well as great acting and directing, but the strangely beautiful and terrifying creature has captivated fans for decades. Subsequent films have modified the creature designs, tweaking the details, making them faster moving, and so on, but for me it was love at first sight. The very first, original creature has always been the best. It was described in the film as the “perfect organism” and who the hell am I to argue?


The thought of shooting my very own “perfect organism” was a daunting prospect, to say the least. The ALIEN xenomorph is such a widely admired creation that the prospect of recreating one felt heavy with responsibility. How do you even start to build such a thing? The obvious place to start was on Google, collecting as many photos of the creature as possible, particularly from the artworks of Giger. Building the head was a challenge. There are probably a million ways to make an ALIEN but I opted for expanding foam and resin. I carved the basic shape from the foam, then coated it in resin and sanded it smooth. The jaw was made from liquid latex, and Milliput was used to make teeth. Ribbed hoses were glued on (I used standard pond hose) and finally it was painted and airbrushed. It all sounds so simple written down like this but this thing took me seven months to make. I also made other features including the tubes for the back using EVA foam, shoulder arches, and of course a tail which was rolled sponge foam.


The next challenge was finding a suitable model. I’ve previously worked with Phoenix La Bird, who was the perfect choice for this shoot. She is tall, very strong (she keeps herself incredibly fit) and can pose for sensuality as well as raw power. My wife Claire takes full credit for suggesting her.


As the project progressed, it also grew. Eventually I had three ALIEN creatures in the shoot. My own xenomorph was to be a dedicated Giger creation. Fellow artist Keith Larkin constructed a warrior drone from ALIENS, and my wife Claire designed her own beautiful android-like interpretation.


On the day of the shoot, myself and my fellow artists got busy making our xenomorphs. The room was full of body paint, xenomorph heads, slime, and excitement! Cheryl Larkin became our “slime technician”, always on hand to squirt more slime onto the alien teeth, while Luna Wolf and Diana Jay offered assistance to everyone. My studio was very busy! Once the aliens were ready and the photographic lighting came on, we all had a weird “wow” moment. It looked like we might actually pull this off.


I have to say that I am extremely pleased with the outcome. This was a project that terrified me at first, one of those serious challenges that makes you doubt yourself and your ability right up to the last minute. When I shot photos and looked at the back of the camera (yes, I’m a classic studio chimp) and saw that it was working, it was a huge relief. Horrify Me made some epic Alien photos and I am taking that as a win.

CREDITS

Giger Xenomorph designed, built and created by Rick Jones
Model - Phoenix La Bird

Warrior Drone Xenomorph designed, built and created by Keith Larkin
Model - Daniel Chance

Android Xenomorph head by Keith Larkin, body paint by Claire Jones
Model - Debbie Tolley

Behind scenes assistants - Cheryl Larkin, Luna Wolf, Diana Jay



CREATING MY XENOMORPH
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THE SHOOT!

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Alien Alien
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Aliens


The Exorcist The Exorcist The Exorcist



Thanks for reading folks. Keep loving horror :)

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