Giger gained worldwide recognition as a result of his design for the Xenomorph in Ridley Scott’s Alien, which earned him an Oscar in 1980. However, his work was already well known, having produced his book Necromonicon in 1977 (which was what led Scott to hire him). He also worked on the abandoned Alejandro Jodorowsky adaptation of Dune.
Giger’s biomechanical designs would continue to be used in future Alien films, although they would rarely be as challenging and as nightmarish as his original concepts. He created album covers for Deborah Harry, Danzig, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Dead Kennedys, and inspired cyberpunk writers like William Gibson. He was hired to work on Roger Donaldson’s Species, for which he created a ‘Ghost train’ sequence that cost $100,000 of his own money when the studio balked at the cost.
From organic machines to slime-covered alien creatures, Giger’s work is challenging, beguiling and unforgettable. The old adage that an artist has achieved greatness once his or her name is used with an “-esque” to describe others’ work rings very true with this groundbreaking figure. There’s no mistaking a Giger creation, and his work will continue to inspire (and give nightmares to) generations of filmmakers and filmgoers to come.