As a tribute to H.R. Giger I thought it would be interesting to pull together ten spinoffs of his classic ALIEN creature. Some will refer to them as rip-offs, but as a fan of monsters I see them as inspired art. These designs show how Giger’s surrealist xenomorphic design changed, fueled and influenced the face of sci-fi horror to come.
FORBIDDEN WORLD aka MUTANT (1982)
FORBIDDEN WORLD is definitely one of the more enjoyable and exploitive films on this list. Roger Corman’s production touches on Ridley Scott’s classic with an extra dose of sex, nudity, violence and synth music. The mutant in FORBIDDEN WORLD resembles a spider version of the xenomorph with a hulking wide dome head filled with white teeth.
BIOHAZARD feels like a throwback to the 1950’s creature features as seen through the B-movie auteur eyes of director Fred Olen Ray. What I love about this trashy monster on the loose film is that they never shy away from showing the alien in all his suited glory.
CREATURE aka TITAN FIND (1985)
We’ve seen the birth of monsters in scientific experimental facilities throughout this genre. CREATURE is unique however because it expands on the idea, empowering an even greater extraterrestrial threat by way of a more intelligent alien laboratory. In its full form the creature strongly resembles Giger’s hunched over xenomorph design.
CAPTAIN EO (1986)
What if Michael Jackson was an infamous Starfleet captain and his crewmate was that blue elephant from RETURN OF THE JEDI? Add in Angelica Huston playing a villainous alien witch. Then you’ll get CAPTAIN EO. This Disney 3D Tomorrowland attraction film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and written by George Lucas. The effects artist, Tom Burman, did a phenomenal job with Huston’s alien witch make-up. Blending bones with Giger’s biomechanical aesthetic gives birth to the Supreme Leader’s eerie beauty make-up.
DEEP SPACE (1988)
Our second Fred Olen Ray film on the list. Strangely, DEEP SPACE doesn’t take place in space. Charles Napier plays a hardboiled cop in search of an alien loose in Los Angeles. This alien kills in a unique way. It packs not only a mouth of needle-like teeth, but also a stomach filled with serrated choppers. The creature shoots out tentacles that wrap around its victims and drags them into its orifice of a belly.
SYNGENOR is the name of an experimental solider. It was designed to be fearless, resistant to enemy weaponry and able to survive brutal desert climates. In classic genre movie fashion the SYNGENOR escapes and starts a murdering spree around the city by draining victims’ spinal fluid. SYNGENOR is somewhat of a loose sequel to William Mallone’s SCARED TO DEATH (1980). Effects artist Mark Williams stayed close to the original Giger inspired designs of the first film. This is a stunning and freighting creature. It’s one of my personal favorites on this list.
DEAD SPACE (1991)
In DEAD SPACE, not be confused with DEEP SPACE , Marc Singer receives a distress signal from a research facility on a distant planet. Bryan Cranston plays a scientist who accidently creates a metamorphic mutant in this Roger Corman production filled with stock footage from BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS. DEAD SPACE follows the film ALIEN’s life cycle closely. The virus starts off as an egg. It violently invades through the hosts nostril (instead of the mouth) using it as a vessel until it chest bursts. It continues to grow larger throughout the film. What I like about this alien is that they didn’t go with a man in a suit design. This is a big functioning monster. Something we haven’t had as much of in other low budget attempts.
SPLIT SECOND (1992)
In the year 2008, the streets of London are flooded, pollution is at its worst and everything is lit blue. Rutger Hauer is a detective on the hunt for a mutant that feeds on human hearts. I’ve always liked this creature’s black oil slick design and bizarre choice to sport Oakley sunglasses. Unfortunately throughout the film you can barely get a good look at the fiend to enjoy its smooth design. ( Image from FANGORIA Issue 110, Photo by Francesca Phillips, Copyright 1991 Challenge Films)
DARK UNIVERSE (1993)
If you never had the chance to rent DARK UNIVERSE back in the 90’s here’s what the VHS cover looked like. Notice how the adorable alien strangely resembles the chestburster from SPACEBALLS. For that reason alone I have a soft spot for this movie. An alien named Steve runs amok in the Florida everglades. Like in DEAD SPACE this one doesn’t use its mouth to devour instead it shoots a long tongue from its oblong head to drain victims dry. This creature is very reminiscent of the one found in FORBIDDEN WORLD.
BLOOD PREDATOR (2007)
There were a few Giger inspired designs that came out of the 00’s. Films like AVH: ALIEN VS. HUNTER and ALIEN VS NINJA. It feels like they were going more for parody than making them frighten. BLOOD PREDATOR starts off like PREDATOR with a spacecraft approaching our planet. Then, soon after, a group of plane crash survivors takes refuge in an abandoned snowy cottage. Unbeknownst to them, this cottage is infested with small, dome-headed Alien insects.
And there you have it. How many of these ALIEN inspired films have you seen?