H R Giger has passed away…

ff1Early summer of 1979. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon, its warm and I should be out playing somewhere but I’m with my parents shopping in Willenhall. The town has a large newsagents and for me this shop is the highlight of our weekly shopping trips, somewhere I can browse the shelves of paperbacks (its where I bought the Splinter of the Minds Eye paperback and so many others) and look through magazines, pick up the latest issue of Starburst if I haven’t gotten it yet. But my eyes suddenly catch the cover of a new film magazine, the one you can see on the right here. Alien is the big new science fiction film, and I don’t yet realise it will be certified ‘X’ over here and its joys be forbidden to me for a few more years. This issue of Fantastic Films (renumbered number one to favour its launch in this country) has a big article on Alien, but I pause to just soak up that cover photo. It looks just so strange, so unusual and, yes,  alien…  to my young self its utterly mindboggling and arresting. The colours are so dull and brown and earthy, gritty, the spacesuits almost old and victorian to my eyes.  Behind the figures the enigmatic Space Jockey rests, utterly strange and bizarre and unlike anything I have ever seen. Its my first encounter with the designs and art of H R Giger.

Today news has broken that Giger passed away on Monday, at the age of 74 following a fall at his home in Zurich. Another creative icon of my distant youth has gone. Better writers than I will be able to wax lyrical and describe in detail the Swiss artists surreal dreamlike nightmare images, his career and accomplishments, so I just thought I’d share this memory of my first encounter with his strange and remarkable visions. The world will be a more mundane place without him.



3 thoughts on “H R Giger has passed away…

  1. It will indeed.

    I had a similar experience: I was 8 years old, and browsing in WH Smiths books section one Saturday afternoon I came across the ‘Alien’ Movie Novel [a big A4 luxury Fotonovel].
    The whole of Alien laid out in glossy stills, and the cold chill of strangeness that ran through me looking at those… those… things. I was completely hooked, right there and then.

    A shame we never really got to see much more of his work in films, other than heavily diluted versions [I’m looking at you, ‘Prometheus’].

    Though have you seen ‘Poltergeist II’? That’s the only other film where he gets to contribute something really deeply disturbing and strange – you’ll know what I’m talking about if you have. If not, track it down. It’s not a good film, to be sure, but I’m fond of it. It has good things [Giger, ILM, Jerry Goldsmith, a terrific villain, a likeable family at the centre, two absolutely belting scenes] and overall it’s quite heartfelt.

    1. I read that Alien movie novel/fotonovel so many times! In some ways it was better than the later vhs tape; I always wished those books were still in vogue when Blade Runner came out. A movie novel in that same large format for Blade Runner… I’d buy one now, even though I have that film in so many formats. There is something so powerful in those still images, all those details to pour over. That Alien book was so good. I remember the guy who did that book had done the same thing with a movie novel of Psycho before- my art college had a copy that I stumbled upon years later.

      Now Poltergeist 2- I actually saw that at the cinema, and was creeped out by that old preacher guy. Haven’t seen it in many years, I really should track it down for another watch. Funny thing how so many older films I dismissed before actually get better when I watch them again with older/fresher eyes, especially when compared to current stuff. Actors not around anymore, effects techniques not used anymore, music composers now passed away. Its all rather sad and nostalgic. Now I can add Giger’s work to that list. I often think for movie fans, films are as much about our past, our lives, as anything else.

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