H.R. Giger came to prominence in the 1970s, when his surrealistic art style, a mix of Salvador Dali and H.P. Lovecraft, caught the eyes of the art world. Giger described his art as “Biomechanical” and it often featured disturbing yet captivating melding of humans and machines.
His success in the art world led to him getting design work in the world of films. One of these assignments was design work on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s aborted attempt at bringing Frank Herbert’s novel Dune to the screen. It was during that production that the film’s screenwriter Dan O’Bannon first became exposed to Giger’s artwork. O’Bannon was so moved by Giger’s “horrific yet beautiful” artwork that the writer was inspired to rework his script Memory into the sci-fi/horror hybrid that would become Alien.
Once Alien went into production, O’Bannon showed director Ridley Scott some of Giger’s artwork, most notably the artist’s 1976 lithograph, Necronom IV. Scott was compelled to use that image as the design of the alien creatures in the film, and hired Giger on to flesh out the world of the alien creatures. Giger’s designs became instrumental to the success of the film, and his designs carried through the entire franchise, right up to 2012’s Prometheus.
Giger also worked on films such as Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Species and Batman Forever (where he submitted an unused redesign for the Batmobile). He was also a filmmaker himself, directing four films: Swiss Made (1968), Tagtraum (1973), Giger’s Necronomicon (1975) and Giger’s Alien (1979).
In addition to his film desgin work, Giger was also active in the world of music, creating everything from album covers for Debbie Harry and Emerson, Lake and Palmer to the distinctive microphone stand employed by Korn frontman Jonathan Davis.