Well, this is a bummer: Oscar-winning designer H.R. Giger has passed away in Zurich, Switzerland, following injuries he sustained in a fall. He was 74.
Giger's contribution to the world of film was (and remains) immense. His artwork - deeply surreal, always disturbing - inspired Dan O'Bannon to write the screenplay for Alien (O'Bannon: "His paintings had a profound effect on me. I had never seen anything that was quite as horrible and at the same time as beautiful as his work. And so I ended up writing a script about a Giger monster"), and Giger won an Oscar for the design work he went on to provide for Ridley Scott's film.
Giger's Xenomorph design is one of the most iconic creature designs in film history - right up there with Stan Winston's Predator and Millicent Patrick's Creature From The Black Lagoon - but his contributions to Scott's film didn't end there: Giger also created Alien's "Derelict" set, as well as the also-iconic design for the "Space Jockey" (which, as we all know, would partially serve as the inspiration for Ridley Scott's Prometheus three decades later).
Recently, Giger popped up in Frank Pavich's outstanding Jodorowsky's Dune to discuss the design work he contributed to that almost-film. When Jodorowsky's version of the film never got off the ground, elements of Giger's designs were appropriated for use in other films (including, yup, Alien and Prometheus). Here's a clip:
In 1985, Giger produced a limited-edition poster that was included with vinyl copies of the Dead Kennedys' album Frankenchrist. The illustration, commonly known as "Penis Landscape" (see below), inspired no small amount of controversy, and later resulted in the band's being charged with "harmful distribution to minors" after a concerned parent wrote an angry letter to California's then Attorney General (charges were dropped against three members of the band, while the other two - Jello Biafra and Michael Bonanno - entered into a criminal trial that resulted in a, ahem, hung jury). The album was later banned from many record stores.
In addition to the Alien franchise and allegedly criminal penis-related illustrations, Giger is also responsible for design work in Poltergeist II, the classic adventure-horror PC game Darkseid, was an uncredited designer on Aphex Twin's infamous "Window Licker" video (shudder), and was apparently an "unpaid creative consultant" on 1996's Killer Condom, (which sounds like something I should have been aware of before today). Giger is also responsible for Switzerland's two "Giger Bars" (one in Gruyères, the other in Giger's hometown of Chur; see below) and a custom-built microphone owned and operated by Jonathan Davis, lead singer of the once-popular and now very embarrassing nu metal band Korn.
Giger was a deeply strange, easily-excitable visionary, and the extent of his influence - particularly in the world of design for film's horror and sci-fi genres - is incalculable. He will be dearly missed. BAD humbly suggests you watch the original Alien tonight in honor of his passing.