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Alien’s Original Xenomorph Designs Would Have Ruined Everything

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It was once described by the severed head of Ian Holm as “the perfect organism,” and that certainly followed through in the appearance of Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” A biomechanical-like monster that has haunted fans’ imaginations since its surprise entrance through John Hurt, the Xenomorph in the “Alien” movie saga was a thing of blood-chilling beauty. That long, phallic head and extendable set of gnashers debuted in 1979 for one of the best alien movies of all time. It was the genius work of H.R. Giger, but before he got involved, an early design actually resembled another movie monster that wouldn’t appear for another decade after this one debuted — that is, after another frankly heinous idea that could’ve turned the film into a very different beast.

According to producer Walter Hill during his appearance on the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron,” the film’s initial director, Robert Aldrich, had the pretty far-out idea of shaving an orangutan and training it to take on the role of scaring the Nostromo’s unfortunate crew. 

“[Aldritch] said, ‘We gotta come up with something really unique,'” recalled Hill. “And he said, ‘I don’t know, just off the top of my head … This may not be a good idea, but maybe we could get an orangutan and shave it.’ And we’re going, ‘God almighty. That’s one we hadn’t thought of.’ And [Aldritch said], ‘Train the son of a b***h, ’cause you shouldn’t see it very much.'” 

It’s safe to say a shaved orangutan wouldn’t have lived up to the horrifying Xenomorph. Thankfully, that idea didn’t go ahead, and neither did Aldrich’s involvement in the project.

The Alien runner-up almost had Brundlefly DNA

After the idea of shaving an orangutan was wiped off the board, another design was conceived that was much weightier than the slender killing machine we’d eventually encounter. A creation of artist Ron Cobb, this alien was a quadrupedal horror that had hooks for hands and a face that shared the traits of a Lovecraftian beastie and David Cronenberg’s yet-to-be-hatched take on “The Fly.” The beast they’d created was far too cumbersome. It was a mish-mash of ideas and a far cry from where the creature feature needed to end up to be successful. It was only when director Ridley Scott sat down with H.R. Giger that monster movie magic was made.

While a lot of the fear factor of the final product was Giger’s doing, it’s worth noting that a nifty trait conceived during Cobb’s creation process carried over. His crab-like creature, though appearing a somewhat cumbersome animal, did have acid for blood, making for a wonderful defense mechanism. This became one of the Xenomorph’s most terrifying traits and has long played a part in the franchise, looking to be a prominent element in the upcoming “Alien: Romulus.” You can read all about the acidic blood and other small details in the latest “Alien: Romulus” trailer here.

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