Thank You, Mr Giger

By Alec Meer on May 13th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

You weren’t a game developer, so posting here about your unexpected death is tangential. But I guess you’ve always been there, accidentally informing the boyhood horror and action games which led to what I enjoy and write about to this day.

Your obsidian phalluses, mutant mech-babies and kinky bio-mechanical terrors remain a benchmark for modern horror and subversion, and a visual language borrowed by several generations of developers, even beyond the obvious chokehold Alien has had on so many games*. We all recite the quotes, but it’s the otherworldly, twisted imagery of that film which is truly deathless.

There was 1992 horror-adventure game Darkseed too of course, which seemed like a visitor from a nightmare future at the time but causes squirming if seen now. Challenging acting, trial and error failstate puzzles and a hero who wears a blazer: some things are best left where they are. Still, you were ‘just’ a contributing artist so none of that’s your fault – but good work on pushing for VGA resolution, and that box art certainly had every teen boy of the time convinced they had they to own the game immediately.

Anyway, thanks. I’d be lying if I claimed your work played any meaningful part of my adulthood (I guess don’t really want pictures of metal orifices and doorways made out spines on my wall any more), but as a teenager, when books of your art were handed with awed secrecy around school locker rooms, it seemed so important, so thrilling, so subversive. Coming out of an all too safe, rural, small-c-conservative upbringing, your nightmare visions were essential in making me aware of other possibilities, other ways of thinking about and seeing the world.

Rest in peace.

* In truth it’s much more Aliens that influences game, which Giger was not hired to work on – though it did of course make significant use of his creature designs.

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41 Comments »

  1. Didden says:

    The world has lost an artist who certainly put the P into phallic objects, all of which seemed to be going into things. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Know what I mean? As visual styles go, it was utterly unique and striking, and played wonderfully on subversive themes and ideas. Shame the Dune film was never made as well.

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    mpk says:

    He didn’t go the way I expected – sucked into the wombengine of one his biomechanical creations and beaten to death by it’s supernumerary penis-pistons.

    The world is less weird now. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

    • Emeraude says:

      He didn’t go the way I expected – sucked into the wombengine of one his biomechanical creations and beaten to death by it’s supernumerary penis-pistons.

      That or he did, and staircases represent such an admirable case of adaptive mimicry that the human mind cannot even process anymore what it is the body is climbing when going upstairs.

  3. chargen says:

    Green dongs.

  4. DrManhatten says:

    Very sad! Even more so when you think some of his greatest work he did for Dune: God emperor movie unfortunately never made it into production. Nowadays with all this CG technology it would be easy to replicate his visions.

  5. Shodex says:

    Shit!

  6. Flakfizer says:

    Farewell H. R. Giger you scary, talented, bonkers artist.

    I vividly remember going to a Sci-Fi exhibition where one of the displays was a case containing the original xenomorph suit used in ‘Alien’. Despite knowing it was just a costume hung in a glass box it still managed to be unsettling if not frightening.

  7. N'Al says:

    What a fitting eulogy for the passing of a great artist!

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    DrScuttles says:

    To have seen the world through his eyes must have been quite the thing.
    Part of me always wanted to become one of his creations, all bits sticking into me as I stick into bits.
    It’s a shame that his designs chiefly influenced videogames through the various quality ones based on Aliens. Though Darkseed “did you kill Rita?” 2 was somehow successful in making his style both boring and occasionally laughable. To do that so completely to his artwork almost takes skill.

  9. WhatKateDoes says:

    Behold this absolutely gobsmacking homage to Giger’s art – Three dimensional renderings of his art to suitably unsettling music. Persevere with it, from about the half way point (“Victory”) it gets completely agog-face making.


    • WhatKateDoes says:

      Goes without saying that the video is very much NSFW!

      • Geebs says:

        Thanks for the link, that’s amazing!

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Not if your job is taking MDMA and floating in a huge tub of pig innards. In that case, it is very much SFW.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        At exactly 25:56 I was thinking, “If that thing opens its eyes, I am going to crap myself.”

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        JamesTheNumberless says:

        Pretty sure it’s just not safe to watch this, at all. Being at work doesn’t enter into it! I bet this is going to trigger those dreams where aliens are falling out of the sky and I’m trying to run away but I can’t because I’m biomechanically fused into a giant hamster wheel.

    • Syra says:

      When it got to “PASSAGES” I knew it was about to get interesting.

      *edit* Whoa I did not expect it to get so overtly sexual there. I have a really confusing boner now.

    • cauldron says:

      Beautiful and disturbing.
      With the Oculus it could be real nightmare…

    • Shodex says:

      I just realized how much I’d like a Dark Souls style game set on an alien bio-mechanical planet.

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    Moorkh says:

    Thanks, and thanks. RIP HR. :(

  11. DanMan says:

    *silence*

  12. Sardonic says:

    Ehh, you will be missed pal!

  13. nrvsNRG says:

    R.I.P.

  14. Lemming says:

    I feel the urge to visit his bar and museum in Switzerland now.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yeah bars decorated in his art style sounds cool. Sounds like a good place to go on mushrooms.

    • Distec says:

      It’s pretty interesting, having seen it myself. Just a quaint building that houses all your worst nightmares!

      It also shares a small section with Albert Hofmann (the man who synthesized LSD). I don’t think acid had any big significant impact on Giger’s work, but it somehow seems appropriate.

  15. Syra says:

    Wow that’s super weird I was LITERALLY just thinking about geiger and his works in relation to something completely tangental and then I popped open RPS and he was dead.

    MAYBE I HAVE GAINED POWER OVER LIFE AND DEATH?!

    Sucks though RIP. I liked his blend of madness.

  16. Fumarole says:

    So long, and thanks for all the nightmares.

  17. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Goddammit Geiger, not yet! Jodorowsky isn’t finished with Dune yet! :’(

  18. Player1 says:

    It’s very sad to see him go like this. I live near to where he lived in Zurich, and I have seen him on the street a few times, although he was very shy and barely left the house, according to his friends. A very special person. I still have one of his original drawings my father gave me, and which was given to him as a present by one of Giger’s friends about 25 years ago.

    @Syra: the exact same thing happened to me. It’s not like I thought of him very often, but two days ago I was wondering where the drawing was, and if he was still painting, and the next day I read the Swiss newspapers and he’s dead…. spooky.

  19. JohnnyPanzer says:

    Awwwwwww man?! Who knew that the worst part of growing old would not be the dread of my own impending doom, but rather to be forced to watch as every last one of my heros passes away?

    Rest in biomechanical peace, you crazy, wonderful man. You opened my eyes to art when I was a kid, and I will never, ever stop being grateful for that. I will miss you!

    • Turkey says:

      Jean Giraud, Ralph McQuarrie and now Giger. At least Syd Mead is still alive and kicking for hopefully a few more years.

      RIP Giggles

      • vivlo says:

        Druillet still there too

        • Turkey says:

          Guess I’m not that well versed in this stuff, cause I’d never even heard of Druillet. At least I now know the main inspiration behind James Stokoe’s work :)

          • vivlo says:

            hah, Druillet has much less of an international recognition than the other you mentionned – albeit very deserving imho :) but he made essentially comics (graphic novels ?) and kinda belongs to the same ‘school’ than Moebius (Giraud) in that respect (they have made somme collaborations), though never made anything of international fame on par with those other artists. I guess anyone knowing Moebius and/or Giger would be interested in his work. Didn’t know James Stokoe, he seems indeed very inspired :)

  20. ribobura osserotto says:

    Ha! You missed pal!

  21. Sarkhan Lol says:

    I don’t know about ‘unexpected’. He always struck me as posthumous, somehow.

  22. Artist says:

    Im not sure how the death of a 74-old could be called “unexpected”…. Journalists…