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ALIENS - Chestburster Behind-the-Scenes with Film Director and FX Designer Stephen Norrington

ALIENS - Chestburster Behind-the-Scenes with Film Director and FX Designer Stephen Norrington

ALIENS - THE CHESTBURSTER RETURNS

By Matt Winston

No sequel to ALIEN would have been complete without paying homage to the infamous 'Chestburster' scene, so director James Cameron memorably included the grotesque parasites in ALIENS as well.

STICKING TO THE GIGER DESIGN...ALMOST

H.R. Giger's design remained practically unchanged by the Alien FX team at Stan Winston Studio apart from adding two tiny arms to create consistency between it and the anatomy of a full grown Alien Warrior. Cameron and Stan Winston decided that the addition of arms also made sense on a purely functional level, allowing the chestburster to pull itself free from its victim's chest.

Picture above: Ridley Scott's ALIEN chestburster scene remains one of the most shocking moments in film history.

Pictured above: (Left) SWS ALIENS FX team member, Tony Gardner, glues acrylic teeth into the unpainted chestburster skin. (Right) The SWS chestburster included a tiny set of arms.

RIPLEY'S NIGHTMARE

The chestburster makes its first appearance in ALIENS during a nightmare sequence. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), suffering from post-traumatic stress caused by her near death ordeal aboard the Nostromo, dreams of a chestburster pushing its way through her ribcage as the Weyland-Yutani medical staff restrain her.

Pictured above: Ripley's nightmare... giving birth to an Alien in ALIENS.

CHESTBURSTER'S BIG SCENE

The chestburster reappears later in the film when Ripley and the military team finally locate the missing colonists of LV-426, who have all been used as xenomorph incubators in the alien nest. One colonist (portrayed by Barbara Coles) barely clings to life and begs our heroes to kill her. Seconds later, a chestburster explodes through her sternum and the commandos burn it with their flamethrowers.

Pictured above: Doomed LV-426 colonist (Barbara Coles) in the moments before and after her death in ALIENS.

2 PUPPETS FOR 2 JOBS

To achieve the effect, Winston and his crew created two chestburster puppets. The first was built to be tough. as it needed to be able to rip through Coles' artificial foam latex chest multiple times. The second, "post-burst" puppet didn't have to withstand the same abuse and so it featured a more delicate cable-controlled mechanism that allowed a wide-range of fluid motion.

Pictured above: The lightweight hero chestburster mechanism was capable of fluid movement. 

DIRECTOR STEPHEN NORRINGTON - CHESTBURSTER MAKER

Pictured above: ALIENS FX Mechanic Stephen Norrington works on the cable-controlled facehugger mechanism.

To learn more about creating the "Hero" cable-controlled chestburster puppet from ALIENS, simply CLICK THE VIDEO at the top of the page. It features commentary by film director and FX designer, Stephen Norrington (BLADE, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN), who built the mechanism used in the film.

-Matt Winston

 

About Stephen Norrington: IMDb Page

 

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