Stan Winston's full-size Alien Queen puppet's biggest action scenes in James Cameron's ALIENS are those after she rips herself away from her ovipositor to chase after Ripley and Newt, who are picked up by the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen) in a drop-ship, and returned to the mothership, Sulaco. The queen stows away onboard, eventually impaling Bishop with her tail and ripping him in half.
QUEEN TAKES BISHOP - 1st Move
Rather than do a standard slant-board/fake body effect, Winston and Cameron designed the shot so that Bishop would be standing upright, in full view, when the queen’s tail burst through his chest. Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis built a chest plate for Lance Henriksen, complete with flexible rubberized tail. At the start of the shot, the tail was laid flat inside the chest plate; and then it was pulled out by a wire to look as if it had punctured Bishop’s body.
Pictured above: Stan Winston ALIENS creature crew member, Julian Caldow wearing the Queen "tail pierce" rig
Pictured above: Sigourney Weaver & Lance Henriksen perform the "tail pierce" gag.
QUEEN TAKES BISHOP - 2nd Move
The next shot featured an ‘arrow-through-the-head’ type rig, built by John Richardson’s special effects crew. Henriksen wore a harness that had a rigid tail piece in front, while the back side was connected to the queen puppet. Henriksen, whose feet weren’t in frame, stood on a teeter-totter that leveraged him upwards, as if the tail was lifting him.
Pictured above: Stan Winston,Tom Woodruff Jr. & John Rosengrant adjust the "arrow through the head" tail gag as Lance Henriksen, Sigourney Weaver, James Cameron and crewmembers stand by
Pictured above: Stan Winston's Alien Queen puppet, Lance Henriksen
QUEEN TAKES BISHOP - 3rd Move
In the final stage of the sequence, the queen lifts Bishop all the way up to the ceiling, where she is hiding, then rips him in half. Woodruff and Gillis led the build of the Bishop dummy for the gag, matching Henriksen’s expression in the previous cut. Special Effects supervisor John Richardson devised the actual breakaway mechanism, a spring-loaded armature inside the dummy that would split in half when activated. To make it look as if the queen motivated the ripping action, the creature’s hands were fit into slots on the dummy, causing them to move with the spring-loaded action.
Pictured above: The Alien Queen puppet rips apart the springloaded Bishop dummy.
QUEEN TAKES BISHOP - The Killing Move
Dropping to the floor, the severed upper half of Bishop grabs Newt to keep her from being ejected out of the decom- pressing cargo hold. Woodruff and Gillis built the upper torso dummy with organic and inorganic guts spilling out, and the ever-present milky substance squirting out of it. Henriksen’s head and arms extended out of a hole in the set floor, and the fake torso was attached at his shoulders.
Pictured above: Alec Gillis & fellow SWS crewmember, Julian Caldow, film an early test of the Bishop ripped-in-half effect.
Pictured above: Alec Gillis dresses android guts into the Bishop ripped-in-half torso as fellow SWS artist Julian Caldow temporarily stands in for Lance Henriksen.
Pictured above: The "Ripped in Half" bishop dummy, on set.
BUT BISHOP SURVIVES...Barely
“I felt so bad for Lance Henriksen when we shot that scene,” recalled Lindsay Macgowan. “He was underneath the floor, on the slant board, and the fake chest piece was there at his head, writhing around, squirting out this white fluid. I believe Lance was in that setup for two or three days of shooting; and after a while, it was really rank because the milk had spoiled. It smelled disgusting. Poor Lance was in it that whole time, and I don’t know how he did it. Every time I had to go near him to adjust something, I’d have to hold my nose and hold my breath. None of us wanted to go near him. ‘Okay, which one of us is going to go over and deal with Lance?’ Nobody wanted to do it. But Lance coped with it really well. He never complained.”