CineFix, a YouTube channel for cinephiles, discussed the famous chestburster scene from ‘Alien’ in their latest episode of ‘Art of the Scene.’
The episode goes into detail about how the scene was executed and how the actors were kept in the dark as to the way John Hurt’s chest would split open. (In the script, the action just reads, “This thing emerges.”) What adds to the impact of this scene is the actors’ totally authentic reactions, most likely very similar to yours when you first saw ‘Alien.’
However, what’s also interesting is the backstory of the set and alien design.
The ‘Nostromo’ design took a cue from the interiors of the B-52 and submarines. This was in reaction to some other science fiction movies (namely ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’) having very pristine interiors. ‘Star Wars’ added more lived-in details, but ‘Alien’ really pushed the button to make the ‘Nostromo’ more utilitarian than cool-looking. Ron Cobb designed the different signage on the ship calling it the Semiotic Standard.
H.R. Giger is famously known for his design of the alien. He was ultimately hired after director Ridley Scott received his book of paintings, ‘Necronomicon’. Giger’s alien design was inspired by a 1944 triptych by Francis Bacon called ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’.
You can definitely see the similarities.
Take a look at ‘Alien Chestburster – Art of the Scene’.