Category Archives: Unused Creatures

StarBeast — Alien³, the Beginning


Alien³ underwent a long, articulated creation process — which saw several scriptwriters elaborating their own screenplays, only to be replaced — one after the other. Going from William Gibson to David Twohy, the film only began to develop to the next step with Vincent Ward and John Fasano’s script. It was based on that story that concept artists Stephen Ellis and Mike Worrall elaborated their own designs for the creatures, which included a woolly Chestburster born from a sheep, and an adult Alien whose origin was left unexplained. Those very initial concepts were conceived more as placeholders to illustrate certain sequences in the script, rather than actual designs.

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Special: Why was the Pilot Creature fired from ‘The Thing’?

The Pilot animatronic on set.

As Kate Lloyd enters the ancient spaceship — in the climax of Matthijs van Heijningen’s The Thing — she discovers an enormous, luminous tower. Hologram pieces continuously assemble and disassemble, moving geometrically. It is here that she is then attacked by the assimilated Sander, who has taken the form of a horribly mutated, distorted creature. The final cut of the film, by itself, was a distortion of the director’s original idea surrounding what was hidden in the ancient and otherworldly spacecraft.

The creature effects of The Thing were assigned to Amalgamated Dynamics; the company was tasked with designing and constructing all of the creature’s gruesome transformations, as well as additional alien creatures. Several full-sized models were built, ranging from rod puppets to suits. Due to a studio interference, it was decided late in production to actually replace most of the practical work with digitally rendered effects, as the film “felt too 80s.” An exception is represented by a creature, labeled by the filmmakers as ‘the Pilot’.


In the final film, said Pilot was replaced by the hologram tower (mockingly labeled as “the Tetris version” by the film’s own director), and the Thing, ultimately, took the form of a monstrously deformed and mutated Sander — the last transformation designed for the film, and brought on the screen directly as a digital effect. “We created the Sander-Thing the last minute,” the director said, “and it shows, unfortunately.” The replacement was actually established after test screenings, and as such the Pilot-Thing can be still briefly seen in the film — hidden by the shadows and camouflaged among the machinery. This is in all probability unintentional, and the question emerges naturally:

Why was the Pilot Creature fired from The Thing?

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