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Monster Gallery: Avatar (2009)

Creatures of Pandora

General note: the following article focuses on the six major alien species featured in Avatar, with deliberate excision of the Na’vis — which will not be analyzed on the site. No Neytiri here!


James Cameron first conceived Avatar in 1994, with an 80-page treatment of the story — which was to be produced into a film to be released in 1999, with the collaboration of Digital Domain. Cameron, however, felt that the digital effects technology available at the time had considerable restraints that inevitably needed to be resolved — due to the fact photorealistic computer-generated imagery was still a relatively new tool for filmmakers. The director decided to postpone the creation process for the film until his idea could effectively be convincingly brought to life.

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StarBeast — Aliens, the Alien Queen


A PIERCING SHRIEK fills the chamber.

She turns. And there it is.

A massive silhouette in the mist, the ALIEN QUEEN glowers over her eggs like a great, glistening black Insect-Buddha. What’s bigger and meaner than the Alien? His Momma. Her fanged head is an unimaginable horror. Her six limbs, the four arms, and two powerful legs, are folded grotesquely over her distended abdomen. The egg-filled abdomen swells and swells into a great pulsing tubular sac, suspended from a lattice of pipes and conduits by a web-like membrane as if some vast coil of intestines was draped carelessly among the machinery.

-James Cameron, Aliens draft, 1985

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Monster Gallery: Aliens (1986)

StarBeast — Aliens


Promotional stills.Hans Ruedi Giger, the original Alien designer, did not return to work on Aliens. None of the filmmakers involved in the project contacted the artist, whom at the time was attached as a creature designer to Poltergeist II. “we didn’t know exactly how long that commitment was, but we heard that he was busy,” director James Cameron said. “But honestly, I think that if we had really wanted to fight for him, we could have worked around it.” Giger himself recalled in The Alien Saga documentary: “I was a little depressed because nobody asked me to work on this film. I was in Los Angeles at the time working on Poltergeist II, and I asked around about Aliens. For me, it would have been the most logical thing to work on that film. I was very anxious to collaborate, but nobody called me. I’d much rather have done a second Alien than a second Poltergeist — because, naturally, I felt more related to Alien. Perhaps the Poltergeist II people wanted to keep me away from Aliens for fear of losing me. I inquired everywhere, but no one could or would inform me about it.”

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