When news broke last year that veteran film-maker Ridley Scott was to build on his iconic slasher-in-space film Alien more than 30 years on, reaction was divided fairly evenly between healthy scepticism and wide-eyed excitement.
Those in the latter camp may just be feeling a little smug today after it was revealed that the Swiss surrealist artist HR Giger, whose Oscar-winning designs played such an important role in defining the brilliance of Scott's 1979 film, is to return for the new project.
In a video interview for Swiss television, the painter's wife Carmen Scheifele said her husband was "on board" for the prequel, which she said might be one of two films, both set prior to Scott's Alien.
Speaking in Swiss German, Scheifele said: "We went to London to discuss the project and then did not hear anything back. We thought it wasn't happening, but two days ago we got the call to say it was OK."
Giger designed the famously phallic aliens, often known as xenomorphs, for Alien, and although his services were not required for James Cameron's 1986 sequel, Aliens, his nightmarish designs have played a part in all versions of the monstrous creature, right up to 2007's poorly received mashup sequel-of-sorts, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem.
Giger, 70, also designed the giant space jockey creature whose exo-skeleton the crew of the Nostromo pass as they investigate the doomed planetoid in early scenes from Alien. Scott has strongly hinted that these creatures will feature heavily in the prequel or prequels, so it's possible Giger could be involved in devising their look.
Speculation over the template and storyline for the new project has been rife. There have been a range of rumours about it, some saying that it will be a straight reboot of the Alien franchise and another, later denied, saying that there would be a bizarre plot involving slave humans being forced into unlikely sexual acts by their extra terrestrial overlords. Scott himself has said the new movies will be "tough, really nasty. It's the dark side of the moon. We are talking about gods and engineers. Engineers of space. And were the aliens designed as a form of biological warfare? Or biology that would go in and clean up a planet?" Further reports suggest the project will move the series back to its horror-suspense roots, rather than the action thriller slant which Cameron introduced with Aliens.
Actors reportedly interested in roles include Natalie Portman, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Michelle Yeoh, Quantum of Solace's Gemma Arterton, Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace. There have also been reports that Scott has been inquiring about the work schedules of Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Fassbender. Lost's Damon Lindeloff is the latest writer to take on the screenplay.
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