Take a Drink: each time someone mentions Death
Take a Drink: for any visible penis hidden (or not hidden) within the art
Do a Shot: for Ridley Scot(ch)
Do a Shot: for every “former assistant” who is interviewed, double if it is insinuated the assistant also was romantically involved with Giger
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
The life and art of Swiss artist Hans Ruedi (H.R.) Giger is explored in this sensitive documentary by filmmaker Belinda Sallin. Through archival footage, contemporary interviews, and footage shot of H.R. just prior to his death, the film tells the story of a deeply complex man who converted his darkest thoughts, dreams, & nightmares into art.
Giger is perhaps most famous for his Academy Award-winning visual effects designs for the film Alien, which added a uniquely macabre and original layer to cinema’s concept of Science Fiction. Giger’s art is well known for its combining of sex, pain, birth, and death, all in the same image, which was the perfect way to disturb audiences more used to aliens being represented as silly creatures in rubber costumes.
Director Belinda Sallin intercuts contemporary footage of Giger with pondering shots of his strange and wondrous home, which feels more like the hideout of a super-villain. His backyard features a decrepit “Ghost Train” ride he created for neighboring children (presumably to haunt their nightmares…)
The walls of Giger’s home are surrounded with countless bookshelves, all holding well-used books, as well as various sculptures depicting dead faces, fetuses, phalluses, and just about anything else sure to disturb the Sunday School crowd. The aging Giger moves about his house like an aging Nosferatu, which feels partly for the cameras and partly for his own amusement.
The archival footage, and interviews with fellow artists, friends, family and assistants tell the rest of the story, explaining Giger’s early influences, such as being forced to look at a dead mummy as a young boy, and being terrified, only to find himself coming back to the museum over and over again to re-examine the body. The film also covers Giger’s fascination with mechanized warfare and the prospect of nuclear annihilation, which helped forge much of the material used in his first art book, Necronomicon.
Those familiar with H.R. Giger only through his art design may judge at face value that he was a deeply disturbed, creepy individual. Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World never rally convinces you of the opposite. Rather, the film begins with H.R. showing off his collection of human skulls, including one he apparently used to drag around on a string.
So it is obvious that the filmmakers aren’t trying to convince otherwise, and are content to build on Giger’s legend. Still, it would be more satisfying if the filmmakers were able to dig deeper into his personal friendships, to reveal more sides to his personality. Though it is inarguable that Giger defined himself through his work, his family life is more or less glazed over.
Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World is a fascinating and personal look at a seemingly impenetrable artist.