In 1986, James Cameron embarked on a mission to bring the sequel to Alien to life. It had been seven years since Ridley Scott terrified audiences with the first Alien film, and Cameron knew he had to do something different this time around. So he went into the production of Aliens with one thing in mind: creating the Alien Queen. With the help of visual effects genius Stan Winston, James Cameron expanded the Alien mythos and produced a movie that many consider to be one of the best science fiction films ever made.
Cameron first had the idea of an Alien Queen when he watched the original Alien. He was introduced to the world and the concept of Xenomorphs, their eggs, and how they reproduce, and he then thought of how it would all come together with the Alien Queen. After working together on The Terminator in 1984, Cameron approached Winston with concept art and had the idea to make a full-size suit with two puppeteers controlling it from inside. Winston thought Cameron it was a crazy idea, but in the end it worked.
Winston and his team built the prototype for the Alien Queen suit from black garbage bags, foam, and two puppeteers with sticks for claws. The structure was brought together with a hydraulic lift. Once the team got the prototype Alien Queen to stand and walk, they shipped the design to England to start building the real thing.
The final result was a large, fully mobile alien with tactile personality that interacted with the actors and its environment, and which became the most iconic piece of James Cameron’s Aliens. The Alien Queen gave Sigourney Weaver the excuse to deliver one of the best lines in cinematic history: “Get away from her, you bitch!”
You can see more pics of the Alien Queen’s origins over at the Stan Winston School’s website.
All images from the Stan Winston School.