Watch Some Creepy Test Footage From Ridley Scott's Alien
"Jaws in space." This is how screenwriters Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett pitched their nearly finished screenplay Alien to studios in the late 1970s. With Steven Spielberg's Jaws not only being a massive blockbuster but also a cultural phenomenon, it was a genius sales pitch that worked brilliantly. What could possibly be more terrifying that a shark spawned from eons of evolution to be the perfect predator, easily plucking its human victims from the ocean's surface with a brutal efficiency? Make him an unknown alien and trap his victims in space, where—as the tagline famously reminds us—no one can hear you scream.
Tasked with creating the most horrifying extraterrestrial audiences had ever seen, Ridley Scott's design and effects teams had a major job ahead of them, but pulled it off with flying colors. Not only did they terrorize audiences to the tune of $104 million worldwide, but they also earned an Oscar nod for Best Art Direction and won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. However, it's worth noting that not all of the creepy creature's chilling appeal can be credited to these teams. Nigerian native Bolaji Badejo deserves some of the credit.
Badejo was a design student when a member of Scott's casting crew spotted him at a bar, and took note of his unusual look. At 7' 2" Badejo had strangely long arms and a very slim form that Scott believed would look downright unearthly with a little bit of costuming. And he was right. Even in the test footage below where Badejo wears little else but a mock-up head and slinks around a basic set, the transformation is unsettling and suitably alien.
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