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Dark Star: H. R. Giger's World: Nostromo-Damus 

Wednesday, May 13 2015
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As the overture of Belinda Sallin's film recounts it, approaching the late H.R. Giger's woods-ensconced Zurich home felt a little like going upriver in Apocalypse Now. There was a jungly enclosure, many skulls, and a general aura of derangement. But of course the main Giger movie association will always be Alien, on account of the titular creature. Yes, it was he who designed it, and maybe sorta somehow lived it? "What makes it stronger is the reality, not the fantasy," a young Ridley Scott avows in Alien's archival making-of footage — which explains why Giger, that surrealist specialist of bio-mechanical sex horrors, became his go-to guy for xenomorph actualization. Scott isn't identified by name here, either because Sallin assumes we already know who he is and that's why we're watching this H.R. Giger documentary in the first place, or because she'd rather shift the emphasis, to assert that Giger's most famous direct cultural contribution is hardly the only important thing about him. True enough: There was also that "Penis Landscape" poster insert in the Dead Kennedys' album Frankenchrist, which caused some trouble in its day. Talking-head consensus seems to be that Giger's work tapped into the otherwise unremembered trauma of the perinatal journey; all he really knew was that in general he put his exquisitely creepy visions on canvas to keep them from freaking him out. For this the rewards were many, including at least one touching scene of autograph-seekers getting tearful and showing him their spooky homage tats.

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Jonathan Kiefer

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SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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