Ick! How the 'Aliens' chestburster was created

The Stan Winston School of Character Arts takes the gory wrappings off the chestburster puppet used in "Aliens."

Chestburster plush
This chestburser plush from ThinkGeek is a cuddlier version. ThinkGeek

Few images in film are as startling as that moment in "Alien" when the baby chestburster comes crawling out of of John Hurt's torso in a spray of gore. It was so gripping, the slimy little parasite was brought back for the sequel, "Aliens." Even better, it was created without the assistance of CGI.

A video shared by the Stan Winston School of Character Arts lets us all in on how that nasty little surprise was created. The video is narrated by Stephen Norrington, the special-effects wiz who built the device. He started with dental acrylic poured into a mold of the monster, cut it into pieces using a bandsaw, and held it all together with a cable-housing spine.

The chestburster ended up as an impressive, but simple, puppet with cables and joysticks driving its head, body, and toothy jaw. The waving arms just add to the terror. "I've got to say, I'm kind of amazed at how much emotion comes out of those little arms," says Norrington.

Knowing how it was created doesn't lessen the dread of re-watching the chestburster scenes. The wee beastie survived having its skin stripped off and mechanisms exposed, and made it out the other side just as horrifying as it was before.

About the author

Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET's Crave blog. When not wallowing in weird gadgets and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.

 

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