I haven’t really thought much of H.R. Giger or his wickedly dark, weirdo art since I was a death-obsessed teenager obsessively reading Clive Barker novels at my after-school babysitting jobs. Something about Giger always reminds me of my own dark-art appreciation years.
Giger has forever felt dated, as it represents that place in time where I not only read sci-fi horror authors like Barker and coveted Giger’s book Necronomicon, but I also listened to prototypal black metal like Switzerland’s Celtic Frost. Tom Gabriel Fischer, former lead singer of Celtic Frost, is interviewed in the documentary Dark Star, serving as Giger’s personal assistant and claiming H.R.—known to friends and family by full name Hansruedi—was a mentor to his band in the 1980s.
I recently remembered my teenage lust for Giger, and his sexy cyborg surrealism, when he popped up in a cameo in must-see documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. Alejandro Jodorowsky also appreciated Giger’s unbelievably original aesthetic—his paintings and sculptures that married machines and human flesh into “biomechanics” and often combined ancient-seeming magic with human genitalia.
Dark Star—which follows Giger (most commonly known for designing the original space monster in the film Alien) around in his Zurich home, until his 2014 death at age 74—tries to uncover why Giger contributed such dark offerings to the world of art.
The quietly, respectful doc portrays Giger as a much-loved gentleman, and aside from a few moments where Giger reminisces, like the story of receiving a human skull as a gift from his father at age 6, Dark Star barely cracks the surface of the man’s inner artistic process.
It’s worth watching, though, if you can survive Giger’s speaking voice—a gurgling, croaking crackle, that just may be more horrifically tortuous than any singular work of art he ever created.