"It's all beautifully done, everything, the designs and the way they're executed. The Alien Queen is also nice. She's a bit smaller in the face than my alien but my basic design was very well studied. She was frighteningly well animated. - H.R. Giger, Cinemafantastique Magazine May 1988

The Alien Queen is very complicated, like the way I would have done. I like how she moves - H.R. Giger, Sci-Fi Invasion! 1998

When I heard James Cameron himself designed the Alien Queen I was even more impressed by the talents of this versatile director - H.R Giger, Cinefantastique 1992

The mother Alien which, by the way, I  thought was a very good idea - Ridley Scott, Aliens Illustrated Screenplay

The Alien Queen  was a brainchild of James Cameron who took a great care in designing the creature so it would follow H.R. Giger's design style, sexual overtones and biomechanical structure. He made sure that everything from the look to the movement was carefully thought out and in the same line with the Alien, the  terrifying and sexually suggestive creature of ALIEN. In ALIENS,  the Queen released terror on the unsuspecting colonist of LV-426 and became one of the scifi's most iconic creatures, forever embedded in American pop culture and referenced in every possible media. James Cameron, a skilled designer himself, created an Alien Queen that was bigger and more monstrous than the Original Alien but was careful not turn her into a dinosaur-like, typical large monster and keep the artistic and beautiful alien feel with sexual overtones, making sure she looked like she belonged to the same species and style at the same time. She was more than a monster. She was a  work of art and a result of a careful designing process. She was a character. 

In issue #27 of Cinefex, Stan Winston had this to say on the genesis of the Queen's design: "Right from the start, Jim had a concept of the Alien Queen in the back of his head. In fact, when we first began talking about the project he showed me the beautiful rendering he had done of it which I liked immediately."

Renowned behind-the-scenes film writer Don Shay "Cameron's concept was both fresh and visually dramatic, and yet still a clear and logical extrapolation from the basic Warrior design originated by H.R. Giger."

Some of the biomechanical details of the Queen

James Cameron: "Although Giger wasn't directly involved, his ghost sort of hovered about. I must say, though, that I feel a sense of authorship when it comes to the Queen. Somebody once described it as an anorexic dinosaur, which I suppose is inevitable even though that's not what I had in mind. In fact, I wanted specifically not to suggest a dinosaur concept - at least overtly - because that would have been a little too commonplace and boring. For me, the Queen is really a blend of what Giger does with what I wanted to do, which was to create something that was big and powerful and terrifying and fast and very female - hideous and beautiful at the same time, like a black widow spider." (quotes from Don Shay interview, Cinefex).

We (with Stan Winston) tried to be consistent with Giger's motifs, but not necessarily enslaved to it. (

The legendary creature that spawns the terror in the form of terrifying aliens, has last returned in 2004's Alien vs. Predator movie. But just like the Alien creature, the Queen was subjected to redesign by Amalgamated Dynamics (ADI), with the sexual undertones and disturbing peculiarity significantly reduced. The AVP Queen had a body redesign that resembled the regular ADI Alien's body. Here is a close look on the original Queen from 1986' ALIENS and 2004' AVP version.

The crown alone shows a massive redesign that is one of the three biggest and most recognizable changes. The surface and the designs on it are different. The AVP Queen features horns, with the basic shape of the crown slightly altered,  now having sharper edges and spikes..


The actual face was also slightly different because it was differently "wrinkled". 

The teeth of AVP Queen are much smaller, shorter and differently angled. ALIENS Queen had a long and skeletal teeth with a yellowish tint, matching the necronomical overtones in her design with both shape and color. The AVP Queen had shorter and crystal clear teeth

The neck is the second one of three biggest redesigns in the creature. ALIENS' Queen had a very thick, massive, ribbed neck that was basically a direct extension of her torso. The designs on its surface mirrored Giger's skeletal/necronomical designs mixed with biomechanicality, as it features metal parts. AVP's Queen has a  smaller and slimmer neck with different designs on it, eliminating the Giger-ish influence (The ribs and the mechanical parts of the neck) and replacing it with muscles and pieces of flesh. The shape changed into a humanoid type of a neck,  whereas the original had a neck that started out as thin at the base of the skull and kept getting larger as it was getting closer to the torso, eventually turning into and becoming it's integrated part.

Note that the AVP Queen's body has been completely redesigned and changed so it resembles a regular Alien's body. The entire torso and neck are redone from scratch and the shape and posture redone as well.  The original Queen had a bony armor that made her look like she's wearing a corset, suggesting feminism and sexuality. The AVP Queen clearly shows an attempt to look as close as possible to the warrior - not only does it takes a more humanoid shape and similar neck designs, but the her female shape is also diluted. The skeletal chest ribs were added, just like on a regular alien.

"[Cameron's] design had this waspish waist" - Paul Anderson (Empire mag)

The AVP Queen had the shoulder appendages that the ALIENS Queen didn't have. The kind of shoulder appendages that a regular alien creature has. Another example of AVP Queen's redesign leaning towards the regular warrior's.

Another difference is the placement of the primary shoulders. The bigger primary arms on the original design in ALIENS were not in the traditional humanoid placement, they are about one space back closer to the spine, as if a human would try to push their shoulder blades together or had someone on their back they were trying to shake off. They were basically growing out of her back. Because of the off placement, the Queen would seem more comfortable holding her primary arms up and away from her body, and this looked very alien. It also followed a logical biological designs since she had secondary set of arms, it's just natural that the primary arms will be further away. AVP changed that to the normal shoulder placement of a human, or any earth animal.

The secondary arms were also redesigned. The AVP Queen's little amrs have an extra finer

James Cameron designed the Queen in HR Giger's style. To create the creature that would obviously be from the same species, Cameron studied Giger's paintings. One of the most evident inspirations is the hand from the painting Alien Monster IV.

The hands in AVP eliminated Giger's influence and simplified the design. The surface designs were gone, just like the gaps. The fingers and the hand and arms got thicker and didn't consist of bones but flesh instead.

The sexual themes in ALIENS Queen are also present. Note the "high-heels" it has for feet  and the little arms - the breast substitutes - they're literally grabbing breasts. The long neck , the slender and extremely thin legs - she is an underlying statement, just like the Alien's design. AVP  removed  the "high-heel" protrusions on her legs. The AVP QUeen has a very reptillian, dinosaur-like feet

"[Cameron's] design had high heels. Here she's not wearing flatties, but they're not as pronounced. You know, she's fashionable, and big heels were only fashionable in the 80s!" - Paul Anderson (Empire mag)

The ALIENS Queen was standing horizontal, but she held her arms outward, due to the shoulder placement and her legs were constantly bend, making it look very spidery. AVP Queen, more streamlined , had a completely different way of movement and different posture, typical for the animals of her size.

ALIENS Queen moved in a very unnatural manner. She would move the same arm forward as the forward leg, opposite most earth animals, and would raise her legs extremely high waving her hands like a maniac in different directions.  She had this splayed leg walk that fitted well with an idea of a creature that spends all it's time hanging from the ceiling and it looked like it had real weight. Her legs have atrophied from lack of use. The original Queen looked like she could barely stand, as something that's spent most its life sitting down should.

The AVP Queen on the other hand had her feet in a straight line like a human being. She moved like a predatory dinosaur, and very fluid,  like a large animal would do - leaned forward with the tail holding the balance, arms (now placed like human arms) ready to grab. Her leg movement was linear. She moves like a hunter. Whether it's good or bad, it does change the character from a very inhuman and unnatural creature into a traditional large predator.

The AVP Queen is 20 feet high (although the CG version shows her even bigger) while the original Queen's height was 14 feet, double the size of a man. According to Alec Gillis, Paul Anderson wanted her bigger. He wanted her as big as he thought/imagined she was when he was young watching the movie. The AVP Queen was colossal. But the size of the Queen in ALIENS was carefully calculated, based on real biology and how much bigger queens are than the regular workers/warriors.

There are many other minor redesign changes on her body and the look and the surface of the ovipositor was changed as well.



By Adrian Czarny and Michael M. Rudolph