This article was originally published on VICE Canada.
In 1979 Ridley Scott redefined science fiction horror with Alien, the film that introduced audiences to the perfection that is the Xenomorph. An alien creature designed by the surrealist painter (and sex nightmare machine) H.R. Giger, the design has become one of the most iconic film monsters of all time and has inspired a generation of fans to devote their flesh to the seductive form that is the Xenomorph.
Every year, April 26 marks "Alien Day, a date chosen because in the original Alien film the characters land on planet LV 426. (Hey, it's better than May the Fourth.) Alien Day is when Alien fans to celebrate the massive fandom of the long-running science fiction franchise. With the upcoming release of Alien: Covenant on May 19, marking the proper return of original director Ridley Scott, we decided to celebrate the only way we know how—by finding the best Alien tattoos we could.
We managed to find an odd assortment of Alien tats that range from full busts of the creature to strange mashups with other types of fandom. And we asked people why people choose to make a lifelong commitment to the Xenomorph. Here's what they had to say.
Michael Heard, Aberdeen, Scotland
Why get a Xenomorph tattoo?
I theme all my tattoos to TV/movies. It's often said that people get tattoos of things or people who are influential in their lives and Aliens left a strong impression on me. I accidentally watched Aliens when I was seven and loved it immediately. I struggle to think of a better movie in terms of story, characters and writing.
You watched Aliens accidentally?
Oh my mother is somewhat "ditzy" at best and so we sat down one evening to watch what I expect she thought was just some made for tv sci fi movie but turned out to be Aliens. She didn't realize this until the very end, at which point it was too late. I was a changed man.
How did the tattoo come about?
I asked Lee Aitken at Rebel Studios in Aberdeen to create this piece because Alien left such a strong impression on me. I wanted something that was simplified down to its essence but still immediately recognisable. I decided to get something like this because the style was unique and almost tribal. It had a cave painting quality that I loved. It's not really anything like all the other Alien tattoos I saw.
Will, North Carolina
Why get an Alien tattoo?
I've always been a horror lover and especially found the Xenomorph terrifying. This killing machine that we can't understand at all and are barely more than a snack or an egg sack to. I wanted to get a tattoo for years and getting something as iconic and utterly awesome as the Xenomorph that would also remind me how small we are in the grand scheme of things. So I approached Craig Morrison from Valhalla Tattoo in Southern Pines, NC.
What was the moment where you realized the awesomeness of the Xenomorph?
Probably [in the first film] when the big chap first appears to make a snack of Samuel Brett [Harry Dean Stanton]. The buildup to that moment is so tense and makes me nervous to this day even though I've seen the movie over a dozen times.
Why do you love Alien?
I'm really fascinated by hive-mind type creatures and I tend to think this kind of creepy-crawly is ridiculously cute, so the Alien movies are pretty much perfect. Secretly, I really want to be Alien: Resurrection Ripley, sinking into a pit of slimy, hissy monsters that love and obey me.
So Sigourney Weaver's Ripley was the draw?
Of course, Ripley being such a badass woman is a big part of it, too. She's an inspiration. She's not fearless, she's not genius-level smart or superhero strong—she's kind, and she's brave, and she has the iron will necessary to stand between a giant alien monster and a child she barely knows, and say, "Get away from her, you bitch."
And that inspired you to get the tattoo?
I wanted my back done, and I thought with that much real estate, I ought to get something really beautiful and I knew Famous Gabe would do an amazing job. He finished the tattoo over a year ago, and it still looks great.
Why a full back piece?
Why not? I already had quite a few tattoos, and I've gotten more since. It was definitely a commitment, since it ended up being around 20-23 hours over the course of eight or nine sessions, but tattoos are awesome, so I stuck it out.
Matthew Yatsyla, New York
What's your connection to the Alien movies?
I saw Alien when I was six and it scared the hell out of me. I had nightmares for weeks, but when Aliens came out on HBO, I had to watch it, and record it on VHS. I watched that movie constantly, even though I had nightmares about it almost every night. I even slept with a toy gun in my bed even. As I got older I noticed how my Alien dreams would pop up at times, usually when I was under stress. I also noticed that it wasn't always the Alien against me, sometimes I was working with it, especially as I took control of aspects of my life and became more self-reliant.
And you decided to embrace that nightmare?
I came to the understanding that everything that scares me isn't a negative. It means that there is something I need to overcome and I know that I can do it. I've run Tough Mudders, completed OCR races, finished a half marathon, became a parent, dealt with surgeries, and defeated them all.
Why do you call it the Zen-O-Morph?
To me [this tattoo] means making peace with my fears, and knowing they are part of me that I can work with, not something I must get rid of. I've learned that taking a moment to take a breath and think before panicking is much more beneficial to my overall health. So I approached Mish, from Wyld Chyld Tattoo in Merrick, NY and the rest is history.
Matt Zabati, New Jersey
Why mashup Terminator and Alien?
My grandfather had a lot of VHS tapes with movies that he recorded onto them and he kept a little notebook with every movie he had recorded. He would let me "rent" out a VHS whenever I wanted but only one at a time. I would go back and forth between Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. I watched them on repeat when I was a kid. I actually never saw Alien or The Terminator until much later. I grew up on their sequels. To this day, Aliens and T2 are my favourite movies of all time. It also gives me a great memory of my grandfather and how happy he would be to see me wanting another video. He died last year at the age of 96.
I know I will always be a cinephile as I get older and I plan on sharing those same movies with my kids as they grow up. I've had the idea of the tattoo over the past five years or so but couldn't afford to get it until last year. The original idea was a terminator hand holding a Xenomorph head but the scale on that would have been too large. That's why I went with the chestburster, it's just the right size for a terminator to grasp it.
So you'd love to see a Terminator/Alien mashup movie?
I've always wanted a war between the two franchises.
Are you pumped for Alien: Covenant ?
It's my most anticipated movie this year. I was a fan of Prometheus so I'm excited to see where this film is going next. I haven't seen any of the footage from it or even know much about the plot. I don't watch movie trailers anymore, it makes the movie experience so much better. All I know is that it's an Alien film so I really want to see it. I'm actually going to be on my honeymoon when Covenant is released. I'm going to try and sneak away one night so I can see it!