Alien Movie Universe

Neomorph CGI vs The Pale Man costume
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ModeratorPraetorianFeb-23-2018 4:21 PM

Alien Covenant: Budget US $97 million (2017)

Pan's Labyrinth: Budget US $19 Million (2006)

Neomorph's have little to no fear factor because they are an obvious CGI creature....and barely textured. The impact is gone because the creature is an illusion.

The Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth on the other hand. Similar design and motive. Infinitely more threatening and fearsome because it looks real... because it is a real costume with admirable thought put into its design.

Imagine how much more threatening the Neomorphs would be with practical effects...or some effort put into the textures. 

Don't get me wrong, Im not picking on the Neomorphs, in fact I have stated many times on here how great an addition they are to the Alien franchise....a new kind of threat that compliments the Xenomorph! It just disappointed me how half-arsed they looked on screen. That CGI when it bites Rosenthal....

Is it the CGI or is it just Guillermo del Toros vision that is the difference? Ridley Scott ultimately gave us the Xenomorph, one of the most fearsome movie monster in cinema history and that is undeniable! But is there something more the Alien universe needs?

You have to admit the Pale Man has definite shades of Giger, minus the biomechanical aspect. Like Gigers Necronom is a perversion of sex, The Pale Man has been depicted as a perversion of Stigmata, fascism and religion.

Have a look at this fan cut video of The Pale Man with a Tool song (46 & 2) as the soundtrack.


15 Replies


MemberDeaconFeb-23-2018 4:29 PM

I think it depends with Budget and who is making the effects...

CGI when done well can look the Part....

Practical Effects when not done well can look Tacky....

I feel Alien Covenant, both Practical Designs and CGI seemed lacking, especially the Adult Neomorph and Xenomorph in Certain Shots...

The Egg and Face Hugger you could not really Fault.

But indeed Very well done Practical Effects, Outshine all but the very BEST CGI i think a lot depends on what the Object/Prop is as CGI is better in some instances, but sometimes creating realistic looking Organics, then VERY WELL done Practical Effects still look best.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


ModeratorPraetorianFeb-23-2018 4:52 PM

Great points BigDave! You are right, there are some good CGI parts in Covenant, and there have been shockers of costumes in the past too! 


MemberTrilobiteFeb-23-2018 5:42 PM

It's ok to hate on the adult neomorph- I didn't like it at all. The idea was good but the execution was meh imo.

As for accounting for the budgets and the release years, I will speculate a couple things. Maybe for PL software and people who knew how to use it were too expensive or unavailable? Maybe the special effects team was young, hungry and wanted to prove something? Those independent films can really pull out the stops it seems and I think PL was an indie movie?

For AC, maybe the team said things would be fixed but they ran out of time/funds? IDK how much of their budget was allocated for CGI.

Just some unsubstantiated thoughts lol.


ModeratorPraetorianFeb-23-2018 6:22 PM

After watching the 46 & 2 clip I went and re-watched Pan's Labyrinth (happened to be on Netflix!) and now have a much greater respect and admiration for that scene. Maybe its the music but The Pale Man is such a menacing and damn creepy baddy..

Agreed dk. The juvenile Neo looks great, but by the time its gets to the adult form (Rosenthal and Oram scenes) it just looks bland, half-arsed and not menacing at all.

Pixellated teeth really kill the mood lol 

Kudos Del Toro!


ModeratorPraetorianFeb-23-2018 9:21 PM

For AC, maybe the team said things would be fixed but they ran out of time/funds? IDK how much of their budget was allocated for CGI.

dk I choose to believe this is the case!

From the articles and comments we have seen and heard from the various artist that worked on Covenant (Hallett, Hailstone etc) all seemed, passionate, hungry and truly invested in both the Alien Franchise and working with Ridley Scott.


MemberFacehuggerFeb-24-2018 5:11 AM

I hate CGI with a passion. 

Dark Nebula

StaffXenomorphFeb-24-2018 5:18 AM

I thought the adult Neomorph looked fine. Its just those beasts are agile and move too fast.

They did use props and actors in suits on set because Ridley wanted the actors to interact with something and not to scream and run away from nothing. AC's practical effects were pretty good for the most part.

I already uploaded some AC props on this topic here.


As BigDave said, it depends on Budget and who is making the effects.

Lots of expensive Marvel MCU movies have great CGI effects incorporated, but in Black Panther (Budget $200 million), there are lots of cringe-worthy ones.

Just take a look at this fight scene

"We all have our time machines, don't we. Those that take us back are memories...And those that carry us forward, are dreams."


ModeratorPraetorianFeb-24-2018 12:47 PM

Dark Nebula you bring up a really great point! 

I remember awhile back we were sharing and comparing Alien Covenant gifs on various threads, and it was amazing the detail in some of the scenes that unless you watch the film in slow-mo you never get more than a split second to fully appreciate.


Is that a time-constraint run-time thing, being cheap on the cgi by having hi-res renders but only over a second or two. Or does it come back to FOX trying to jam as much as possible into the film to appease as wide an audience as possible forcing Ridley to compromise on quality scenes?

Credit where Credit is due, there are stunning cgi scenes in Covenant. There is just no time on screen to appreciate it.


But my point is, The xenomorph and adult Neomorph never looked real 

All fear is lost in the film because they are obvious cgi construct and it allows you to take a step back from fearing it, because it is fake. The Pale man, Big Chap and the Xeno's from Aliens looked real which made them all the more frightening, because it could be a real thing.

Alien 3 is good example. Where a real costume/animatronic puppet was used the Runner looked friggin real and scary. Those were the best scenes in Alien 3. Where cgi was used for the runner there was little fear factor because (especially due to the poor cgi) it didn't look like it belonged in the scene.

It broke the illusion of reality  

Dark Nebula

StaffXenomorphFeb-24-2018 3:36 PM

I think the thing is, the xenomorph isn't that scary nowadays. When it first came out it terrified the audiences. Today, everyone knows how the xenomorph looks like. Neomorph is terrifying than the Xeno in my opinion.
While making the first Alien film Ridley felt that they could never shake off the problem that faced many horror films prior due to the limits of the technology at the time. And that was "the man in a rubber suit" issue. That's why they shot the alien in dark/shadow and barely gave the audience the clear shot of it.
Obviously, there are lots of great scenes with the big chap, to me, there are some that just make me think "Yep, that's a guy in a suit who can barely see shit where he's walking"

Alien vs predator requiem tried the same thing by showing the creatures in shadows and dark areas, but that only got the fans complaining that they couldn't see shit.
Same thing with Jaws. While making of it Steven Spielberg thought that the shark prop looked silly and not real enough so he didn't want to show it too much, and that gave the film tension (especially that score). But we all know how the sharks look like.

"We all have our time machines, don't we. Those that take us back are memories...And those that carry us forward, are dreams."


ModeratorPraetorianFeb-24-2018 4:08 PM

I admit I LOL'd at that Godzilla meme haha


ModeratorPraetorianFeb-24-2018 5:02 PM

Perhaps again we come back to context. Alien: Isolation showed the Xenomorph is still scary AF. Some of the newer novels are full of good suspense, "Out of the Shadows" in Particular. Sea of sorrows and River of pain not so much.

My thought is perhaps it is because they keep giving the Xenomorph a motive and agenda. Alien was scary because

a. we didn't know what the hell this thing was; or was capable of

b. what was it doing, and what would it do next

The first point is established, we know what it is and how it works, that we cant change (too much).

Alien Covenant, AVP and AVPR all made the xenomorph an aggressive killer - a hunter we can understand. It will chase you down and kill you.

The original concept with the Big Chap was that after it was born and matured, it captured Brett and Dallas as propagators/hosts for the next generation, emotionlessly removed the remaining threats, then was to curl up and die - its role complete. That is a weird concept to us because we dont live that way. Throw in eggmorphing and you have a creepy and eerie premise. 

I think we can all agree that the third act in Covenant was a total let down because it was way too fast and rushed. We know the typical Xenomorph life-cycle has a series of steps that need to occur over a period time under certain conditions. It is however a sequence we all know too well and the temptation is to brush over it like Covenant, AVP and AVPR did - to not bore the audience and save on run-time. But the fear is in the drama surrounding those steps, it is an inevitable conclusion and catalytic event that has to happen.

Much like Godzilla, and Kong for that matter.

Slow it down, build the suspense, remove the obvious hunter-killer agenda and add some relatable characters and the beast can still be feared.

Sorry, I needed a good rant. Now, back to the shadows...


MemberTrilobiteFeb-24-2018 8:34 PM

IRaptus Those gifs look really good but the adult neomorph wasn't nearly as good and I just didn't care for its overall look. I agree that the really good visuals were too brief to be able to take it all in. 


MemberNeomorphFeb-25-2018 3:46 AM

say what u will about cgi, but a guy in a rubber suit almost 40 years ago is still the best looking and scariest beast in the history of the franchise


ModeratorPraetorianFeb-26-2018 10:39 PM

This video below sums up the whole CGI v practical FX perfectly!

In a nutshell CGI is used best to compliment scenes, and is typically not suited for use on main antagonists/creature features



MemberTrilobiteFeb-26-2018 11:01 PM

Fortunately for those comically bad movies with bad effects and story, we have MST3K to make things enjoyable.

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