Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion [Francis Bacon]

Margaret Thatcher called him "that man who paints those dreadful pictures"

Tate Britain

The oldest of the four Tate siblings

Rivaat Zarlif

Contributor

Maybe it's a drug flashback but I believe this Francis Bacon creature must have been the inspiration for one of the greatest horror/sci-fi movies of all time.

I saw the movie Alien when it came out in 1979. A mate and I unwisely finished some medical marijuana for our "condition" and figured that sitting in the front row would make the whole thing more real. When the chest burster, or face hugger, which ever, tore through a crew member’s ribs I jumped straight up like a terrified cat, then made myself as small as possible in the smelly fabric of the seat. Thirty years later, I may have overcome the shock. It’s not clear. When I saw that ugly little bastard again, in the safety of my own living room and on a small screen across the room, I still thought, "Who on earth could imagine such a horror?"

Sick puppy Francis Bacon is my answer. He made the original chest buster in 1944, in studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. It took about 30 years to get the horror right. Many years later, H.R. Giger nailed it by bringing the little sucker into three-dimensional life.

Why?! Because, Giger explains, nothing terrifies us more than slimy living things entering our bodies, growing inside, and then making a bloody surprise appearance. It’s like the stories we heard as kids, of bugs laying eggs in one’s ears and then hatching under our skin and crawling out of your neck in a river of puss.Painting or film, the whole business remains refreshingly horrible...