A Hammerpede is an Alien creature created in the Alien Temple on LV223. This creature mutated from a worm like animal indigenous to LV223 and black liquid held in urns, the creature developed extremely quickly with the capability of regrowing body parts also as quickly.
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Long muscular body with acid for blood.
Once Prometheus' crew entered the Temple and then the Ampule Room they altered the air composition and this effected the black liquid held in the urns causing it to overflow and react with anything organic, accelerating it's growth and producing from one of the indigenous species a Hammerpede.
As Millburn and Fifield returned into the Ampule Room, a creature interested Millburn, who neared and as he did it wrapped itself around his arm. Fifield intervened decapitating it, this caused it's 'acid blood' to spray on his helmet causing a mutation in him. The Alien regrew it's decapitated head and entered Millburn's space suit, killing him instantly.
A Hammerpede only appears in the Alien Temple on LV223 in the film Prometheus. Once Prometheus' crew return searching for Fifield and Millburn they find Millburn's dead body and a Hammerpede which scuttles away into the dark.
Concept art for the Hammerpede was produced by Martin Rezard which was a variation of Carlos Huante ideas, these were to be a precursor of the Facehugger creature with a centipede-esque configuration complete with numerous fingers, in other designs the creature became more worm-like which was then the way the creature evolved.
As with the other characters and creature effects were built practically by Neal Scanlan's Studio, with a digital counterpart provided in CGI by MPC. The creature was sculpted by Waldo Mason and Martin Rezard, the creature had several layers ranging from the external skin of clear translucent silicon to the internal organs and muscles. Each layer was sculpted and moulded separately and then assembled, the final model included mechanical features by Jim Sandys and Steve Wright.
A total of 15 models of the Hammerpede were built, each with different poses. They included a cable controlled model with full head movement, a puppet that could wrap around Millburn’s arm and another that could snap a prosthetic arm. The puppets featured cable operated understructures, composed of several vertebrae-like segments allowing fluid movements.
The Hammerpede was a collaboration between practical creature FX and VFX. Neal Scanlan created an animatronic Hammerpede which had a lot of control but was somewhat limited for extreme animations. The challenge was to seamlessly intercut between animatronic and CGI. From Ridley’s story boards a careful plan was hatched as to which shots would be CGI and which could be practical. On the day of filming, Ridley got the team to do a practical version of each shot, with the team demonstrating with a model how the creature would interact and be controlled.
MPC then worked on the shots were it's head unravels, then wraps around and breaks Millburn's arm, regrowing of it's head and the internal helmet shots. The rig was based on a snake skeleton which was built for some other shows but needed to be extendable and have specific muscle controls across the body. While inside the helmet the creature needed to be squashed against the glass and a slime trail was added with the animation.
A specialized Hammerpede model was used to wrap around the actor’s arm and puppeteered by Ridley Scott himself off screen. MPC also added muscular flexion as the creature constricted its coils around Milburn’s arm, then the broken arm was achieved with a prosthetic mechanical arm mounted on Rafe Spall’s shoulder and another specialized Hammerpede puppet. When Fifield tries to behead the creature, its head instantly regenerates, a radio-controlled Hammerpede head and neck section was used, in combination with a CGI regrowing head. The creature then proceeds to enter inside Milburn’s suit and brutally infiltrate inside his mouth, much like a Facehugger’s proboscis.
MPC visual effects built a practical Hammerpede with an inside muscle layer and a second silicon layer to get a translucent skin look, they scanned both layers and generated a displacement map for the muscle texture, rebuilding it in CGI with the two layer system and had all the light scattering based on the prosthetic.
The internal helmet shots required very accurate match move and roto animation. The other big challenge for MPC was the need to perfectly match the look of the animatronic. The creature was built to mimic the translucent surface of the practical, bringing the animatronic into the office and breaking down how it was built showing that there was an inner sculpted muscle layer covered with a silicon translucent skin. They copied this two layer approach exactly in the 3D model and lit it simulating the scattering of light though various thicknesses of outer skin.
Deleted scenes showed Janek collect much larger worms than appeared in the film, scenes included in the Blu-ray edition but ultimately not included in the film.