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I just finished watching District 9 and was quite impressed with the way the alien language had been developed. So it got me thinking about alien / monster language design in film. Other favourites of mine are the Predator clicks and Wall-E.

So what are some of your favourite Alien / Monster vocalisations in film?

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14 Answers 14

No list would be complete without Chewbacca and the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. I also liked the language in District 9. Ultimately I'm impressed by any language design work that sounds organic but otherworldly.

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district 9 easily jumps to the top of my list. (57 seconds in)


how to train your dragon was loaded up with tons of cool sounds


Lord of the rings Balrog (made with concrete and wood!)


also the mouth of sauron was fun.


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A few unmentioned ones come to mind:

  • Pixar's "Brave" -- the work with Bear vocals is very impressive and incredibly expressive.
  • R2D2 -- we cannot forget the emotive beeps and whirrs

And an honorable mention for "The Lost Thing", an incredible animation film. I first discovered it when did a segment on the sound design. The soundscape of the mechanical characters, features, and settings in the film deserves to be called it's own language.


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I totally agree with you about Brave. Amazing bear vocals. – Dan2997 Sep 28 '12 at 1:51

I like the voice of the little transformer that hacks into the airplane's network on the first movie. It's kind of an evil funny machine!

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I quite liked the noises from the alien in Super 8, I remember they did this breathing thing that matched the flapping of his lips really well.

Also those things in the tunnel in the film Cloverfield made an almost comical but creepy sound that I liked.

Also! I'm always impressed how some sci'fi's go to the lengths of actually inventing an entire language, e.g. Klingon or the Na'vi from Avatar (which btw totally ripped off the storyline from Dances With Wolves ;) )

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I've always thought Avatar was more "Pocahontas in Space" ;-P – Skarik Sep 13 '12 at 14:43

What about Wall-E? I personally did not like the film much, but my kids love mimicking the voices which has got to be the ultimate achievement when designing vocalisations.

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I had a professor who said (regarding mixing music): "If you get them to dance, you've done your job." If kids like it, it's gotta be good right?? – Matt Glenn Sep 13 '12 at 21:10

I personally love the monsters/mutants in "I am Legend". With the quiet backgrounds they stand out well and offer a new dimension to the danger of a post-apocalyptic world.

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I love that Mike Patton did the source material for that! – Filipe Chagas Sep 26 '12 at 23:11

My favorite alien vocalisation is probably "poggle" the insect king in attack of the clones. Talent listened to lines in reverse, imitated what was playing backwards in Real time then reversed that recording and added African type clicks and pops to the dialogue. It almost sounds like its been through kyma.. But I don't think so.

Can't find a good Clip

share|improve this answer 44 seconds in. – Matt Glenn Sep 13 '12 at 21:15
Yes! Thank you,cool video – SonicDesigns Sep 13 '12 at 23:48

Jabba the Hutt and his 8D8 smelter droid in the torture chamber (Return of the Jedi).

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I think Wall-E and R2D2 are pretty much the best ones out there.

Although I think my favourite has to be the machines from War of the Worlds, such a huge sound.

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1) Alien and Aliens - the breathing/hissing/drawing in of air in conjunction of the liquids running around and over mouth - also the organic folding/stretching heard when the eggs open.

2) The Thing (1982) - especially the CPR scene when the chest opens up, arms are swallowed, and oh-my-lord... I am a small child watching it in the theater and the sound of the head detaching and crawling away...

3) Many great examples above - notably from Pixar and/or Ben Burtt; Chewbacca and R2D2 a model (in the original trilogy) as the vocalizations sat perfectly in the dialogue mix and overall soundtrack. Chewbacca seems to actually be making the sounds with his throat and mouth.

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It was mentioned above, but here are the videos from Cloverfield:



second video 01:23

I remember how I was squashed in a theater at that moment.

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Although Ben Burtt may be the greatest sound designer in History, I never really liked the sound of Wall-E's voice as much as everyone else seems to, i much preferred the sound of Eve.

By far my favourite monster vocals are from Jurassic Park, which i think were created by Gary Rydstrom. They are really believable to me and scary (at least they were scary when i watched it for the 1st time as a 10 year old).

The T Rex sounds humongous and powerful, and the velociraptors sound articulate, dangerous, and sometimes bizarre!

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Although I don't think the sound matched the character, I was really intrigued and excited by the content that made up the sound of the smoke monster from LOST. The first time hearing it's call while it moved through the trees in the distance made my imagination explode with questions and theories about what could possibly be making that sound.

However, I'm going to agree with @FFRmusic that the best Alien sound is the tripod sound from War of The Worlds. It really plays with the primal instinct of survival- scary animal sound that evolves into an almost calming, musical tone that for a moment is comforting until it ends in a way that lets us know "No, this isn't music, and it's not something of this world. It's nothing we've heard before but it sounds huge and dangerous." Even after the first time hearing it and knowing what made the sound, my perception was and continues to be manipulated from comfort to fear. Well done Mr. King and team.

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