The Surprising Way They Created The Aliens' Voices In District 9

Over 12 years after its release, Neill Blomkamp's "District 9" continues to hold up as one of the greatest science fiction films of the 2000s — due in no small part to the film's iconic (and remarkably relatable) extraterrestrials.The film follows a group of aliens (known colloquially as "Prawns") who arrive on Earth in 1982 and are relocated to an internment camp named District 9.

The events of the film are based on the real-life relocation of residents in Cape Town, South Africa, during the Apartheid period, and the film blends sci-fi action with a powerful story that explores xenophobia, racism, and segregation. "District 9" manages to capture an incredibly human story despite how inhuman and insect-like the Prawns are, and it's a testament to Blomkamp's directing that we're able to connect with characters that look so utterly alien. 

Even the Prawns' voices are distinctly otherworldly: a guttural mix of clicks and strange vowel sounds that makes it clear they are not from this planet. The alien speech in "District 9" is undoubtedly strange a​​nd extraterrestrial, and it may surprise some fans to learn about the relatively simple method that the filmmakers used to make the Prawns' voices so iconic.

The special effects team used vegetables to create the Prawns' voices

During a 2009 interview with "DP/30: Conversations About Movies," Blomkamp revealed that the special effects team actually rubbed vegetables to create the aliens' distinctive voices. Blomkamp explained that they primarily used pumpkins and would rub their hands across the pumpkins to create the strange "vibration" that you hear whenever the aliens are speaking. Blomkamp laughingly admitted that they actually used multiple different vegetables to get the voices just right, not just pumpkins, and that the "clicking" within their voices also came from their experimentation with vegetables.

Rubbing a pumpkin (or indeed, rubbing any sort of vegetable) in order to create an alien's voice is certainly a unique method of sound design — though in the end, the effect is undeniably successful. No matter how absurd the process of creating the Prawns' voices may have been, the fact that the audience is able to connect with them on such a personal level is a testament to just how much hard work the special effects department put into the production of "District 9."