The Chestburster appeared in 1992’s Alien 3 and differed significantly from what we had seen previously. In the theatrical version, it burst out of a dog but in the 2003 Assembly Cut, it burst from an ox. As a result, the creature took on characteristics of its host.
Unlike Chestbursters from human hosts, the Chestburster that emerged from the dog/ox on Fiorina 161 was not a snake-like creature but a smaller version of the creature it would become – with arms and legs and it walked on all fours like a dog.
Story (Theatrical Version)
About a week after Ripley, Newt and Hicks enter hypersleep in the Sulaco, the Queen laid one last egg before the battle with Ripley. The egg hatches and a Facehugger exits which is capable of laying two two embryos. It manages to infect Ripley in her stasis tube but in the chaos, it causes a fire in the Sulaco which causes the ship to eject the survivors in an E.E.V..
The E.E.V. crash lands on Fiorina “Fury” 161, which contains a maximum security prison inhabited by male prisoners. The Facehugger escapes and later infects Murphy’s dog, Spike. Later, the creature is seen bursting out of the dog and quickly grows into something bigger. The resulting creature is the Dog Alien.
The Chestburster was nicknamed Bambi Burster. While Amalgamated Dynamics, led by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, was hired to do the creature effects on Alien 3, H.R. Giger was initially asked to do some early designs of the creatures in Alien 3. He did an early concept of the Bambi Burster during pre-production. Director David Fincher really liked Giger’s design for it and Giger’s design became the blueprint for the creature they created in the film.
In the theatrical version of Alien 3, the creature emerges from a dog but in the Assembly Cut, it is an ox. The ox was originally shot first on the film. The crew designed the scenes, built the slaughterhouse set, sculpted the animatronic ox, constructed the Chestburster, and filmed all of the burster scenes.
In the scene where the alien is first born and runs away, David Fincher suggested using a whippet dressed in an alien costume. When they dressed up the dog, it never looked realistic so a puppet was chosen. A.D.I. made a full-scale puppet of the ‘Bambi Burster’ which was used in-camera. When the Bambi Burster runs away, multiple puppeteers operated the creature and the idea was they would be removed in post production. Due to the limitations of compositing, it was really difficult to remove the puppeteers from the shot. It also would have been too expensive so the ox scenes were dropped altogether.
Later, David Fincher felt the ox was a slow, non-threatening animal and it would have been more appropriate if the host was a dog. The host was then changed to a dog. A lot of the crew were disappointed as they felt a similar dog scene had been done in The Thing. Fox initially didn’t see the need for any new scenes and refused to sanction any money to shoot them. In early test screenings, there was no dog-burster sequence at all and the audience always questioned where the alien had come from. With two months to go until the film’s release, Fox finally agreed to a two-day shoot to film the burster coming out of the dog.
The ox scene was eventually added to the 2003 Assembly Cut. The scene was finished using digital effects by removing the puppeteers and adding new CGI of the Bambi Burster running away. The new effects were created by effects studio Encore Hollywood. The producer of the Alien Quadrilogy/Anthology, Charles De Lauzirika spoke to editor Terry Rawlings and visual effects producer Richard Edlund to ensure the newly completed shots matched their intentions when the film was originally made.