“By the way, it’s not in the goddamed cat and it’s not in Newt, either. I would never be that cruel.”
~ James Cameron, Starlog magazine, 1987.
Alien 3′s hypnagogic opening leaves the viewer with many questions, the foremost being the well-worn ‘how did the Alien egg get aboard the Sulaco?’ Another question, answered later in the film, is ‘who did it impregnate?’ For a time Ripley, and thus the audience, suspects that the creature is coiled within Newt; and at one point in the film’s production that theory was temporarily true.
One early draft by producers Walter Hill and David Giler, dated October 1990, definitively states that the stowaway facehugger seeks out Newt as its host:
As she sleeps.
From below her crypt a strange sucking sound.
Like a surgeon removing a rubber glove.
A shadow falls over Newt’s eyes.
Something is crawling onto her faceplate.
As their EEV sinks into Fiorina 161’s turbulent ocean Ripley awakens and glimpses Newt slowly drowning within her cryotube. Suddenly, a spew of slime erupts from the girl’s mouth and from her throat crawls:
A SMALL ALIEN
Slithers out of Newt’s mouth
Tiny forearms pushing at the sides of her stretched lips…
It struggles to free itself from Newt’s jerking and twisting carcass.
Tiny razor sharp teeth glint in the firelight.
As Newt’s face returns to normal, she smiles and…
Ripley can only scream.
Ripley falls unconscious, and dreams that the Alien has disarmed and trapped her. Sliding its tail between her legs, it spins her around and pushes her “down and across the sleep tube…” She wakes up to later discover that the Alien embryo invaded her body after abandoning its former host, and now the seed is maturing inside her.
The next draft, dated December 1990, includes an elliptical flash of the Sulaco’s med-scanners, which displays an image of a facehugger encasing Newt’s head. The next shot describes “marks on her face” and a look that “seems to say: Help me, Ripley.” Rex Pickett’s January 1991 draft also features this image, though both drafts omit the infant chestburster later crawling out of Newt’s mouth.
HR Giger drew some preliminary designs for the body-hopping Alien, envisioning it in his sketches as an ‘aquatic facehugger’ with webbed appendages (or ‘swim skin’) ostensibly purposed for gliding through the water – an aesthetic detail apparently carried on to the ‘super’ facehugger seen in the assembly cut.
The aquatic facehugger and escapee embryo, though both designed or conceptualised to an extent, were ultimately nixed after director David Fincher concluded that the overall effect had potential for unintended silliness.
“The original montage onboard the Sulaco was planned with a facehugger that was going to crawl out of Newt’s mouth,” Fincher explained. “I’d seen that effect in The Company of Wolves and it just always looks like a rubber casting of someone’s head with somebody else’s fist being forced through it. I just never thought it would work.”
The scene was eventually included in Dark Horse’s comic book adaptation of the film, depicting an oily black chestburster crawling from Newt’s mouth and slipping into the rising water…