The Runner, also known as the Dog Alien or Ox Alien, is an adult form of the species Xenomorph XX121 spawned from a quadrupedal host animal (such as a dog). Runners, as their name implies, are fast and agile, and can spit acid from their mouths. Runners have variously been portrayed as being slightly larger and slightly smaller than typical human-spawned Aliens, differences that no doubt derive from the animal that hosted the creature. However, the Runner in Alien3 is around 7 feet 5 inches tall when standing on its hind legs.
The Runner was first introduced in Alien3 as the main antagonist of the film. It has subsequently appeared in many video games and other expanded universe media.
Runners are physically quite different to human-spawned Xenomorphs due to the species' tendency to "inherit" aspects of its host's physiology through the DNA Reflex. In the case of the Runner, the adult has most notably taken on its host's quadruped posture, with digitigrade hind legs. Like Drones, Runners have smooth domed carapaces, and they are also one of the few Xenomorphs not to have the distinctive dorsal tubes typical of many other castes. They also have a more barrel-shaped chest, similar to many quadrupedal animals. Their skin is tinted brownish-red as opposed to the more usual grey-black.
While capable of standing and walking on their hind legs, Runners typically remain in their quadrupedal stance when moving and this makes them among the fastest Xenomorphs. They are equally capable of traversing floors, walls and ceilings at speed on all fours. However, physically Runners are not as tough as Warriors or Drones, relying on their speed and agility to outmaneuver threats rather than strength to overcome them. A Runner also tends to use its tail attack (which stuns the victim) more often than the Drone. They can also run into prey with crushing speed and weight.
Unlike other Chestbursters, in Alien3 the Runner is shown to be born fully formed and only needs to grow larger. Why this is so is never explicitly stated. However, in the Special Edition, where the Alien is spawned from an ox, it is hinted that this could be a result of the Chestburster being unable to escape its host's chest cavity at the typical interval (likely due to its higher structural rigidity), as the ox dies some time before the Chestburster hatches. Furthermore, the Special Edition Chestburster is considerably larger than a typical specimen when it finally emerges from the corpse, indicating it had already begun maturing within.
Runners, being generally fewer in number than other Xenomorph types, utilize stealth in their attacks, and have been known to take advantage of their ability to spit acid some distance, often hanging back from targets and striking from range, perhaps behind the cover of assaulting Warriors, Runners will often wait until their prey is alone before ambushing them, although they have been known to strike at members of larger groups if an opportune target presents itself.
The intelligence of Runners is often debated. On Fiorina 161, instead of gathering live hosts for the soon-to-be-birthed Queen, a Runner displayed a tendency to kill its victims outright, sparing none (with the exception of Ripley, who was carrying a Queen embryo). It has therefore been theorized that Xenomorphs gain intellectual/mental as well as physical traits from their host, and that this may influence the adult creature's level of intelligence and instinctual behavior. However, it is also possible the Runner was simply reducing the size of the human population in order to guarantee the young Queen's safety.
Behind the Scenes
As mentioned previously, there is much debate as to the Runner's intellect, given that in Alien3 it seems to kill all of its victims rather than capture them to be hosts for more Xenomorphs. In reality, the plan was originally for the Runner to convert the prison's assembly hall into a Hive where Dillon and Morse would discover several of the creature's victims, including Superintendent Andrews, cocooned and still alive, presumably ready for the Queen to impregnate when she began laying Eggs. The sequence was conceived as an homage to a similar scene cut from Alien where Ripley discovers Dallas and Brett cocooned in the Nostromo's hold (later reinstated in the Director's Cut). However, this entire sequence was cut before it was filmed, although at least two of the cocoons were partially constructed.
Concept and credit controversy
Originally, H. R. Giger was approached on July 28, 1990 by David Fincher and Tim Zinnemann, and was asked to redesign his own creations for Alien3. Giger's new designs included an aquatic Facehugger and a four-legged version of the adult Alien. Giger said in an interview; "I had special ideas to make it more interesting. I designed a new creature, which was much more elegant and beastly, compared to my original. It was a four-legged Alien, more like a lethal feline - a panther or something. It had a kind of skin that was built up from other creatures - much like a symbiosis". However, when Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis of Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (ADI) told Giger that they had their own design, Giger expressed himself as "very upset" and that the creature he had especially designed was his "baby". Even after the production severed contact, Giger continued to fax suggestions to Fincher because of his enthusiasm for the project, and made full-scale drawings and a sculpt of the Alien, all of which were rejected.
Giger would later be angered by the end credits of the released film presenting him as merely the creator of the original creature, and the fact that ADI personnel gave a series of interviews that minimized Giger's contribution. Fox eventually reimbursed Giger, but only after he refused to be interviewed for the Wreckage and Rage behind the scenes documentary on Alien3.
The Academy Awards overlooked Giger's contribution to Alien3. However, Ridley Scott included Giger's name along with nominees Carlo Rambaldi and Richard Johnson. Fox, at the time Alien3 was released, pointed out that studios are precluded from submitting nominees in the effects category directly to the Academy. This upset Giger so much that at one point he sent Academy president Karl Malden a fax with this closing comment: "I am under the strong impression that my contribution to the visual effects of the nominated movie has been intentionally suppressed", signing the letter with a large black pentagram.
Giger however would comment that he thought the resulting film was "okay" and that the Alien was "better than in the second film."
- While Alien3 was the first film to show a Xenomorph adopting different characteristics dependent on its host, the concept had actually existed since the making of Alien.
- In Aliens versus Predator: Extinction, Runners spawn from a Kurn or Kriltic; while the Kurn is a quadruped with an arguably dog-like physiology, the Kriltic is not, and resembles a giant scorpion in appearance. Therefore, it seems strange that an essentially identical Xenomorph would emerge from both.
- It is unclear why the Runners seen in Alien3 and elsewhere are so fully formed at birth (with well-developed arms and legs), despite only being a Chestburster at the time.
- In the novelization of Alien3, Ripley refers to the Runner variously as a Worker as well as a Warrior.
- Alien3 (1992 video game)
- Alien3 (1993 Game Boy game)
- Alien3 (1993 SNES game)
- Alien3: The Gun
- Alien Trilogy (video game)
- Aliens versus Predator 2
- Aliens versus Predator: Extinction
- Aliens vs. Predator (video game, as "Jungle Alien")
- AVP: Evolution
- Crusher — Another quadrupedal Xenomorph.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Vincent Ward (writer), David Fincher (director). Alien3 (1992), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Aliens versus Predator 2 Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- ↑ Vincent Ward (writer), David Fincher (director). Alien3 Special Edition (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- ↑ Aliens vs. Predator (2010), Rebellion, SEGA [Microsoft Windows].
- ↑ S. D. Perry. Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, p. 25 (2014), Insight Editions.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "Weyland-Yutani Archives - Alien 3: The Cocoon Sequence". Retrieved on 2013-04-18.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 David Giler, Walter Hill, H. R. Giger. Wreckage and Rage: Making Alien3 (2010), 20th Century Fox [Blu-ray].
- ↑ "The Official Website". HR Giger. Retrieved on 2009-03-02.
- ↑ Richard Meyers. The Officially Authorized Magazine of the Movie Alien, p. 53 (1979), Warren Publishing.