The Dragon was a lone Xenomorph Drone that was encountered by Ellen Ripley on Fiorina 161 and was responsible for single-handedly killing off nearly the entire occupants of the planet's correctional unit before finally being stopped by Ripley.
It's name was given by one of the correctional unit's inmate, Walter Golic, following his traumatic encounter with it.
Characteristics & Abilities
Unlike the human-spawned Xenomorphs, such as the Nostromo Alien and the Soldiers on Acheron, the Dragon's physical appearance drastically differs from the former and the latter. Created as a result of the embryo gestating within non-human hosts, the Dragon "inherited" aspects of its host's physiology through DNA Reflex. In it's Chestburster form, the Dragon is shown to be already in it's juvenile form upon birth, already possessing limbs to walk and crawl. The reason for this is never explicitly stated. However, in the assembly cut, where the Dragon 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.
Once the Dragon reaches adulthood, it's body has taken a quadrupedal posture, with digitigrade hind legs. In addition to lacking dorsal tubes, it also sports a tinted brownish-red colored skin and a more "flesh-like" design rather the "bio-mechanical tubes" design like it's Acheron siblings. While capable of standing and walking on their hind legs, the Dragon would often remain on it's quadrupedal stance when moving. It was capable of traversing floors, walls and ceilings at speed on all fours.
When compared to the Xenomorphs before it, the Dragon's intelligence is often debated. Rather than abduct and gather live hosts to herald the soon-to-be-birthed Queen, the Dragon displayed an aggressive behavior with it's tendency to kill its victims outright, sparing none, with exception of Ripley, who was spared twice due to the Queen embryo gestating within her (although it seemed to have decided to try and kill her during its last encounter with her). It's behavior was likely attributed due to the fact it's host (both theatrical and assembly cut) were animals, therefore influencing the creature's level of intelligence and instinctual behavior.
The "Dragon" was birthed from Spike, a prison dog that was impregnated by a facehugger. The creature violently emerged out of the dog, coincidentally during the funeral for Newt and Corporal Hicks, who were both killed when the escape pod crashed on Fiorina 161. The "Dragon" hid in the prison's air ducts until it's body was matured. Thomas Murphy, who was cleaning the air ducts, died when he wandered near it. Murphy heard noises coming from a hole in the wall, and went to investigate, believing it to be his dog, Spike. He soon realizes it is not his pet, but the juvenile alien. Before he could withdraw his head, the alien spat acid into his face. He stumbled backwards into a ventilation fan, shredding him instantly.
After the "Dragon" had molted and reached its mature state, it began a killing spree, killing prisoners Boggs and Rains. Golic, who witnessed the "Dragon" killing the inmates, became obsessed with the creature and dubbed it "Dragon". The Lurker then went into the prison's infirmary and killed Clemens, a medical officer. It then confronted Ellen Ripley but spared her, as it sensed the Queen chestburster within her. It later caused further pandemonium by killing warden Andrews in front of everyone in the mess hall. Due to the absence of weapons in the prison, Ripley rallied the inmates and formulated a plan to pour highly flammable toxic waste into the ventilation system and ignite it. However, the "Dragon" intervened, causing a massive explosion and resulting in several deaths.
The remaining survivors later form a plan to lure it into the foundry's molding facility and drown it in molten lead. The bait-and-chase style plan resulted in the death of nearly all the remaining prisoners, leaving only Ripley, Dillon and Morse still alive. Dillon nobly faces the "Dragon", hoping to stall it long enough for Ripley and Morse to pour the lead. After killing Dillon, the "Dragon" was drowned in molten lead. The "Dragon", now covered in molten metal, leaped from the extremely hot lead and attempted to kill Ripley, but was killed when she turned on the fire sprinklers. The rapidly fluctuating temperature of its carapace caused it to shatter via thermal shock.
Behind the Scenes
Concept and credit controversy
The Dragon first appeared in Alien³, the third entry of the Alien franchise. The original designer of the Xenomorph, H. R. Giger, was originally approached by David Fincher and Fred Zinnemann on July 28, 1990, and was asked to redesign his own creations for the film. 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 and Alec Gillis of Amalgamated Dynamics 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 stated,"David Fincher neglected to inform me that Woodruff and Gillis were also contracted to take care of the redesign of the Alien - I found out much later... I thought I had the job and that Woodruff and Gillis would work from my plans. On their side, they were convinced that it was their job and accepted my 'suggestions' with pleasure. They believed that all my effort was based on a huge love for the matter, because I worked hard even after my contract was over." 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 their behind-the-scenes documentary of Alien 3.
The Academy Awards overlooked Giger's contribution to Alien 3. However, Ridley Scott included Giger's name along with nominees Carlo Rambaldi and Richard Johnson in the 1980 Academy Awards. Fox, at the time Alien 3 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."