|John Carpenter Director||previously directed Escape from New York|
A shape-shifting alien terrorizes a group of scientists in the Antarctic, forcing them into a paranoid state when they realize it could be any one of them. With seemingly no chance of escape and from fear of letting The Thing spread, none of them can leave the remote station.
The Thing is a remake of the 1951 film "The Thing from Another World," based on the novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell Jr.5 More Trivia
The logo during the opening credits is done the exact same way.
14 More Quotes
You guys gonna listen to Garry? You gonna let him give the orders? I mean, he could BE one of those things!
|John W. Campbell Jr.|
|Kurt Russell||R.J. MacReady|
|Donald Moffat||Lt. Garry|
|Thomas G. Waites||Windows|
|Peter Maloney||George Bennings|
|Charles Hallahan||Vance Norris|
|See Full Credits|
The Thing is a science fiction horror movie directed by John Carpenter, that tells the story of a group of scientists trapped in a remote research station whilst a shape shifting alien tries to kill them all. The film is a remake of the earlier 1951 movie by the same name, which in turn was loosely based upon a novella by author John W. Campbell Jr. entitled Who Goes There?. At the time of its release, the film was widely criticized for its repulsive imagery and lost money at the box office. Since then, it has gone on to become a cult hit and is arguably John Carpenter's most well-known film.
The crew of a research station in Antarctica intervene when a group of Norwegians try to kill a dog, first by attempting to shoot at if from their helicopter and then by landing and trying to blow it up with a grenade. They fail and are killed by a miss-thrown grenade, blowing up their helicopter in the process, leaving the confused crew to take the surviving dog into their station while they try and figure out what happened.
Unsure of the reason of the attack and their radio still unable to reach someone, two of them decide to take a trip to the Norwegian camp to see if they can discover what went wrong. There they discover that the Norwegians are all either dead or missing. At least one had committed suicide, slicing his neck with a razor-blade. Amongst the logs and research data which they are unable to interpret, they discover a huge chunk of ice that has had something cut out of it.
Outside the camp, they discover a burnt body that is horribly disfigured as if it had split in half and continued to grow that way. When they take it back to their camp, an autopsy is performed and they discover that whilst on the outside it barely resembles the physiology of a human, its interior contains a completely healthy and normal set of human organs.
Later that night, after the surviving dog has been locked up with the other dogs, one of the crew is alerted by the sound of panicked howling and barking. When he gets to the kennels, he sees that the new dog is grotesquely morphing into something else, it veins shooting out and killing the dogs around it. The rest of the station's crew is alerted, and they seemingly manage to kill the creature by incinerating it with a flame thrower.
When another autopsy is performed, they discover that the horrible creature was trying to morph into something else, deducing that not only can the creature transform into other things but it could also be in the form of any of them and they wouldn't know. Unable to escape the confines of the station through fear of spreading The Thing like a virus, the crew of the station begin to turn on each other, suspecting that they are not who they say they are.
John Carpenter was first introduced to the story of The Thing when he saw a release of the original movie as a child and was truly scared. Although he continued to think the film was good, he was disappointed when he read Who Goes There?, the original novella that it was based upon, and found that the film had removed many of the psychological elements that were present in the story. Carpenter decided that he wanted to remake the The Thing but in reality he made a very different film that was much more closer to the novella than the original film had been. Whilst there were a few existing scripts, even one written by Tobe Hooper, Carpenter decided to completely rewrite the script from scratch. It was important to him that the creature be more than just a man in a suit. Instead, he wanted it to be something entirely strange and warped.
Initially, there was trouble finding a suitable actor to play MacReady. Kurt Russell suggested a few actors to play the character as friendly advice, and shortly after, Carpenter asked Russell if he would want to play the role himself. Originally it was written with no single character being focused on more than others, yet Carpenter soon felt that everyone often looked too similar once they were covered by their full snow gear, and so he focused on the MacReady character to allow the audience to latch onto someone.
The film ends on a very bleak end, so an alternate scene was suggested in case that ending did not work with test audiences. In this version, a search party find MacReady and he is given a blood test, proving that he is not the Thing. He survives the ordeal and has a somewhat happy ending. Carpenter shot this for protection as a just in case, though he never showed it, not even in for a test audience.
The Thing is made up of only practical special effects. Computers were only used to edit in composite shots. Many people view this film as having some of the best and most convincing special effects every captured on film. The following details the methods that were used to capture them.
The flying spaceship at the start of the film was a model with a diameter of a little under one meter and had 144 LED lights built into its rim that flashed in a running sequence along its circumference. It was made mostly of ABS plastic as it was a suitable material that would also be able to withstand the heat generated from the LED lights without warping the model at all. It is also decorated with brass etched pieces as opposed to styrene so that more detail could be incorporated. The model was airbrushed by hand.
The opening title that was actually a practical special effect as well. A large fish tank was filled with smoke, and 'The Thing' was written on an animation cel that was then sticky-taped to the back of the tank. The tank was then covered by a garbage bag stretched tight over a frame. A light shined through the letters and the garbage bag was set on fire, slowly burning away and revealing the words 'The Thing' through the smoke.
Much of the film's outdoor shots had matte paintings incorporated into them. Some were largely simplistic looking shots that merely established a background setting however one was made of the crashed alien spaceship that greatly expanded upon the existing part of the model ship that was built. These matte paintings were created by artist Albert Whitlock who is widely known for working with Hitchcock on almost all of his films after and including ' The Birds.'
The inside sets were always refrigerated so that the characters breath would be visible. The set wasn't extremely cold as breath becomes visible when the surrounding environment is humid so water was sprayed on set to make it humid. Despite the coldness of the set, outside the temperature was sweltering. The actors costumes were incredibly cumbersome to put on and remove so some of them would simply wear their arctic gear in the extreme heat much to the confusion of tourists passing by.
For the chest exploding scene, a realistic fake body was produced that was attached below the actor's shoulders while his real body was hidden underneath the life sized prosthetic. The fake body was a mechanical apparatus that opened up, followed by an explosions of saliva and fluid. The first take did not go as planned. Instead of the fake saliva bursting out, it instead gently flowed upward in a solid stream much like a water fountain feature. Even though the desired effect was achieved upon the second take, the entire life sized prosthetic had to be reconstructed almost from scratch.
For the scene where the chest closes on the doctors arms, fake arms were made and then attached to an amputee who was missing both of his arms. A prosthetic mask of the doctor was made which the amputee wore over his face to make him look like the doctor. The chest was operated by hydraulics which when triggered slammed shut upon the fake arms, puncturing the rubber veins in the prosthetic and sending blood everywhere.
In the scene where the head detaches from the shoulders after the chest bites the doctor's arms off, an animatronic head was made that was attached to a hydraulic ram that would shoot out, stretching and separating the head from the body. The gooey and stringy mess that stretches out from under the flesh was made of a highly noxious mixture, largely consisting of melted plastic and gum. As the first take was shot, many of the people on set complained that the prosthetic was giving off caustic smells. Unfortunately, fire was needed in the scene for continuity purposes. When the fire was lit, it caused the prosthetic to explode, almost destroying the set and injuring the people involved.
For the scene where the Thing, in body of what used to be a dog, attacks dogs in a kennel, a secondary special effects team was hired to relieve the principal effects crew from their already overloaded schedule. For practicality's sake, they built the Dog Thing around the design of human arms so that it would have a natural movement to it, since it was essentially a giant puppet. The face, however, was animatronic.
The last appearance of the The Thing was the hardest to pull off. The first part where the The Thing rushes underground ripping apart all the floorboards was achieved by constructing a railway-like construction that was placed under the floorboards. A giant metal ball was placed on these tracks, which was then quickly pulled along the rails, breaking all the floorboards.
When The Thing rises up out of the wreckage, stop motion animation was originally planned for the wide shot and a large-scale set was made to incorporate the stop motion. Even though this was all shot, Carpenter ultimately decided that he was unhappy with the end result, and he instead re-shot the scene using a full-scale effect.
Besties: The Thing
Alex, Irresistible to the charm of Kurt Russell, inducts John Carpenter's The Thing into the Besties.
Red Band Trailer: The Thing
Want to do away with all that messy "suspense" and simply find out who's going to become an alien shapeshifter? Watch this minute-long redband trailer!
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