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Here are 13 things you might not know about the cult classic, which was released 35 years ago today. What The Thing lacks in comedy it makes up for tenfold in claustrophobia, paranoia, loneliness, and some of the most incredibly frightening practical effects in film history.
I lost a job, people hated me, they thought I was … horrible, violent—and I was. But now here we are 31 years later, and here you are filling the theater. Critics looked on the film just as unfavorably as fans when it was released in June of I found it disappointing, for two reasons: Characters have never been Carpenter's strong point; he says he likes his movies to create emotions in his audiences, and I guess he'd rather see us jump six inches than get involved in the personalities of his characters … The Thing is basically, then, just a geek show, a gross-out movie in which teenagers can dare one another to watch the screen.
There's nothing wrong with that; I like being scared and I was scared by many scenes in The Thing. But it seems clear that Carpenter made his choice early on to concentrate on the special effects and the technology and to allow the story and people to become secondary.
Because this material has been done before, and better, especially in the original The Thing and in Alien, there's no need to see this version unless you are interested in what the Thing might look like while starting from anonymous greasy organs extruding giant crab legs and transmuting itself into a dog.
Amazingly, I'll bet that thousands, if not millions, of moviegoers are interested in seeing just that. Though the two films do share the same source material—John W.
So I went back the novella [on] which both films were based. In order to pull this off, special makeup effects designer Rob Bottin known for his work on Robocop, Total Recall, Se7en, and Fight Club found a man who had lost both of his arms below the elbow in an industrial accident.
Bottin fit the man with two prosthetic forearms consisting of wax bones, rubber veins, and Jell-O. As the actor pulled his arms away, the Jell-O arms severed below the elbows.
The rest is practical effects history. By the end of the film, Bottin succumbed to exhaustion and had to be hospitalized he also had double pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer. Russell threw an actual stick of dynamite during a scene toward the end of the film.
He did not, however, anticipate it being so powerful.
Russell was literally blown backwards after the device detonated; this take was left in the film. John Carpenter famously writes the music for most of his movies.
However, being that The Thing was his first studio film, and because he was short on time, he asked Ennio Morricone to do the honors. John Carpenter comes from the school of low-budget filmmaking and, as such, knows how to stretch a dollar. We always sort of joked: If it was up to Rob he would build the creatures to be incredibly interesting and imaginative and then not put any light on them because he was afraid of showing them.
Cook created an entire miniature model of the set and filmed the wide angle shots of the monster using stop-motion animation. Despite only taking up seconds of screen time, the sequence took countless hours to create.
Ultimately, Carpenter decided not to use the footage as his own eye could detect the stop-motion animation. John Carpenter and editor Todd Ramsay shot and cut an alternate ending to the film that was never used.
Ramsay was concerned that the bleak, ambiguous ending would not test well with audiences, so he suggested that Carpenter cover his bases and have a spare ending ready to go. They filmed an additional scene where lead character MacReady Kurt Russell is rescued and appears in a room where he is given a blood test to determine whether he has been assimilated, which he passes.
Fortunately for fans of the film, this alternate finale was not needed as Carpenter stood firmly behind the movie he had made—ambiguous ending and all.The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's largest and finest art museums.
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