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The Thing (1982) Poster

(1982)

Trivia

When the dog wanders down a hallway and pauses outside a door, we see a shadow of one of the men, beckoning it in. John Carpenter wanted it to be mysterious which character was involved, so didn't use any of his actors to cast the shadow.
Jump to: Spoilers (20)
This movie has become part of the culture in Antarctica. It is a long standing tradition in all British Antarctic research stations to watch The Thing (1982) as part of their Midwinter feast and celebration held every June 21.
John Carpenter has stated that of all his films, this is his personal favorite.
This film is considered a benchmark in the field of special make-up effects. These effects were created by Rob Bottin, who was only 22 when he started the project.
In August 2003 a couple of hard-core fans, Todd Cameron and Steve Crawford, ventured to the remote filming location in Stewart, British Columbia, and, after 21 years, found remains of Outpost #31 and the Norwegian helicopter. The rotor blade from the chopper now belongs to Todd and rests in his collection of memorabilia from the film.
Opened on the same day as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982). The similarities don't end there: both movies met with unfavorable reactions at the premiere, but became widely loved science fiction classics in the years to come.
The producers consider the film's disappointing box-office performance, was down to the fact that people were flocking to a more benign interpretation of an alien presence on earth - Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) which was released several weeks beforehand.
There is a character name "Mac" and another named "Windows"; since the film was made in 1982, this is purely coincidental.
In the DVD commentary, John Carpenter said Wilford Brimley was the only cast member not initially grossed out by the autopsy scene where they used real animal organs. Brimley had been a real-life cowboy and hunter, so gutting animals and removing organs was a normal experience for him.
This is the first of John Carpenter's films which he did not score himself. The film's original choice of composer was Jerry Goldsmith, but he passed and Ennio Morricone composed a very low-key Carpenter-like score filled with brooding, menacing bass chords.
The opening title exactly duplicates the original Howard Hawks film. To create the effect of the title, an animation cell with "The Thing" written on it was placed behind a fish tank filled with smoke that was covered with a plastic garbage bag. The garbage bag was ignited, creating the effect of the title burning onto the screen.
According to John Carpenter in an interview, he takes all of his failed movies pretty hard, but this was the one that disappointed him the most. Not only was the movie a box-office failure upon release, but both critics and the audience (to Carpenter's shock) panned its gory effects and bleak tone. He was particularly upset when the original movie's director, Christian Nyby, publicly denounced Carpenter's version, saying, "If you want blood, go to the slaughterhouse. All in all, it's a terrific commercial for J&B Scotch."
To give the illusion of icy Antarctic conditions, interior sets on the Los Angeles sound stages were refrigerated down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while it was well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
The female voice on MacReady's computer was performed (uncredited) by the wife of John Carpenter, Adrienne Barbeau.
The Norwegian dog in the film was named Jed. He was a half wolf/half malamute breed. Jed was an excellent animal actor, never looking at the camera, the dolly or the crew members. Jed, however, is NOT the dog seen in the beginning chase scene, where the Norwegian is trying to shoot him. Per Carpenter's commentary, this was another dog painted to look like Jed.
Season 1, Episode 8 of The X-Files (The X-Files: Ice (1993)) is a direct homage to this film.
The film's budget - ten million dollars - was substantially bigger than the average horror film at the time. Friday the 13th (1980) had cost a mere 700,000 dollars while John Carpenter's original Halloween (1978) had only been 375,000 dollars.
The Dog-Thing was created by Stan Winston, who declined screen credit as he didn't want to take away from Rob Bottin's work. Stan Winston receives a special "thank you" in the closing credits.
Poster artist Drew Struzan created the poster for this film basically overnight and without having seen any publicity photos.
There are no female characters in the film. The only female presence in the movie is in the voice of MacReady's chess computer and the contestants seen on the game show that Palmer watches. A scene containing a blow-up doll was filmed and then left on the cutting room floor. According to John Carpenter, only one crew member was female, but she was pregnant, and this forced her to leave the shoot; she was replaced by a male.
In the original version of the film, the cook is listening to Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". However, because Universal didn't secure the rights to the song, it had to be replaced for the home video release. Universal has since renegotiated the licensing to the track.
In 1982 before it was released, Fangoria magazine had a contest called Draw the Thing to see if anyone could guess what it was going to look like. The winner won a trip to Universal Studios.
Keith David wears gloves throughout most of the film. This is because he had broken one of his hands in a car accident, and needed to cover up his cast.
Some scenes were shot with stop-motion animation, but John Carpenter rejected them, because they looked too fake.
John Carpenter was sold on making the film by the blood test scene.
John Carpenter considers this to be the first of his Apocalypse trilogy. Prince of Darkness (1987) and In the Mouth of Madness (1994) comprise the other two parts of the trilogy.
When the film first aired on U.S. network television, Universal executive Sid Sheinberg provided a completely different cut of the movie, which included early scenes introducing each character. Naturally disowned by John Carpenter, this version no longer exists.
The film was originally banned when released in Finland.
As the film moved into post-production, Rob Bottin found himself virtually living at the studio. He was forced to break from this, when he was diagnosed with exhaustion, and admitted to hospital.
John Carpenter comments that one of the bush pilots used on the film offered to crash one of the helicopters for money. When MacReady and Dr. Copper go to visit the Norwegian camp via helicopter, the bush pilot actually turned the controls over to Kurt Russell once the chopper was off the ground. If you watch the shot you see the 'copter actually wobble - that's Russell taking the controls.
John Carpenter's film is a much more faithful adaptation of John W. Campbell, Jr.'s original novella "Who Goes There?" than The Thing from Another World (1951). For example, the 1951 version introduced female characters including a "love interest" for the hero. This film, like the original story, has no roles for women. Also, the use of a hot needle, to check the blood of the characters to see if they were still human or not, was taken directly from the original novella, and was not used in the 1951 movie.
Based on the classic short story "Who Goes There?" by pioneering science fiction Editor John W. Campbell, Jr. He is not credited in the DVD version until the end credits.
Nick Nolte turned down the role of MacReady, as did Jeff Bridges. Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood were both considered. On top of this, a relatively unknown Fred Ward campaigned for the role.
The sound effect of the Antarctic wind was actually recorded in the desert outside Palm Springs.
The tentacles that Clark sees in the dog cage, are whips being maneuvered by Rob Bottin.
The British Columbia town of Stewart was chosen as the main location as it is the snowfall capital of North America. The camp was built in July 1981 in anticipation of filming commencing in December. The temperature ranged between 0 degrees Fahrenheit and -15 degrees Fahrenheit during the shoot. It cost the production 75,000 dollars alone, just to keep cast and crew warm in winter gear.
When the crew are all discussing what the alien spacecraft might be, one of them explains it by saying "Chariots of the Gods." This is a reference to the famous 1968 book by Swiss-German author Erich von Däniken entitled "Chariots of the Gods?" which hypothesized that many of the world's great historical monuments, such as the Egyptian Pyramids, were built with the aid of technologies and religion provided by extra-terrestrial beings, who were treated as deities by ancient peoples.
One of the few Universal films that does not begin with the Universal logo. Some others include The Blues Brothers (1980) and Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979).
Some examples of the vitriol that greeted the film - David Ansen of Newsweek called it "an example of the New Aesthetic - atrocity for atrocity's sake" while Alan Spencer for Starlog contended that "John Carpenter was never meant to direct science fiction horror movies. He's better suited to direct traffic accidents, train wrecks, and public floggings".
The Thing (1982) came out in the early days of home video with stereo sound. It also came during the time videophiles began to learn how to decode the matrixed surround track encoded on Dolby Stereo films by use of a left minus right decoder with delay applied. The Thing was one of the main films that was recommended to test out the setups, due to the aggressively directional surround stereo mix, especially in the opening helicopter chase. The Thing was among the first movies to advertise that it had a "matrixed surround track" on its packaging for the stereo soundtrack versions.
The final confrontation with the Thing required the assistance of fifty technicians.
Producers Lawrence Turman and David Foster's first choice of director was John Carpenter. This, however, was rejected by Universal, as they had Tobe Hooper under contract. Hooper submitted two screenplay drafts, neither of which were liked by the powers that be. In the meantime, Alien (1979) and Halloween (1978) had both come out, and been monster hits, so Universal reconsidered and hired Carpenter.
Much of the creature work in the scene inside the dog cage was done by Stan Winston and his crew, as Rob Bottin was suffering from exhaustion at the time, due to his immensely heavy workload.
While discussing the character of MacReady, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell discussed having MacReady be a former Vietnam chopper pilot who had felt displaced by his service in Vietnam. This ultimately did not make it into the finished film.
The film took three months to shoot on six sound stages in Los Angeles, with the final shooting taking place in northern British Columbia.
The SyFy Channel planned to make a four hour mini-series sequel to The Thing (1982) in 2003, but nothing ever came of it.
The original movie, The Thing from Another World (1951), took place in the Arctic region of the North Pole. This version takes place in Antarctica.
A diopter split-focus lens was used in several shots of the scene with MacReady and Fuchs in the lab. MacReady, standing in the doorway in the background, and Fuchs, sitting at the desk in the foreground, are both in sharp focus. This would be impossible to do in-camera without a split-focus lens. Brian De Palma often uses this technique in his films.
Lee Van Cleef was considered for the role of Garry. Van Cleef and Isaac Hayes were initial considerations since John Carpenter had just worked with them on Escape from New York (1981).
John Carpenter's first foray into major studio film-making.
Rob Bottin headed up a team of over forty people.
A quirk of the Canadian location base in British Columbia, was that it was only accessible via a road that briefly went into Alaska.
Entertainment Weekly ranked this as the 12th scariest movie of all time.
Bernie Casey, Isaac Hayes, Geoffrey Holder, Ernie Hudson, and Carl Weathers were all considered for the role of Childs. Hudson almost landed the role, but lost it to Keith David.
Joel Polis (Fuchs) confirmed that he was grabbing a flask of acid, when MacReady disturbs him while working, in case he tried to attack him.
Some of the scenes deleted from the movie include:
  • Doc and Blair checking the corpse of the dead Norwegian that Garry killed. Garry takes the Norwegian's ID tags and reads his name, Jans Bolen. Childs is asked by Garry if the Norwegian said something before he was shot, and Child's response is, "Am I starting to look Norwegian to you, bwana?"
  • Norris goes to Mac's shack and tells him that he needs to fly the helicopter over to Norwegian base.
  • Mac and Doc checking the destroyed Norwegian base longer and right after they find the giant block of ice where the thing was frozen, they also find the body of one more dead Norwegian stuffed inside the closet.
  • The rest of the crew sitting together and waiting for Mac and Doc back at outpost while two of them are at the Norwegian base.
  • Mac moving his stuff inside the base because cold weather outside is too much for his shack.
  • Doc and Fuchs checking the footage from the Norwegian base.
  • Mac watching some footage from the Norwegian base with his "friend", a blow-up doll.
  • Blair checking the Dog-Thing's dead body longer while the rest of the crew is asking questions about it. When Blair mentions that the thing is not dead yet, everyone back off from it.
  • Mac and Norris climbing out of the crater where the thing's UFO is located.
  • Mac shows everyone ripped clothes that Nauls found in his kitchen, revealing that whoever was wearing it is a large person; however, most of the crew members are therefore suspected to be the things.
  • Deleted sequence during the scene where some of the crew members are tied down when lights in outpost turn off, causing panic between the crew for some time before Mac and Palmer manage to fix it. John Carpenter mentioned in DVD commentary that the "Lights out" scene was deleted because it was lighted with blue light which didn't really work in the scene.
  • Originally, Fuchs was found dead by Childs and Palmer inside their greenhouse, pinned to a door with a shovel impaled into his chest (in original script, he was killed in the same way but with with an axe). There is a picture that shows Fuchs impaled with the shovel on the door; however, there is also one picture that shows rather a Fuchs-thing, still impaled and looked to be burned, but smiling.
  • Originally, Bennings was killed with a screwdriver from behind by an unidentified person in a blue coat (presumably Blair) while he was inside the kennel. Beginning of this scene where he enters the kennel, sees someone and says "Clark?" was used for early TV cuts and it was also in deleted scenes in Special Edition of the movie. Carpenter mentioned that he wanted to make Clark look more suspicious with this scene, but after viewing the scene in early previews, it didn't fit well with rest of the movie, and it felt more like something out of Carpenter's Halloween (1978).
  • Mac and Nauls are checking the Mac's shack when suddenly Mac's blow-up doll flies out through the shack's destroyed roof, scaring the hell out of both of them.
  • Blair-thing was originally shown onscreen much longer in really bad stop-motion scene which Carpenter deleted.
John Carpenter didn't do the music himself, since the studio never thought about it and Carpenter never asked. Ennio Morricone was available and Carpenter felt he did a great job with the score.
Vintage "Making of" special contains scenes that never made it to the theatrical or television versions, such as the tentacles from the "Dog Thing" starting to attack the dog, seen later partially digested in the final cut.
Donald Pleasence was the original choice for the character of Blair. Pleasence was unable to perform the role due to a scheduling conflict.
Ennio Morricone's score for this film was nominated for a Raze Award for worse score. It however like the film has since gone on to become considered a classic.
An eye-light was used to create a gleam in the eyes of all the actors in the blood-test scene except Palmer.
Clint Eastwood was on the possibles list for MacReady.
Richard Masur, David Clennon, and Thomas G. Waites had a plan for doing a scene in which Windows and Palmer would collude against the other team members. Carpenter canceled the scene, and the three men began cursing Carpenter and his poor decision, unaware he could hear them on their microphones. After ten minutes, Carpenter approached the three men saying, "I heard every word of what you said."
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Studio executive Ned Tannen gave permission to use the ambiguous ending, but only if the audience was given an extra sign the monster was killed in the explosion, and so an additional monster scream was added over the wide shot of the camp exploding.
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William F. Nolan wrote a draft for a remake of The Thing from Another World which was more loyal to the original short story ("Who Goes There?") before John Carpenter took over the project. Nolan writes about this in the introduction to "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Theatrical trailer shows an extended scene of Palmer-thing transformation, where he opens his mouth and screams, and another extended scene where either Garry's or Naul's legs are shown kicking around while one of them is being dragged off-screen in the scene where they are attacked by Blair-thing.
William Daniels and Brian Dennehy were considered for the role of Copper. Dennehy was almost cast, but John Carpenter instead cast Richard Dysart at the last minute.
In addition to Lee Van Cleef, Jerry Orbach, Kevin Conway, Richard Mulligan, and Powers Boothe were all considered for the role of Garry before Donald Moffat was selected. Mulligan's agent submitted his name directly about the role, as he had gotten a copy of the script and was eager to play it, feeling it was a major departure from his prior work. Boothe was a consideration when they were toying with Garry's age being comparable to MacReady's. Mulligan was also considered for Palmer.
Richard Masur turned down a role in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) to do a more secured role in this film.
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Rob Bottin intended to play Palmer after his performance as Blake in The Fog (1980); This made the crew balk, as they believed he could barely handle the effects work as it was. Effects man Roy Arbogast was so furious at this intention, that he threatened to quit the film if it happened.
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Editor Todd Ramsay was mocked for editing in the fade-to-blacks in the film, even though Carpenter back him fully on the decision.
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Kevin Kline was suggested by Universal for MacReady, who they feared didn't have enough star power. John Carpenter did meet with the actor, and gave it serious thought.
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Roy Arbogast and Rob Bottin did not get along well in production, not helped by Bottin replacing Arborgasts friend Dale Kuiper to handle make-up effects.
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Universal Studio executive Sid Shienberg added the second tagline, "The ultimate in Alien Terror", simply to have the word "Alien" in there to capitalize on the 1979 Ridley Scott film.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
According to the signpost outside the camp, the Antarctic research team is stationed at the United States National Science Institute Station 4. However, in early drafts of the script, the base was called, "U.S. Outpost 31". When making a recording of events, MacReady, signs off as, "R.J. Macready, helicopter pilot, U.S. Outpost #31".
In the close-up shot of the United States National Science Institute Station 4, a "Smokey the Bear" sign can be seen.
Advertising Art Director Stephen Frankfurt designed the title 'Man is the warmest place to hide.' He also designed the 'Bloodsmoke' poster which involved a cloud of bloody flesh floating over an image of outpost 31. Frankfurt also fought for the film to be re-titled "Who Goes There?".
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When the glow face poster for The Thing was shown to John Carpenter after the disastrous previews they felt it was the final nail in the coffin and were utterly crestfallen by it. It was presented as a take it or leave it option and John felt after striving to get away from the Man in a suit horror trope their poster showed... a man in a suit. John Carpenter thought it made the film look like a slasher movie and commented 'They should have just painted a bloody knife in his hand.'
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In the German dubbed version, the 27,000 hours projection until infection of the entire world population is translated as "27 hours".
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In the scene where Palmer offers to pilot the helicopter, and turns to leave, the back of his biker jacket reads "BARBARIANS/CALIFORNIA" with crossed battle axes and shield logo.
Editor Todd Ramsay was the first to point out issues with the Thing's pathology, when he explained to Carpenter how he believed it took over a life form, Carpenter told him he was wrong, and Todd believed they needed to address this inconsistency, or audiences would be confused. This led to the Bennings take-over scene, and MacReady's "I know I'm human." scene.
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Richard Masur insisted Carpenter shoot a close-up of Palmer saying, "You gotta be fucking kidding!", who otherwise thought the line should remain off-screen.
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Wilford Brimley laughed at Joe Polis' efforts to study what a biologist does before filming, insisting "This movie is about rubber and steam."
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David Clennon was originally cast as Bennings, but found the Palmer character more interesting and fun.
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Peter Maloney was scared of dogs, and found it difficult doing the scene when the dog jumps up at him, in the film's opening.
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Richard Masur and Keith David decided through rehearsals that, as the two largest men in the camp, their characters would be antagonistic to each other.
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A deleted scene showed Palmer jogging around the compound, listening to California Sun.
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Carbopole is a powdery substance used in hair gels and when mixed with water was used as the Thing slime.
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Executives believed refrigerating their own sound stages would be far too expensive and so offered to fund shooting the sets inside massive cold storage lockers but after the producers saw the cramped conditions and low ceilings they abandoned the idea.
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Sound editor, Colin Mouat achieved the dogs cries in the film by rounding up all the neighborhood dogs, placing them in his house and furtively stalking round the house in a dark trench coat with the collar up whilst tapping on windows and rattling doors to frighten them.
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Actor Franklin Ajaye came to read for Nauls but instead critiqued Carpenter for fifteen minutes on the stereotypical nature of Nauls as a black character, the meeting ended in a frosty silence.
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The helicopter featured in the opening scene is a Bell 206.
In an early version of the Bill Lancaster script, Macready and Childs are rescued by helicopter and say, "We're glad you guys got here, which way to a hot meal?" Carpenter wasn't pleased, but Bill assured him he simply hadn't gotten to that part of the script yet.
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The three youngest cast members in The Thing were Thomas G. Waites, Keith David, and T.K. Carter were around 26, 25, and 24 during filming.
Garry's revolver, which Macready later uses, is a Colt Trooper Mk III.
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Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Reeve, John Travolta, Richard Gere, Tommy Lee Jones, Chuck Norris, Michael Nouri, Kris Kristofferson, Alec Baldwin, Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, and Michael Keaton were considered for the role of Macready.
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Scenes were stalled by the cast debating on the methodology of the Thing, which irritated David Clennon.
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Wilford Brimley disagreed with the films level of gore, believing it affected the audience negatively.
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The "I know I'm human." scene was originally shot in the rec room, but was re-shot outside, along with several other scenes, due to Carpenter's fear, after seeing an assembly edit, that the movie was "A bunch of men talking indoors".
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Rick Baker was approached to handle the visual effects, but his schedule was too busy.
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Universal only offered a paltry $200,000 for creature effects and opticals and were shocked when production demanded far more replying that that's as much as they ever spent on a monster movie.
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Bennings original death on the ice fields scene would have cost production 1.5 million dollars and was reluctantly cut even though the studio loved the sequence.
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The film shot for 40 Days on Stage and 17 on location.
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The blue oil barrel in the films opening dog chase sequence was a prop used to visually tie together the shots on the Juneau Icefields in Alaska and Stewart B.C. and make it seem like one continuous location.
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Jay Leno Gary Shandling and Charles Fleischer all read for parts in the film as it was customary of studios to seek out stand up comics as the next potential up and comers.
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At the cast and crew screening, the actors including Kurt Russel believed the film had lost a lot of it's relationship work for the monster effects and Matte painter Albert Whitlock called the film offensive. Only Rob Bottin and his crew believed they had made something amazing.
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The first edit of the kennel attack scene seemed very flat until music editor, Clif Kholweck, found at the last minute the low drone sound that begins as MacCready and Co. slowly approach. The drone was a sound effect, an air conditioning unit sound slowed down and pitched.
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Lee Van Cleef, Jerry orhbach, Richard Mulligan, Powers Boothe and Kevin Conway read for the part of Garry with the latter making the best impression.
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The original plan for the credits were to have them all at the films end and open entirely with the saucer crashing to earth and nothing else but as it was titled 'John Carpenters The Thing' DGA rules stipulated this appear in the films opening.
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The original universal world logo was not used in the films opening credits because of confusion between the logo and then the saucer crashing into the Earth. One suggestion was made was to use the logo, zoom into space then see the saucer crash into the logo/earth. Instead to avoid confusion a simple white titles against black was used.
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Rob Bottins effects credit at the films end caused universal to receive a $25000 fine for improper use of titles.
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A special camera was designed but abandoned which allowed ramping from 10 to 300 fps to create amazing in camera effects however a rotating ND filter in front of the lens failed to hide the effect accurately and it was abandoned.
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The script originally called for the Norwegian helicopter to veer out of control, crash and explode with the lone survivor (the pilot) emerging to follow the dog into camp. A miniature helicopter and set was toyed with and abandoned and after the notion of hiding the explosion behind mountain a heavy cliche at the time they re-wrote the opening scene.
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The original poster for The Thing involved a series of jaws emerging from smoke in the sky above outpost 31 and was all in black and white, however Poltergeist was also using a black and white advertising campaign and Universal ordered a stop to the desaturated imagery.
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John Carpenter took pains to create mainly muted tones of color in both costumes and sets so that Bottins eye popping colorful gore would leap off the screen.
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The second of two movies with Kurt Russell that had a character with a last name of "Fuchs", the first was Used Cars (1980).
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The prime source for this film is the novel "At the Mountains of Madness" by H.P. Lovecraft.
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In the bloodtest scene MacReady picks up Doc's sample. The small container is labelled "Copper". The previous year, 1981, Disney released an adaption of the novel The fox and the hound. Kurt Russell does the adult voice of the hound, named Copper.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The words spoken by the pilot on entering the camp are actually understandable for Norwegians. Albeit broken Norwegian, the line goes: "Se til helvete og kom dere vekk. Det er ikke en bikkje, det er en slags ting! Det imiterer en bikkje, det er ikke virkelig! KOM DERE VEKK IDIOTER!!" This translates to: "Get the hell outta there. That's not a dog, it's some sort of thing! It's imitating a dog, it isn't real! GET AWAY YOU IDIOTS!!"
According to an apocryphal story first reported on Reddit.com in Feburary 2013, when asked about the ambiguous ending of the film, John Carpenter responded that he never understood how could there be any confusion about whether Childs or Macready are human or not, because the last scene shows "Kurt Russell and Keith David staring each other down, harshly backlit. It's completely, glaringly obvious that Kurt Russell is breathing, and Keith David is not."
Kurt Russell was almost injured in the scene where he blows up the alien Palmer with a stick of dynamite. Apparently, he had no idea exactly how big of an explosion it would produce, and the reaction that he has in the movie is genuine.
In the video-game tie in (also called The Thing (2002)) it is revealed that MacReady survives, and is picked up by a search and rescue team, while Childs freezes to death. John Carpenter has stated that the game is canon.
For a scene where Dr. Copper's (Richard Dysart's) arms are severed, a real-life double amputee stand-in was used, wearing a mask in the likeness of Dysart. The audience focuses on the bloody stumps while the mask goes unnoticed.
The Norwegian camp scenes were actually the charred remains of the American site from the end of the film. Rather than go to the expense of building and burning down another camp, John Carpenter re-used the destroyed American camp.
An alternative ending was shot showing MacReady rescued, and having taken a blood test proving he was human. This was done as a precaution and never used, even for test screenings, as it was not part of John Carpenter's original vision for the film.
The flesh-flower that attacks Childs, is actually an incredibly detailed effect. Its petals are twelve dog tongues, complete with rows of canine teeth. Effects Designer Rob Bottin dubbed it the "pissed-off cabbage".
At a horror convention Q&A session in 2008, Keith David (Childs) was asked if he ever knew who, at the very end of the movie, was infected with the alien. He smiled and said, "Well, I don't know about (Kurt Russell), but it sure as hell wasn't me." He may be right, as the movie's prequel, The Thing (2011) established that, while assimilating its victims, the alien gets rid of all artificial implants and appendages (including medical implants, fillings, and earrings). Childs' earring can still be seen in his ear, at the end of the movie.
John Carpenter says that there was never a written ending where R.J. MacReady is saved. Other than that, he doesn't want to divulge the secret of the last scene anymore.
In the scene where Norris' (Charles Hallahan's) head separates from his body, Rob Bottin used highly flammable materials for the construction of interior of the head and neck models. During the shoot, John Carpenter decided that, for continuity reasons, they needed some flames around the scene. Without thinking, they lit a fire bar and the whole room, which by now was filled with flammable gases, caught fire. Nobody got hurt, but the entire special effects model, on which Bottin had worked several months, was destroyed.
In the shot of MacReady holding the dish of Palmer's blood right before he tests it, the hand that holds the dish is fake.
Nauls' death was originally filmed with him being attacked by a "Box Blair" creature. A much longer, and gorier version of this scene was planned, with Nauls screaming for help, while being assimilated by the Thing, while it attacks Mac. However, effects for this gorier scene couldn't be created at the time, and the ones that were used were disliked by John Carpenter, and when a test audience laughed at the scene, Carpenter decided to cut the scene and leave Nauls' death ambiguous.
Certain characters have different fates in the original story on which the film is based. In the story, Garry and Clark are assimilated and revealed to be Things during the blood test scene. In the film, Clark is killed without ever being assimilated, and Garry remains human before being killed, and presumably assimilated by the Blair Thing during the climax. Norris remains human in the story (and gets the final line of dialogue), but is assimilated in the film. The cook character, named Kinner in the story, and Nauls in the film, remains human in the film (before presumably being killed by the Blair Thing after wandering off during the climax), but is assimilated in the story before the blood test scene. Also, Dr. Copper survives in the story.
With the release of 2011's The Thing (2011), names have been given to the Norwegian Helicopter Pilot and Norwegian Passenger with Rifle in the beginning. They are called Matias and Lars, respectively (there was originally a scene in the 1982 movie where the Lars character was identified as "Jans Bolan", but it ended up being omitted). The man inside the camp who sliced his own throat, has been named Colin (and he is English).
For the final revelation of the Blair-Thing, several shots were animated using stop-motion techniques. However, John Carpenter considered them not convincing enough, so these ended up being deleted. They can still be seen on the bonus material of the Blu-ray edition, though.
According to the calculations it will take 3.02 years for world wide infection.
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The original notion was for Blair to have been the first assimilated. Carpenter, after principal photography, added a scene of Blair studying the things cells through computer animation, which then alters the time-line of Blair being assimilated, although Producer Stuart Cohen states, that when Blair trashes the vehicles and radio room he was a thing and was planning to isolate himself by feigning cabin fever and dangerous to the others.
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In an interview with cinematographer Dean Cundey, he claims there is a subtle hint as to who was infected during the blood test scene. According to Cundey he made sure that all the actors had light on their eyes, except for one: Palmer, whose eyes are cast in darkness during the scene
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The rec room of the American base has two arcade machines, Asteroids and a "Heat Wave" pinball machine, and each foreshadows elements of the plot. Asteroids alludes to the film's alien antagonist, while "Heat Wave" is an homage to the weapon used to kill the alien - fire.
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