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The Thing: Terror Takes Shape (1998)

Video  -  Documentary  -  1998 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 374 users  
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A revealing and insightful look into the making of this underrated horror film.

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Charles Hallahan ...
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A revealing and insightful look into the making of this underrated horror film.

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1998 (USA)  »

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John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape  »

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User Reviews

A superb documentary to accompany a landmark movie.
20 November 2011 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I agree with an acquaintance I've made at this web site: that there are often certain defining movie experiences in one's life that either lead one to embrace a genre or turn away from it. In my case, seeing "The Thing" for the first time turned me into a loyal horror fan. A skillful, intense, creepy, downbeat, wildly imaginative (in terms of the special effects), and more faithful second adaptation of John W. Campbell's short story "Who Goes There?" (after "The Thing from Another World" of 1951), it found its audience not in its original theatrical run (where both the critical and public reactions were pretty stormy) but on video in the years to come, and has become incredibly influential; it's now more than a mere cult movie but often regarded as a genre classic (although, to be fair, it does still have its detractors). In fact, it's had a kind of staying power that some movies that have been big box office successes haven't had. This superb documentary, basically consisting of sit down interviews, goes through virtually the entire process of making the movie, from conception to execution to aftermath. Interviewees include director John Carpenter, screenwriter Bill Lancaster, producer David Foster, cinematographer Dean Cundey, production designer John Lloyd, and editor Todd Ramsay, makeup and creature creator Rob Bottin, additional creature effects creator Stan Winston, optical effects contributor Peter Kuran, model maker Susan Turner, legendary matte artist Albert Whitlock, and cast members Kurt Russell, Richard Masur, Charles Hallahan, and Joel Polis. Lots of interesting tidbits are shared, with Carpenter discussing the genesis of the project, Lancaster mentioning the aspects of the story that intrigued him the most, Bottin (who comes off as a really bright, cheerful, enthusiastic guy) regaling us with stories of takes gone awry (they sound funny now, but have to have been depressing at the time), while he and Winston go into detail on the creation of their monsters, Lloyd bringing up a potentially disastrous incident (and doing so with disarming good humour), and the actors talking about how they approached playing their characters. One telling detail is that Russell, Hallahan, and Masur all mention that fans often name this movie as being one of the movies, or *the* movie, that they love the most out of all the things they've done. But perhaps the most delightful aspect (for this fan, anyway) is seeing such things as vintage 'making of' footage, stills, storyboards, and the like, as well as hearing Whitlock discuss his technique. For anybody who's fond of the movie itself, seeing this engaging documentary is a true no-brainer. Ten out of 10.


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Great documentary. Hey_Sweden
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