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The Thing (1982) Poster

(1982)

Trivia

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John Carpenter has stated that of all his films, this is his personal favorite.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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There is a character name "Mac" and another named "Windows"; since the film was made in 1982, this is purely coincidental.
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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.
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Season 1, Episode 8 of The X-Files (The X-Files: Ice (1993)) is a direct homage to this film.
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The female voice on MacReady's computer was performed (uncredited) by the wife of John Carpenter, Adrienne Barbeau.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Some scenes were shot with stop-motion animation, but John Carpenter rejected them, because they looked too fake.
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John Carpenter was sold on making the film by the blood test scene.
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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.
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Poster artist Drew Struzan created the poster for this film basically overnight and without having seen any publicity photos.
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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.
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Ennio Morricone's score for this film was nominated for a Razzie Award for worst score. However like the film, it has since gone on to become considered a classic.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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The film was originally banned when released in Finland.
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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.
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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, this version was disowned by John Carpenter, but can be seen on the 2016 Scream Factory Blu-ray release.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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The tentacles that Clark sees in the dog cage, are whips being maneuvered by Rob Bottin.
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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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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.
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Entertainment Weekly ranked this as the 12th scariest movie of all time.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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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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.
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The film took three months to shoot on six sound stages in Los Angeles, with the final shooting taking place in northern British Columbia.
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The final confrontation with the Thing required the assistance of fifty technicians.
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The sound effect of the Antarctic wind was actually recorded in the desert outside Palm Springs.
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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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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".
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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.
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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.
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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.
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John Carpenter's first foray into major studio film-making.
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The SyFy Channel planned to make a four hour mini-series sequel to The Thing (1982) in 2003, but nothing ever came of it. A companion piece, however, was eventually greenlit. Serving as a prequel, it tells the story of the Norwegian camp and leads directly into the 1982 film. The film was released in 2011, once again titled The Thing as they couldn't come up with a proper subtitle or something else to call it. This led to confusion as many people believed it was a remake. The film was panned, specifically for resorting to poor CGI effects for most of the film. This annoyed many as the 1982 film remains a landmark in practical effects work. However, this was largely due to studio influence, as they had filmed the movie with practical effects but were forced to essentially paint over them with CGI. The 2011 film's shortcomings were largely due to studio input, and the film will not likely transcend its initial poor reception to become a classic like the 1982 film.
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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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Editor Todd Ramsay was mocked for editing in the fade-to-blacks in the film, even though Carpenter backed him fully on the decision.
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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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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.
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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).
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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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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.
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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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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.
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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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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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John Carpenter confirmed that Mac and Childs were both human at the end by endorsing The Thing (2002) as canon in relation to his film. In the game, Mac and Childs are revealed to be human.
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Rob Bottin headed up a team of over forty people.
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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.
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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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Wilford Brimley disagreed with the films level of gore, believing it affected the audience negatively.
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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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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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A quirk of the Canadian location base in British Columbia, was that it was only accessible via a road that briefly went into Alaska.
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Clint Eastwood was on the possibles list for MacReady.
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Donald Pleasence was the original choice for the character of Blair. Pleasence was unable to perform the role due to a scheduling conflict.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Rob Bottin had contacted Stan Winston early on in his prep work to secure them should he need their assistance which he wound up doing. Bottin was glad to pass the Dog-Thing over to Winston. He said: "it got to the point where I was thinking 'if I have to do another stinking mechanical dog, I'll go nuts!'" In another interview, he said: "I'd already done The Howling, and I didn't want to see another dog! I didn't care if it was mutated, I didn't care if it was riding a skateboard. And I did not want to do Cujo either. No more dogs!"
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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.
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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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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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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 Tobe Hooper draft of the Thing before Carpenter came on board ejected all the shapeshifter aspects and instead focused on a central character called the captain; a very Ahab like persona fighting a huge untransforming thing alien.
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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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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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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.
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In the German and Spanish dubbed versions, the 27,000 hours projection until infection of the entire world population is translated as "27 hours".
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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.
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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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Rick Baker was approached to handle the visual effects, but his schedule was too busy.
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The discontinuity with the screams of the men after Palmers blood test reveal was due to on the day the men reacted with stunned silence leaving an empty space of sound which had to be overdubbed with the men screaming off screen.
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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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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".
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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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Storyboard artist Michael G. Ploog planned a more low key transformation of Norris, Ploog initially wanted to focus on tentacles erupting from Norris's feet.
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Unused music composed for this film was later used by Ennio Morricone in Quentin Tarantino's The Hatful Eight (2015)
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Nauls' fate is never explicitly shown in the film. The most commonly agreed to explanation was that Nauls was mostlikely assimilated by The Blair-Thing (seeing as how Nauls went after Garry in the area that the Blair-Thing assimilated Garry) and was later obliterated by the subsequent explosion that destroyed the facility. The original ending as par script and storyboard details intended for Nauls to be attacked by the Blair-Thing while it went after MacReady under the floorboards. He was in the process of being assimilated and was to call for help from MacReady, but was to be torn apart by the Blair-Thing. Before the Blair-Thing could produce a perfect copy of Nauls, it was destroyed in the ensuing explosion. Although it was intended to be used in the film, Rob Bottin, the special effects supervisor for the film, did not have the time or money to film this scene, so it was scrapped at the last minute and in the final cut of the film, Nauls' fate is left ambiguous. Neither Childs or MacReady mention either Nauls or Garry again, and it is likely that they figured that they could not have survived the explosion that wiped out Outpost 31. In the comic book The Thing from Another World, Nauls' charred corpse is shown amongst the destroyed Outpost 31, found by R.J. MacReady. The novelization offers a different explanation for Nauls' fate; he is chased and cornered by the Blair-Thing in a lavatory. Suffering from a broken leg and unwilling to suffer the pain of being assimilated, Nauls commits suicide by stabbing himself in the neck with a shard of wood (similar to Garry's fate in the book).
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If you pay close attention, you can see what is left of Blair's face on the Thing's right side.
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A deleted scene showed Palmer jogging around the compound, listening to California Sun.
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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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David Clennon was originally cast as Bennings, but found the Palmer character more interesting and fun.
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Lee Van Cleef, Jerry Orbach, 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 Palmer thing transformation involved his relatively unaffected head splitting in half and a tentacle lunging out.
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Alec Baldwin was considered for the roles of Fuchs and Palmer.
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The sound effects in the Autopsy scene on the splitface thing was accomplished with paper towers soaked in egg yolk.
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An alternate form of the Blair Monster was planned, but it was ultimately cut, it was nicknamed by fans "The Blair Boxmonster" which would have been involved in Nauls' alternate death scene
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There are many theories that have been commented by the fans regarding the UFO whether or not it was actually constructed by the Thing or that it belonged to one of the Thing's previous hosts before heading towards Earth. The latter was planned to be true in the unproduced mini-series, Return of the Thing.
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The film does not explain the purpose of the American team in Antarctica. Antarctica has no indigenous people or permanent residents. The Antarctica Treaty, signed by a number of countries in 1959, dictates that Antarctica must only be used for peaceful and/or scientific purposes. Considering the extensive laboratory equipment and presence of several doctors, it is assumed that the men are a part of a scientific team occupying the residence to maintain facilities during the Antarctic winter, as most research occurs during the milder summer months. In Campbell's short story, it was explained that the science crew were there to study and perform experiments regarding the dynamics of magnetics and magnetism in subzero conditions. On the audio commentary to the DVD release of the film, John Carpenter says that he wanted to make a different type of horror film about a group of intelligent, well-read guys going up against an otherworldly, almost unstoppable alien that challenges everything they know. This could then fly in the face of accepted "slasher" horror ideas where stupid teenage protagonists are picked off one by one. Also, Carpenter had the idea that each of these men had a reason for wanting to be away from the rest of the world. Which is why they are a skeleton crew manning the station during the winter months.
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The reason they extinguish the flames quickly after torching Norris is debatable, however, there are a few possible explanations. First, the men could really have had that much confidence that the Thing had been killed that quickly. Second, they had fear that the flames could catch other things on fire, such as the wooden planks on the ceiling of the dog kennel that the Thing grabs on to. This is supported by the scene later on where Mac burns the Norris-Thing creature in the MedLab, the others immediately run and grab extinguishers but Mac tells them to wait until the burning Norris-Thing stops moving. About 10 seconds later, the men again ask Mac to let them put out the fire and he screams at them: "Just wait!" as Mac figured out that it takes a lot of fire to kill the things and just setting them on fire and then extinguishing the flames right away does nothing. Third, they might have acted on instinct. Another aspect is that, in the conditions of the Antarctic weather, fire is the greatest hazard to life as shown by the final scenes. In this situation a fire that could potentially destroy the base would have been perceived as the greatest danger facing them before the reality of the Thing had been appreciated.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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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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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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There has been a debate among fans whether or not that Blair's computer program's projection on the Thing is actually accurate since it certainly isn't accurate in the sense that a biologist would not be working on computer animations as part of his investigations, especially under the pressing circumstances like we see in the film. This scene is obviously meant to be an aid to the audience to understand the Thing's life-cycle, not a realistic portrayal of a biologist's studies. And how well does the simulation work, unfortunately, it leads to more questions than answers. We see dog cells being devoured, one by one, by a single Thing cell and this seems to contradict what we've already seen of the Thing's behavior. Never does the simulation show that the Thing cells divide to replace canine cells, which is what would make more sense. So, the animation should be taken with a grain of salt. On the DVD commentary track, Carpenter comments that they "didn't get it quite right" regarding the Thing's life cycle but that "it doesn't matter." From this it may be concluded that the goal with the computer sequence was not truly accomplished, so it must therefore be regarded with skepticism. It's clear that the Blair computer simulation was meant to replace a similar scene in the script and novel. Alan Dean Foster's description of the Thing's cells seems to be better: Fuchs was preparing new slides, which Blair studied under the microscope. Two cells were visible through the eyepiece. They were active, neither quiescent nor dead. One looked quite normal. Its companion looked anything but. At the moment the two were joined together by a thin stream of protoplasm. Material from the larger cell, which was long and thin, flowed into the smaller, spherical cell. As it did so the smaller cell swelled visibly, until the cell wall fractured in three places. Immediately the smaller cell assumed a flattened shape like the other and three new streams of material began to flow outward from its interior. Neither cell appeared to have lost any mass. Blair pulled away from the eyepiece and frowned as he checked his watch. It was running in stopwatch mode. He turned it off. The resulting readout was very puzzling.
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In the close-up shot of the United States National Science Institute Station 4, a "Smokey the Bear" sign can be seen.
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British artist, Les Edwards illustrated the blood smoke European poster with additional work on the foreground snow fields done by British artist Jim Burns to make them less rugged.
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It is possible that Palmer targeted the Norris-Thing's spiderhead to avoid detection. However, careful observation of the scene demonstrates that Windows had already turned his head and noticed the spider-head Thing, in which case Palmer quickly exclaimed at it simply because the spider-head's cover was already blown. Another debatable theory that arises from whether or not Childs was an imitation at the end of the movie is the scene where Palmer hands Childs his cigarette while he is watching a quiz show on a monitor. As it was around the time MacReady and Copper returned to the base, Palmer may have been assimilated at this point, and possibly once he passed the cigarette to Childs, it may have been contaminated at the time, leading to further speculation that Childs may have been an imitation as well.
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According to the 1998 DVD release, the "Blair Monster" was to have had a much larger role in the final battle. However, due to the limitations of stop-motion animation, the monster appears for only a few seconds in the film.
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Each mans job at U.S. Outpost 31 is as follows: Garry: station manager. Macready: helicopter pilot. Blair: biologist Fuchs: assistant biologist Bennings: meteorologist Norris: geologist Copper: physician Clark: dog handler Childs: chief mechanic Palmer: assistant mechanic and helicopter pilot in training Windows: radio operator Nauls: cook
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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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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.
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In the narrative as to why the Norwegians were shooting at the thing impersonating a malamute is because the Thing is not affected by bullets, if it wished to stay hidden in its dog form, it would have to act wounded if hit. The Norwegians were likely trying to slow it down to catch up with it so they could deal with the Thing properly, i.e. explosives or fire, hence their use of thermite grenades and the many cans of kerosene they were carrying.
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In the narrative as to why Norris and Palmer didn't assimilate Macready at the crater, a simple explanation would be that when a Thing assimilates someone, it rips through their clothes (as evident when Windows discovers Bennings' torn and bloody shirt and jacket in the storage room seconds before he sees him being assimilated, and Nauls finding either Palmer's or Norris' torn longjohns in a kitchen trash can stained with dried blood). And given the fact that none of them expected to need extra clothes on a helicopter trip, so if Norris and Palmer were things, if they assimilated Mac, they would have a hard time explaining why he is naked when they get back to camp. So they decided it was best not to take him then. Another theory is that Mac could still have been a thing. Even though he tied everyone down and came up with the hot needle blood test, it might very well have been that the test was a "crock of shit" as Childs put it. Then the Palmer Thing sacrificed itself by acting as if the blood test was successful to draw any suspicions away from Mac. However, this theory is less likely as it goes against the very nature of The Thing (self preservation above all else). There are two more possibilities here. The first and probably most logical is that one of them is still human at this point. Even if Palmer was the Thing, him leaving in the chopper and reporting Mac and Norris dead would not be a good move; it could easily be investigated. The second possibility is that neither Palmer nor Norris know that the other is a Thing, though this is highly contested. Just because Palmer and Norris were both revealed as Things later does not mean they were both Things at that given moment. We see Norris collapse later in the film. This is after Fuchs has informed us that a single cell of the Thing could (but not necessarily would) take over a whole person. Considering the manner of Norris' death, it could be suggested that he had been infected by a Thing (either through saliva from the dog, infected food, or whatever) and that at the crater Norris was still human, albeit, an infected human. Palmer, on the other hand, was almost assuredly a Thing by this point, though not brave enough to attempt to assimilate two people at once (which might have caused a crash and death for all). Interestingly, if Palmer was a Thing from the moment we see his shadow facing the dog, then later when we witness Childs and Palmer sharing a joint, it is conceivable that Childs became infected. Not that Childs becomes a Thing, as we witness in the blood test scene, but that he could have been well on his way to becoming a Thing.
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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.
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The helicopter featured in the opening scene is a Bell 206.
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The quiz show featured on the TV in Palmer's room is 'Let's make a Deal.' hosted by Monty Hall.
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Thomas G. Waites says that he showed up during rehearsals wearing sunglasses and said to John Carpenter, "I want everyone to call me Windows from now on." For a reason that none of the actor's ever found out, Carpenter agreed and left that in the film.
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Clark is the only U.S. Outpost 31 crew member to be killed by a human (MacReady).
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It is unknown when Palmer or Norris were assimilated but earlier, Fuchs reads to MacReady from Blair's notebook that the burnt remains of the alien still contain some cellular activity; they are not dead yet. This implies that the alien could still take any of the science crew although these events are never shown in the film. Later, Fuchs suggests to MacReady that if it only takes a small part of the alien to take over an entire organism, then people should eat out of tincans and only eat meals that they have cooked and prepared by themselves as this would be a way for the alien to prevail, again implying that the alien could get to you slowly just by touching without having to assimilate immediately. There is a scene earlier in the film, in which the infected dog is seen walking into a room, and an unidentified man's shadow can be seen on the opposite wall. This implies that the dog infected either Palmer or Norris at this point.
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Garry's revolver, which Macready later uses, is a Colt Trooper Mk III.
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The Flesh Flower is actually an incredibly detailed effect. Its petals are 12 dog tongues complete with rows of canine teeth. Rob Bottin dubbed it the 'pissed-off cabbage'.
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In the narrative behind if a person was aware if they were assimilated by a thing is completely false because when the Thing assimilates a person, that person dies. The Thing is doing a perfect impression of you and hiding behind the mask of your face and tapping into your memories for useful behaviors to fool those around it. In the film, assimilated human beings setup MacReady as a red herring as well as other acts of sabotage. If you were alive and aware, you would surely wonder what you were doing trying to implicate other members of the team. This is also corroborated in the novelization.
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In the narrative as to why Norris had a heart attack when he is the thing is because in the television version, an additional voice over at the beginning of the film states Norris has a heart condition and his character notes in the screenplay by Bill Lancaster mention it. Sometime after being assimilated by the Thing, we see Norris grimacing with pain while he is taking off the flamethrower on his back before helping the other men board up the outside doors and windows during a moment of stress. A few minutes later, when Norris sees Nauls returning alone from MacReady's shack, he clearly grabs his chest and sweating, as if in great pain before the others run in. Another minute later, while struggling with MacReady, he is thrown to the floor, passes out, and is rushed to the medical room where Copper attempts to revive him, first with CPR, then with the defibrillator. On the 2nd application of the defibrillator, the Norris-Thing reveals itself, biting off Copper's arms. There are two possibilities as to why the Norris-Thing had a heart attack: (1) It was a ploy by the Norris-Thing to get away from the men, faking death with the intention of either escaping or simply waiting for an opportunity to assimilate a lone individual, or (2) when the Thing assimilates a life form, it takes on an exact replica, including diseases and other characteristics. Thus, the Thing was unable to sustain its existence as Norris-Thing because the Norris model's heart had failed. In regards to Theory 1, the Burned Corpse-Thing brought back from the Norwegian camp uses a similar ploy, faking death until it has the opportunity to attack an isolated Bennings. What the Thing may not have counted on was the application of electricity from the defibrillator, which it likely perceived as an attack and prompted its attack on Copper. In regards to Theory 2, the Thing is never shown to have the ability to shape-shift from one person to another, or one creature to another. When the Thing assimilates the dog at the Norwegian camp, it stays in this form until it turns into the amorphous shape it uses for attacking. Since the Thing does not appear to be capable of transforming its shape without directly assimilating another life form, it can be suggested that the Thing is only capable of replicating life forms with which it is in immediate contact. In this theory, the Thing is only able to exactly replicate what it immediately finds. In Norris' case, the Thing replicates Norris exactly, including his heart condition.
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Whether or not Fuchs burned himself or the Thing burned him is hard to say. It is possible that he burns himself upon learning that MacReady could be a Thing after discovering the ripped jacket. He could have burned himself if the Thing had come to attack him. The Thing could have burned him just as a way of getting rid of him. After discovering Fuchs' dead body, MacReady and Nauls head up to MacReady's shack to look around when they see the lights on inside after MacReady had claimed to have turned them off when he left the shack a day ago. Nauls returns alone claiming to have found a torn jacket with MacReady's named on it stuffed in MacReady's oil furnace in the shack (the same torn piece of clothing that Fuchs found on the ground just before his death). (1) Fuchs burned himself after discovering MacReady may be infected. Fuchs may have done this out of fear and confusion. Perhaps the Thing was setting him up as the person who was supposed to expose MacReady. If Fuchs had burned himself, it would explain why the Thing had to re-plant the evidence (the torn piece of clothing with MacReady's name stamped on it) in Mac's shack. (2) Fuchs killed himself by setting himself on fire with the lighted flare he had after a near-attack from the Thing who either followed him outside or was already outside waiting for him. The Thing may have tried to attack Fuchs, and in response Fuchs killed himself to prevent that from happening. This would also explain the evidence being re-planted. An intriguing variation on this theory is that Fuchs realized he himself was being taken over. It's been shown earlier that when a Thing is discovered, it will reveal itself and try to take action, so why would a self-realization not trigger the same reaction. The logic here is that Fuchs somehow realized he had been taken over or at least deduced some reason why there was a good chance of him being taken over. Then either the part of him already assimilated opted to change tactics to "hostile takeover" (similar to what happened to Bennings) or he simply decided to keep the process from being completed. Either way, he stopped it the only way he could, by lighting himself on fire. (3) Fuchs was murdered. The Thing may have killed Fuchs to make sure that there were no scientific minds capable of forming a test, as Blair was locked up and Copper had been drugged. It would have been easy to do; Fuchs was holding a lit flare, so dousing him in fuel would have probably done it. But possibility #3 (this) leads to another unanswered question; why not assimilate him? Fuchs was gone for an extended period of time, and it would have made the men very suspicious. It is important to note that a scene, though never released, details Fuchs as being impaled by a shovel, which would suggest one of the Things killed him. Another possibility is that Norris and Palmer (who were later revealed to be the Things) are seen with flamethrowers. It is possible that one of them got a hold of Mac's jacket and after ripping it he planned on placing it somewhere to frame Mac. But after Fuchs saw him (his shadow), he quickly threw Mac's jacket on the snow, maybe to lure Fuchs out on the open so he could have better shot at killing him with flamethrower. (4) Fuchs accidentally burned himself to death while attempting to fight a Thing. (5) Fuchs deliberately killed himself before he could be assimilated as a Thing.
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The film shot for 40 Days on Stage and 17 on location.
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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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It is unknown if the thing takes over an organism or hides within him is unknown but there seem to be two general ways in which a Thing can imitate another being. The firstway could be dubbed a "hostile takeover". Which is where the Thing uses its tendrils to absorb its prey, while its body functions as some sort of womb where a copy of the absorbed prey is created. We see this occurring with the dogs, and also with Bennings' assimilation. When Blair is conducting the autopsy on the burned corpse of what remains of the dog-Thing he cuts out the half-formed replica of a dog. The Thing essentially makes an extra "copy" from its prey. Each "copy" of the Thing (or "imitations" as they are called in the film) is basically an exact replica or "clone" of the Thing in the form of the person or animal it kills. The other way is where the Thing infects another being with its cells, and the host is being taken over. This last process is most interesting, as it is never explained whether (1) people or animals that have become Things immediately die in the process of being assimilated by the Thing which then mimics its victims voice, actions, and feelings, (2) the victims regain consciousness after assimilation and essentially host the Thing clone apparently unaware that they have been assimilated, until the Thing decides to take over the host's actions, or (3) the victims retain consciousness while being assimilated from within. Several of these mechanisms seem possible, depending on how assimilation occurs, as evidenced in the movie. In the film, evidence is pretty strong in regards to the first theory. It is stated that the Thing, even smaller parts of it (such as blood or Norris spider head), have an interest in self-preservation. This suggests that any actions taken by an infected life form, such as the dog fleeing the Norwegian camp or the Thing planting evidence to frame MacReady, are deliberate actions by the Thing to preserve itself. The Thing perfectly mimics its victim and waits until it has the best opportunity to attack another life form or simply has no choice. The dog-Thing does not attack at the camp until it is isolated with the other dogs, all of which are snarling and presumably about to attack the dog-Thing (dogs having a highly developed sense of smell, and possibly having smelled that this dog-Thing is no real dog). The Norris-Thing does not reveal itself until it is on the table with the defibrillator being applied to its chest. The electric shock of the defibrillator may have been seen as an attack by the Thing. The Palmer-Thing does not reveal itself until the moment when MacReady tests its blood with the hot wire, attacking because it knows it will soon be burned otherwise. The Blair-Thing likewise avoids the other men until it is confronted in the bunker. All situations suggest the possibility that the Thing has entirely assimilated life forms and is imitating them until forced to reveal itself. The computer simulation created by Blair suggests the Thing can replicate by attacking, consuming and replicating cells, presumably using the DNA and material from the attacked life form to reform itself and thus make multiple imitations (clones) of itself. However, in an interview on the Thing DVD special features, Charles Hallahan (Norris) points to the scene in which the men appoint MacReady as leader of the group following Windows' attempt to retrieve a shotgun from storage. Norris, who is presumably the Thing at this point, is originally offered the role of leader by Garry but declines stating that he doesn't believe he is up for it. Hallahan states that he always believed Norris knew at this point something was wrong with him and refused the offer because of the slight feeling that he may be the Thing, which directly supports the second theory. Norris later has a heart attack, which could be seen as an element of the real Norris and his heart condition or it could have been a ploy by the Norris-Thing to attempt to gain isolation from the group. It should be noted though that one of the co-producers of the film, Stuart Cohen, expressed surprise at Hallahan for this theory and said it had never been discussed. Therefore it can be assumed that this was only Hallahan's thinking and does not chime with the intentions of the film makers themselves. Of course, it is also possible that The Thing was acting as Norris would in an attempt to remain hidden as long as possible and that Norris would have turned down the offer of the gun if he hadn't already been assimilated. According to the third theory, it is possible that, if an organism is infected with cells of a Thing, it would be conscious while it is being assimilated from the inside. This theory implies that assimilation normally occurs through infection with a few cells that slowly start to multiply and assimilate the host cells inside. This would explain how Blair (and possibly Fuchs) got infected during the alien autopsy. If Norris was also infected this way, then his actions (i.e: refusing a leadership position) are explainable. If this theory is correct, then assimilation would normally be a slow process; the host could become aware of his infection and attempt to take action against the Thing, possibly making his condition known in order to be destroyed along with the Thing. There is a possibility that Fuchs noticed he was being taken over and, therefore, killed himself. Alternatively, if assimilation needs to proceed quicker, then the Thing simply attacks its victim to cause more infections. This means that the host's cells are taken over much faster, and assimilation occurs almost immediately (as per the first theory). This may be what we see during the assimilation of Windows by Palmer-Thing; as he is bitten and is almost instantly taken over. Regardless of theory, it is clear that the Thing becomes capable of controlling the assimilation or host, retains their memories and skills, and uses them in whatever way possible to its advantage.
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The reason they had so many guns at the artic outpost was because of Cold War paranoia, especially given that the prequel film establishes a Soviet military base to be located a few miles away despite going against the Antarctic treaty (which states guns aren't permitted in Antarctica) in event that they were to be attacked by Soviets. Note the rifles Windows reaches for are locked in a cabinet that he has to break open, possibly due to the desire to save them for emergencies. As for Garry having the revolver; Garry is clearly the station manager and likely a sort of security guard as well. Being in the most hostile and isolated part of the world, it's possible for someone to have a mental breakdown and become dangerous, harming themselves or others (as Lars was initially believed to have done in the opening scene). Garry carries the sidearm likely as a precautionary measure in case any members of the research station try and attack one another, or as we saw at the beginning of the film, to defend the base against an attacking force. However, the novelization mentions that Garry also had some prior military experience, that he mainly carries the sidearm around as much as he does out of habit more than anything else. Palmer even jokes about wondering when "El Capitan was going to get a chance to use his pop gun", possibly suggesting that Garry's constant holding of his gun has occasionally been the subject of ridicule. In general, people--whether they are hunters, privateers, archeologists, explorers or whatever--harboring a particular amount of firearms (as well as medical supplies and firefighting equipment, or other special tools) in a wilderness setting, away from civilization and civil services (albeit law enforcement or friendly military) has never been particularly unusual. The volume of such means and ways typically reflects the situation/environment at hand.
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The reason Palmer drew attention to the Norris spider-head thing was because such exposure would make Palmer look more human and help him gain a little more trust. Palmer only speaks out when Windows has also seen the spider-head. Palmer-Thing might normally have been willing to let the head escape but, once it had been seen by a human, its survival was compromised anyway. Hence Palmer-Thing could as well take the opportunity to make an exclamation (acting like a "surprised human"), thus diverting suspicion from himself. Whatever the reason, it is clear in the movie that Thing imitations (clones) do not necessarily look out for other Thing imitations, and they are described in the short story as being "selfish". Mac himself says that they would crawl away from a hot needle to save itself. It is also possible that Palmer was still self-conscious and, thus, would react normally and bring attention to the Norris spider-head. As Mac says "Watchin' Norris in there gave me the idea that... maybe every part of him was a whole, every little piece was an individual animal with a built-in desire to protect its own life.". Which perfectly mirrors the human's in the film. They work together until one of them is compromised, then they turn against each other until they know they're safe again.
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It is strange that a flamethrower would be used by occupiers of bases in Antarctica , especially that all of bases based in Antarctica are scientific, the flamethrowers normally being military equipment. It is possible that the flamethrowers are used to thaw the locations of bases that were attacked by frost and snow at the basis.
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The song Nauls listens to is "Superstitious" by Stevie Wonder, foreshadowing the events to come in the film.
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The miniature model UFO built for The Thing (1982) was built by model-maker Susan Turner and was constructed principally of ABS plastic in order to avoid problems with heat generated by its 144 circling lights. The model had numerous brass-etched pieces and was airbrush painted by hand.
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Wilford Brimley was cast as Blair as they wanted an everyman whose absence would not be questioned by the audience until the appropriate time. The intent with this character was to have him become infected early on off screen, so that his status would be unknown to the audience, concealing his intentions.
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Another debatable theory that arises from whether or not Childs was an imitation is the scene where Palmer hands Childs his cigarette while they're watching a quiz show on a monitor. As it was around the time MacReady and Copper returned to the base, Palmer may have been assimilated at this point, and possibly once he passed the cigarette to Childs, it may have been contaminated at the time, leading to further speculation that Childs may have been an imitation as well.
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When the Norwegian is firing his rifle at the dog there is no muzzle flash. However a muzzle flash is seen when Garry fires his pistol in the next scene.
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In the narrative as to why the dog thing didn't assimilate Clarke despite having many opportunities to do so, is that it was far too early; the Norwegian threat (for the Thing) had been eliminated, and it was safe for now. It probably wanted to scope out the entire camp before going after anyone; look for isolated parts of the camp that would be good to assimilate other victims. The Thing may have also considered that, in the event it was discovered, Clark would be a liability because of his seclusion with the dog. In an interview on the Thing DVD, Richard Masur calls Clark the red herring in the script. The Thing is smart, almost as if it is playing chess with the men in the camp. It knows how to misdirect suspicion on the un-assimilated, to keep suspicion away from those who were assimilated. Therefore suspicion would definitely be on Clark because of his isolation with the dog, leaving it free to assimilate someone not suspected while all eyes were fixed on Clark. Also, the Thing may have simply been biding its time. It decided to stay hidden until it was alone with Palmer or Norris, and then again when locked in the cage with the other dogs. It waits for a few moments, thinking it's completely secluded and able to assimilate all the other dogs, then having significantly more numbers on its side. Unfortunately for the Thing, Clark heard the commotion as did MacReady, leading everyone in the camp to discover it.
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The script was by someone (Bill Lancaster) whose father was an actor (Burt Lancaster) and who played the same character (Wyatt Earp) in an adaption of a real life event (Gunfight at the OK Corral) as did the star (Kurt Russell) of this film in yet another adaptation of that same event (Tombstone).
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Clark is shown to care deeply for the sled dogs, as during the Kennel he interrupts the other members by grabbing their shotguns when they suggest killing the dogs and later goes back to the kennel and is seen staring at the dead bodies of the sled dogs that were unscathed by the Thing but were killed by Blair.
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It is unknown when Blair was infected but it it has been theorized when Blair kill the dogs and destroy everything,at this point, it is very clear that Blair understands the situation and feels that his comrades do not. He is afraid that the Thing will escape and infect the entire planet. He kills the dogs, destroys the helicopter, and destroys the tractor to isolate the men. Although Blair says, "no dog can make it a thousand miles to the coast," he was more or less referring to a dog on its own, and not a team with a master. He may have also killed the dogs to prevent infection when we see Clark at the dog kennel sorrowfully looking at a dead dog with a fire axe in it's neck, though we know that an axe would not be sufficient enough to prevent that but keep in mind that Blair has lost his sanity at this point. Blair destroys the radio so that no outside help can be reached; it could be another way out. If this was the case (that Blair was assimilated after his lock-up), it was either Palmer or Norris that got to him while he was locked up in the tool shed. Somewhere during the 48-hour period that Mac refers to on his tape recording would seem logical. The Thing perspective: The Blair-thing would have destroyed the tractor, radio, and helicopter to prevent the men from escaping and to keep them from reaching outside help. The dogs were killed to make his motives seem more human. The Blair-thing's plan worked; he was seeking isolation so that he could build a craft to escape. This makes it look as though the Thing's intentions are not to assimilate the entire Earth, but to simply get off the planet; had the Thing wanted to assimilate the entire planet, it could have just as easily stolen the helicopter as Palmer and fly to the nearest base, country, whatever but this assumes that the thing would only be able to pilot a helicopter as Palmer but this does not seem likely as it is building some kind of craft as Blair/thing. Just before being locked up, Blair tells Mac to watch out for Clark. Again there are two plausible possibilities as to what he meant, depending on whether he was infected yet. If Blair was still human, then it would have likely been that since he knew how the Thing worked, he deduced that since Clark had been isolated with the dog-Thing for a long period of time, there was a very strong chance Clark was infected. If Blair was a Thing, then he would have been trying to throw Mac off, drawing suspicion towards a man who was still human whilst the Thing continues to infect the team. Another possible, but remote, theory is that Blair was infected during the autopsy of the burned corpse-Thing or the remains of the dog-Thing. It was a cellular infection which took some time to gain control of his body and "conscious" mind. The Thing gained more control as the cellular infection increased over days. We know this is a considered by Blair. As the infected individual's body is slowly taken over, they remain conscious during this state but unaware that they are infected, but their actions are subtly influenced by the Thing's ever-increasing hold over them. Blair destroyed the dogs, tractor and chopper. The dogs being killed was a completely human response backed by his scientific knowledge that any one of the dogs could have been inadvertently infected during their attack in the kennel cage by hostile or cellular infection. In his destruction of the tractor and chopper, the Thing influenced his decisions. Think about it... The Thing was a masterful strategist. It had been alive for eons and assimilated hundreds, maybe even thousands of beings and intellects, a theory referred to by Fuchs when he has his private conversation with Mac about Blair's notes. Many of its actions had a two-fold and even three-fold win-win situation that still gave it an edge in the final game. Yes, Blair destroyed the tractor and chopper to prevent the infection from spreading to populated areas (human response), but he also destroyed them to hide the fact that he had stolen parts from both. The crew was less likely to investigate a smashed, ripped-apart tractor or chopper to see that all of the parts were there. Blair was well aware of military protocol and knew that his mental breakdown would call for them to isolate him, giving him time to assemble the parts and build a craft to get him to the nearest populated area. The craft was never meant for long distance travel. A third goal in destroying the tractor, chopper and communications was to prevent anyone from getting out until they were ALL infected. Military protocol would have been to capture and quarantine all parties involved until it was determined who was human and who was not. The Thing could not take the chance of someone contacting the rescue team and revealing the alien infection. However, Blair was not the only one who may have been infected by cellular means during the autopsy, as Fuchs may have also been infected! We see Blair performing the autopsy and Fuchs "sniffing" and going through the clothes of the Burned Corpse-Thing and other items there. Those garments and items are soiled with possible dried blood and other body fluids. Fuchs is seen standing there listening to Blair while going through the items without gloves or other personal protective equipment. Since the scene ends this way we can assume that Fuchs assisted Blair in other ways during this autopsy even if it was just "Hold this" or "Move that." Cellular infection is highly probable at this point. This theory would also explain Fuchs' disappearance. By the time he talked to Mac, he knew that cellular infection was a strong possibility. Blair at this point was isolated and locked up (or so we thought), but Blair was secretly moving about the camp collecting and assembling the last of the parts and tools he needed to finish his craft. It is very possible that it was Blair who killed the power and walked past Fuchs' door in the dark. By the time Fuchs got outside to chase this suspicious person, he found Mac's undergarments. If cellular infection was possible, by this time Fuchs' actions would be influenced subconsciously as well, since he was infected during the same time period as Blair. Thus, after finding Mac's undergarments, Fuchs heads to Mac's shack, possibly planning to snoop around for more proof that Mac was infected before accusing him publicly (clearly a human response). While there, he stuffed Mac's shorts in the oil furnace, this being a subconscious influence by the thing to keep an ally hidden. In all likelihood, Fuchs began to question his own actions on the walk back to the main compound and came to the realization that he "must" be infected to have just done such a strange thing rather than exposing Mac. The Thing only attacks when discovered or "attacked." Why wouldn't a self-realization spark an attack as well? At this point during Fuchs self-realization, the thing begins to reveal itself, going for a more quickened "hostile takeover" of Fuchs rather than the cellular option. As Fuchs begins to change and lose the last of his humanity, he does the only thing he can, setting himself on fire in the snow. Another hint that Blair has been infected before he destroys the radio and communications equipment is that his intentions, as "the thing", are to destroy any means of communication (radios) that will allow the remaining humans of the research outpost to contact the outside world and warn them of "the thing" that they unleashed from the ice. Blair, as "the thing", could prevent the humans from warning the rest of the world to either proceed with caution when approaching the arctic facility, or to isolate or even destroy the facility from afar. Once Blair, as "the thing" was completely sure that the existence of the creature was safe and only known to the remaining humans in the facility, "the thing" could take as much time as it needed to slowly and surely assimilate the rest of the crew. While Blair may have been infected on a cellular level when he autopsied the first remains of the thing early on in the film, it was slowly infiltrating his entire body, copying him slowly, to the point that Blair might have realized what was going on, causing his intense paranoia, enough to where he breaks down completely and attempts to kill everyone and destroy the communication equipment. The theory of cellular assimilation is possibly debunked by what happens to Bennings. The dog runs up to him and licks him, in theory this would be enough to begin cellular transformation yet he is the first on screen aggressive assimilation we see. If he was already being infected on a cellular level which is easier to hide why would this be necessary? A sign that Blair was himself when he was first quarantined in the outdoor shed by the others was that when MacReady and the others talk to him from outside the shed door to ask the whereabouts of Fuchs, we see that Blair had hung a noose from the ceiling, possibly in an attempt to hang himself before the thing had time to take over. Perhaps he realized that his remains would still have cellular activity and he figured suicide was pointless. Perhaps he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Or perhaps he made the noose intending suicide, then his mind was finally assimilated and the thing stopped him from taking his own life. It's also worth noting that in the same scene, Blair tries to talk Mac into letting him back into the main camp. The Blair-Thing was clearly taking advantage of its isolation, so it seems strange that it would run the risk of joining back up with the rest of the men, since he would not be able to continue working on his craft without drawing suspicion. Thus it would be logical to say that Blair was human (or at least in the process of being assimilated) at this point; he really did feel bad about his actions and want to leave the shack. But the other alternative is that the noose was a ruse. If Blair was a thing at that point, he would want to give the appearance of being normal, while still remaining isolated. A human Blair would, naturally, want to come back inside. But he would have to come up with a way to prevent that, without looking suspicious so he could keep working on the underground spaceship. If you were human, and trying to plead your case that you're recovered, would you leave something as obvious as a noose hanging over your shoulder? It has the same effect as saying you're sane while eating a bug. It's entirely plausible that Blair rigged the noose as an insurance policy on the off-chance that the men would decide on their own to let him back in, or talk to him at some point. He begs to be let back in, but anyone talking to him would be able to see the noose hanging behind him, and would then assume that he's still not all there. MacReady certainly notices it, as after Blair's normal conversation and outward appearance of being back to normal, his only reply to Blair about being allowed back into the outpost is a rather non-committal, "We'll see", followed by cutting him off mid-sentence as he further pleads to be let back inside. One theory that Blair has been infected early on is that he deliberately gets himself isolated by acting insane and out of control. Once he's alone in the cabin, outside of the surveillance of the other remaining crew members, he can begin digging the tunnel under the shed and building his ship that will allow him to escape to the mainland, or possibly even to outer space. In the original story, "Who Goes There?" on which this movie is based, the character or Blair has a nervous breakdown and they isolate him in solitary confinement in a cabin. Like the movie, the short story never states when exactly Blair was assimilated, but it is possible that he was assimilated beforehand and fakes the nervous breakdown. In the cabin, the Thing, in Blair's body, begins building an anti-gravity device to get back into space, or to leave Antarctica, but before it can complete it, the other crew members realize what is happening and they kill the Blair-Thing before it could complete its objective. Carpenter and Producer Stuart Cohen have indicated that their plan was for Blair to have been infected at a very early time, as he is in Campbell's short story. Cohen goes on to indicate that MacReady's line upon the discovery of the spaceship, "Blair's been busy out here all by himself" is to indicate that Blair was a thing for quite awhile, long enough to have adequate time to build the spacecraft. It's also worth noting that between the scene where he runs the computer simulation, and the time we see him again destroying the radio room, the yellow button-down shirt he was wearing has disappeared. The theory is that the thing rips through your clothes when it takes you over, so the disappearance of the shirt between the two appearances could definitely be because the shirt was destroyed in the take-over. We certainly see that the take-over destroys clothing, as Windows sees Bennings' destroyed shirt and vest in the storeroom after seeing Bennings in mid transformation. Fuchs tells MacReady in the Thiokol Snowcat that Blair "Locked himself in his room and won't answer the door." The assumption is that he's despondent after running the simulation, or is prepping for what he's about to do, but it's also possible that after running the simulation and taking the gun, he was surprised by Norris or Palmer and assimilated during that time. As we see when Blair attacks Garry, all Norris or Palmer would have to do is be standing outside Blair's door and put their hand over Blair's mouth to prevent a scream, and the assimilation would already be happening. Then they would just lead Blair back inside and lock the door behind them. That would explain why Blair loses the shirt he's been wearing all along prior to the radio room rampage.
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The reason Child's abandoned his post as he claims later to have seen Blair outside. It seemed like a rational statement, as he knew for sure there were only three other people still alive and one person who they were not certain about. Since the other three survivors had left in a group, the one isolated individual walking away might have been the Blair-Thing, having escaped from the shack. Also, moments after the group see Childs run out of the base, the power goes out, suggesting Childs did see Blair. Of course, all of the survivors were both under a lot of stress as well as exhausted and sleep-deprived, which would have made it harder for them to think clearly, so it possible that Childs was hallucinating or that his mind was otherwise playing tricks on him. It's interesting to note; when the group goes to give Blair the test, there is a long ominous shot of the facility. The camera pans into the coat room where Childs was guarding, Childs is gone, the door has been left open and snow had begun to build up at the entrance. Moments later, Nauls sees Childs run outside. It's possible Childs was attacked and assimilated, and we see the now-infected Childs run off into the storm. It's also possible that Childs was searching all around the facility for Blair and we simply see him running through a corridor.
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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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In the narrative as to why Macready shoots Clark in the head, whilst Norris was being treated in the infirmary, Clark grabs a scalpel off a table and hides it. In the next scene when MacReady wants to tie everybody down in order to do the blood test, Clark moves closer to Mac, pretending to support him in his idea. When Mac is arguing with Childs, Clark pulls out the scalpel and charges at Mac. So Mac turns and shoots Clark in the head. The shots of the scalpel are done in the foreground while something relatively important is happening in the background so lots of viewers miss Clark holding the scalpel. Lots of viewers thought Clark was just going to punch Mac, making Mac shooting him a bit extreme. Clark hiding the scalpel in his hand is much more clearly seen in the widescreen versions of the movie. The pan and scan versions omit Clark's hand holding the scalpel which would otherwise be on the far left of the screen. Also, at this point it was everyone against Mac. Everyone thought Mac was infected, so for Mac it was kill or be killed. Even if Clark had just intended to tackle MacReady, shooting him would have been Mac's only option. If Mac had simply tried to fight Clark, the rest of the team probably would of joined in and fought Mac, over-powering him. However, because Mac was willing to shoot Clark, it showed the rest of the team that he wasn't afraid to kill someone who made an attempt on him. Which is why as soon as Mac shoots Clark, we cut to everyone else already tied up. After Mac administers the test to Clark's blood and he's ruled out as assimilated, Childs calls Mac a murderer. However, Mac was also acting in self-defense.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

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.
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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!!"
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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."
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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".
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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.
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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.
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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.
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An eye-light was used to create a gleam in the eyes of all the actors in the blood-test scene except Palmer.
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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.
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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.
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According to the calculations it will take 3.02 years for world wide infection.
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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.
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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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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 burned.

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.

Scene where Blair-thing attack Nauls was in fact filmed but was removed by Carpenter because the effects weren't good, and even the test audience laughed at them.

Blair-thing was originally shown onscreen much longer in really bad stop-motion scene which Carpenter deleted.
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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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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).
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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.
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Many have theorized about the film's ambiguous ending, with people debating over whether Childs is a thing or not. The most popular piece of "evidence" is the bottle of scotch MacReady hands Childs at the end. MacReady had been throwing Molatav Cocktails throughout the camp earlier, and it's said that this bottle is filled with gasoline as well, not scotch. The Thing, not knowing what alcohol tastes like or knowing the difference between it and gasoline, drinks it while Childs would have spit it out. Going further, the music swells as Childs drinks, the music having been an indicator of the Thing's presence throughout the rest of the film. Exhausted and having already excepted his fate, MacReady watches the camp burn, unable to fight. Detractors of this theory point out the 2011 prequel, which says that the Thing cannot recreate inorganic materials, and Childs still has his earring in at the end of the movie. John Carpenter has acknowledged this theory, with most saying that he does not believe either of them are a Thing at the end of the film, though some have said he's reported otherwise. Whichever side you choose to believe, the ending is pretty bleak either way.
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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.
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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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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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Anytime a human is revealed as a "thing", this one loses his ability to talk, screaming or making deep nonsense noises.
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There is a fan theory which some have even pointed out over the years (much to John Carpenter's rebuttal) that as soon as Blair's lips touched the tip of the pencil eraser that made contact with the Kennel-Thing during his report the cells had already begun assimilating and slowly spreading throughout him. John Carpenter maintains that this wasn't in the script nor was it his intention and it's just an accident made by the actor. Other claim that even if this actually happened in-universe it wasn't sufficient enough to cause take over. However if this were the case he felt himself being assimilated by the thing and what was left of his humanity went bezerk. Even imitating his rant (from a deleted scene) of no one getting off of Antarctica alive when he ambushed Garry
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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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Coincidentially, Charles Hallahan suffered a heart attack in '97 and passed away, like his character Norris (or the remains of Norris, as the thing is already growing inside, ready to fully assimilate him) does.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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