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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.
It has become a tradition in British Antarctic research stations to watch The Thing (1982) as part of their Midwinter feast and celebration held every June 21.
The film is considered a benchmark in special make-up effects. The effects were created by Rob Bottin, who was only 22 when he started the project.
(at around 1h 17 mins) David Clennon's line, "You've got to be fucking kidding." is Kurt Russell's favorite and never fails to make him crack up.
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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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According to John Carpenter, he takes all his failed movies pretty hard, but the film's initial negative reception disappointed him the most. Not only was it a box-office bomb but critics panned its gory effects, tone, and characters. Vincent Canby, called it "too phony looking to be disgusting. It qualifies only as instant junk". Dave Kehr wrote that it was "hard to tell who's being attacked, and hard to care." Likewise Roger Ebert was disappointed by the "superficial characterizations and the implausible behavior" and dismissed the film as nothing more than an Alien (1979) knockoff. Carpenter was particularly upset when Christian Nyby, the director of the original The Thing from Another World (1951), 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." In response to the commercial bombing of the film, the studio canceled the multi-picture deal they had with Carpenter who noted that his career would have been different if the film had been successful. Not surprisingly, he was extremely relieved when the film enjoyed a rich cult success following its home video release along with the critical re-evaluation it received.
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Unused music composed for this film was later used by Ennio Morricone in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (2015). Ironically, Morricone's Thing score was nominated for a Razzie for worst score, while his score for Hateful Eight won him an Oscar.
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(at around 15 mins) When the dog wanders down a hallway and pauses outside a door, a shadow can be seen 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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One day after shooting a scene with the flamethrower, Kurt Russell pulled a practical joke on John Carpenter by covering his face and head with bandages and claiming he had gotten burned.
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The opening title attempts to replicate the appearance of 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 smoke-filled fish tank which was covered with a plastic garbage bag. The bag was ignited, creating the effect of the title burning onto the screen.
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Kurt Russell took about a year to grow the famous beard and hair MacReady sports.
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Kurt Russell took a drag on a cigarette at the beginning of certain shots in order to make the breath appear more visible.
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John Carpenter was sold on making the film by the blood test scene. He was also adamant to create a monster movie where the creature wasn't obviously played by a man in a suit, something that had bothered him somewhat while watching "Alien (1979)."
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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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This is the first of John Carpenter's feature 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. Morricone's score would be dubiously nominated for a Razzie award for worst score.
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The film's budget ($15 million) was substantially larger than the average horror films of the time. Friday the 13th (1980) had cost a mere $700k while John Carpenter's original Halloween (1978) had been a paltry $375,000.
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The sound effects in the autopsy scene on the split-face thing was accomplished with paper towels soaked in egg yolk.
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(at around 14 mins) 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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Opened the same day as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982). The similarities don't end there; both movies met with unfavorable reactions by critics after the premiere and they were beaten by the more positive and kind Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), the biggest hit of that year. From early 90s ahead The Thing and Blade Runner are considered as some of the greatest films ever made.
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The producers attribute the film's disappointing box-office performance to audiences' desire for a more benign interpretation of an alien presence on earth, as a result of Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), which was released several weeks prior.
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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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The female voice on MacReady's computer was performed (uncredited) by then-wife of John Carpenter, Adrienne Barbeau.
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While discussing the character of MacReady, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell discussed having MacReady be a former Vietnam War helicopter pilot who was involved in some sort of tragedy and since felt disgraced by his service. Because of this, MacReady suffers from PTSD, alcoholism, and severe insomnia. This backstory ultimately did not make it into the finished film, though it explains why MacReady was awake to hear the dogs whining and why he isn't fazed by the grotesque violence. It also adds deeper context to the line "I'm a real light sleeper, Childs."
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Sound editor Colin C. Mouat achieved the dogs' cries in the film by rounding up all the neighborhood dogs, placing them in his house and furtively stalking around in a dark trench coat with the collar up while tapping on windows and rattling doors to frighten them.
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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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In 1982 before its release, Fangoria magazine had a contest: people were asked to '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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Season 1, Episode 8 of "The X-Files" (The X-Files: Ice (1993)) is a direct homage to this film.
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Based on the classic short story "Who Goes There?" by pioneering science fiction Editor John W. Campbell Jr..
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The film was originally banned when released in Finland.
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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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Editor Todd C. Ramsay was the first to point out issues with the Thing's pathology, when he explained to John 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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Nick Nolte turned down the role of MacReady, as did Jeff Bridges. Bill Lancaster wrote the script with Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood in the lead role, and both men were considered. On top of this, a relatively unknown Fred Ward campaigned for the role.
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(at around 14 mins) 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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John Carpenter took pains to create mainly muted tones of color in both costumes and sets so that Rob Bottin's eye popping colorful gore would leap off the screen.
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The final confrontation with the Thing required the assistance of 50 technicians.
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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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Part of the fear underlying the story was the rising fear of AIDS, then making itself known. The idea that you couldn't tell who was infected just by looking at them, only blood tests would reveal it, was not lost on the writers. Cleverly, on the wall of the outpost's rec room, where the infamous blood test scene occurs, hangs a WWII era poster warning of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, showing a cartoon of an exaggeratedly promiscuous woman holding a tag marked "I have VD!" The poster bears the title "THEY AREN'T LABELLED, CHUM", encapsulating the idea of the plot, that dangers can be as destructive as they are hidden.
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John Carpenter was incredibly impressed with the work done by the dog who is taken over by the Thing. The real dog's name was Jed, and the shot of him walking down the hallway and searching for a human was done in only about 4 or 5 takes.
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(at around 1h 4 mins) 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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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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Two characters in the movie are nicknamed "Mac" (MacReady's shorthand nickname) and "Windows" (a nickname inspired by the fact that the character always wears glasses). Since the film was made in 1982, this is purely coincidental and has nothing to do with Apple's and Microsoft's famous rival tech brands.
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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. John 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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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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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 actors ever found out, Carpenter agreed and left that in the film.
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(at around 29 mins) The tentacles that Clark sees in the dog cage are whips being maneuvered by Rob Bottin.
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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 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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The sound effect of the Antarctic wind was actually recorded in the desert outside Palm Springs.
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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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Actor Franklyn Ajaye came to read for Nauls, but instead critiqued John Carpenter for 15 minutes on the stereotypical nature of Nauls as a black character. The meeting ended in a frosty silence.
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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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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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The original movie, The Thing from Another World (1951), took place in Arctic (North Pole). This version takes place in Antarctica (South Pole).
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(at around 1h 4 mins) 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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Tobe Hooper was originally slated to direct and co-write the film before John Carpenter was attached. Hooper's version would've been drastically different from the Carpenter version, featuring an alien that did not shapeshift or assimilate, and following an Ahab-like character named "The Captain" who goes on an epic quest to find and kill The Thing. The film would've served as its own film and as both a remake and sequel to the 1951 film, with little influence from John W Campbell Jr.'s novella, which Hooper openly found to be "boring". Hooper also wanted the film to be a horror comedy with slapstick humor. It was pitched as "a swashbuckling action-adventure epic...a modern-day Moby Dick set not in the ocean but at the bottom of the world; Antarctica." Producers Drew Turner and Stuart Cohen were appalled by this pitched script and eventually fired Hooper, with Cohen later saying "we avoided a disaster...it would've been one of the worst movies ever made."
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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 (1982) was also using a black and white advertising campaign and Universal ordered a stop to the desaturated imagery.
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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 just to keep cast and crew warm in winter gear.
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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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(at around 11 mins) Garry wears khakis like those issued to officers and senior enlisted in the US Navy, and Palmer makes an offhand reference to him as El Capitan. While no backstory is offered for the character, taken together these two items suggest he was a former naval officer.
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(at around 1h 1 min) 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 John Carpenter's fear, after seeing an assembly edit, that the movie was "A bunch of men talking indoors".
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(at around 39 mins) The shot of MacReady walking to the small hole in the ice where the alien was buried was filmed on the Universal backlot. The snow, helicopter, and alien ship in the background, basically all of the surroundings, were painted.
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Universal Studio executive Sid Sheinberg added a second tagline, "The ultimate in Alien Terror," simply to have the word "Alien" in there to capitalize on the Ridley Scott film.
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In a cast of 15, there's not one female character in the film (even the 1951 original had female characters). The only female presence in the film is the voice of MacReady's chess computer (and the contestants seen on the game show Palmer watches). A scene containing a female blow-up doll was filmed, then left on the cutting room floor. According to John Carpenter, originally one crew member was female, but she was pregnant, and it forced her to leave the production; she was replaced by a male. In contrast, the film's prequel The Thing (2011) has a female main character.
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The Splitface thing was originally based on a clay press of actor Robert Picardo.
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The SyFy Channel planned to make a four hour mini-series sequel in 2003, but nothing ever came of it. A companion piece, however, was eventually produced in 2011. Also titled "The Thing", it served as both remake and prequel, it tells the story of the Norwegian camp and leads directly into the 1982 film.
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John Carpenter's first foray into major studio film-making.
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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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One of the few "Universal" films which does not open with the "Universal" logo. Others include "The Blues Brothers (1980)" and Steven Spielberg's "1941 (1979)."
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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 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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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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Wilford Brimley, being a real cowboy, didn't have any issues handling some of the disgusting props used in the dissection sequences. When John Carpenter asked him what he thought of in the more intense scenes, Brimley would reply, "I'm picking up my laundry."
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There were many discussions on set about whether someone would know if he was a Thing. Allegedly an agreement was made that if the Thing were a perfect imitation, then whoever was taken over would still believe he was human, not an alien.
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(at around 1h 17 mins) Richard Masur insisted John 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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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 John W. Campbell Jr.'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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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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At the cast and crew screening, the actors including Kurt Russell believed the film had lost a lot of its relationship work due to the monster effects, and matte painter Albert Whitlock called the film offensive. Only Rob Bottin and his crew believed they had made something amazing. Most of the actors also changed their minds about the film in later years.
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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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(at around 40 mins) 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 titled "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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(at around 8 mins) 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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There is constant conversation about how hot the flares were and how much John Carpenter and Kurt Russell burned themselves with them. In the scene where MacReady threatens the camp with dynamite and a flare, he rushed through his dialogue in order to get it all in before the 90-second flare ran out.
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His role as Childs was the first credited feature film role for Keith David. It launched a very prolific career that continues more than 35 years later.
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Entertainment Weekly ranked this as the 12th scariest movie of all time.
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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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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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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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The film was shown on Turkish national television in the summer of 1987 with over 20 minutes cut (a common practice at the time, when viewers would often complain about excessive gore) and therefore it was rather incoherent: Characters would disappear, with the viewer having no clue as to what happened to them. Therefore soon after, a newspaper TV reviewer famously called The Thing "the worst horror movie he'd seen."
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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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Jay Leno, Garry 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. Nauls is played by T.K. Carter, a stand up comic.
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Wilford Brimley laughed at Joel Polis' efforts to study what a biologist does before filming, insisting "This movie is about rubber and steam."
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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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The blue oil barrel in the film's 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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The original Palmer-Thing transformation involved his relatively unaffected head splitting in half and a tentacle lunging out.
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"The only problem with this location was we couldn't get any beer." John Carpenter said about the opening sequence in Alaska.
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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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(at around 30 mins) The first edit of the kennel attack scene seemed very flat until the music editor, Cliff Kohlweck, found at the last minute the low drone sound that begins as MacReady and Co. slowly approach. The drone was a sound effect, an air conditioning unit sound slowed down and pitched.
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The dog-thing sequence was shot in North Hollywood, CA over a two day period. In an interview with SWSCA, Anderson recalled the experience, "I had my arm up in the dog-thing and operated the mouth all the twisting and everything." Anderson would also operate the little 'chicken leg' sticking out the front of the dog with his other hand. And what about that ever-present 'Thing slime' seen throughout the film? To quote Lance, "there was slime constantly running down my back and down my neck." For shots where tentacles slither out from the dog-thing's body, reverse photography was used, which meant Anderson had to puppeteer in reverse, pulling tentacles into the puppet, instead of pushing them out. In addition to the slime and the challenges of reverse puppeteering, Lance was required to wear a leather helmet to protect his head from the explosive squibs the effects department was setting off on the dog-thing above him, which made shooting the sequence almost as scary as the scene itself.
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Wilford Brimley disagreed with the film's level of gore, believing it affected the audience negatively.
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Famed film critics Siskel and Ebert split on this movie. Ebert called it a "barf bag movie", and said it was inferior to other earlier genre entries like alien; while Siskel praised the atmosphere of fear and paranoia the film effectively generates, and said that's what makes the movie work, not the gruesome special effects. It was rare for Siskel to praise an intense thriller like this and for Ebert to slam it; usually it was the other way around (see Poltergeist, Scream, Aliens and Taxi Driver).
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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 computer estimates that once the organism reaches civilization everyone will be wiped out in 27,000 hours. This equals 1,125 days or three years and one month.
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(at around 31 mins) The goop shot at the dog in the kennel scene was Carbopol, the same substance found inside Twinkies. Also having the alien bleed yellow was a conscious effort to make it less human.
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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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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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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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A. Wilfred Brimley was the only cast member not to be involved with the location shooting in British Columbia. This was due to heavy work commitments elsewhere, so the actor had to film his scenes for "The Thing" in the studio in Los Angeles.
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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 Carpenter's The Thing' DGA rules stipulated this appear in the films opening.
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The man leaning out of the helicopter in the opening scene is Larry Franco, who also served as associate producer on the film, first assistant director, and is Kurt Russell's brother-in-law.
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Advertising Art Director Stephen Frankfurt created the "man is the warmest place to hide" tagline. He also designed a 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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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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This was the third and final movie written by Bill Lancaster, with the other two being The Bad News Bears (1976) and its sequel.
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Blair's hangman's rope was an element originally found in Bill Lancaster's screenplay.
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Ennio Morricone deliberately composed a John Carpenter-esque score for this movie.
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The movie begins with the Thing pretending to be a dog and getting shot. Later, Clark can be seen bandaging the dog in the background This was supposed to launch discussions about its high rate of healing when it shrugs off the bandage, but all further scenes surrounding it were cut; Blair (the team doctor) actually brings it up later when he assumes the Thing is pretending to be Clark, asking just how much time he actually spent with the dog before placing it into the kennel.
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Special effects artist Rob Bottin was so dedicated to his work on this film he became very ill with exhaustion, double pneumonia & a bleeding ulcer for which he had to be hospitalized. Bottin also suffered from nightmares of the creatures he was creating.
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The flamethrowers used throughout are M2A1-7s. Palmer uses a different flamethrower, apparently a propane powered model sold commercially used for burning weeds and removing ice from planes and other equipment. The flame on the propane model is very short, at most usually seven feet. Even so, many scenes in the film use genuine, military-spec liquid-fueled flamethrowers, something of a rarity in movies.
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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. The prequel The Thing (2011) would eventually have a scene where a helicopter crashes and its survivors making their way back to camp.
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The film skips an extra layer of dread and urgency that is present in the original short story. Unlike the film where Blair destroys the communication, the crew in the short story had to constantly report back to base pretending everything was fine, resisting the urge to call for help. This is because, in reality, stations in Antarctica must be in regular communication, as otherwise a rescue mission could be dispatched, which was precisely the scenario the characters in the short story wanted to avoid.
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Only the opening few scenes take place in daylight. This is because the film begins during the first week of winter in Antarctica, when the sun does not rise for several months.
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Roy Arbogast and Rob Bottin did not get along well in production, not helped by Bottin replacing Arborgast's friend Dale Kuipers to handle make-up effects.
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(at around 43 mins) In the German and Spanish dubbed versions, the 27,000 hours projection until infection of the entire world population is translated as "27 hours". This great difference was caused because in most of the Europe commas are used to denote the decimal point.
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John Carpenter was initially unsure about making the film, believing that he wouldn't be able to do justice to the 1951 original. It was then suggested to him that he read the original novella instead, which is substantially different. Carpenter saw that adapting the original source material could prove more fruitful. He likened the paranoid nature of the material to an Agatha Christie whodunnit.
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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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David Clennon was originally cast as Bennings, but found the Palmer character more interesting and fun.
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It was in one of the reviews for The Thing that one critic deemed John Carpenter a "pornographer of violence." "That really had me thinking about my career," says Carpenter. "Yeah, that. Not Ghosts of Mars (2001). Being called a pornographer".
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Stan Winston Studio team member Lance Anderson illustrated a more detailed rendering which would serve as the blueprint for the dog-thing sculpture. The next step was to create a life-cast of Anderson holding his arm up, over which Anderson and fellow SWS artists James Kagel and Michiko Tagawa sculpted the dog-thing in oil-based Roma Plastilina clay. When finished, the foam latex dog-thing puppet featured radio-controlled eyes, snarling action, and cable-operated leg movement, yet it was still basically a hand puppet. Winston explained, "Lance Anderson puppeteered it from below an elevated kennel set, actually wearing this dog-thing puppet over his head and upper body."
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Alec Baldwin claims he auditioned for multiple roles in the film, before he became a big name.
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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 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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Although Kurt Russell had been involved with the production very early on, he was actually the last actor to be cast. John Carpenter was leaning towards him but, having already worked with him on Elvis (1979) and Escape from New York (1981), he felt he should consider some other actors. Christopher Walken turned the film down. Jack Thompson and Tom Atkins were in the running before Carpenter relented and cast Russell instead.
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"'It's gonna be fine, John. Once we put the gel on it's gonna come to life.'", Kurt Russell quoting special effects and creature designer Rob Bottin from the set.
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There was nearly a version made in 1978 with an almost identical plot. Differences included in the screenplay, were a few female characters and one character gifted with the power of telepathy. The most significant difference though, was the U.F.O containing the alien would crash-land in present day Earth instead of thousands of years ago.
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Ernie Hudson was the frontrunner to play Childs until John Carpenter met with Keith David and gave him the part. This was David's first significant film role and, being theatrically trained, he really had to rein in his performance. Fortunately, veterans Donald Moffat and Richard Masur were on hand to help him out.
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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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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Rick Baker was approached to handle the visual effects, but he was too busy.
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John Carpenter's next project was to be Firestarter (1984) but he lost that gig when The Thing (1982) didn't do well at the box office.
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Most of the "chest-chomp" sequence was shot on an insert stage after principal photography had wrapped. In a manner of speaking, Norris' chest really did open and it really did bite Copper's arms off. As detailed in the making-of documentary The Thing: Terror Takes Shape, Hallahan spent ten days sitting for molds of his face and body. On the day of the shoot, after eight hours of makeup, he positioned himself inside the operating table with his arms, shoulders, and head exposed and blended into the mechanical fiberglass/foam-latex torso (devised by effects tech Archie Gillett). The "chomp" featured in the film is actually the second take of the stunt (the first pass produced a "Las Vegas" style fountain of blood that displeased John Carpenter).
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The "chest chomp" effect was achieved with a hydraulic mechanism that snapped the cavity open and shut, sinking razor-sharp acrylic "teeth" into two brace-supported replica arms made of Jell-O and gelatin blood tubes (for flesh) and dental wax (for bones). Double-amputee Joe Carone (sporting a mask of actor Richard Dysart) acted as a stand-in, pulling the false limbs back and providing one hell of a reaction shot. The creature's signature urethane tentacles were whipped from underneath the table by an operator, flicking horribly until small explosive charges send a geyser of green ichor (almost certainly some unholy blend of K.Y. jelly) soaring skyward. The stalk-creature is revealed: a suspended marionette operated by wires from above. Robert E. Worthington supervised the construction of six different "stalk thing" heads, each with their own range of radio-controlled expressions. The heads were maneuvered through a hole in the false ceiling sneakily hidden through camera-placement.
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The kennel dog was required to raise its head and squeal at the camera. In this excerpt from The Winston Effect by Jody Duncan, Stan Winston revealed that time constraints dictated his approach to creating the character: With no time to engineer sophisticated mechanical components, Winston designed the dog-thing essentially as a hand puppet. He started by taking a photograph of himself standing with his arm raised, as if in a puppeteering position, and then drew a dog-thing shape that would fit over the silhouette of his head and arm. "I designed the character to fit the puppeteer," said Winston.
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(at around 26 mins) The quiz show featured on the TV in Palmer's room is Let's Make a Deal (1963) hosted by Monty Hall.
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In the original novella, there are 37 characters at the remote Arctic location. Writer Bill Lancaster reduced it down to 12, and changing Arctic by Antarctica.
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The film shot for 40 days on a soundstage and 17 days on location.
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(at around 41 mins) The computer sequence showing how the alien takes over its prey was designed by John C. Wash, a friend of John Carpenter's from USC, who also designed the opening computer graphics in Escape from New York (1981). During an early test screening, someone made a note that those type of graphics and the program didn't exist at the time. Likewise, Carpenter and Kurt Russell remember playing a lot of Pong (1972) on set.
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Cinematographer Dean Cundey pushed for the use of anamorphic lenses which allow him to hold several actors in the corners of the frame, thus heightening the sense of paranoia that drives the film.
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Richard Matheson, Nigel Kneale and Deric Washburn were all approached about writing the screenplay.
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When development for the film began in the mid 1970s, the rights to the material sat with Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins. They declined to do anything with the property so Universal picked up the rights.
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The shot of the Norris head's descent to the floor was done with gravity and Norris-Thing's exploratory tongue-whip was accomplished with a reversed action shot of retracted cables. The head pulling itself by its tongue involved operators hiding beneath the desk, manipulating cables and translucent fishing line. The transformation where the head sprouts crab-like legs and exaggerated eyestalks took place on an elevated set with a phony floor, with operators below pushing everything up and out through the hollow head. under the desk, screaming, the crab creature's mouth and limb movements were operated with remote controls and cables. The final b-line for the door consisted of a fake head mounted on a radio-controlled car. The creature's legs were fashioned out of thin aluminum tubes linked directly with the effect's motor, which is to say: if the car sped up, so would the legs. Each leg was connected to camshafts (a machine element with linkages used to transform rotary motion into linear motion), which gave the impression of natural appendage movement.
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In a 1982 interview Rob Bottin revealed that the idea for a man's stomach ripping open into a big mouth and biting off another man's arms was something he said to John Carpenter jokingly. Carpenter laughed but added "that's not a bad idea".
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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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While John Carpenter normally wrote his own screenplays, he didn't want to with this project. He was tired after completing Escape from New York (1981) and writing The Philadelphia Experiment (1984) at the same time.
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Donald Pleasence was originally set to play Blair but because Treasure of the Yankee Zephyr (1981) went over schedule and budget, he was forced to withdraw from the role.
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Kurt Russell is always fascinated with directors who are able to make a group of people standing around a table and talking interesting to the audience. Cut to years later with Russell working with Quentin Tarantino for Death Proof (2007) and The Hateful Eight (2015).
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The opening sequence is one of the experiences that made John Carpenter want to learn to fly a helicopter. Also the opening is all 2nd unit not shot by Carpenter himself.
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An American research station in Antarctica, or any nations research station for that matter, would not have in their inventory, a military grade flamethrower as there would be no need for a weapon like that at all.
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In the Howard Hawks film, the titular Thing is recognizably human, in part because 1950s technology couldn't write the special effects checks Campbell's short story wanted to cash. Due to its limitations and budget, the titular Thing does not transform at all and is instead rejigged into a sentient, self-duplicating vampiric plant-based lifeform. Or, as Carpenter once put it: "a blood-drinking carrot from outer space." In terms of its design, the 1951 Thing (played by James Arness) is really just a frigid Frankenstein without the pathos; a hulking golem with a raised forehead, rubber hands, and a jumpsuit. After forty-minutes of build-up, the film largely obscures Arness in shadow, a move Rob Bottin would absolutely respect (when it came to lighting his creations, Cundy describes Bottin as "sensitive"). Shots of Arness' imposing silhouette and the film's impressive immolation sequence are when the creature is at its most effective. But, all told, the film doesn't innovate beyond the simplistic standard of the time. With the 1950s monster movies of his childhood (and Ridley Scott's Alien) in mind, Carpenter was extremely concerned with avoiding a creature design that would read on-camera as "just a guy in a suit" This bugbear is, in part, why he encouraged Bottin to let his imagination run wild, as well as why he took solace in the chest-chomp scene. It's a sequence that fails, at all levels, to register as human. When Carpenter first saw the finished product of the chest sequence, he felt, "A great sense of relief because what I didn't want to end up with, in this movie, was a guy in a suit."
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The helicopter featured in the opening scene is a Bell 206.
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Of the film's $15 million budget, $1.5 million of that went on Rob Bottin's make-up effects. This represented the most that the studio had ever spent on creature effects.
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The sound made by the spider-head is a stock effect from the Universal library that had previously been heard in Tarantula (1955) and The Deadly Mantis (1957). Both films featured Kurt Russell's father Bing Russell in small roles and are also personal favorites of director John Carpenter.
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(at around 12 mins) When 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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While Donald Pleasence, who was originally cast as Blair, was not in the film, a subtle nod to him did make it to the screen. In the rec-room when the team is discussing going to check out the Norwegian camp, on the book shelf a prop from the TV show Mrs. Columbo is visible. The book, titled "Seven Who Beat The Headsman" was a fictional book written by Ian A. Morley - a character portrayed by Pleasence.
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Screenwriter Bill Lancaster only wrote six films in his career: The Thing and five entries in the Bad News Bears (1976) franchise. He also wrote a draft of the screenplay for Firestarter (1984) when John Carpenter was going to direct it, but they were both replaced when The Thing did poorly at the box office.
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Garry's revolver, which MacReady later uses, is a Colt Trooper Mk III.
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MacReady carries a 12 gauge Ithaca 37 shotgun several times.
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Prior to production, John Carpenter nearly quit, believing that his dream project of "El Diablo" was about to go into production. While he was out of the running, Universal considered Walter Hill, Sam Peckinpah and Michael Ritchie to take over.
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the Kennel scene shows all three on-screen deaths of the crew: being shot, being consumed, and being set on fire. Additionally, only 2 dogs escape the kennel.
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Richard Masur and Richard Dysart co-star in The Thing together. Later they would co-star on L.A. Law together as well.
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Coincidentally, there's foreshadowing that the humans are evenly matched. Six out of the twelve have last names ending with the letter 'S' (Nauls, Childs, Fuchs, Windows, Bennings, Norris). The others who don't (MacReady, Copper, Palmer, Blair, Garry, Clark) half of them were confirmed human. Eventually down to 1:1 ratio infected/non infected.
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Blair's revolver is a, 3rd Generation Colt Detective Special from his desk drawer.
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A Heckler & Koch HK93A2 semi-auto rifle with a scope and a 40 round magazine is used at the beginning of the film by the Norwegian with Rifle (Kurt Russell's brother-in-law at the time of filming Larry Franco) to try and kill the infected dog while flying in the helicopter. After the helicopter lands, the passenger hands it to the pilot (Norbert Weisser), who pursues the dog on foot. This scene has in part been reproduced for the prequel, and the passenger renamed Lars. Interestingly, any viewers who speak Norwegian would have the early reveal of the movie ruined in this very first scene, as the armed man explains the nature of the threat. While Norway has never officially used the HK33 or HK93 in any role, most of the Norwegian defence force used a Norwegian clone of the G3 on license, called the AG3, as the primary issue rifle from 1962 to 2005. The use of the HK93 could therefore be a homage to the AG3, or possibly be used simply because a G3, AG3 or HK91 was not available to the film armorer.
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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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The fire alarm uses the same sound used in Spies Like Us (1985) when the movie theater transforms.
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When Kurt Russell arrived at Universal studios there was a sign welcoming Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds who were filming The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982). No word on whether Wilford Brimley ever sang "I Will Always Love You".
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Kurt Russell and Donald Moffat appeared together in The Best of Times (1986).
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When researching on the computer the projection of if the intruder organism reaches civilized areas the entire world population would be infected 27,000 hours from first contact. 27,000 hours is 1125 days
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

(at around 8 mins) 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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(at around 1h 24 mins) 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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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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Studio executive Ned Tanen gave Carpenter 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 dog/Thing was created by Stan Winston, who declined screen credit as he didn't want to take away from Rob Bottin's work. Mr Winston receives a special "thank you" in the closing credits.
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(at around 1h 15 mins) 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 around 1h 16 mins) 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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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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Multiple alternative endings were filmed, with even more endings planned and considered to some capacity. One ending cuts to some time later, where MacReady has been rescued to civilization and passes a blood test for a mysterious government agent who somehow knows what The Thing is. This ending was filmed solely as a precaution and was never used, even for test screenings, as John Carpenter wanted a more upbeat conclusion in case the studio rejected the film's pessimistic ending. Another filmed ending showed a Malamute (presumably The Thing) surviving the explosion, stopping to take one final look at the burning camp before running off into the snow. A third ending simply showed Childs getting up and walking away into the snowstorm, leaving MacReady to perish alone. Again, this ending was never used. Some purposed endings that went unfilmed included a climactic showdown between MacReady and Childs, a rescue-chopper arriving just in time to save them, and the two men committing suicide with one final stick of dynamite.
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According to an apocryphal story first reported on Reddit.com in February 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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(at around 32 mins) The flesh-flower that attacks Childs is an incredibly detailed effect. Its petals are 12 dog tongues, complete with rows of canine teeth. Effects Designer Rob Bottin dubbed it the "pissed-off cabbage."
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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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Many people 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 Molotov cocktails throughout the camp earlier, and it's said that this bottle is filled with gasoline as well. The Thing, not knowing what alcohol tastes like, drinks it, while Childs would have spat 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 accepted 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 the fact 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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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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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 heated length of copper wire, 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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Nauls' death was originally filmed with him being attacked by a "Box Blair" creature while searching for Garry. A much longer and gorier version of the finale was also planned, with Nauls appearing out of the crack in the floor, screaming at MacReady for help while being assimilated by the Thing, as small tentacles erupt from his body, and a large tentacle finally rips through his chest. However, not all the effects for this gorier scene could be created due to time and budget constraints, and the ones that were used were disliked by John Carpenter. When a test audience laughed at the scene, Carpenter decided to cut the scene and leave Nauls' death ambiguous.
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(at around 1h 23 mins) The discontinuity with the screams of the men after Palmer's blood test reveal was due to the fact that on the day of shooting, the men reacted with stunned silence. this left an empty space of sound which had to be overdubbed with the men screaming off screen.
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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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MacReady throwing the dynamite at Palmer as the Thing created a much bigger blast than Kurt Russell expected. If you watch closely, you'll notice Russell off to the side reacting genuinely to the explosion. When they begin blowing up the camp near the end, the crew wasn't 100% sure if the explosions they were setting up would bring the camp down as it needed. If it didn't work correctly, John Carpenter states, they would have had to use a special effects explosions to cover. It did, fortunately and the entire set was destroyed.
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(at around 1h 22 mins) 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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For a long time during filming, John Carpenter struggled with a way of making MacReady the Thing. He finally chose to leave the film ambiguous and just tease it. Also, a bigger ending with Childs and MacReady turning on each other was considered, but the logistics could never be worked out. Ambiguity won out again, probably to the benefit of the overall film.
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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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The original plan was for Blair to have been the first assimilated. John Carpenter, after principal photography, added a scene of Blair studying the Thing's 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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Bennings's 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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There is a surviving photo that depicts an alternative death scene for Fuchs (Joel Polis), where he is impaled upon a door with a shovel. This would prove that he was killed, whereas in the finished film his burned remains are found, creating doubt over whether he was burned by himself, or the Thing.
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In the blood test scene, in which MacReady tries to identify who in the team is infected, a poster on the wall of the rec room says "THEY AREN'T LABELED, CHUM". This hints at the frightening ambiguity of who among the group is The Thing.
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(at around 1h 35 mins) 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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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 Childs' 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 backs 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 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 the 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 the 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 attacks 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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John Carpenter always likened the end of The Thing to a World War II film where a crew is set on a suicide mission they have to fulfill even though they know they won't survive it.
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One idea John Carpenter hinted at is that the reason why Windows hasn't been able to reach "anybody for two weeks" is because the rest of the world has already been taken over by The Thing. This would have only been possible if someone from the Norwegian camp had been infected, and had returned to the mainland many weeks prior to the events of this movie. A very unlikely scenario, given that the Thing didn't wait for weeks to infect the Americans following its first contact with them. The later prequel The Thing (2011) also shows scenes set in the USA several days prior to this movie, and nothing indicates a large-scale infection.
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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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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 Nauls'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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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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A team of 50 puppeteers operated the Blair monster at the end.
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With the release of 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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Director John Carpenter endorsed The Thing the 2002 video game, in which Mac and Childs were revealed to be human, as canonical to his movie. However, on November 23rd, 2012, he tweeted, "Yes, one of them was a thing." So fans are no closer to an answer either way.
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There were plans to film a direct sequel, with John Carpenter to direct and with Kurt Russell reprising his role. Announced for release in 1999, the project didn't progress past the early script stages. Instead, a sequel video game called The Thing (2002) was released three years later, and a prequel called The Thing (2011) another nine years later.
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Kurt Russell came up with the final moment with MacReady and Childs during filming, as well as the final line of dialogue.
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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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(at around 15 mins) When the Dog-Thing enters in a room, it can be seen the shadow of a man turning his head to the dog. Although his identity never is revealed, an interesting and funny possibility would that "the shadow man" was Palmer. If it was right, it would imply that when (at around 40 mins) Palmer is talking Childs and the others about UFOs and "chariots of the gods" actually he would be talking about himself as The Thing.
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The ending of the film - the ambiguity of which is now considered iconic - was initially another sore point on release. An audience member asked Carpenter at one market research screening who was the thing at the end; Carpenter told them it was up to their imagination to decide, though by this they were unamused, saying "oh, God. I hate that."
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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?" John Carpenter wasn't pleased, but Bill assured him he simply hadn't gotten to that part of the script yet.
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When the dog first goes to the outpost, the first person he jumps on is Bennings, who is the first one to be assimilated.
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The original idea for Palmer's (David Clennon) transformation was that his eyes popped out. Rob Bottin later reused that effect in the film Total Recall (1990).
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When the infected Palmer's head starts mutating, the transformation is broken up into three phases - one where he's just kind of making a weird expression, second where his face starts bubbling, and third where his head has collapsed into a hideous fleshy blob that's no longer recognizable as human - all of which are shown in their horrific glory, but twice the camera cuts between Palmer and the horrified reactions of the other guys. Limitations in special effects photography prevented Palmer's transformation to be filmed in one continuous shot, so an old movie trick was used: each shot of Palmer was filmed separately, and was intercut with reaction shots of the others to avoid showing the transitional mutations between each phase.
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A first draft of the script considered that The Thing would had telepathy, as in the original John W. Campbell's short-story "Who Goes There?". It was scrapped in the idea that if The Thing could read the mind of its enemies it would be killed them so much faster.
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An incredible capacity of The Thing is the ability for creating or recreating any organ or part of a body despite the size of the body used. Taking for real the Blair's notes read by Fuchs to MacReady ("it could have imitated a million life-forms on a million planets. Could change into any one of them at any time"), it would imply that The Thing is the combination of an uncountable number of different DNAs from the different alien species assimilated, giving it also an uncountable variety of superhuman capacities as the no need of a brain to keep alive (the blood test, at around 1h 23 mins) and a speed and unlimited capacity to generate skin, muscle and bone in a blink of time (Norris spider-head, at around 1h 16 mins).
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When (at around 34 mins) Blair examines the (apparently) dead Thing, he claims that it's a lifeform capable to imitate perfectly another lifeforms, absorbing them to be a perfect replicate of the original being. Despite it isn't mentioned in the movie, The Thing is seen not only capable to imitate physical shapes but talk and to reason as a intelligent being to use the remembers of the beings absorbed. It would imply that in the absorption The Thing replicates by physical contact organs and bones as well as knowledge and memories of the assimilated to be a perfect imitation of it. The same concept was used in the later horror movie Phantoms (1998), about a supernatural being capable not only to imitate the shape and memories of the people absorbed, but adopt any shape that the people could to have imagined.
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Charles Hallahan, Richard Dysart and Donald Moffat were the first actors in the cast to pass away in that order. Ironically, this is also the same order in which their characters Norris, Dr. Copper and Garry die in the film.
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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 died from a heart attack in 1997, similar to his character Norris in this film.
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(at around 40 mins) When MacReady talks with the team about the alien ship crashed on planet Earth 100,000 years ago, he theorizes if The Thing was perforce expelled from the ship or if it expelled by itself to freeze on ice at ship's surroundings. Mac's first theory opens the possibility that the ship was designed or simply it was used by another alien race as jail, imprisoning The Thing inside it and sending the ship to outer space in order to save themselves to be assimilated. Mac's second theory opens a completely different approaching: The Thing is high-intelligent and it's capable to drive the ship by itself, implying that the crashing on planet Earth was on purpose instead by accident. This second theory proves to be true (at around 1h 28 mins) when Mac and Garry discover a secret tunnel under the floor of Blair's cabin, where Blair was working in a smaller version of the alien ship in an attempt to escape. The second theory is finally confirmed in The Thing (2011), when (at around 1h 27 mins) Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) faces Dr. Sander Halvorson-Thing inside its alien ship, revealing not only its interior but that The Thing is capable to control it.
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(at around 28 mins) When dog-thing reveals itself, its head falls to be replaced by a long great tentacle. It's a hint for Nyarlathotep. It's an outer space god created by horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, AKA the Crawling Chaos, God of a Thousand Forms, Faceless God, Black Pharaoh, Messenger of the Outer Gods or Stalker among the Stars. He debuted in the eponymous poem published on 1920, having a prominent role in the horror cycle Mythos of Cthulhu (basis for this movie). As The Thing, Nyarlathotep can assume any form he wants, and the main shape he appears is a large humanoid body with a long great tentacle as head.
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"The Thing" has connections to TV western "Gunsmoke": James Arness played the titular villain in the 1951 original, "The Thing from Another World", and would later go on to play marshal Matt Dillon on "Gunsmoke" from 1955 - 1975, while actor Kurt Russell of the 1982 remake previously played Buck Henry Woolfe (and later, Packy Kerlin) on "Gunsmoke" from 1964 - 1974.
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The movies revolves about losing of identity, turning into something alien to oneself.
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(Foreshadowing). When MacReady says the line "we're gonna find out who's The Thing." The camera is tilting up and finally stops... showing Palmer's face. This was a clever and subtle way to inform the audience who was the person assimilated by the Thing.
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