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The Thing (1982) Poster

(1982)

Trivia

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The film's considered a benchmark in special make-up effects. The effects were created by Rob Bottin, who was only 22 when he started the project.
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John Carpenter has stated that of all his films, this is his personal favorite.
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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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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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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 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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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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Opened 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 scifi classics in the years to come.
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(at around 15 mins) 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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According to John Carpenter, he takes all his failed movies pretty hard, but the cold reception of this one disappointed him most. Not only was the film a box-office failure upon release, but both critics and audience (to Carpenter's shock) panned its gory effects and bleak tone. He was particularly upset when Christian Nyby, the director of the original film 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." Not surprisingly, Carpenter was extremely relieved when the film enjoyed a rich cult success following its home video release and television broadcasts.
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In the DVD commentary, John Carpenter said Wilford Brimley was the only cast member not made squeamish by the autopsy scene where real animal organs were used.
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The producers contribute 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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Some scenes were shot with stop-motion animation, but John Carpenter rejected them, because they looked too fake.
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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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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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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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Season 1, Episode 8 of "The X-Files" (The X-Files: Ice (1993)) is a direct homage to this film.
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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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(at around 5 mins) The female voice on MacReady's computer was performed (uncredited) by then-wife of John Carpenter, Adrienne Barbeau.
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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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It took Kurt Russell around a year to grow the famous beard and hair MacReady sports.
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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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The film was originally banned when released in Finland.
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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, while his score for Hateful Eight won him an Oscar.
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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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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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(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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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 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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The final confrontation with the Thing required the assistance of fifty technicians.
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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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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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Actor Franklyn Ajaye came to read for Nauls but instead critiqued John 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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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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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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Editor Todd C. Ramsay was mocked for editing in the fade-to-blacks in the film, even though John Carpenter backed him fully on the decision.
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(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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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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The sound effect of the Antarctic wind was actually recorded in the desert outside Palm Springs.
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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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The sound effects in the Autopsy scene on the splitface thing was accomplished with paper towels soaked in egg yolk.
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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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Part of the fear instilled into The Thing came from the AIDS epidemic that was making itself known at the time of filming. 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 John Carpenter.
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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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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 the Arctic region of the North Pole. This version takes place in Antarctica.
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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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Some examples of the vitriol which 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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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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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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(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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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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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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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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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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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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(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 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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John Carpenter's first foray into major studio film-making.
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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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There is a made-up backstory between John Carpenter and Kurt Russell about MacReady being a former helicopter pilot in the Viet Nam war and that he's probably an alcoholic. Carpenter also states he feels MacReady never wanted to be a leader. He just wants to survive and is thrust upon being a leader in the situation the group finds itself in.
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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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Universal Studio executive Sid Sheinberg 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 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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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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Rob Bottin headed up a team of over forty people.
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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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Each man's 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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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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(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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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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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 a quest to find and kill The Thing. The film would've served as both a sequel and remake to the 1951 film with little influence from John W Campbell Jr.'s novella. Hooper also wanted the film to be a dark horror comedy with slapstick humor. Producer Drew Turner was allegedly appalled by this pitched version and eventually fired Hooper.
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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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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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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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Rob Bottin's effects credit at the film's end caused Universal to receive a $25,000 fine for improper use of titles.
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Wilford Brimley disagreed with the films level of gore, believing it affected the audience negatively.
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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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Clint Eastwood was on the possibles list for MacReady.
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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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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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(at around 30 mins) The first edit of the kennel attack scene seemed very flat until music editor, Cliff Kohlweck, 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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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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(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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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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The original Palmer thing transformation involved his relatively unaffected head splitting in half and a tentacle lunging out.
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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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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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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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Scenes were stalled by the cast debating on the methodology of the Thing, which irritated David Clennon.
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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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The Splitface thing was originally based on a clay press of actor Robert Picardo.
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Roy Arbogast and Rob Bottin did not get along well in production, not helped by Bottin replacing Arborgasts friend Dale Kuipers to handle make-up effects.
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A deleted scene showed Palmer jogging around the compound, listening to California Sun.
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Carbopole is a powdery substance used in hair gels and when mixed with water was used as the Thing slime.
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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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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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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 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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(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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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, John 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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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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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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David Clennon was originally cast as Bennings, but found the Palmer character more interesting and fun.
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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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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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(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".
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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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"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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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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"'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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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 7 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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Before becoming a big name, Alec Baldwin claims he auditioned for multiple roles in the film.
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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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Rick Baker was approached to handle the visual effects, but his schedule was too busy.
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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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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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(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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50 puppeteers, operated the Blair monster at the end.
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There were many discussions on set about whether someone would know if they were the Thing or not. An agreement was made that if the Thing is a perfect imitation, whoever was taken over would still believe they were human, not an alien.
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The pinball machine being played in the station is the ironically themed Williams' Heat Wave (1964)
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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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(at around 36 mins) What's being viewed on the video tape... of the Norwegian crew surrounding the UFO crash site... is very similar to what the main characters do in the original 50's movie: almost as if the remake characters are watching part of the original film.
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The pilot they used for shooting in Alaska offered to crash his helicopter for money.
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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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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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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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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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Of all the films John Carpenter has made, he hasn't spent as much time on the early production stages as he has with "The Thing."
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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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(at around 6 mins) 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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The film shot for 40 Days on Stage and 17 on location.
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While it was slammed when it came out, most critics have come around on this movie and have given it a positive review since then; and many even think it is one of the best movies ever made.
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John Carpenter has been told by many who have seen The Thing that shots of people getting stuck with needles bother them more than anything else in the film. Camera operator Raymond Stella stood in for all the needle shots. Carpenter says Stella told him he could do that all day. Kurt Russell questions if Stella is in rehab today. Poor, Raymond Stella. MacReady's line, "Trust is a tough thing to come by these days." is one of Carpenter's favorite lines of the film. He feels is summarizes everything The Thing has to say.
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Ennio Morricone the composer deliberately composed a John Carpenter-esque score for this movie.
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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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John Carpenter endorsed The Thing the video game, in which Mac and Childs were revealed to be human, as canonical to his movie. 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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(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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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 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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Garry's revolver, which MacReady later uses, is a Colt Trooper Mk III.
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The helicopter featured in the opening scene is a Bell 206.
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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 14 mins) The song Nauls listens to is "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder, foreshadowing the events to come in the film.
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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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MacReady destroying the chess computer by pouring whiskey into it mirrors the metaphorical game of chess played through the rest of the movie, and how he will destroy the game, or burn down the entire facility, to prevent his opponent from winning. Notice how in the end, he hands Childs a drink.
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Blair's hangman's rope was an element originally found in Bill Lancaster's screenplay.
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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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Contrary to popular belief, Roger Ebert did not hate this movie. Although he wasn't enthusiastic about, he still admitted the film was well directed and acted, and was genuinely scary. His 2.5/4 star rating equals about a 6.3/10, which is nowhere near as hostile as many people make it out to be, and actually suggests he found the film to be above average. Compared to other horror films of the time, Ebert liked The Thing more than The Shining (2/4 stars), The Evil Dead (2/4 stars), Friday The 13th (1/4) stars, and even Carpenter's own The Fog (2/4 stars).
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Although this has gone on to be recognized as one of the best horror movies ever made, critics were not kind to this movie when it came out. Roger Ebert gave this movie ** 1/2 and basically dismissed it as a noneffective Alien clone:' "The Thing" is basically....just a geek show, a gross-out movie in which teenagers can dare one another to watch the screen. There's nothing wrong with that; I like being scared and I was scared by many scenes in "The Thing." But it seems clear that Carpenter made his choice early on to concentrate on the special effects and the technology and to allow the story and people to become secondary. Because this material has been done before, and better, especially in the original "The Thing" and in "Alien," there's no need to see this version unless you are interested in what the Thing might look like while starting from anonymous greasy organs extruding giant crab legs and transmuting itself into a dog". Many of the other reviews from critics of the time were similar.
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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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Richard Masur and Richard Dysart co-star in The Thing together. Later they would co-star on La Law together as well.
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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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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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MacReady carries a 12 gauge Ithaca 37 shotgun several times.
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Though the original 1951 Howard Hawks film shows a crew that is working completely in unison and tandem, this movie deliberately focuses on the paranoia and suspicion that drove all the men against each other; and in fact, even more than the legendary special effects, is the focal point this time around; about the attitudes of mistrust and paranoia that pervaded throughout society during this Cold War period.
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Tobe Hooper was set to direct this; and was working on preproduction; when; after smelling blood on the water for the pending ET project with his buddy Steven Spielburg; he decided to jump over to Team Spielburg and work on Poltergeist; which did become a massive hit in 1982. John Carpenter took over the unlucky project of the sci-fi film that was set to battle ET and Poltergesit; and although he wound up getting massacred at the box office; The Thing had a huge critical resurgence and reconsideration in the 1990s via home video releases; and now is considered one of the best movies ever made. (Right up there with ET and Poltergeist!)
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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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In the video game Fallout 4, the player can obtain a book to increase his or hers skill level in perception. The book is called "Who goes there" like the story this movie is based on.
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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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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 Norwegian in the opening is shot in the eye. Several different eyes can be seen on the the body of the Dog-Thing, presumably former belongings of the dogs it was in the process of assimilating. The eyes of the Palmer-Thing swell up with blood before bursting.
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Blair's revolver is a, 3rd Generation Colt Detective Special from his desk drawer.
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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 O.K. Corral (1957)) as did the star (Kurt Russell) of this film in yet another adaptation of that same event (Tombstone (1993)).
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This was the third and last movie written by Bill Lancaster, son of actor Burt Lancaster, the other two being The Bad News Bears (1976) and its sequel.
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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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1998's The Faculty, which borrows liberally from this movie, does a funny rift on the blood test scene. Instead of everyone having their blood seared with a hot needle; in a big one-off type showdown; in that movie the kids all sniff from a test tube full of home cooked drugs. The aliens dry up and turn into dust when they do it; the people just get high and start giggling. (Or "tweak" as druggie character Josh Hartnett says.)
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In the original 1951 Howard Hawks version the Thing is a plant-man creature. In the original book it was also telepathic. All of these plot lines were scuttled for the new version. Also the original 1951 version has two female members in the cast whereas the 1982 version is all male; a sausage party. It's sort of 12 Angry Men meets Alien.
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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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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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From these initial "proof-of-concept" designs, 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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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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(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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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 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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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 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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Studio executive Ned Tanen 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 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 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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(at around 32 mins) 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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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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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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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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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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(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 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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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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(at around 43 mins) According to the calculations it will take 3.1 years for world wide infection.
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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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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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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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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 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 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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(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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One of the long-running arguments about this film is the question of who sabotaged the blood supply and how. While the argument usually centers around the key to open the blood refrigerator, this is actually a red herring for the viewers. Like all refrigerators, the blood refrigerator maintained a seal using a soft rubber bumper that pressed between the body of the fridge and the door. When the team goes to get the blood, it's only starting to flow out from the bottom of the door (showing that the damage had been done very recently), and most of the blood is still inside (shown when the door is opened). If the door had been opened to cut the bags (which are all shown to be multiply slashed), most of the blood would have flowed out onto the floor.

Conclusion: the Thing used its shape-shifting ability to reach up through the underside of the door into the fridge and sliced up the blood bags without ever needing to actually unlock and open the door to get the job done.
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The original notion was for Blair to have been the first assimilated. John 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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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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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 us a special effects explosions to cover. It did, fortunately and the entire set was destroyed.
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Nauls' fate is never explicitly shown in the film. The most commonly agreed to explanation was that Nauls was most likely assimilated by The Blair-Thing (seeing as how Nauls went after Garry in the area where 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 he 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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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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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 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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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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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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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 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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An alternate form of the Blair Monster was planned, but it was ultimately cut. It was nicknamed "The Blair Boxmonster" by fans, as storyboards show it coming out of a wooden crate and grabbing an unsuspecting Nauls. The scene was never filmed due to lack of time and budget.
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In the narrative, a person was NOT aware they'd been assimilated by a Thing because when the Thing assimilates a person, that person dies. The Thing is doing a perfect impression, hiding behind the mask of the person and tapping into their 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 those people were alive and aware, they would have surely wondered what they were doing trying to implicate other members of the team. This is also corroborated in the novelization.
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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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(at around 58 mins) A popular fan theory is that Palmer (David Clennon) was actually the one that destroyed the frozen blood. While everyone is arguing with each other over the destruction of the blood, he never takes his headphones off to hear the conversation.
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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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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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Clark is the only U.S. Outpost 31 crew member to be killed by a human (MacReady).
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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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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 burned alien could still have taken anyone 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 tin cans and only eat meals that they have cooked and prepared by themselves. This again implies that the alien could get to anyone 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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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 humans 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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During the blood test, Palmer is the only one who doesn't seem visibly upset or agitated. More significantly, while Mac is potentially getting ready to set any of them on fire, he's not even looking at MacReady.
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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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In the narrative as to why Norris had a heart attack after becoming a Thing: 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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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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Kurt Russell came up with the final moment with MacReady and Childs during filming, as well as the final line of dialogue. On that note, it should be mentioned that the only screenplay Russell has ever received credit for was Escape from New York (1981), although the screenplay for that was drastically different than the finished product. Carpenter still doesn't know whether one, both, or neither of the men at the end are the Thing.
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(at around 34 mins) 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. Others 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 berserk. Even imitating his rant (from a deleted scene) of no one getting off of Antarctica alive when he ambushed Garry.
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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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When Windows freaks out and runs for a shotgun and the others chase after him, pay close attention to who is positioned where during the confrontation. Norris and Palmer - the only two present who are infected - are standing off to the side with Fuchs. They were subtly trying to isolate Fuchs while the rest of the group was distracted. And though he's out of focus in the background, look at where Palmer is staring: directly at Fuchs.
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The reason that Childs abandoned his post is because he later claims 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 sees 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 that 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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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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A character nicknamed Mac destroys his computer, while a character called Windows is unable to send messages to the rest of the world and freezes at a crucial moment. Modern viewers may consider this an amusing reference to the famous operating systems but it was actually unintentional, as neither Macintosh nor Windows existed when the movie was written.
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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. Conversely, 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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In the most notorious scene in the movie, Dr. Cooper (Richard Dysart) uses the defibrillator on Norris (Charles Hallahan), only to have his arms bitten off by the Norris' chest which has now transformed into a giant mouth (since Norris is one of the Thing aliens). Eventually, Norris' head breaks away from the rest of his body, grows tentacles and legs and crawls out of the Emergency room as a newly formed spider creature. This prompts Palmer (David Clennon) to say "You've got to be f____ kidding!" in amazement. This is ironic because later in the scene, Palmer turns into the Thing as well.
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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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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. As of January 2020, nine of the main cast members were still alive.
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In the scene right before the famous defibrillator scene, Norris seems to have a heart attack, and Nauls even says he's not breathing and has no pulse. This was all a setup though, as we know from the next scene since Norris was not dead and he erupted into his thing/fury after they did the defibrillator on him (Nauls was probably not in on it, as he gets killed in a later scene by the Thing). The Thing must have been pretending to be sick or dead or a victim of a heart attack at this point, so it could throw everyone off and kill them when when they were not on the defensive.
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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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When MacReady and Dr. Copper visit the Norweigan base at the beginning of the film, a lot of damage and environmental cues mirror things that will happen later at the American base. One of the few things not seen again or explained later is the Norwegian corpse with the two heads (known among fans as 'Split-face'), although the Blair-Thing assimilating Garry and appearing with two different sides of its face probably comes closest.
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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 to avoid showing the transitional mutations between each phase.
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During the climactic blood test scene, Childs is unwilling to participate and MaCready threatens to kill him and pulls a gun on Childs, when he doesn't take Mac seriously. This confrontation between the two men is a subtle hint that these men will be the last two survivors of the titular monster.
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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 1975 - 1995, while actor Kurt Russell of the 1982 remake previously played Buck Henry (and later, Packy Kerlin) on "Gunsmoke" from 1964 - 1974.
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