Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey & Jason Momoa Join Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Love Story ‘The Bad Batch’ Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey & Jason Momoa Join Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Love Story ‘The Bad Batch’ Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far 13 Cult Films About Cults 13 Cult Films About Cults The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

5 Things You Might Not Know About John Carpenter's 'The Thing'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 25, 2012 at 1:58PM

June 25, 1982, was a good day for genre fans. Hell, that summer saw a spate of genre classics released, including "The Road Warrior," "Poltergeist," and "E.T." But June 25th in particular saw not only the release, as we discussed earlier today, of "Blade Runner," but also another legendary sci-fi picture, which like Ridley Scott's film, wasn't well-received at the time, and flopped at the box office, but went on to be enshrined in the geek hall of fame. No, it's not Barry Bostwyck vehicle "MegaForce," it was John Carpenter's terrifying "The Thing," which despite the efforts of last year's poor retread/prequel, remains one of the greatest sci-fi/horrors ever made.
5


The Thing
4. Special effects whiz Rob Bottin was only 22 when he handled most of the effects, although Stan Winston was brought on for one particular creature.
Undoubtedly one of the most sickeningly memorable aspects of the film are the gruesome special effects, handled with puppets (and occasionally stop-motion, although Carpenter scrapped much of what was planned, finding it unconvincing); they still hold up, and churn stomachs today, even in adorable claymation form (see below). The man responsible for achieving most of the effects was Rob Bottin, who was a mere 22 years old when the film was in production. Bottin had been hired by effects legend Rick Baker at the age of 14, and went on to work with the maestro on "King Kong" and "Piranha," among others (as well as some of the "Star Wars" creatures -- Bottin even plays in the cantina band in the original film). The 20-year-old was introduced to Carpenter by DoP Dean Cundey, and got a credit for contributing special makeup for "The Fog," before going on to his first solo gig on Joe Dante's "The Howling," where he created an astonishing werewolf transformation sequence that still vies with Baker's in "An American Werewolf In London" for the finest ever. He went straight onto "The Thing," and created and operated the majority of effects himself, working seven days a week, and had to check himself into hospital once shooting wrapped to recover from exhaustion. He did, however, have a little help; the late Stan Winston did create the nausea-inducing dog-thing puppet, although was so impressed by Bottin's work that he refused credit.

The Thing
5. An alternate, happy ending was shot, but has never been shown.
The DVD and Blu-Ray do include one alternate ending, where the Thing, taking the form of the sled-dog once again, looks back at the flaming camp before running off into the wilderness, suggesting that attempts at containing the threat have failed, and that mankind is likely doomed. However, a far happier ending does exist, although it's been seen by only a few who weren't involved with the production. On the DVD documentary "Terror Takes Shape," editor Todd C Ramsay details that he suggested to Carpenter that they cover themselves by shooting a happy ending while they still had Russell available (the actor was going on to shoot "Silkwood"), in case it became necessary later on. Carpenter agreed, and an alternate conclusion was filmed, whereby MacReady is rescued, and given a blood test that proves he's not a creature. Thankfully, it was never used, and has never been included on any release of the film (although a radically different TV edit, disowned by Carpenter, featuring opening voiceover, cuts for violence and language, and longer introductions to the cast, was created by Universal in the 1980s). As for the canonical ending, Carpenter still insists that he doesn't know which of MacReady or Childs is really The Thing at the end. And that's the way we like it.
 

This article is related to: 5 Things You Might Not Know About..., They Live, John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, On This Day In Movie History


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates