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Night 19 - The Thing
Tagline - What you fear most... is among you.
Man is The Warmest Place to Hide.
The ultimate in alien terror.
Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, Christine and Escape from New York) and released on June 25, 1982 by Universal Pictures (rated R). A group of American scientists up in the Antarctic have their day interrupted by a helicopter trying to shoot a dog. The helicopter crashes and no is left to explain just what the heck was going on. Strange, but not enough to make any of these guys worry much. Head honcho MacReady (Kurt Russell) takes a couple others over to the base camp the helicopter came from to see what they can find out. Meanwhile the dog is left to roam around unattended. Surely there's nothing to worry about there!
It doesn't take long for strange things to start happening around camp and soon there is enough blood and guts flying to make an ooey goey mess.
This film is a fairly faithful remake of the 1951 "The Thing from Another World". Both film versions are based on a short story called "Who Goes There" by John W. Campbell Jr. I remember getting my parents to take me to see "Blade Runner" at the Drive In (I was a huge Harrison Ford fan) and "The Thing" was the second bill. Horror films were too scary for me at that point in life so I went to sleep in the back seat when it started. My parents stuck it out for about 30 minutes before they shook their heads and left.
This is a very bloody movie and I wouldn't suggest trying to eat while watching it. While the special effects are a bit outdated by today's standards it still works. I'd rather have these effects than some poorly done CGI.
The movie plays out like a traditional scary movie and has lots of jumps and scares. Everyone is paranoid and suspicious which makes it all the more hard to figure out who is the next to go. Best of all Kurt Russell is looking young, cute and sporting his best Grizzly Addams look. How bad could it be?
Some trivia about the movie...
1. This is one of the few Universal movies that do not start with the Universal logo.
2. This is the first movie that John Carpenter did not score himself. Though it would be hard to tell as it sounds almost identical to that signature John Carpenter sound.
3. The opening title exactly duplicates the original 1951 film. To create the effect of the title, an animation cell with "The Thing" written on it was placed behind a fish tank filled with smoke that was covered with a plastic garbage bag. The garbage bag was ignited, creating the effect of the title burning onto the screen.
4. The original movie, The Thing from Another World, took place at the North Pole. This version takes place at the South Pole.
5. Donald Pleasence was the original choice for the character of Blair. Pleasence was unable to perform the role due to a scheduling conflict.
6. To give the illusion of icy Antarctic conditions, interior sets on the Los Angeles sound stages were refrigerated down to 40 F while it was well over 100 F outside.
7. This film is considered a benchmark in the field of special makeup effects. These effects were created by Rob Bottin, who was only 22 when he started the project.
8. While discussing the character of MacReady, director John Carpenter and actor 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.
9. 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.
10. There are no female characters in the film. The only female presence in the movie is in the voice of MacReady's chess computer and the contestants seen on the game show that Palmer watches. A scene containing a blow-up doll was filmed and then left on the cutting room floor. According to John Carpenter, only one crew member was female but she was pregnant and this forced her to leave the shoot; she was replaced by a male.
11. There is a character name "Mac" and another named "Windows"; since the film was made in 1982, this is purely coincidental.
12. Nick Nolte turned down the role of MacReady, as did Jeff Bridges.