Is The Thing the best horror film

In 1982, John Carpenter brought his film adaptation of the horror novel "Who Goes There?" To the cinema as "The Thing from Another World". Read important facts about the film here.

01. ROLLING STONE knows the answer to the (second) most important question in the universe

Most sci-fi geeks would name the Star Wars question “Who shot first - Han or Greedo?” As the most important discussion point of all time. But the final meeting of MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) from "The Thing" follows shortly afterwards.

Has one of the two long been a monster - and if so, which of the two? No chattering evening without this discussion, because the film leaves the question open. Desperate fans dissect the scene, discussing the cold breath of one or the whiskey bottle (was there gasoline in it, was that a test to encourage the thing to drink poison?) Of the other. Director John Carpenter had long since given himself away in the ROLLING STONE interview. At least a little. "I know who that thing is!" He said. So one of the two, MacReady or Childs, got it - he's no longer a human, but a monster.

02. Oh God, "E.T."?

“The thing from another world” flopped in 1982 and is considered a turning point in John Carpenter's work. Never before did he have more money available before shooting started, and the financial return was seldom so badly proportioned to the expense. The director began to despair of the Hollywood system. Soon he would be leaving the Hollywood studios.

A popular theory is that the bloody "The Thing" failed because Steven Spielberg sent his cute "E.T." to the cinema just 14 days earlier, and the viewer only wanted to choose one of the two aliens. Conspiracy theorists even believe that Spielberg himself intervened in the studio - both films were distributed by Universal Pictures - so that Carpenter's work would be less advertised than his. That is unlikely and not in the interests of any studio.

Maybe it was also the white. A rule of thumb states that weather films should ideally be shown in the respective season. And Antarctic ice in early summer ...

If the author remembers these lines correctly, at least on German television there was an advertising clip at prime time in 1982, in Wim Thoelke's “Der Große Preis” - the toughest scene, the transformation of Norris.

03. The thing as a symbol

Cancer, AIDS, even hepatitis: many meanings are interpreted into the extraterrestrial “thing”. Literature and the web are full of metaphors for which the shapeshifter is supposed to stand. Also for Cold War paranoia: Who is “infected”, who is secretly a communist? With “The Thing From Another World” there was already a film version of John W. Campbell's novel “Who Goes There?” In 1951, which alluded to precisely these political fears that come commies.

Tagline of the 82 film: “Man is the warmest place to hide.” John Carpenter had specific health concerns after the shoot. He suffered from skin cancer, likely cause: strong sunlight reflecting off the snow in British Columbia.

Much of the "thing" was not created in nature, but rather through indoor shots in the Universal Studios, which was carried out in the Californian summer. The crew had problems with these changes of location. Terrible changing weather feelings for everyone who left the artificial winter behind as soon as it went into the sun for lunch break.

04. Web love

Outpost # 31 is the name of a lovingly designed “The Thing” fan site that answers all sorts of questions (well, except for those about our point 1!). "Outpost # 31" is the name of the American research station in Antarctica that is haunted by the "thing".

On the tribute page, sketches and stop-motion attempts that have not been implemented (“Blair Box Monster”), outtakes and photos of the shooting are shown, such as the unused death scene by researcher Fuchs: the man was stapled to the wall with a shovel .

05. Roll the Dice!

Twelve men live and work in the research facility at the South Pole. In the film, only two of them survive (one of which is likely to be the monster). As a fan you can change that now. Most recently, the “The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31” board game was released, which can be pre-ordered here.

06. Underwater love?

The script went through several phases before Carpenter decided on a particular cinematic implementation. In an early version, the base was set under water; in another, the monster incorporating people metaphorically stood for love and symbiosis. Carpenter's inspiration for the decimation of the crew: Agatha Christie's novel “And then there was no more” (Original: “Ten Little Niggers”, later renamed “Ten Little Indians”).

Earlier screenwriters had the idea of ​​keeping the film monster hidden, never showing it. Carpenter: “Of course we show the 'thing'. And properly."

07. Hey, doll!

There are several alternate scenes, some broadcast, others unreleased, that give the film a different ending. One shows the alien as a husky making away from the burned down station. Another the survivor MacReady, who is being checked through in a hospital - he was not infected.

The scene with MacReady's sex doll - a sign of his loneliness - didn't make it into the final version either.

08. Off course

It is unclear why the "thing" crashed onto our planet millions of years ago. At the beginning we see a spinning spaceship that makes an emergency landing on earth. Which could mean that the being was either a pilot of the machine, a passenger - or a prisoner, and, frozen in the arctic ice, the only survivor of the UFO.

In any case, MacReady's troops make no move to get into the aircraft. A failure? That should actually be discussed passionately, but is hardly an issue in fan forums. Would a visit to the spaceship offer the opportunity to gain knowledge - which the men do not take advantage of.

Perhaps Carpenter wanted to save production costs by hiding the monster's original world. Dramaturgically, this decision was a good one. The background of the "thing" is left out and MacReady and Co show that they do not want to fathom the existence of the alien. It should just leave humanity alone.

09. Green blood

Stan Winston, who would later become a mask star through “Aliens” and “Predator”, and Rob Bottin, then 22 years old, were responsible for the special effects. The year before, the Californian had a spectacular riot in the werewolf film “Das Tier”.

Funnily enough, John Carpenter actually wanted to hire his werewolf competitor, makeup artist and Oscar winner Rick Baker ("An American Werewolf In London"). The green instead of red tissue of the monster, which was often seen in the “thing”, was a coincidental product of the tricks created by burning rubber and plastic. Bottin, who often operated devices in close proximity himself in such scenes, was putting himself in danger of health.

10. It has brought reinforcements

Don't be afraid of the alien! There's just one man behind it. Behind stands also just a man. "The Thing" has some film flaws.

A crew member can be seen relatively clearly in the dog stable when he is operating the "thing" from behind, at the moment when its flower mouth opens. In the picture above you can see the curve of the human skull behind the creature.

11. Ordinary guys

“You Gotta Be Fuckin’ Kidding! ”Says Palmer (David Clennon, third from right) as he examines the result of what is arguably the most spectacular“ thing ”transformation, a human head with antennae on spider legs. Palmer speaks out what the audience thinks.

Bill Lancaster (son of acting legend Burt) wrote the screenplay, which tastes like life, with dialogues that real people really speak - far from the scientific artificiality that many films use to explain extraterrestrial things. People are in the shit and they just want to get out of the shit. Mini-details reveal how closely the crew is attached to each other: when Bennings is shot by the Norwegians at the beginning, MacReady rushes to his aid. Mac, an Alki, leaves his bottle with him because he then wants to rush to the aid of others and would only annoy the bottle. Bennings sees this as an invitation to grab the bottle as soon as Mac is out of the picture and take a sip straight away.

“My God, what the hell happened here?” Asks Dr. Copper. "Come on Doc" - let's just move on, see what happened, says Mac. No research into the cause, just looking at what happened.

Some of the nicest dialogues:

MacReady: "I don't know. Thousands of years ago it crashes, and this thing… gets thrown out, or crawls out, and it ends up freezing in the ice. "
Childs: "I just cannot believe any of this voodoo bullshit."
Palmer: “Childs, happens all the time, man. They're falling out of the skies like flies. Government knows all about it, right, Mac? "
Childs: "You believe any of this voodoo bullshit, Blair?"
Palmer: “Childs, Childs… Chariots of the Gods, man. They practically own South America. I mean, they taught the Incas everything they know ".

(…)

MacReady: "I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you’d just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won. "

12. Operating Systems

Mistrust spreads among the twelve. But what can one say, hostilities were laid out among men from the start.

One is called Mac, another Windows.

13. Character heads

The film only lasts a little over 100 minutes, but that's enough time for John Carpenter and Bill Lancaster to introduce all of us to all twelve actors - they are more than just monster food to stage effects. Today's horror films like "Alien: Covenant" with their characterless victim brigades should take an example from this.

As film critic Anne Billson writes in her "The Thing" analysis (from the book series "BFI Modern Classics"), the body posture, physiognomy and peculiarities of the team members are so individual that each one remains recognizable even when he is with us hooded faces and in thick snow jackets hiding all contours.

14. Biggest fan

With his western "The Hateful Eight", director Quentin Tarantino first revealed himself as a Carpenter fan in 2015. He also transplanted a group of suspicious people into a building sealed by blizzards, and he also hired Kurt Russell, alias MacReady, to play the leading role.

Ennio Morricone wrote the music for both films - and also used pieces from his “Thing” score for “Hateful Eight”. For this he received his first film music Oscar at the age of 88. Strictly speaking, this is not okay, because only soundtracks that contain unused original compositions or original interpretations may be awarded.

15. Who wrote it?

The relationship between the Italian composer and Carpenter does not seem to be fully illuminated. Carpenter had more budget with the "thing" than ever before and no longer wanted to be responsible for the music himself. He says he's proud to have signed Morricone (Jerry Goldsmith was unavailable because of "Poltergeist").

The director wanted "fear and despair" from the musician. However, he also admitted that he had given Morricone a stipulation. In any case, he should also use electronic sounds. The Italian probably didn't really have that on his screen at the beginning of the 1980s. Carpenter later added his own atmospheric sketches.

The legendary title track “Humanity (Part II)”, which is attributed to Morricone, is reminiscent of Carpenter's own scores in its minimalism. The bass dictates a heartbeat - a heartbeat that doesn't seem human. So it is the composer who breathes its special life into the essence of the "thing".

An interview on Morricone's music can be found in the forthcoming book “Conversations with Carpenter”, excerpts of which are included in the Waxworks soundtrack reissue of “The Thing”.

16. Uniqueness

"There's never been a monster movie like this," says John Carpenter in the Waxworks interview. “And it will never be again. He was wild, cruel and merciless. “The filmmaker counters the comparison with the“ Alien ”, which appeared in 1979, three years before the“ thing ”. “The‘ thing ‘is a film about the end of the world. More threatening than 'Alien', in my opinion. There is hope in Alien. Finally Sigourney Weaver chases the monster out of the spaceship and then lies down peacefully to sleep in her underwear. "

In fact, “The Thing” marks the climax of the mask and puppet cinema: “This is it”, Carpenter said confidently. Everything that was technically possible, that was technically possible, was played out here in 1982. Until James Cameron's revolutionary “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” including the computer-generated effects, the “thing” remained the benchmark. Even the movements of the installations are disturbing in their extremely high speed: some of the monsters were connected to the motors of washing machines.

“The Thing” doesn't have a happy ending. Carpenter notes, "Perhaps it was more bothering people that there were no women in the game."

17. Life is a game of chess

Is MacReady the "thing" in the end? Who knows. In any case, it is ironic that the pilot of all people tries everything to the end, if necessary by force, to separate the healthy from the possibly infected - that is, he plays according to (his own) rules and does not allow himself to be persuaded. Moved people like chess pieces.

In a real game, the one against the chess computer, it becomes clear at the beginning of the film: He's a bad loser: "Cheating Bitch!"

18. Hollywood Art

Compared to “E.T”, “The Thing” naturally had an indie film image. But the marketing department didn't really spoil it. The official movie poster was drawn by Drew Struzan, who was responsible for the famous advertising posters for "Star Wars" and the Indiana Jones films.

The “thing” motif is also impressive because it does not allow any indication of the monster's bloodthirstiness - but the shimmering blank space in the man's face indicates that it will not reveal itself.

19. Who’s the first to smell it ...

You can still laugh at the "thing". "The Farthing" is the name of a spoof series on YouTube in which the serious faces of the actors were highlighted with farting noises.

20. The new UFO

Why is the Blair thing building a UFO? Because the monster wants to leave the earth. Which leads to two different conclusions. Either the thing never wanted to walk on earth, everything an emergency landing, it infected people just to survive. Or: It sees its task in reproducing on our planet while another part of it is traveling again.

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