John Carpenter’s The Thing! A box office bomb on release and soundly rejected by critics, Cinefantastique featured The Thing on its cover with the question: Is this the most hated movie of all time? The New York Times called it “Instant Junk.” Carpenter himself called it “El Tanko.” But after a few years it found life in the video stores of the 1980s and became a cult classic. And now? Empire magazine selected it as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. IGN called it the 4th best sci-fi film of all time. Bloody Disgusting hailed it as the 2nd greatest horror film of all time. In the end, the effects still amaze and frighten, and the performances still resonate with panic and horror. David Clennon who played Palmer said, “It was all happening in front of us: We didn’t have to imagine some post-production effects and then pretend to be shocked or mesmerized. Rob Bottin gave us all we needed to be well and truly freaked.”
The Thing Trivia
The Thing is based on a 1938 story from the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. What was the name of the story? A: Who Goes There by John W Campbell Jr.
It was first adapted for film in 1951 as a film called what? A: The Thing from Another World. John Carpenter says that when he saw the original his popcorn flew out of his hands. Unfortunately, the only praise director Christian Nyby of Thing from Another could muster for Carpenter’s film was that it was “a terrific commercial for J&B Scotch.” His monster was a humanoid plant alien… so.
The Thing from Another World appears as a scary movie characters Laurie and Tommy are watching in what previous film of Carpernter’s? A: Halloween.
What other iconic horror movie director was first attached to Who Goes There (The Thing) and even did pre-production work and drafted a script for the film? A: Tobe Hooper – Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He set half the movie under water and wanted it to be an antarctic Moby Dick story.
The thing was Keith David’s first big movie role. In a later collaboration with Carpenter, David participates in one of the most epic fist fights in movie history with wrestler/actor Rowdy Roddy Piper that lasts a full 6 minutes. What Carpenter movie was that? A: 1988’s They Live. Keith David is also the guy who asks Ben Stiller in There’s Something About Mary, “How did you get the beans above the frank?”
What other alien film opened the same year and Carpenter cites as contributing to the failure of The Thing? A: E.T. There’s also been discourse about how a recession at the time meant people were disinterested in such bleak and nihilistic work. In fact, the studio sent Carpenter some demographic/audience data that said that horror film interest was down 70% from the last 6 months leading up to the release of the film.
John Carpenter scores most of his films with his Halloween score being the most recognizable. He didn’t score The Thing however, that job went to what iconic film composer best known for scoring spaghetti westerns? A: Ennio Moricone. His score earned him a Razzie nomination for Worst Film Score of the year.
A repurposed score from The Thing appears in what Quentin Tarantino film? A: The Hateful Eight. And 33 years later parts of the same score that earned Ennio Moricone a Razzie won him an Oscar.
The story takes place in Antarctica, but besides frigid Hollywood soundstages, name one of the locations it was actually filmed? A: British Colombia, Canada and Alaska.
22 year old Rob Bottin, who had worked with Carpenter on The Fog, did all the practical creature effects, and he worked so hard he ended up being hospitalized at the end of the shoot for acute exhaustion, double pneumonia, and a bleeding ulcer. So they enlisted famous creature effects artist Stan Winston to work uncredited on the creature effects for one pivotal scene in the film – what scene? A: The dog pen transformation.
T.K. Carter who played Nauls also had a very successful TV career. In 1985 he could be found on NBC playing Michael “Mike” Fulton, the elementary schoolteacher of what precocious title character? A: Punky Brewster