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Monster Gallery: The Thing (1982)

The Thing From Another World – Part 3

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. Ya see, when a man bleeds, it’s just tissue; but blood from one of you Things won’t obey when it’s attacked. It’ll try and survive… crawl away from a hot needle, say.

Before Palmer’s gruesome transformation, Carpenter and Cundey discussed about giving the audience subtle hints on who might be the Thing during the centerpiece of the film — the blood test scene — and eventually settled upon a subtle eye gleam. “We were looking for some kind of a subtle way, to say which one of these [men] might be human,” Cundey revealed. “You’ll notice there’s always an eye light, we call it, a little gleam in the eye of the actor. It gives life.” Palmer is devoid of the ‘eye-gleam’ moments before the transformation. “There is no eye light [on Palmer’s eyes]. Let’s make it look subtle like he’s different and the audience won’t know until later. So he has dead eyes.”

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The Thing From Another World – Part 2

The Thing is first seen imitating a Swedish Norwegian dog. The part was played by a trained animal actor — a half wolf, half Alaskan malamute dog named Jed, trained by his owner Clint Rowe. He performed in most sequences with the exception of the beginning chase scene, where another dog, painted to be indistinguishable from Jed, was filmed.

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The Thing From Another World – Part 1

Is that a man in there or something?

“I first became aware of a movie called The Thing when I saw the original film,” said John Carpenter. “It was 1952 and I’d been about four or five years old. I think I saw it on a re-release. It was one of those films that, as you watch it, it was so frightening that my popcorn went flying out of my hands. When they’re up to the doorway and they had this Geiger counter — they open the door and he’s right there — I went nuts. Crazy. Then I read the short story in high school and I realized it was a lot different from the movie. What they’d done in the first film was make the James Arness monster more like a Frankenstein-type of creature. Yes, it was a kind of vegetable that could reproduce various lifeforms but he wasn’t the imitator; the creature that could imitate any lifeform from the original story. The John W. Campbell story Who Goes There? was basically Ten Little Indians with a creature in their midst; and it’s imitating either one or all of us; who’s human and who isn’t? That kind of idea fascinated me. We went in a sense back to that idea with the Bill Lancaster screenplay.”

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John Carpenter Live – I was there!

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One of my photos from the concert – poor quality is due to having only a humble cell phone!

Sunday, 28th of August 2016: John Carpenter’s live tour reaches Rome, in the famed Hall of Santa Cecilia of Auditorium Parco della Musica.

And I was there and I saw it all. Stalls Area, Row 18, 3rd seat. Sometimes these events do reach my country after all!

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Special: Why was the Pilot Creature fired from ‘The Thing’?

The Pilot animatronic on set.

As Kate Lloyd enters the ancient spaceship — in the climax of Matthijs van Heijningen’s The Thing — she discovers an enormous, luminous tower. Hologram pieces continuously assemble and disassemble, moving geometrically. It is here that she is then attacked by the assimilated Sander, who has taken the form of a horribly mutated, distorted creature. The final cut of the film, by itself, was a distortion of the director’s original idea surrounding what was hidden in the ancient and otherworldly spacecraft.

The creature effects of The Thing were assigned to Amalgamated Dynamics; the company was tasked with designing and constructing all of the creature’s gruesome transformations, as well as additional alien creatures. Several full-sized models were built, ranging from rod puppets to suits. Due to a studio interference, it was decided late in production to actually replace most of the practical work with digitally rendered effects, as the film “felt too 80s.” An exception is represented by a creature, labeled by the filmmakers as ‘the Pilot’.

Pilothead342

In the final film, said Pilot was replaced by the hologram tower (mockingly labeled as “the Tetris version” by the film’s own director), and the Thing, ultimately, took the form of a monstrously deformed and mutated Sander — the last transformation designed for the film, and brought on the screen directly as a digital effect. “We created the Sander-Thing the last minute,” the director said, “and it shows, unfortunately.” The replacement was actually established after test screenings, and as such the Pilot-Thing can be still briefly seen in the film — hidden by the shadows and camouflaged among the machinery. This is in all probability unintentional, and the question emerges naturally:

Why was the Pilot Creature fired from The Thing?

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