Ask people to name their top horror movies, like the ones they literally can’t last a few months without watching, John Carpenters remake of The Thing will most likely feature on a high percentage of those lists, for very good reasons.
Released in 1982 and teaming Carpenter with Kurt Russell whom he had worked with only a handful of years previously on a TV movie about Elvis Presley, The Thing came as a welcome addition to Carpenters growing and respected output. A remake of the 1951 film ‘The Thing From Another World’, Concerning a research team in Antarctica that uncover something buried deep in the ice, they couldn’t possibly imagine what would thaw out of it.
The film’s exteriors were shot on specially built sets in British Columbia, the weather conditions coming close to matching those of its intended location. An interesting bit of trivia, the Norwegian camp set at the beginning of the film is actually the American camp set after the explosion that destroys it at the end of the film, the beginning of the film was one of the last things to be filmed on the production. Any interior shots were filmed in Los Angeles in specially refrigerated sets to replicate the Antarctic conditions.
Featuring the frankly quite staggering effects work of Rob Bottin, work that in my humble opinion stands up to this very day as some of the most impressive practical effects work in horror cinema. Reuniting after their work together on The Fog, lots of innovation and experimentation on Bottin’s part went into creating some of the memorable atrocities seared into our collective consciousness. Bottin worked on The Thing for just over a year creating all the creature effects with the exception of the dog thing made by the greatly missed industry legend Stan Winston. The film features yet another incredible synth score that the viewer could be forgiven for thinking was actually composed by Carpenter due to his previous work. The score to The Thing actually was the work of legendary composer Ennio Morricone.
The Thing is a film that strongly goes against the adage of remakes being nothing more than pointless, cynical, plagiarising cash-ins. The Thing succeeded in shattering that preconception with genuine innovation, risk taking and craftsmanship that set it a cut above and rightly cemented it as being one of the greatest horror films of all time.