John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror flick The Thing is a work of legend, but the version we know and love came together only after a flurry of reshoots and rewrites in the final weeks before the director wrapped production. So, what died (never to be seen again) on the cutting-room floor?
Apparently, a lot.
One of the crew members has written a lengthy post about Carpenter’s efforts to effectively rewrite, reshoot and re-edit entire chunks of the film once it was almost complete — which added virtually all of the beloved iconic shots that made it so great in the end.
From a less badass MacReady to Halloween-esque kills, the original version almost sounds like an entirely different movie.
We’ve excerpted some of the post below, breaking down seven major scenes and changes we never got to see from that mythical first edit:
MacReady's 'blow up friend' and Childs' 'magic garden'
“The earliest deletions, I remember, were scenes involving MacCready and his blow-up friend and Childs and his ‘magic garden’, both of which, John said, ‘took us nowhere’. The men and their endless squabbling throughout the film was an easy target and large chunks hit the editing room floor almost immediately.”
Bennings' original death scene
"Also dropped quickly was Bennings' death scene by an unknown ( and never revealed ) assailant. A replacement itself for Bill Lancasters' much more expensive and effects-filled original scene set out on the Antarctic Ice, this sequence was designed and written by Bill as a no frills way to kill off a character by playing into Johns' wheelhouse, HALLOWEEN style. And that was part of the problem. John certainly executed it well enough, but it still felt like a scene that belonged in a different movie - a conventional murder mystery, perhaps. With no monster or even blood to recommend it John judged it ‘non dramatic’ and set about trying to come up with something better..."
Fuchs' death by shovel reveal
John was not happy with the way he had shot the "reveal" of Fuchs death by shovel. He had already cut the earlier Greenhouse footage with Childs anyway ... and in the space of a whirlwind week and a half John had come up with a cut that was leaner, less elaborate and more to the point, but still lacked drive and a coherent point of view. On a late Friday afternoon he said he would take the weekend to think about what came next...
The weak version of MacReady
The MacReady makeover begins here. After a slightly awkward dissolve this first compact scene puts MacCready firmly in the drivers' seat. The original scene as shot on stage had the men endlessly bantering, with MacCready, ever reluctant, refusing to go up... John turns this idea on its' head. Now, the decision to fly is MacCreadys'. Copper defers to this new status : If you say we don't fly, Mac, we don't fly "... The " Crazy Swedes" line is John's first attempt to "imitate " the laconic nature of Bill Lancasters' MacCready...
The original computer scene
Blair at the computer as originally filmed was a small and relatively insignificant part of a larger scene that came much earlier in the film. The script called for no specific information shown on screen, just a nondescript graphic of two cells splitting. The dramatic idea ( more of a brief dramatic beat, really ) was to focus on Blair and his increasing concern, not on what he was viewing, as part of a slower, more indirect buildup to his rampage...
It was missing the 'Nobody trusts anybody anymore' line
As MacCready makes the tape recording it gives John the chance to clear up a plot point or two ( "It rips through your clothes when it takes you over") but the relevant moment that John is looking to underline here is the weary declaration that "Nobody trusts anybody anymore". Also filmed the same time as the other work in late December, l981. Busy day..."
The full article is well worth a read, and includes a ton of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and tidbits about Carpenter’s resolve to salvage the movie and make it a true classic. It's fascinating to see how slapdash Carpenter came at the final edit, following his gut to tear the film apart and put it back together.
Do you think the film would’ve benefited from adding back any of this content?
(Via The Original Fan)