On this day in horror history, Halloween director John Carpenter’s The Thing with Kurt Russell was unleashed into theaters back in 1982.
Filming took place in Los Angeles, Juneau, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia. It lasted 12 weeks, beginning in August 1981. Of the film’s $15 million budget, $1.5 million was spent on Rob Bottin’s creature effects.
It was released to negative reviews and only managed to snag $19.6M at the box-office. This has been blamed on Spielberg’s E.T. being released in the same summer and offering an optimistic take on alien visitation; opposed to The Thing‘s nihilistic tone.
The film found an audience on video and TV though and has since been reappraised as one of the best science fiction and horror films ever made.
The Thing has spawned a 1982 novelization, haunted house attractions, board games, comic book sequels, a video game, and a 2011 prequel.
A remake was announced in 2020.
Written by Bill Lancaster based on John W. Campbell Jr’s novella Who Goes There?, it tells the story of a group of American research scientists n remote Antarctica who are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both human beings and canines in the camp and they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot and the camp doctor lead the camp crew in a desperate, gory battle against the vicious creature before it picks them all off, one by one.
The film stars Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T. K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis, and Thomas G. Waites.
The film sports an 84% approval rating over on Rotten Tomatoes with a Critics Consensus that reads: Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950s take, John Carpenter’s The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.