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Before CGI, ‘The Thing’ (1982) 30 years: Real Special FX, Deleted Stop Motion, etc.

May 2, 2012

Another anniversary milestone for ‘The Thing’ and I’m not hearing much buzz about it except for that recent ‘The Thing’ prequel (2011) which came & went last year. The 1982 version, now a  Sci-Fi Horror Classic. All the special effects used was before CGI existed for mass public consumption & mind saturation (my theory of CGI worldwide takeover). Five years ago there was 25th anniversary ‘The Thing’ special edition Dvd which I rented at the time. It had extras/featurettes with actor’s anecdotes and a few kind of dragged on, too long, however, the more interesting parts was hearing from the Director John Carpenter, and a few others , Rob Bottin, Peter Kuran and Susan Turner.

The special edition Dvd does have the infamous ‘deleted’ Stop Motion Blair-monster. Animation executed by Randall W. Cook, and of course with contributions from other’s on the stop motion crew.  Bottin’s recollection that John Carpenter “could see” that it was “animation” so he cut it. In other past articles though, I kind of got the feeling that Carpenter just had a general prejudice against creature type Harryhausen-esque stop motion effects. Also, my understanding from published articles/stories,  there were problems in the production which including ‘communication’.  The Blair monster design supposedly did not match the Bottin full size version, so maybe another undeserved excuse to blame Stop Motion and not others higher up in the production.

Below is the stop motion animation scene that was deleted. Unfortunately, the person who did the upload to Youtube, the  resulting scenes have darkened too much and difficult to see. Would be best if you turn off your room lights and watch several times. Whenever you see the long shots, that is Stop Motion Blair creature, which quickly cuts back & forth to the close-up full size Bottin Blair. I do not know why John Carpenter got his ‘Underwears in a Bunch’ ;) … the Stop Motion scenes were so short anyway. Oh well … he was the boss at the time, but that does not mean ‘Directors’ always make the supposedly right decisions, choices, etc. ….

I Have not followed what John Carpenter has been doing these days, whether or not he is retired, semi-retired, or what. There is some information from the ‘all knowing’ Wikipedia Gods. I just wonder if he got an opportunity today to direct some BIG film, whether he would go for ol’ school practical effects or more likely, I’m guessing he would drink the tantalizing Elixer of CGI Nirvana … or maybe use a mixture of special effects methods, classic FX & techy FX.

LINKS:  TrailerThe Thing (1982)John CarpenterOutpost #31

Topics: Behind the Scenes, Dynamation, Films - Shorts - Animation, Puppet Animation, Special Effects, Stop Motion | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Before CGI, ‘The Thing’ (1982) 30 years: Real Special FX, Deleted Stop Motion, etc.”

  1. Langley says:

    I really do wish this had been included in the film. It gives us a chance to see the creature at a scale that we don’t otherwise see. A similar creature was the final demon in The Gate, which cut together beautifully with the other practical effects of that movie.

  2. el olmo says:

    John Carpenter is quite active… latest flick was “The Ward” – highly recommendable if you like old-school ghost stories. Scared the hell out of me. Another one was “Cigarette Burns” for the Masters Of Horror short films. A weird and beautiful and strong film. The old man still knows how to tell a story well. In between, there was some quite weak stuff… loosing focus on topic…

    The question in thriller/horror/suspense was/is/will be how much is shown of what, size of chunks etc… like Rob Zombie says in a commentary about his own film on a rather cheesy Jump Scare scene: “cheap thrill, I know. You can’t always have expensive thrills”. Timing is crucial, and giving away too much at the wrong moment can ruin 80 minutes of build-up. But who am I to judge.
    At least we got the deleted material to watch and learn. Let this stand as a lesson – people will read what they want to see anyhow… nice find. Great work!

  3. Rotter says:

    Looks ok to me. I recall that The Thing was released the same day as Blade Runner.

  4. U_Ani says:

    “general prejudice”

    There’s your problem in everything. ;)

  5. Dave Hettmer says:

    This looks fine cut in with the live action prop. Yeah, if you think about it, the motion looks different. I guess one would have had to be in the editing room to understand why this was cut. I can’t remember how the released version of the sequence went. Unless it was much longer and spent more time on Bottin’s puppet then I’m left guessing what was wrong with this one.

  6. David T. says:

    My favorite film!

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