Halloween VFX: The Thing (1982)

The Thing

When I was 22 I was in my foundation year at University. And not exactly a star student. It wasn’t my time to shine. When Rob Bottin was 22 however, he was heading up the FX team for John Carpenter’s new flick, The Thing. The fact he was so young and heading up a team on such a formidable shoot was testament to his skill. He had already studied and excelled under Rick Baker, and had gone on to complete work on various projects, one of them being The Howling. They say that you need to be a little obsessed when it comes to creating VFX – nobody could question Bottin’s commitment levels. He literally lived on-set which allowed him to work seven days a week for a year, pushing not just the VFX to the limit but himself. Not that we’re complaining though, you can’t argue with results like this…

I would have loved to have been in the cinema along with the folks who were seeing this for the first time, to see just how nuts they went over it. There is so much ingenuity and bat-shit crazy imagination gone wild crammed into this film that it must surely have presented a whole new experience to people. And how amazing is that for both film-makers and audiences – to be part of something that nobody has seen before?

the_thing_concept_art

Some concept art for Norris’ spider head

The creations were so wild that nobody knew what to expect next. Add to that, the sense of paranoia at not knowing just who the “thing” was lurking inside of and you have yourself a corker of a horror movie.

Best bit
The kennel-thing transformation. Bored of hiding in its dog-form, the “thing” mutates and distorts while it’s amongst the other dogs in the kennels. There’s some sublime / grotesque shots as the “thing” strips its flesh and shifts into someone’s nightmare idea of a dog, with tentacles. The scene is made even more powerful by the suffering of some of the other animals as they get attacked.

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