Opening weekend of the Matthijs van Heijningen Jr-directed prequel “The Thing” is upon us. Fans of the 1982 John Carpenter film have eagerly been awaiting, or dreading, the impending Universal prequel for some time. But before some of you flock out to the theaters to see it, maybe you should read on to find out more about the whole process of bringing this prequel to life on the big screen, along with the creature’s variously disturbing forms.
At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen). While Dr. Halvorson keeps to his research, Kate partners with Carter (Joel Edgerton), a helicopter pilot, to pursue the alien life form.
There’s a lot that goes into one production, and it all begins to really form on the pages of a script. “The Thing” co-writer Eric Heisserer shares his relief over finally talking about the movie and why it felt like such a ‘crime scene’ of a story.
“I’m excited to have people see what I’ve been finally talking about. It’s been hard to keep my mouth shut on this. There are a lot of little neat reveals, a lot of little twists and reversals in this movie that I’m excited about.
It was like a crime scene for us. It felt like we had forensic evidence to build our movie and from that we got a lot of information that we didn’t pay attention to that much when we saw it the first couple of times, but on the 30th time we did and it.”
One of the biggest questions that fans of the 1982 horror-thriller had on their minds was whether or not the effects of this prequel could measure up against the eighties flick. ADI special effects masters Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff talked a little bit about the process of making the effects as perfect as can be for the prequel:
Alec Gillis: “The thing is when we started the project we were saying ‘This should be all practical or as much practical as possible.’ Then you start reading the script and you see that parts of it should be digital. We’ve got the ability to morph things and then change things that are much better done in the computer than practical. However there are other things that work better practical. So it was really kind of a process going back and forth with the filmmaker to decide on what’s the right technique for this specific character for this specific shot.”
Tom Woodruff: “Here’s the other thing, there’s a lot of weight on our shoulders not to lose the fans that love what Rob Bottin did with the eighties film. It was a lot of pressure and what really helped that sort of put it in proper perspective for me, which Alec came up with, is that we always played with the computer as a tool just like all the other tools that we use. If this tool had been available thirty years ago Rob would have been the first guy to have been integrating it anyways. Our whole mantra to this movie was ‘What would Rob do?’ which extended into ‘What would Rob do if he had the same tools as us?’ So I feel that we have a real sure thing and we didn’t short change anybody. We really proved to telling this earlier part of the story in the language of what the fans loved.”
Their ability to bring different forms of the Thing into at least a sculpted reality did the trick, at least for the actors on set. “The Thing” star Mary Elizabeth Winstead loved what they did, but no actor’s ever fully comfortable seeing a sculpture of half of an actor’s body.
“It was really cool because it’s really rare to have something in front of you like that and with so many other films there’s so much CGI while a guy is holding a tennis ball and waving it around and you have to look at it and imagine that it’s something big and crazy. But we really had grotesque, detailed amazing monsters.
They had a warehouse full of just bodies and there’s a lot of half-eaten bodies and the sort of half-human/half-thing ones in the film. They were the most grotesque looking things because they sculpted the actor’s faces so perfectly it really looks like the half eaten body of Eric Christian Olsen laying in some warehouse, it’s kind of disturbing.”
In the end every person involved with the film is just hoping that audience members just jump right into the story and go along for the ride.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: “I just hope they come and go along for the ride, who are able to put aside any feelings they have about it or whatever preexisting thoughts they have about it and just try to watch a really good film.”
“The Thing” is out in theaters now. Check your local theaters for more information on the new horror film.