John Carpenter has made a lot of my favorite movies, but The Thing stands at the apex of an already impressive resume. For me, it’s even better than Halloween. A dire, dour suspenseful piece, full of great characters in the throes of paranoia.
But it was almost MUCH different. Due to a scheduling snafu, Carpenter found himself with 6 weeks of time between the film’s stage and location work. As a result, with much of the film already in the can, he was able to assemble a rough cut – and he didn’t like what he saw. He felt the film lacked tension, there was too much time between monsters and MacReady didn’t emerge as the main character until way too late in the cut.
So he started chopping, entire scenes were cut, tons of footage hit the floor. Then he started writing a script around his new rough cut, new kills were added along with new character arcs the stakes were upped. It’s an incredible argument in favor of giving filmmakers time to consider their work, which is ever so rare these days.