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‘The Thing’ Originally Took Place Underwater; Plus, Carpenter Details the Day Horror Died…

I’m not exactly sure why this interview took place, but Vulture has a pretty cool chat with director John Carpenter about his filmmaking career. Those who have interviewed him understand that he’s a tough cookie to crack, unless of course you talk basketball with him (we’re brothers from another mother).

Anyways, Vulture actually got some really juicy stuff from Carpenter, including the reveal that Texas Chain Saw Massacre co-creators Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel worked on the script for The Thing at one point.

Yes,” Carpenter confirmed, adding this nasty little tid-bit. “They wrote a whole draft before I came along. All sorts of drafts were written before I came along. One was underwater … they were just trying to make it work.

And as insane as that sounds, the coolest part of the interview is when Vulture and Carpenter riff on the day horror died.

Vulture: After making The Thing, you read a demographical study that said the audience for horror movies shrank by 70 percent over a six-month period.

Carpenter:Yes. It was shocking! [Laughs.]

Vulture: Can you remember where you saw this?

Carpenter:It was sitting in my office at Universal. Universal had sent it over.

Vulture: Was it their way of saying “Lower your expectations”?

Carpenter:Yeah: “Brace yourself.”

The film opened on June 25, 1982 and flopped in theater, pulling in only $19M. Thank the heavens this was only the beginning of Carpenter’s illustrious career.

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  • Full Frontal Squashing

    Beginning of Carpenters illustrious career? This was actually his peak, and he had already directed numerous films (Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, and Escape from New York). In fact, I would dare to say that after The Thing he never directed another film as good as these (minus Big Trouble in Little China and Prince of Darkness). His high water mark being between 1978 and 1988. I hope that he along with Argento will somehow find it within themselves to return to form for one or two last films. I miss Carpenters brand of horror.

    • applejuice

      Agreed. Carpenter paid a big price for making this movie. Ahead of his time. And unlike another movie that bombed at the same weekend Blade Runner, he never recovered like Ridley Scott. The Thing is one of my favorites…

    • Cloud_ST

      In the Mouth of Madness > Prince of Darkness IMO. Though I agree with your first point, he had a pretty good career before The Thing,

    • Richter Belmont

      Um, Starman? His only film to ever receive an Oscar nomination and basically the pinnacle of his career.

      • Full Frontal Squashing

        Starman? Seriously? Thats one any true Carpenter fan tries to forget. Starman?! Really…..

        • Richter Belmont

          Although you may not like it, I’m pretty sure Carpenter was over the moon that it received an Oscar nod. It was the closest he ever got to mainstream appeal. And true Carpenter fan would love all his films regardless of quality.

          • J Jett

            Richter, i’m a “true” Carpenter fan but i don’t like every one of his films. that statement you made is silly. there are tons and tons of “true” Carpenter fans out there and i guarantee you that not all of them love every single one of his films. the man isn’t infallible.

          • Richter Belmont

            Meh, I’m just trying to make a point that a true fan shouldn’t completely dismiss a film in his filmography all because it isn’t horror. I’m sure Carpenter was very proud of that film, and fans should be happy for him for achieving a modicum of mainstream success by veering away from a genre that he has been chained to for the past 40 years.

          • wehoaks

            True fan? Christ. Get over yourself. Someone’s a fan because they say they are. That’s all it takes. And no, someone doesn’t have to suck the dick of all his films to be a fan. True fan has to love every film regardless of quality? Really? I mean really? Have a thought of your own numbnuts.

          • notoallkingz

            Any time someone says they are a “true” anything, they sound like a twat.

          • wehoaks

            Preach on baby!

          • Richter Belmont

            How about you and wehoaks go fuck yourselves. Oh nevermind, it’s apparent you’re already fucking each other.

      • Royal Rican Prince

        Many people forget that film for some odd reason BUT that’s a interesting film The part with the deer was right up there with E.T.

    • James

      Argento used to be amazing but he sure lost his way unfortunately.


    This kicked off the month of Halloween with a bang, great stuff Mr Disgusting. There’s little I don’t already know about this film and its production. This I didn’t know, the draft set under water. Thanks.

  • marklola12 .

    carpenter like many directors who made it big in the 80s have lost all of what they had to make and direct great movies, ridley scott and james Cameron are the same too

    • citizenconn

      Vampires doesn’t suck.

  • Grimphantom

    It’s amazing how Tobe Hooper was involved on the script of The Thing, reminds me when he was about to direct Return of the Living Dead. The underwater might sounded interesting but glad it went for the antarctic scenery since that’s where it suppose to start.

    Also like how John Carpenter gave much support to Rob Bottin on the effects and creatures of The Thing and paid off with an awesome movie.

  • ThunderDragoon

    Having it take place underwater would be interesting. I’m happy with the way it turned out, though.

    • Royal Rican Prince

      Wasn’t he also trying to remake Creature from the Black Lagoon at one time?

  • Royal Rican Prince

    I saw this at a sneak preview in NYC one month before it opened to the public. I was 16 years old and the work of Rob Bottin just BLEW MY MIND! I remember sitting in front of these 2 girls who just kept screaming & screaming! I never forgot that!!

  • liltrav88888

    wow they missed out big time this movie so fucking dope for its time i still love it and i got pretty high standards for special effects and what not

  • D2Kvirus

    The Thing set underwater exists – it’s called Leviathan.

  • ragethorn

    This movie gives any horror/sci a run for its money. It’s disgusting, disturbing and it’s actually smart.

  • brewers_rule

    I’m trying to figure out what exactly was going on in the late 70’s/early 80’s that turned people off of horror movies to that extent. Know the economy wasn’t good but that shouldn’t effect one single genre that badly. Were comedies en vogue or something? I can’t recall a time in my own life where horror movies ever really fell behind that badly at the box office.

    • Youri Gavrilov

      It was Raegan.

      • citizenconn


    • Harry Palm

      Oversaturation. There was a new horror flick every week and every one had a dozen sequels. Almost all of them were identical, too.

    • Jackie Jormpjomp

      Star Wars. Star Wars was the new template for sci fi. Audiences like something more upbeat or at least more action packed. The Thing may never have been a hit in any era though. It’s doubtful that the same audiences who made Saw a hit are the same people that would be into a story where all the characters are adult to middle age men of average looks and the suspense is a slow burn building with paranoia and hopelessness. It’s the same reason why Session 9 is a cult hit and not a widely known hit. It’s smart, complex and even nihilistic. The Thing is a masterwork but a cult film.

  • SpaceManSpliffz .

    I’ll never forget the first viewing I had of the thing. I watched it at 2 am, by myself, high as shit in complete darkness. The reality of what they were facing really got under my skin, the isolation, not being able to trust anybody, constantly questioning everybody including oneself, the ramifications if the thing made it out of the camp and began to spread worldwide, etc.

    I talked to my Dad about it the next day (he hadn’t seen it since it was originally in the theaters) and he remembered key scenes and details well enough that it surprised me. We wound up debating on whether Childs or MacReady were infected in the end, and if so, which one.

    I also remember wondering how Blair got infected (a big part of that thought tangent included the idea that maybe he infected himself intentionally after seeing the computer’s answer for the scope and rate of the thing, should it escape the isolation of the arctic. Maybe he thought infection was unavoidable and just sped up the inevitable) or if Blair was infected before the revelation that the thing would consume the entire earth’s population.

    This movie was so under-rated for it’s time, the tension, the special effects, the story, the way it was shot, everything was done perfectly. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this gem

    The pre-sequel wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. One redeeming quality it has is the attention to detail. Right down to the axe in the wall of the old Swede camp. The CG worked in some parts, and was just weird and atrocious in others (I’m looking at you, spaceship-thing).

    It would be cool to see a true sequel to the original, this time where Kurt Russell comes back as an aged MacReady, maybe isolated intentionally, running and hiding from things that have been trying to absorb him all these years. I always pictured them as sort of a hive mind, not unlike the borg. They would want the assimilation to be complete!

    rant done

    • Grimphantom

      Blair i do feel he was still him but insane and someone either Palmer or Norris infected Blair when the lights went out since when he was isolated he told MacReady he doesn’t know who to trust and when MacReady return asking for Fuchs Blair was calm and not feeling paranoid also telling MacReady to let him out since he feels much better which is strange that he doesn’t trust anyone and later acts like nothing happen.

      The prequel could have been done better, the most disappointing was the female thing since personally i was expecting something cool of how a female transform into a grotesque creature yet what i didn’t like about it along with other characters that got infected their faces didn’t get messed up. The female thing just moves the upper body and head to reveal giant sharp teeth and wasn’t good TF.

      Also what i didn’t like about the prequel is how easy and bland kills a character where you think it would assimilate with another or does kill them but in a unique way which the movie failed to do. Another point is that they killed MOST of the characters and the same scenario is from the original 1982 movie which it was predictable and unoriginal, would have liked it more that the 2nd act would take place in the spaceship and one by one fall and nobody knows who’s the real one and who’s the fake.

      If you’re a big fan of The Thing i recommend watching Gravity Falls especially the episode of season 2 “Into the Bunker” it pays a nice homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing and the design of the creatures are amazing and scary.

  • Steve MacMartin

    Had no idea it flopped, that’s really unfortunate. One of my favorite horror flicks of all time, and right up there with the original Dawn of the Dead for the best practical effects ever done. And yea, to echo what another commenter said… Laviathan was the Thing underwater, and it was also pretty awesome. Robocop fighting an underwater Thing? Bonus.

    Also… Prince of Darkness and the Thing are his best, imo!

  • Darnell

    The Thing was a great horror film. It was definitely ahead of it’s time. I would like to see him come back to the Halloween franchise.

  • Jackie Jormpjomp

    You know what’s hilarious? It still made more than the recent prequel BEFORE EVEN FACTORING IN INFLATION. Today it is tje equivalent of over $50 million. Doesn’t seem so bad when you think about it. The movie itself is the best monster movie of all time (for me, I’m sure everyone has their own favorites though).

  • Jackie Jormpjomp

    It’s interesting because the very entertaining PS2 game is a direct sequel to Carpenter’s The Thing and a big part of it takes plaxe in an underwater facility. It was a cool game. You had to keep your squad members from frewking out or they would flip out and run or kill themselves. Plus there are appearances by the remnants of the buildings and characters from the movie.

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