John Carpenter isn’t often afforded the respect he deserves for his commitment to craft. A great deal of his films have aged quite well, and that’s partly due to the their sturdy structure, which extends to his careful consideration of pacing and tone as much as it does his striking cinematography.
Cinephilia & Beyond just shared a meticulously detailed look into every aspect of Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing, a film that bombed upon release but has since become regarded as a pivotal sci-fi and horror film, and what stands out among the numerous interviews, insights, photos, and behind-the-scenes revelations is the clear vision that propelled the entire process.
Above, you’ll see a video made by editor Vashi Nedomansky, who uses side-by-side comparisons to show just how much Carpenter adhered to the pre-production storyboards. As Nedomansky writes:
The visuals of both the desolate Antarctic and the ever-morphing alien creatures in THE THING were envisioned long before the movie was shot. Extensive storyboards were drawn by artist Michael Ploog and Mentor Huebner so that all the departments of the production were on the same page in their preparation for the shoot. This is nothing new…but the similarity between the storyboards and the final imagery shot by legendary DP Dean Cundey is staggering. Storyboards are often only a guide, but in this film they were so specifically rendered that they became gospel. The detail and artistry of Ploog’s work up front, allowed the crew to have clear and defined goals on those frigid shooting days in both Alaska and Canada.
When you see just how clear Carpenter’s vision was for the film, as well as imagine the magnitude of work that went into bringing it to life, it becomes even more heartbreaking that the movie tanked like it did. Carpenter was never shy about sharing his disappointment over its reception, either.
“I take every failure hard. The one I took the hardest was The Thing. My career would have been different if that had been a big hit,” Carpenter’s said.
If it’s any consolation, John, it’s been 25 years and we’re still talking about it. At least you won in the end?