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The painstaking practical effects behind The Thing’s “chest chomp” scene

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Over 30 years later, John Carpenter’s The Thing still stands up not only as a masterpiece of paranoia but also as the height of practical makeup and prosthetic effects. Those effects were overseen by Rob Bottin, in his early 20s at the time, and they would require so much work from the young FX wizard that he eventually landed in the hospital with exhaustion at the close of filming. The work remains convincing today, still riling new viewers with its visions of distorted bodies repurposed by a shapeshifting alien.

In a just-released episode, Cinefix’s Art Of The Scene video series takes a look at one of the most famous sequences of the film, in which the alien’s ability to defend itself and transform its hosts is gruesomely revealed. Art Of The Scene’s impressive overview examines the beginnings of the film, its themes, and the major players involved before the video dives into the execution of the “chest chomp” scene. The process included multiple moldings of the actors, the hiring of a double amputee to sell the shot, and painstaking production of fake blood and viscera. It’s an excellent examination of the power that non-CGI practical effects can possess—and of how much time and energy went into a scene that still holds up as shocking and disgusting horror film set piece.