Creepy New Images from The Thing, Plus Make-up and Effects Talk from the Creators
09.18.11 by BJSprecher
The shapeshifting alien in John Carpenter's The Thing is easily one of the most terrifying monsters in cinematic history — we get goosebumps just thinking about the scene where the infected Norris' (Charles Hallahan) head tears itself apart from the body, sprouts spider-like legs, and skitters away — and it was created by creature designer Rob Bottin well before the advent of CGI technology. In fact, the "thing" in The Thing has become such an iconic creature that producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman made the decision to use as many practical effects as possible when depicting the creature in the upcoming The Thing prequel.
We only get to see a few glimpses of the creature in the trailer and TV spot that recently began airing, but some close-up shots of the creepy critter appeared in a recent article in Make-Up Artist Magazine (via director Matthijs van Heijningen's Facebook page). The article also contained a brief interview with Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. of Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc., creators of the make-up effects that brought the new "thing" to life, as well as with Linda Dowds, make-up department head of the production.
Gillis said that "the reasoning for choosing a heavy practical load" was to stay true to the signature look and feel of the 1982 movie.
Because Bottin's work [on the original] was obviously the cornerstone of that film...they didn't want to go with a digital fest and not feel as though they were working in the language of the Carpenter film.
Woodruff agreed, adding that "the big difference about a movie like The Thing" is that "it recognizes the impact of the first movie and stays true to it."
As for designing the look of the human cast members, Dowds said that the setting of the movie made it an interesting challenge.
We had a lot of men and just two women, including Mary [Elizabeth Winstead], our leading lady. A lot of those men also had a European sensibility to them, so we knew we were going to be dealing with a lot of facial hair ... we wanted them to be individuals, but there still had to be stuff going on that indicated that they were at this station, so we went through the characters and tried to mix up the facial hair a little bit so not everybody had a beard but everybody had some meausre of facial hair. We had to create a little chart to keep track of everybody.
With our women, Mary is an attractive girl and there was nothing to say that she couldn't look like that, but a little could go a long way. We didn't want to glam her up, so she agreed to have a no-make-up look about her. She got dirty and sweaty and stressed-looking, so we tracked all of that, not only for her but for everybody to see where they were at in the story. When would they look the freshest? When were they under the most stress? There were different stages for all of that.
And finally, we were shooting exteriors as interiors, so we wanted to rough up the skin and bring some rosiness to it and break up textures so that it reflected the fact that these people were in a cold climate. So it was all about when to do those things and when not to in the most realistic way.
The Thing also stars Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen, Jonathan Walker, Dennis Storhøi, Trond Espen Seim, Jørgen Langhelle, Stig Henrik Hoff, Jan Gunnar Røise, Kristofer Hivju,, and Jo Adrian Haavind.