From right to left : John, Myself, Production Manager Robert Brown, Associate Producer Larry Franco. The Juneau Ice Field. Location Scout April, 1981

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


                  ... and with good reason. The script originally called for the Norwegian helicopter to veer out of control, crash and explode with the lone survivor (the pilot) emerging to follow the dog into camp. We couldn't responsibly figure out a way to do this practically so very early on in pre-production it was decided to try to do the crash with MINIATURES. A scale snow scape set was designed by John Lloyd and constructed on stilts on the back lot, designed to work with a very expensive remote control helicopter flown by our mechanical effects coordinator, Roy Arbogast.

                 The very first film shot on THE THING, John, although skeptical, directed an all -star crew that included Dean Cundey, Albert Whitlock and Bill Taylor. Despite everybody's valiant efforts the result looked like something out of TEAM AMERICA : WORLD POLICE...

               We looked at other alternatives. Several pilots connected with the production in Stewart offered to crash a helicopter for real - an offer not accepted because of the dangers involved. We gave five seconds consideration to the idea of having the helicopter simply disappear below the glacier and play the explosion off camera before we burst out laughing - the idea was a cliche', an audience cheat... The script was finally re-written to accommodate the action you now see, below  - the burning chopper is a shell dragged up the mountain in Stewart and set on fire...

Norbert Weisser as the Norweigan pilot


  1. Stuart ma this blog! and you are one hell of a good writer....keep on writing!!

    the comment is which is my site + blog(clues) - just the first site ( I'm putting together something much more sophisticated)....but back to you..your sister gives me constant updates about you and well...this is great........XXDENIS

  2. Great blog and excellent work on one of my all-time favorite films!

    One question I have with the scene as filmed regards the two Norwegians. On the DVD commentary, Carpenter refers to Larry Franco as the Norwegian shooting from the helicopter and Norbert Weissner as the Norwegian who yells at Russell and Co. (and who would be pictured in the scene above). However, in terms of appearance (beards, goggles, etc.) these two appear to be the same person. Did Weisser and Franco really look like identical twins on the set?

  3. Stuart, I brought this up on the IMDb board. Am I correct?

    In Carpenter's film, at the start, the Norwegian who is shooting at the dog is wearing a parka with fur on the hood. This Norwegian also mishandles the grenade, and when you watch the film, the Norwegian with the fur-lined parka is also the one who is digging for the grenade, and gets blown up.

    The Norwegian with the rifle, who is screaming at the Americans that the dog isn't a dog, clearly is wearing a parka with no furl-lined hood. This same Norwegian also exits the helicopter with the gun, on the right hand side (The pilot's seat) and is the one who screams about the grenade before running away.

    According to mrsnickman, when Lars gets into the helicopter before they begin chasing the dog, he's wearing a parka without a fur-lined hood. This means that, either Lars learned how to pilot the helicopter and took over mid-flight, or this is a someone major goof on the part of the filmmakers.

    Also, look at the credits of Carpenter's film. The credits are:

    Norwegian: Norbert Weisser

    Norwegian passenger with rifle: Larry J. Franco

    That means that Franco is the Norwegian in the fur-lined parka to start the film, and Weisser is the Norwegian who screams at the Americans and is shot by Garry. Further proof is on Norbert Weisser's web page:

    As you can see from the photos, Weisser is the Norwegian who is pictured as the one who yells at the others, and gets shot by Garry. That means, in order for Lars to be Jans Bolen, he would have had to have been the pilot of the helicopter, since the Norwegian who fires at the dog while in flight, and gets blown up, is wearing a parka with a fur hood, and is clearly blown up.

    Therefore, at the end of the prequel, when Lars takes up the shooter's position, he is Larry J. Franco. The pilot, who is the REAL Norwegian that Garry shoots, is actually Matias.

    From the wiki site:

    Lars fires at it, then orders Matias to take off in pursuit. Lars begins shooting at the animal from the helicopter, directly leading into the beginning of John Carpenter's The Thing.

    Lars is Larry J. Franco. Matias is Norbert Weisser. Weisser is shot by Garry.

    In order for the prequel to jive with Carpenter's film, Lars would have to take over as pilot. But then Lars would be flying the helicopter on the left-hand side (Remember when Mac and Copper take off for the Norwegian base? There's two sets of controls)

    Matias is flying the helicopter on the right-hand side, so in order for Matias to be shooting out of the left side of the helicopter, they'd have had to switch seats mid flight, or land. Why do that when there are two sets of controls, and Lars could have taken the left seat and passed the gun to Matias, and Matias could have shot at the dog from the right side of the helicopter.


  4. Stuart, I just discovered your fantastic blog. The Thing is one of my all-time favs...I've been a fan since 82!

    I look forward to many more of your fascinating entries!

    Keep it up!

  5. First off, thank you.

    My father saw The Thing in 1951 when he was 12. He tells the story how he and his twin brother watched the last part of the movie between the cracks of the seats in front of them. They went home after the movie, turned every light on in the house, and they sat in their beds with their BB guns till my grandparents came home.

    He took me to see John Carpenter’s in the summer of 1982 when I was 16 and I have always said this was the scariest movie of all time. The ultimate terror is the unknown. It was a great script. (Alien was also great, but there was no man vs. man suspense.)

    And then last week I took Grandpa and my 13 year old son to see the new one. We enjoyed it, but we knew nothing would measure up to the first 2.

    There is no doubt in my mind there are enough fans of this world that you could write a sequel from here. Kate sees smoke in the distance and follows it to a dead Childs, and a nearly frozen (newly casted) Macready. Then they go to McMurdle from there, McMurdle sends a chopper back to check their story, and when it comes back, the place gets torn up.

    Go for it !!