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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


                      In early 1982 we received word from Universal that there was mounting curiosity among film exhibitors about the mysterious goings on surrounding THE THING. There was a self-imposed embargo in place with photographs and information on the special effects, and very little else had leaked out. With no formidable star power to speak of, exhibitors were looking for some re-assurance that we were an "A" level production capable of attracting and keeping summer audiences in their seats. David Foster and I were asked to put together a show reel of film that would emphasize action, scale, and suspense.

                      The first time anyone outside of the production was to see any footage at all, this was to prove to be an expensive proposition. A separate editor ( Christopher Holmes ) was hired to work alongside the main unit using dupes and whatever else he could get his hands on. Of particular interest to fans and collectors is the use of a number of alternate takes, performance and otherwise, to put this together - there were also extended versions of some scenes that were currently being edited (  the opening gun play, for example ). True to our embargo very little special effects footage was used ( John, while not having an active hand in this process, still resisted the studios request to reveal more ), although we  did feature the Norris chest opening ( but not closing ) and the petri dish blood jumping. The reel, which ran around 20 minutes, ended with McReady's "Yeah, well fuck you too" and the dynamite throw, the screen exploding to reveal "THE THING" in white, with red background... this was professionally mixed, with music ( pre- Morricone ) tracked from Universals extensive library.

      The idea was for us to take this on the road, travelling salesman style - two composite 35mm prints were made, and in mid-march 1982  David headed to NewYork, Boston, Chicago and Atlanta, and I to Detroit, Philadelphia, Denver and Seattle. The setup was always the same - we would host a screening of the reel late morning at some local theatre, followed by catered lunch for everyone at the hotel. Surrounding us on easels were large color blowups of stills from the movie. Reaction by and large was favorable - not unsurprising since the reel leaned heavily on action,  flamethrowers, and fights, with many ( exclusively ) male, primarily middle-aged exhibitors going out of their way to praise the idea of an ( exclusively ) male, primarily middle - aged cast...

                  After my return I received a call from Robert Rehme, Universal's head of distribution. He told me the studio was really counting on THE THING to pull them through the summer. They had just had their first look at E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL and considered it, in his words "soft", a movie "aimed at children". They thought it would be up to us to appeal to the demographic they most coveted, teenagers on up. We took this pep talk in stride, having no idea what was in store for us the next few months...



  1. I hope this footage and pics will arise in the near future. ;)