Strange Aeons Radio

THE THINGS! Bonus show!

September 13, 2021 Strange Aeons Radio Season 3 Episode 136
Strange Aeons Radio
THE THINGS! Bonus show!
Show Notes Transcript

THE THINGS! Bonus show!

Recorded live from Crypticon-Seattle 2021, the gang takes a closer look at John Carpenter's classic adaptation of The Thing.

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Oh, sorry, did I break your concentration? Somewhere between science and superstition? To show you Strange Aeons. Welcome Strange Aeons radio. That's Eric over there. Hello. That's it. It's over there. Hello. That makes me Kelly. This is kind of a special episode guys because we are going to be playing the live show we recorded at cryptic con. Two weeks ago now one week ago now one week ago, one week. Wow. Yeah, yeah. I moves weird. COVID time hashtag crip cryptic con. We did we went to a whole convention. Yeah. Yeah. I think it went well, overall. I mean, there was attendance was good enough. I'm one of those people. It's like I wanted to be from my retail years I wanted to be insanely busy, are just really steady, are totally that we kind of sat in that middle ground. It was it was there. It didn't feel like it was really lightly attended. Like there were a lot of people there. And I was really surprised. You know, I'll be honest, you guys went into this convention, wanting to not go to this convention. Yeah, sure. A couple of the guys that are regulars with our group weren't showing up. I was just like, boy, this is not going to be a good time. I gave up a family reunion to go to this that weekend. And I was just like, and really the only thing that kept me going was the responsibility of knowing we had a live show. We were going to record church, but I honestly thought we were going to record that live show to an empty room. Yeah. And that we just do a regular episode. And instead, I think you can hear it in the audio. It was a full room. You know, it was socially distance and everything, but it was about as full as you can get. Yeah. And that was a shocker. Especially at that point, Eric, I think us how many of you listen to know who we are? And like three hands? Yeah. Okay, cool. Well, go listen, now. I hope you're hearing this. And I was really angry actually. Because the the description was Strange Aeons radio records, a live episode of their popular podcast. But the whole point was we weren't doing a typical episode of the broadcast. So you're here we did kind of a deep dive, but it's, it felt like a deep dive. I mean, it was kind of a an interesting, windowed viewpoint of portions of, I think part of the problem you and I maybe, I don't know if you've listened to much of their podcast. But you know, once you've listened a couple of the projection booth, right? A 15 Minute. Talk on one movie feels like skim dive there. What they do like an eight or nine hour thing on the show on the thing, I think, I don't know about that. But I know that their Conan episode was seven hours long. Yeah, good lord. Yeah. I mean, the people who worked on Conan probably wouldn't talk about it for them. So I didn't, yeah, I didn't want anybody to think that we were doing a big deep dive. Oh, by the way, the film we talked about was john Carpenter's the thing. And I wanted to kind of put that out there because I thought that would actually bring people to the room rather than a podcast that, you know, most of the people that are hadn't heard of, but yeah, it was really nice to see so many people there. Yeah, it's good. If you're a new listener because of that. Thanks for coming. Yeah, no kidding. Yeah, it was from my part of it. The festival. The film festival segment was a rousing success. But the room was as full as it could get at least eight or nine screenings. invited a whole bunch of other festivals to screen and they all had a great time. So I'll probably continue to do that. And we had HP Lovecraft Portland horror film festival, bleeding ham, bone bat, of course. And tri city Film Festival and grief plot I think. But they all showed up sent in some good shorts, of course because yeah, they're pulling for their best. But having less less hours to have to screen stuff I was able to crank up the what I was showing as well. As that's that's good, good festival well attended. I was just so happy to hang with you guys for a while. Eric. Normally when you're doing the festival or when you're doing the convention. I I see you at the end of the night. Yeah. And, you know, we'll grab a drink or dinner or something. But you were able to actually hang around for a cup. Yeah, yeah, having the fact the other festivals run plus having a couple of really good people helping out even though one was unable to make it makes it a lot easier to continue. Then we were able to have a nice dinner with Brian and Gwen. Yeah, Lovecraft Film Festival and Rick Tillman showed up and Nick Gawker showed up. And of course, Steve Holtz was there and he later turned into a real, whole lot of fun. And I was really surprised. Yeah, I definitely was not expecting to have a good time. Like I had a little mini panic attack on the drive in because I was like, I'm not afraid of talking in front of people at all. I'm really excited to see my friends. But I haven't been in a room filled with just people in a space that has this kind of vibe going. It's been so long. So as soon as we got going, and I saw you guys, it was like, Okay, good. It's fine. It's fine. This was talking to the people who put the convention together, you know, because, you know, I was talking to each other. to a person almost we were all this was so fucking hard to put on this year. We were all like, I don't think I've ever done come down again. This is ridiculous. This sucks. It was so goddamn hard. And the convention reception was so overwhelming. And the people were so appreciative. And they were so cool, and so nice. And the reactions to some of the filmmakers about being there just floored me. Because, yeah, I sent it to cocoon. I don't really know what the reputation of Krypton Film Festival is. But the reaction like gone, and by the end, we're all tired of all this is great. What can we do to make it future pandemics? How can we roll with? And the one thing I think that was done really smart? Was the way temperature checks were done. Yeah. Going to the predator machine. Yeah, they had the thermal imaging there, and you got to see yourself and your temperature and everything. Spoiler. On the second day, I noticed that my temperature looked like really low. I said, oh, what's going on? I am alive, right? And, and she said, all those colors don't really mean anything. She just goes to get back in there. And she touched a dial and then it looked the way it was supposed to. And she goes, we don't look at that. We're looking at these other numbers over here. This is for you to enjoy the finer. Smart that's really smart because it went from getting it you know, temperature check where you walk into a hotel or a mall or something now and they put that thing to your head is like okay, whatever, to people like, Oh, yeah, go go could check my temperature check. See what I look like. Like, can you move along, please? Before waiting? I did love the last like I took a picture of myself when I was there. And I did love that the one lady would come cosplaying as a predator got a really good image of herself in that. Yes. Oh, I love that so much. I did not see that. That's freaking genius. I think Eric, did you send that to us? Yeah, yeah, I've got to come that with? Yes, I definitely. Yeah. The the COVID precautions were pretty good. So before he could do anything you had to they take your temperature without thing. And then you would if you were okay, would go and show your vaccine card. And from there, you would get a wristband that said, you know, you had checked out for the day. And that was what allowed you into the convention area. And you had to do that every day. You were there. I mean, I'm not sure that you can do much more than that. Yeah. Yeah, no, is actually really funny. On the first day, I came in from the backside of the hotel because I never really parked out front. And so I didn't know what was going on. And I went in and I went to like, go get my pass. And they looked at me and they're like, Where's your band? I was like, What are you talking about? And they're like, you got to go get your temperature checked. And I was like, what, like, I was not gonna fall through the cracks when I stood in the wrong part of the line for the temperature and that that was a mess. And it was it was interesting, because I was definitely one of those little cogs and the little wrench in the cog. And like, totally still got me through there. You know, it all ironed itself out and like I didn't, you know, I wouldn't have exposed anybody, which was pretty neat. Yeah, I was surprised by because the film room at times was as packed as it could get. I mean, every seat was taken there were far less seats than they normally are because they were spaced out. Nobody ever took their mask off. watching the movies that I saw at least I was like, okay, and I did make sure it's like when I first showed up to test the carrots that mike got the hotel per se you need to turn the temperature down in this room significantly because it was cooler in the hall than in the room. Gone. If anybody's going to sit in here for 90 minutes with a mass mass is going to need to be a lot colder than that. And they did and it was. It worked really well. And I heard from Steve, Steve Lang that, you know, it was pretty much drama free. Yeah. So it's almost like by pushing away the people who had a problem with a fully vaccinated event got rid of make problems. Regular. weird. Weird how that there was a naked man on the 13th floor I heard about Yeah, I apologize running around. It's okay. I'm sure they were bathed in a you know, hand sanitizer before they ran around. made sure they were, you know, healthy and safe. Well, cool. How about we play our live episode? You're going to hear me rushing through it, I think because we had about 55 minutes to play. Yes. And we had a lot to talk about. And I think that it all kind of came together. Why don't we all find out right now. Okay. This is the thing. With a few pumps of the inflator, you can make the thing expand inside. Place the thing in the rock track, pump the inflator. And within seconds, the thing will crash out of the trap. Come to some assembly required the thing by fun stuff. Welcome to Strange Aeons radio. That's Eric over there. Hello. That's Vanessa over there. Hello. That must make me Kelly. And we are recording live at crypto con 2021. So you guys have to make some noise. All right. So this is kind of a weird episode for us and that we're doing a I don't know if I want to call it a deep dive but kind of a shallow on john Carpenter's the thing. I assume everybody here has seen john Carpenter's the thing. Station 30. Something in the eyes. Please help out here. Wealth men have just discovered something. for 100,000 years, it was buried in the snow and ice. Now it has found a place to live inside where no one can see it. or hear it or feel it. I know I'm human. Some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself. It wants to hide inside an imitation fight if it has to. But it's vulnerable out in the open. That takes us over and there's no more enemies. Nobody wants to kill it. And then it's one of those things. Has anybody not seen it? Oh, okay, well, we won't spoil. Well, okay, we're totally gonna spoil it. But it's fine. Don't worry. worth watching. The idea being that we assume that you have seen this and so we're not going to be talking about the story, right? We're gonna be talking about what was going on around the making of this. And then the aftershocks this thing? So let me just start here. The thing 1982 budget of about $15 million. Box office have almost $20 million eautiful. But that is a lifetime box office that goes to today. Oh my god. Yes. So Stuart Cohen, who is the CO producer and the original guy who got the ball rolling the ball rolling on Who goes there? He had a contract with universal and they were trying to bring people in. He was like I want to do a remake of thing from another world. But really What he wanted was to do an A new adaptation of what's his name's? The guy who wrote the story. Yeah. So i'm john Campbell's Who goes there. And if you have you have listened to our podcasts, you understand that this happens a lot with me going, you know, yeah, that guy we again, there's a reason we edit our show. As far back as 76, they were talking to Toby Hooper and Kim hankel, who had recently arrived at the universal light, courtesy of their success with Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And director William Friedkin, who had suggested them as who should be shepherding this new version of the thing. Wow. They were looking for a project, the studio suggested the thing which seemed like a good idea to all involve but their initial enthusiasm dimmed upon reading the novella. The issue of trust didn't particularly interest them as an overall theme and rejecting the short story central premise, they chose instead to try to fashion something original that, in their words would address the larger picture. Stuart Cohen, remember the CO producer of this? He says in his blog, judged by all at the time to be something akin to a disaster. We agreed to part company damn out. Yes, wolf. So they then had a short meeting with john Landis, who was in early post production on Animal House and he read what they wanted to do and said, not interested. So on the strength of the success of Logan's Run, universal then reached out to William F. Nolan, who was familiar with the short story and had his own take on the material. Now, Mr. Dolan has recently passed away, so I don't want to say anything bad about him. But he did publish his own treatment of this couple years back so readers may judge for themselves. But Stuart Cohen says, we found at the time the results disappointed and chose not to proceed. So the movie just kind of sat around in limbo until a little movie called alien came out, and became a huge hit. And Stuart Cohan then reached out to Universal and said, Do you think maybe we could get a couple of bucks? I think that the world might be ready for the thing. And that was when john Carpenter was attached. And he was attached on the condition that he not be the writer. Oh, really? Yeah. Well, I assume you know, this. I mean, I'm kind of surprised about that. I watched probably three documentaries on the thing and several YouTube videos to try and get john Carpenter's perspective. And I will say it's, it's only in the short seven minute segment of like a pre 30 millimeter screening video that he's like, let me tell you, this was a pilot shit. And that's what I cared about. So I gleaned most of my information from that particular interview. So john Carpenter at the time was actually sort of the golden child. He was really courted by the studios for this particular picture, he had made a huge splash with Halloween in 1978 made way more money than anyone could have dreamed was possible off of a little indie horror film. And once they landed on him, after going through so many other potential people, they approached him and at first, he was a little a little bit hesitant. So john Carpenter was a huge fan of thing from another world. And we know this, because it's playing in the background in Halloween, yes, on the TV screen. That is not because he knew he was going to end up doing this project at all. He loved the original, he loved the Howard Hawks. As a director, he was a little terrified of taking it on because he didn't want to ruin it, he wasn't sure what he could add to it. So he went ahead and re read the novella, and found that within it, there was actually a lot of untouched material, and decided to go ahead and dive on in although we almost didn't have him because at the same time, his other side project, his baby, El Diablo, sounded like it might be coming out, and he almost walked away from the thing, but luckily, El Diablo was taking a lot more time and would not come out for many, many more years. And at that point, he didn't even direct it, so it's for the best that he ignored it. So, um, how far do we want to discuss this gentleman? Um, let's just say that john Carpenter doesn't believe he had the best of times. On this particular shoot. It was if nothing else, a pure hellscape after he got his favorite crew members attached, which I know we'll dive into a little bit more here, which was a big deal because they all had to unionize. So they had to jump on board with him, which is very cool. So he got his dp, he got his special effects guy. Once they started shooting, they have three different locations. The first of which was looking through my notes, looking through my notes. Stewart, British Columbia. It was a I'm sorry, the first one was an ice field above Juneau, Alaska, where they did the opening scene, and they did the dog stuff. So they took about two weeks to go ahead and do that. After that, they went ahead and did all the interiors in a refrigerated set in LA, they had to refrigerate it because it was over 100 degrees outside. And they had to make it look like they were in freezing conditions. So they were they took it down to 40 degrees, drink a lot of coffee, drink as much hot stuff as they could to make it look like they had breath coming out and shot as much as they could. Unfortunately, they got more and more and more behind schedule. Because the visual, the special effects. Were taking a long time. Where are they now? Yeah, it was a little guy who went on to do a few things. Rabo teen Nope, that's how it's pronounced. Again, anybody that listens to the podcast know why I asked that. The he did go on to do a few other things like, you know, the fog, howling, legend, Robocop and even Game of Thrones worked on for a while. He was only 22 when he started this. So he was real new in the world. He he put the time he worked on it in an interesting way. He spent he said he spent seven days a week for the length of two birthdays, working on the special effects for the film, what actually two years but it was just long enough that he hit a second birthday in the time he was making it. And he's very much as you hear a lot of filmmakers say and they get a little bit older. And if I'd been 35 or 30, I never would have been able to make this movie. But at 22 I could spend the energy and the time to make it happen. He but he wasn't alone, he had a crew of up to 60 people working on visual special and makeup effects along with them, including an uncredited Stan Winston came in for a little while to help bring the stuff together and probably get the stuff done. Because obviously, Stan, at that time, there were a hell of a lot more than Rob did. But he actually ended up not going credited on that bill quite a few years later. The weird thing that popped up was surprising frequency when I was looking for info on this film was the number of people that were asking. This wasn't the new one. This was for this 19 early 1980s late 70s made film. Did they use practical or CG effects? No. Wow. Well, practical practical is pretty much the thing. There was Susan Turner was the model maker for it. So that beginning opening scene you see of the spaceship she made. And the she still owns that it looked like as a documentary. They had her she was here it is like that is so cool. It's so well made. She also worked on like Conan, Star Trek, one and two. The howling as well return to the Jedi, almost all of these uncredited, but she's basing a modelmaker on all of them. threadably good. The effect that seemed to hit people a lot whether it was a CG or not, was that opening burn of the thing coming through, which is done by Peter Quran. And he talked about how he made it he drew the design on an animation cell which he placed behind a fish tank filled with smoke and covered with a bat trash bag lid on it lit it on fire and then let it just reveal itself. So that was done live as it were, you know he didn't burn it specifically is that and that works. Even the credits were a practical effect. Yes, exactly. So the it's interesting that the stuff you ran into about Carpenter saying he had a hard time because Kurt Russell had a great time. My son is a really tough shoot is a very arduous shoot, but it was a very the shenanigans that got up to with a whole bunch of guys isolated. Oh, and you're kidding not just isolated. But the final part of the shoot was up in Stuart, British Columbia. And it was often of a mining facility and they picked out this location because it looked beautiful in the summertime absolutely perfect for mode. You couldn't see anything as far as the eye could see except for the mining facility itself, which all they had to do is dress and it was on the side of a glacier so it looked absolutely incredible. But then when they shot in the winter, this area became almost impossible. To get to the crew had to take a two hour bus ride to get there, it was harrowing. There was mining trucks that would be going speeding down the road, this little rickety road that they're trying to take up there. And they were told on the radio, to not take the road when the trucks were going through, because they would just get plowed over, they would just be killed. And they were almost killed several times, for example, when the bus almost fell off the side of a cliff. Yes, so that wasn't good. Luckily for carpenter, he was able to be helicoptered in each day, which is good, but it was still a pretty miserable shoot, there was tons of days that they couldn't shoot at all because they had whiteout conditions. Some days, it was snowing, and he would just kind of sit there in the freezing cold, trying not to fall asleep trying to make this damn movie. I would imagine some of what comes through in the documentaries when you're watching people talk about the movie that's 30 plus years old, is that you would be so proud to have worked on a movie this good that she might gloss over your memories of what it was like being on set and stuff. At least I'd hope you know you would i'd i can't imagine not being proud that you worked on well. I mean, it was such a disaster. They had so much time to feel not proud. They had so much time to feel like they had failed 30 years. Oh, three years later, they're probably all I'm never working again. This is it. I'm gonna become a baker Forget it. Well, let's rewind just a little bit before then. All of this stuff when Carpenter was attached, they were still trying to find the writer. And so they approached Richard Matheson. He turned them down cold, refusing even to meet his agent asserting that even if they planned on using the novella as a source, Matheson would never be involved in something called the thing. So then they went to Nigel. Neil. Eric, you might be familiar with Nigel Neil, he wrote the cater mass. Oh, okay. Yes, very recently. I'm familiar. He was very interested. The problem being that they needed somebody that was kind of Los Angeles based to be a part of this thing, because Carpenter needed to meet with him frequently and everything. So they chose a man named Bill Lancaster. Let me tell you guys, Bill Lancaster is known for four things. One of them is the thing. The other is the Bad News Bears. The Bad News Bears and breaking training. And the Bad News Bears good in Japan. Wow. But Carpenter was such a fan of the bad news bear, that he thought that this guy might be able to do it. So. And also, Cohen, who was the CO producer and Larry terman. And David Foster the other producers, they knew that they had this project at Universal, they knew that they wanted to scale it down from the original story. If you haven't read, who goes there be the outpost is staffed by 37 men. And they knew that this was going to be very difficult to actually make people care about or even be able to tell the difference between some of these characters. So they needed someone who could not this down to, you know, seven or eight people baseball team and have personalities that made sense that you would understand and all of that stuff. So Lancaster was brought up. A carpenter loved the Bad News Bears. They said, you know, let's give this guy a chance. And Lancaster wrote the first 30 pages. JOHN Carpenter read it and said, Oh, my God, this is amazing. Bill Lancaster said, All right, I'll see you in a year. And it almost took a year for him to write the script. Oh, wow. Well, how long did it take to do Bad News Bears went through three? Well, I'm gonna guess less than that. The first one, maybe a long time, the others checks clear. And let's go. Lancaster had never even seen Halloween. He didn't know who john Carpenter was. And it wasn't until you know about halfway through the script writing process that he realized he was working with the New Hollywood golden boy. So he was very excited about that. They met a couple of times after he had written the script. They started kicking ideas around and and he Lancaster admitted john had his own ideas on how they should do things. And Lancaster really liked it. JOHN had an idea of isolation, mistrust and all of these things coming in and they worked really, really well together. Lancaster only had fantastic things to say about carpenter. And for his bark Carpenter said that when he read the first draft of the script for the thing, he said it was the best script he had ever read. That's incredible. Yeah. So then they started. They started playing around with the story and there's some Interesting stuff in here, where I'm looking at sewer coins notes and some of the interviews with Lancaster. And you can find a lot of this stuff on a site called outpost 31, which is all about the thing. But also starlog magazine has all of their magazines online for you to just flip through. And it is amazing just to go through, like all of the advertisements and the letters and all of this stuff. So, um, Lancaster, so I'm reading some of this stuff. And I was like, Oh, this is really interesting. Lancaster added a sequence which wasn't in the short story and explosive confrontation with the creature that destroys most of the research compound. So this is that end climax that we we know about. That's not in the original Campbell book. It's not in the Howard Hawks film. But this is something that Lancaster was starting to realize, you know, remember, this is 7980. He's writing this and he's like, audiences are a little more sophisticated. We need to give them you know, a big ending. And by this time, Star Wars has come out Empire is about to come out and all of that stuff. So they're realizing we really have to up our game on this thing. This is one of the things I thought was really interesting. Another of Lancaster's additions is an inflatable rubber doll in the shape of a voluptuous woman, which not only serves to further humanize McCready his character, but also provides a humorous scare amidst the mounting suspense. He says, I quote, I thought that was kind of cute. Because there are no broads in this movie. I think it works well. Since it's not just a grace note, we also make use of it towards the end. And we can start getting into the fact that none of us know this scene at all because it didn't make it to the final. Exactly. And whose fault is that? No, nobody's fault except that carpenter. After he started editing the film, he hated it. He thought he had a really horrible film on his hands, and he didn't know how to fix it. Interesting. Okay, did you? I did not come across that. Okay. So let me just talk about your part, though. Yeah, that's fine. educate me. So carpenter, tell Stuart Cohen. I've got a dud on my hands. Even with the scenes, I know that I've got to get some amazing special effects. And I think the pacing is all wrong. And I don't know what to do. He locks himself in his house and the editing studio for a week. And he comes out with a film that he has cut to the bare bones. Because what he thought was going wrong with the film was the pacing is too many people talking too many things going on. It was definitely an ensemble piece, which is why he wanted bill Lancaster to be writing it. And he realized, I think we can all agree that Kurt Russell needed to be the standout hero of this movie. Yeah, he came on and well, they became they got along really, really well. Kurt and john Carpenter click, they still click I. I will say that, for me. One of the best audio commentaries ever recorded is Kurt Russell and john Carpenter talking about the thing. Because they obviously like each other so much. And there's tons of weird laughter and they say great things. But it's also like a lot of times you run into commentaries, where people are talking like that. And suddenly they just forget about the movie, just bs about their lives for a while. But they also talk about the family talking about what was happening, what was going on, it is just fantastic. The current shot factory version is chock full of good stuff like that. Well, one of the things they didn't necessarily get along the line was Kurt Russell's big hat. Really, apparently, john loved it immediately. And Russell said, I had to learn to love it. It's a pretty bad hat. They worked on they wanted his character to feel grounded part of what they were doing with the video game at the beginning, playing chess and Franken the jnb and pouring it into the computer was just the idea that he was a former helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and subsequently became alcoholic, and then decided he didn't want to deal with humanity at all anymore. So he took this job. So that was kind of Kurt Russell's thing, that part of the reason he works so well as a character is he's a fantastic embodiment of the reluctant hero is like, I don't give a shit what's going on. I'm not going to do anything. I don't want to take over. Oh, I have to. Okay, I'm taking over and thoroughly that leads to you I honestly want to cinemas greatest. It's a sign about current, but also the effects guys my main thrust, but the best scene in the movie has very little to do with effects. And it's what makes the film work so well is when they're doing the blood test. You're so engaged with the characters that are there. And Kurt commands the screen so powerfully. on its surface, you read this script of that scene you like? Well, it's kind of neat. Execution with john and carpenter and all the people working on that scene is one of the best spent scenes ever shot. other fun things that happened, Russell almost killed himself with a stick of dynamite. The final scene when he's tracking the dynamite, he didn't realize how powerful that shit was. And there you can see him kind of stumble. And I don't remember if he got burned or not. But it blew him backwards after a fluid up and that was not acting that was because he was too damn close to the explosive. So just think what we would have lost if Kurt had died on that set. Oh man, he was frequently noted to saying he was horribly disappointed that he or anybody else brought skis. The other weird things they ran into that I don't necessarily think of, I guess, unless you work with flares regularly, which I don't. He burned the hell out of himself with those flares. And part of the fun of acting is he had to coordinate burning himself, doing his lines doing the acting, making and they burn really fast. So he had always be paying attention to breaking up the new one is one of them was going down. And apparently they smelled so bad that they had to abandon the set for a little while after they shot us. Like flares, generally, our indoor use, you know, we usually light up a flare to look around your bedroom or something. But, and the beard was rare, took him a year to grow his beard. So while the script was being written, Kurt was grown his golden muscle love that. Well, what's amazing to me is that he was the last one cast as well. He was such good friends with carpenter, the carpenter asked him to help him figure out who the cast should be. And they'd worked together for a long time trying to figure out all the different roles, get everyone on board. And it wasn't until pretty pretty near lockdown that john Carpenter said, Hey, Kurt, do you want to do you want to maybe meet be McCready? And he was like, okay, like they'd never considered it. And then just right at the end there it happened? Did they have somebody else in mind or not that I think that they probably ran through a lot of names, and nobody quite stuck. There wasn't anybody who really fit it? Well. And I can't imagine that john Carpenter had anyone else in mind, honestly. He's probably sitting there across the table the whole time going. You don't know what's coming, buddy. Yeah, totally. This is gonna be you keep naming names, I'm gonna keep shooting them down. Well, I have a little bit more on Lancaster, who was giving an interview to starlog, the month before the movie was released, Oh, God. And he'd said, There seem to be only two endings in these kinds of movies. Either the Twilight Zone type of twist or the destruction of the monster. What we have instead is like a tag. It's a nice comment of partial trust and partial mistrust, fear and a little bit of relief. I like the ambiguity of it. I think it will be interesting after all the violence to have this semi nebulous lending, I don't know, maybe people will hate it may not be a commercial enough ending. He then goes on to say, and here's where the heartbreak comes. In this article so comfortable has been Lancaster's working relationship with Carpenter In fact, that at the time of this interview in mid November, he is preparing another project on which they would collaborate. And I quote, right now I'm half finished adapting Stephen King's fire starter for john to direct for universal. The story concerns an experiment done on a couple in the late 1960s, which has strange consequences and involves a little girl who has the power to start fires. It's kind of a neat action adventure chase movie, and I find that appealing, like the book, and I'd like to work with john again. He also liked the book and wanted to do it so I thought the combination of the material and working with john again would be exciting. He doesn't expect production of Firestarter to begin until at least late summer or early fall. By then he'll know whether or not bloodthirsty invaders from outer space have as much boxoffice appeal as little leaguers with dirty mouth. In the meantime, he awaits the release of the thing with great expectations. I think the audience will be dazzled by some of the stuff in it, he predicts. Hopefully it will be a very gripping and intense experience. It should be a big popcorn movie. Oh, Lord. Oh, that turn out Vanessa. So, um, something that we should bear in mind. The studio had initially set a budget for this movie of $10 million dollars with 200,000. For creature effects. This was the most any studio had ever allocated for a monster movie. By the end of the film, they had spent 12 point 4 million on the film and 1.5 million on the creature effects. So they were way over budget. The box office unfortunately didn't exactly bring in a ton. They came in eighth. On the premiere weekend right behind Poltergeist which had already been out for four weeks, it was considered a failure. Many blamed ETS huge success as being an uplifting film about aliens, as the reason for this is film's failure for being such a downer on aliens. Carpenter actually doesn't think that this is the case, he really thinks it's down to the nihilistic nature of the film with an ending that isn't necessarily clear and definitely isn't happy. And he felt like audiences at that moment, who were experiencing a recession, really desire to film that was uplifting. In fact, six months leading up to the things release audience appeal for horror films overall had declined 70% Oh, wow. I didn't know that. But yeah, that is the one thing we always hear is that et killed the thing. And I think it's more that we were just in a really bad space as a country and people were we're looking for something a little uplifting. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it makes a lot of sense. Like right now during COVID, which we're all experiencing how many people want to see a really like dramatic sad downer film, right? Not me. I want to watch stuff explode, I want to see, I want to see horror films, I want to be taken out of my own world and put into something else. I would say this, though, even up to this point, john Carpenter has a very nihilistic streak through his filmmaking, Halloween ends with the shape not being there after he's been shot, the fog ends with kind of another similar kind of thing. And from then on, even stuff like Big Trouble in Little China, we have the creature holding on to the semi truck and everything. And it's, it's kind of one of those head scratchers where you were like, well, what did you expect john Carpenter to do with this kind of movie? You know, I think the studio knew, but just didn't expect the audience to have a backlash. And then once one person started having a backlash, I feel like everybody jumped on that bandwagon really quickly. It really felt like a snowball effect. Which, you know, we can get into what some of the critics, let's hold off on our first little more Apple fun little more notes on the effects though, throw out real fast. Rob's schedule at 22 years old was still so punishing, and his attention to detail, so intense that after filming, he was hospitalized. With exhaustion and pneumonia. Yeah, I believe john Carpenter looked at him and said, You look awfully pale. And then they sent him to the ER, yeah. And he was, think about how good the effects are on the thing. So for you, you have to think about it later. But the he was scared about them. He did not want them lit bright at all. As the cinematographer was like, it's like, Rob, you build these amazing creatures to be putting. They're interesting, they're imaginative, and then you don't want me to put any light on them because you're afraid of showing them too much. It's like, well, that's, but that's kind of why they work too. Because those hands I mean, sometimes they're bright as hell, like when they're showing flame throwers around and stuff, but you're seeing something but it also feels like there's something more is part of why I think the effects work so well. They're not all in your face. I also think john was of the mindset that what you have to imagine is scarier than anything we can show. Yeah, but that just shows that he didn't realize how terrifying audience work was. Oh, absolutely. A way to use bubblegum and plastics are unbelievable. Before we jump to the end of cover yours, if you haven't seen it, actually is then really giveaway anything. There's a big account Constant nonstop Battle of who's the thing in the end? And what the answer is, and I have that answer for you. Oh, wait for that one of the big rumors is that a lot of people think Russell proved to his child by giving him gasoline. Russell's replied to this is no we don't know. They do not know Kurt john, none of them made a final decision on who is actually the thing. So if you run across anybody saying Oh, I know exactly who it is. That's their interpretation and great enjoy it. That's part of watching movies is bringing what you got to it but if your hope john or Kurt or something like that's going to answer they, they don't have it. I dug up some of the original reviews in 1982. Oh, hit us. Roger Ebert gave it two and a half stars saying the thing is a great barf bag movie. All right, but I found it disappointing. The thing is basically then just a geek show a gross out movie in which teenagers can dare one another to watch the screen. Fuck you Roger Ebert. I hope you get cancer and die. writing for The New York Times noted movie critic Vincent can be described the movie as foolish and depressing. With its actors use merely as props to be hacked, slashed, disemboweled and decapitated. Finally to be eaten, and then regurgitated. It is too phony to be disgusting. it qualifies only as instant junk. Vanessa, you read something in cinah fantastic, with a cover of john Carpenter on it and the tagline underneath it that said, Is this the most hated movie of all time? It's the saddest thing ever. If you look up this picture of the cover of a magazine on Google It's so sad because it's Carpenter just kind of doing a little pose looking thoughtfully off in the distance with his film reel stack you know, like the new golden boy of horror films. looking cool as a cucumber little does he know what the headline is gonna be? so upsetting. This is the worst betrayal though. In science fiction magazine. starlog. Critic Alan Spencer wrote john Carpenter's the thing smells and smells pretty bad. It has no pace. Sloppy continuity, zero humor, bland characters on top of being totally devoid of either warmth or humanity. It's my contention that john Carpenter was never meant to direct a science fiction horror movie. Here's some things he'd be better suited to direct traffic accidents, train wrecks, and public floggings. This is from starlog This is his audience, right? Oh, Spencer couldn't overlook both teams. We're calling it sheer perfection and going as far to say a more apt title for the film would be Rob both teams the thing and then not want to offer praise without throwing in another burn. Spencer was sure to include that both teams work on this film was the equivalent of hiring Van Gogh to repaint a park bench. I will let you know right now that the thing currently sits at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and the audience says that it 92% amazing. After all of that, it now sits as one of the great horror films. Absolutely. I love it. I still remember the first time I watched it with my parents on Showtime or HBO or something. They were intrigued by why I had I had no problem watching the thing. But Dirty Harry in front of me and I had huge problem like what is that fake? People actually shoot people. But I loved it. That was one of the one of the catalyst films for me for horror. Let's talk about his legacy. So in the 90s, the sci fi channel had commissioned a writer to do a miniseries sequel to the thing. That script is available on outpost 31. And I have to say, the script is fantastic. It is a really interesting script very well written. And it feels like a natural progression for the thing. I'm glad it was not made. I don't think the effects were ready for something like that. And you know, it would have been bad sci fi channel would have just been something that we were thinking NATO with. But that script is really good. I urge anyone who's interested in that kind of thing to find it and read it. Is there any interest in making that script now? No, don't you know how that works? You get hired to make a script and then you know, it just goes away. If it doesn't get made, it doesn't get picked up. 10 years later, somebody else gets to write it. Well, unfortunately, I mean, it did also have a legacy of affecting john Carpenter's career. Indeed which, which is really, really difficult. So, not only were the reviews really bad, but the thing that hit him the hardest was Christian Nivea. And who is the director of the original the thing from another world in 1951 publicly denounced carpenters version saying if you want blood go to the slaughterhouse All in all, it's a terrific commercial for jnb scotch. Yeah, it really hit him hard. Not only did it bomb, but it basically killed carpenters career. At that point, he had a multi picture deal going with the studio, and they immediately cancelled it. He was taken off of Firestarter. He also notes that this is the moment he believes that his career would have been different. If that film had been successful, it would have gone in such a different direction. The next film he directed, of course, was Christine, ironically, another Stephen King book, he only took it because it was literally the only film offered to him at the time. Wow. After that he had one more mini success with Star man where he was able to gain a little bit of credibility back again. But immediately immediately after did Big Trouble in Little China, which plummeted his career and he was never again able to make a big budget film. So he's not better. He's definitely still in films and really, interior definitely not off making music instead and watching sports games. Yeah, he plays a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog. And 2011 they did a sequel. That's true. Because the thing I don't know what everybody else here thinks. I think it's fine. It's not rare, some amazing sweaters. And let me tell you, it's it's almost one of those things where I'm a big fan of, of hinting at something. But when you then decide to make a movie that tells how Han Solo got his name? Or why there is an X in the door of the Norwegian outpost in the thing you know, now we've explained it away to it not being interesting anymore. Why did the dog run out the door? Why was the body slumped over at the console? There's a lot many many questions don't care. You should somebody did somebody I actually bypass I've never bothered to watch you never watched No, I fine. Yeah. What if the special effects had gone ahead as they originally intended, and they actually did real special effects and not CGI, which was done after they filmed the frickin special effects. It actually would have been a pretty cool. Oh, there would have been some really interesting stuff in there. No, it's fine. I do that sometimes if I'm not interested, like I love the movie, Donnie Darko. I haven't seen the director's cut. Because I'm not interested in finding out what's going on. That's part of why the movies cool. The thing I love the original if somebody if it came out and everybody said this is an amazing accomplishment, wonderful sequel to say yeah, I would have seen that. There have been some some bright spots with the legacy of the thing. Yeah. Vanessa, how many board games do you have that are based on the thing? Three, at least that I could find so far? All kickstarted all spent way too much money on Yeah, so I hope that john is getting some kind He's gotta be he's got to have some kind of residuals that are coming in for all of us because the original images are using a frame straight from the movie so it's yeah and the the property for the the licensing for the film itself keeps kind of making the rounds so Arrowhead ej shelf IKEA shot factory had it. I think somebody else is getting it right now. So it's constantly being made and upgraded. Yeah, with no additional content, I think I think it's just the same like 20 interviews they've got over and over again. There was that amazing thing art book that came out a couple years ago and I saw a couple of copies down in the vendors room. And if you guys haven't picked that up, it's $40. It is a coffee table book. It is gorgeous. And it is just artwork from amazing artists. Based on the thing Yeah. That's it Nick have Nick under Nick. Nice in that as well. Yeah, awesome. I have it. I should get him to sign it. He doesn't like the science and I'm patiently waiting for my McCready actually figure so many years, there was a short lived thing. Sequel comic book series. Not very good. I got it. You guys can pass on that one. Yeah, I do own it. Okay. Original short story was put out, did a Kickstarter to get it published and was published in a very nice, hardcover version. I think it's now available, softcover. And if they did the heart as well, I will I have the hardcover version of that and is called frozen hell. And it is the expanded original version before it was edited down to the story that we originally got of Campbell's Who goes there. So yeah, this thing clearly has a life and bands that are, you know, interested in seeing this continue. So, yeah, make them good. Yeah. So let's open this up to audience participation. What I might do just, if you all know, I just can say I'll probably say the question. And sharing anybody has a question. Yeah, that's right. Does anybody have a question? Or a comment? Don't you feel like an idiot? Eric? That's not new. This was a comment basically, from somebody saying, Yes, I love the movie. I think that also at the time, though, I mean, we're living in an age now where we can Google anything we want as far as reviews or anything like that. And back, then, you picked up your your Friday paper, to look for the reviews and you trusted your reviewer. And it was usually just your local towns reviewer. You find somebody like, and yeah, that's what I used to does, I find, I'd have like, five films, and I'd look up their reviews for those five films. And if we agreed, I go, you know, this probably review are worthless. I mean, to if we didn't agree on right, you're out. But nowadays, there's 1000s and 1000s of reviews. So yeah, and even the most trusted review sites like rotten tomatoes had that big scandal. So it's like, I think the idea of trust is really, I mean, you've got like, 12 year olds on YouTube telling you what to watch. Wait a second, are you saying that you can't trust anyone? You're very tired. nobody trusts anybody? I'm just so fucking cold. Well, all right. I mean, we got 10 minutes left, we can Yes, about their stuff we can. It's on. It's actually it was originally recorded for the LaserDisc release, like in the early 90s. And it's shown up on every release. It's so good. That I think everybody who picks up the movie to release on this says, I need this along with it. Because it's on every release I've ever seen. Yeah, I think you can even watch it like hold on YouTube. Probably. Somebody pulled it and put it on there too. But pretty much any DVD or Blu Ray copy you get of it. We'll have it on there. Yeah. Yeah. Also, most of the information I got with Stuart Cohen talking, he has a website called the original fan.blogspot.com. It's got pictures from his time on the set, and everything like that. And just, I mean, what I talked about was a small amount of the information that he lists on there. It's really comprehensive. And it's coming right from the source. It's very, very interesting stuff. Now, Kelly, do we know why cert coin didn't end up working again with john Carpenter if they really enjoyed each other's company so much. Now, Vanessa? I don't know. No. Well, you said you read a bunch of stuff. I thought you might have answers on the spot. Don't put me on this. That's who you studied, sir. I don't know. I would imagine that there was if not a falling out that there was just this feeling of despair. Sure. Well, after that initial weekend, where they realized, Oh, shit, we've got a clump or on our hands. Yeah, they seem to all be very, very of the mindset that holy shit, we've we've got something that is going to take the world by storm. Until intelligent, intelligent. And then it did. And then the unfortunate thing is you see these interviews with john Carpenter now and people say, you know, how does it make you feel to see the thing being so widely accepted now and of carpenter, but he is a bitter man, and he's just like, it doesn't mean anything to me, you know, ruin my career. Yeah. Yeah. He's definitely very upfront about it. And it can be hard to watch. He's my hero, for sure. And it's really difficult to watch him be so disgruntled about past projects, but that's okay. Everything's fine. He's still with us. Yeah. In one way or another. He'll be doing the soundtrack for Halloween. To Halloween kills. Yes. Halloween kills. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. He's still out there. And and I think, Eric, did you go see him live when he came through the last time? I did not. I did. Yes, I did. And I'm sure that well, he didn't know we should talk a little bit about Ennio Morricone his score for the thing which always surprises me to see his name pop up because it feels so much like a carpenter score. You Yeah, it was interesting. I saw Carpenter talk a little bit about this where he very straight up says, No, no, this was not me. I added like two or three notes to the whole damn thing. He just listened to the previous work from john carpenter and picked up on it and I guess he has a background and since so it was really in his wheelhouse. One of the things I read was that Carpenter wanted Ennio Morricone because he had been married to an Ennio Morricone score. So he was like, now I'll get this guy on my movie as well. harmonious No. Yeah. All right. Well, should we wrap things up, then you guys. We're Strange Aeons radio, you can find us on Stitcher, Apple podcast. Wherever you get your podcasts. We've got don't forget to give us a five star rating on Apple. That's right. We've got 150 episodes out there. Most of them are great because I do most of the talking. And he does do most of the talking. Spoiler alert for anyone out there who wants to check us out. We don't like Kelly, bad news. Hey, now. And we are primarily a genre film podcast, we talked about some other pop culture stuff. And we are always trying to keep current with the stuff that's coming up on Netflix and all of that stuff. So we talked about TV series movies and all that. But we always have a really fun sub genre movie to talk about every episode. We are out weekly. We are always out weekly, every Thursday. Morning. And yeah, that's it. That's us. Thank you for coming out. And we're back. How is that guys? That was so fun to do that with you guys. And I remember afterwards, talking to Nick Tucker's wife was in the class. And she came up gave me a big hug. And she was like, That was so good. Oh, guys are really good together. Nice. Always good to have it, you know, reciprocated every once in a while. It's good to hear. Yeah, it is definitely a, like I said about the festival earlier. It's kind of a bubble situation, you get the idea that we know some people really enjoy. And well, no, we don't know the rest. That's okay. Cuz we like, theoretically like talking to each other every couple weeks every week. So I'd be interested. Well, before I get into that, I have a question that I meant to bring up that we didn't talk about. But I'd be interested in your guy's opinion. At one point in the movie, the thing? I think it's the doctor when he's talking about the cells replicating and becoming you know, a person. He says that person might not even know that they're the thing. Yeah. And when I was a kid, I was like, well, that's bullshit. That's the monster. How does it not know it's the monster as an adult? Now, I think more about that. And I'm like, how terrifying if you don't realize it until it feels like it's threatened? And then it's suddenly Oh, yeah. I mean, I think about that kind of thing all the time. Because it's like, What if you were the clone? Or what if you were a hologram? or what have you know, what if you were an AI and you just didn't realize that you weren't the real thing? Like that's awful. Matrix thing go on there. Why real? Or am I? Am I just an NPC in some sane game? I'm not even the main character. I know that. Come on. Here's the main character. This game is super boring. I'm big. That's what I'm saying. It's definitely not me. I don't know what the listeners Think about this. But I'll put this out to you. I kind of liked this format of doing a deep dive on one film. Yeah. And, you know, maybe every once in a while we can pop something like that out again. That would have been research all of that. Yeah, definitely. I mean, it gave me a chance to do a, you know, a new perspective, deep dive on something I really love. And that was, I mean, I learned a ton of new stuff between all three of us talking. Yeah, okay. We could we could almost do like the the wall, all your posters on your wall here. The one thing I was really bummed about was I forgot completely my very first panel on Friday night, and it was shocking roll. And it was Oh, Anthony James kayo things up. But two things I love. And I apologize to him afterwards. And he said, Well, we did talk a lot about trip a tree. Therefore, it was just a nice review for me. Yes, I also had a fun come to Jesus moment with Langley where he's like, you get to my panel. Like I sorry, I remember halfway through and then it was too late. It's like it's fine. What What was the one you're when nature attacks? Oh, yeah. Okay. Am I no? Oh wow yeah and then after talking to Tony about that, I was like, wait a second you have my number when she texts me it's yes it's definitely his fault. Yeah. Okay guys well that was this very special episode and I think Eric you're planning on dropping this like as a midweek episode some Yeah, put it out to Monday or Tuesday before. Fantastic So hey, bonus you guys because we love you but bonus and we'll be back in just couple days with a regular episode. So yeah Our show is recorded somewhere high above Naval Station Everett at the nexus of all realities and is engineered and produced by Eric Margaret. Our theme music is Strange Aeons part one by the band name shade is usually permission. Find Strange Aeons radio on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Wherever find podcasts hoarding live at cryptic con 2021 So you guys have to make some noise.