We are very thankful to have corresponded with some key people involved with the film, and obtained some exclusive interviews with the director John Carpenter, actor Joel Polis who played Fuchs, co-producer Stuart Cohen, and SFX artist Rob Burman. Tony Chefles set up these fantastic interviews and has also given members of the fan community the chance to submit their own questions.
Outpost #31 exclusive interview with John Carpenter
Outpost #31 exclusive interview with Stuart Cohen
Outpost #31 exclusive interview with Joel Polis
Outpost #31 exclusive interview with SFX artist Rob Burman
For me, the difficulty was in keeping enough foam latex parts available. Each piece had to be flawless (having come out of Rick Baker's school, I was quite the perfectionist). We would stock-pile as many as 30 of the Norris head skins - Then, over the weekend, the mechanical crew would use them to test a mechanism and shred them all. I'd come back on Monday and there would be a major push to get more foam skins to the finisher's so they would have something to actually use on film - Lots of all-niters. The Blair Monster was the biggest thing I'd ever cast - Five 20 quart mixers to fill one mold (that comes to roughly 75 batches of foam in two separate injections)
I think that the Norris sequence is still one of the best "live" effects ever put on film. I also think that having the dog puppet push out of the Blair monster's chest and sit there like a writhing cancer patient was pretty disappointing (Especially since it was designed to chase MacReady around in the underground tunnel via stop motion - too bad the stop-motion footage didn't match the live action stuff.)
The main thing I remember being scrapped was when Nauls gets it. We called that monster the "spaghetti monster" since it looked like a plate of pasta with meatballs that the table flowers fell over on! I believe that they referred to it as the "box" or "crate" monster at the time. I was there from about mid September through mid April. I left about two weeks prior to final wrap. Prep the mold, weigh the foam, mix the foam, inject the foam, clean it up - REPEAT! Kind of grueling actually.
I had a "What were you thinking" moment when I watched John Goodwin microwave-ing Bubble Yum to test its viability in stretching the Norris neck - How do you reset for take 2?! That kind of thing rarely, if ever, works. I knew it and I was barely 19. Of course, I was third generation in my family to do this work (Grandfather made stuff for Jack Pierce strating with "The Wolf Man", Dad began on "Planet of the Apes" and I had a couple of years at that point on things like "My Bloody Valentine", Happy Birthday to Me", "The Beast Within" and had just come off of "Cat People").
I remember Rob would sit in a room with Mike Ploog and say, "How about something that looks like this...", Mike would draw it and Rob would say, "OK, now add this part over here to this...". And so it would go night after night.
In retrospect, I have to say it was one of my greatest opportunities working on The Thing. It landed me work on many films, including Ghostbusters, The Fly, and Tremors.
Great website guys!