The Thing (partially found deleted scenes of horror/sci-fi film; 1982)
John Carpenter's The Thing was released in 1982 to a barely modest box office return and mostly negative reviews, with criticism aimed at the gory violence, underdeveloped characters and its nihilistic tone. However, the film has been met with praise for these same reasons in recent years, with it achieving a strong cult following. It has since been labeled one of the greatest science-fiction horror films ever made.
During post-production, several scenes/fragments were cut from the film, some of which have since been released on home media, posted online, or even included on the syndicated cut of the film for television in the mid to late 80s, which also features a narrator. However, the bits included on the syndicated version are in significantly lower quality compared to the theatrical version, due to the editors changing the aspect ratio to 4:3 and the quality being comparable to that of a poor videotape.
Some clips remain unreleased completely, however, with only production stills left to preserve their existence. The deleted/extended scenes are as follows:
- MacReady's original introduction saw Norris going into his cabin to alert him of the nearby Norwegian helicopter circling the camp. Only a production still and a frame from the actual shot are available.
- A slightly different scene where the crew study the body of the Norwegian M.T. Garry was forced to kill. They discover his name is 'Jans Bolen' from his dog tag. This scene also includes an unused shot of Palmer sitting up and a glimpse into Childs' more aggressive side. The actor playing 'Jans' can be seen blinking, which is a possible reason it was cut. However, it is included on the syndicated cut.
- During the Norwegian Camp scene, a short shock sequence was made but went unused. It depicted a body falling out of a closet MacReady and Copper opened. Only a still photograph has been released. It was likely cut for time or simply deemed unnecessary, given the discovery of the grizzly suicide victim and Split Face moments later.
- The scene where the crew inspect the burned remains of the Kennel-Thing is different, featuring some additional dialogue for Blair and Nauls. The sequence was most likely trimmed for time, but is restored on the syndicated cut.
- Most infamously is a cut scene where MacReady watches some of the Norwegian tapes alone in his cabin whilst playing with a blow-up sex doll. It is unknown why it was cut, and all that exists is a single photograph.
- A similar scene of Copper and Fuchs studying the Norwegian tapes was shot, but cut for unknown reasons, and only a still frame from the scene exists.
- A scene where the crew are having a drink in the dining room, a location never seen in the final cut. Only a still photograph exists.
- A still of Blair tying the noose later seen in the film exists. It is unknown if this is a cut scene, an alternate version of the one where he asks to come back inside, or if it is simply a behind the scenes image created for promotional purposes.
- A scene where Fuchs sedates the surviving dogs, likely cut so they could use the one where Blair and Clark sedate a dog. Only a still exists.
- MacReady confronts the crew with a pair of shredded long johns and aims most of his suspicion at Clark. The scene was likely cut as to not make Clark more of an obvious suspect, but is included on the syndicated cut.
- In the final cut of the film, Bennings is assimilated and his copy is burned in the snow, but in an alternate scene, he finds a mysterious hooded stranger who he believes to be Clark tampering with the supplies in the kennel. After following him into a cage, Bennings is stabbed in the neck and most likely dies. Although the syndicated version features the scene up until Bennings enters the cage, it cuts before the murder happens. All that is publicly available of the original death is a still photograph, depicting Bennings grasping the fence as he is stabbed. This was likely cut so that the Bennings-Thing scene could be used instead.
- During the search party for Fuchs, there was a whole scene cut, only existing as two still photographs. The scene involves Childs and Palmer in a humorous debate as to whether they should burn their marijuana plants, as they fear the Thing could've infected them (being living organisms). They then discover Fuchs murdered in the greenhouse, impaled by a shovel. However, some sources claim that the dead body shot was in fact a still taken from a cut shock sequence during the Norwegian Camp scene, although others claim the actor resembles Joel Polis. It is likely the scene was cut so they could use the charred corpse fate instead, and to keep the tone serious.
- A couple production stills suggest that the scene featuring Fuchs' charred corpse was originally shot differently without an oncoming blizzard, as Fuchs' corpse was less buried in the snow.
- There was another cut scene from the Fuchs search, which follows up from the discovery of the burned remains. In it, MacReady and Nauls investigate MacReady's cabin. It features them discovering the roof is caved in, but it's unknown if it would've shown Nauls ditching MacReady, or if it simply would've shown them looking around for a bit before cutting to the next scene, or even if it cuts just as Nauls discovers the torn up clothes and becomes alert. The scene was likely cut to keep more of a mystery as to exactly who was human or not. A production still of MacReady entering the cabin can be found to preserve the scene's existence, as well as one of MacReady and Nauls reacting to something (MacReady's sex doll from earlier) being dislodge from the broken roof. This could also be another reason this scene was cut, as cutting out the sex doll scene would've removed the purpose of the joke.
- Two production stills exist, depicting what the Palmer-Thing originally looked like. Firstly, it simply looked like Palmer, bleeding from a wound on the top of its head as it corners a terrified Windows, although this is more likely from a test shot. Secondly, it depicts a humanoid Palmer-Thing yet again, although with a split down the middle of its head and upper body, and a laser-like beam coming out of it. Neither of these shots have been fully released.
- A shot of Nauls in the generator room sitting on some barrels was apparently filmed, but unused. A still survives to preserve its existence.
- In the syndicated cut of the film, the added narrator speaks as an Alaskan Malamute (implied to be the Kennel-Thing somehow surviving) runs off into the arctic, with the narrator asserting no one knows if the Thing can ever be truly destroyed. Also included are some unused shots of the arctic landscape. This ending has been disapproved by John Carpenter himself.
- Carpenter also filmed two alternate endings to the film, one of which was only filmed in case executives didn't like his nihilistic approach. In the first ending, MacReady awaits his death in the cold, but is found just in time by the rescue team, who attempt to confirm his identity with a blood test. It is still apparently left ambiguous, although MacReady more than likely survived. Although it made it as far as test screenings, audiences seemed to prefer the darker ending. It is unknown what happens to Childs in this ending. Only a production photograph has surfaced, proving the ending was filmed. Given it made it to a test screen, its possible it survives in the possession of Carpenter or simply lies in a vault.
- The second ending was a scene that has never been shown publicly, removing Childs completely, as he was a victim of the Thing at this point. It's unknown what the scene would've entailed, as MacReady would've either died alone or been rescued, without an additional character to make the scene more interesting. No photograph has ever surfaced, leaving the ending and its fate largely unknown.
- Various short fragments and pieces of added/edited dialogue have also been included on syndicated showings of the film, such as alternate angles and additional reaction shots. The website movie-censorship.com includes a documentation of these short moments, including how the altered 4:3 aspect ratio negatively affects the film's visual presentation. It also provides an insight on some of the still missing scenes from the movie.