Monday, May 01, 2017

Script review - "The Thing" by Bill Lancaster (1981)

Lancaster's only got three produced credits, but what credits - this, the Bad News Bears and The Bad News Bears in Japan (okay maybe that third isn't so awesome). Why was this so? Was he difficult to deal with? Unlucky? Lazy?

This is a taunt, gripping script - written in a sparse style you often find in Carpenter scripts (I don't know if that decision was from Lancaster independently, it may have been).

It thrusts us into the action straight away, with a dog being pursued by Norwegians in a helicopter, resulting in deaths. Then mysteries result.

This has some stuff that wasn't in the final film - good changes I feel: a sequence where Macready and others go after the thing on snowmobiles and one of them is killed (easily cut, though a decent sequence); a lot more scientific explanation.

The magnificent blood test scene is there. This draft also has what I feel was the main flaw - letting us think Macready might be the Thing, so we lose the audience surrogate. I think it was this rather than the violence and gore which hurt the movie at the box office - we didn't have anyone to relate to. (I could be completely wrong).

I also wish they had found ways to differentiate the characters apart from "black" - had a woman, maybe, or an Asian, or someone with one leg.

But it's a smart, exciting script that I admit to enjoying reading more than the Howard Hawks version.

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