John Carpenter Took His Cast Into The Cold To Make The Thing Less 'Boring'

John Carpenter's 1982 classic "The Thing" is considered one of the greatest horror movies ever. Filled with incredible special effects and a stellar ensemble cast, the loose adaptation of the novella "Who Goes There?" wasn't always the meticulously-paced treasure we celebrate today. In fact, at one point its director considered the work-in-progress to be a snooze in between the monster scenes.

The story is set at an Arctic research post and so a fair portion of the shoot happened on the Universal backlot in Los Angeles, on a couple of refrigerated sets that included the Norwegian station and the room with the ice block that once contained the deadly organism. With "The Thing from Another World" as a guide, Carpenter and the filmmaking team strived to make the sets appear as cold as possible with heavy air conditioning keeping the temperature around 40 degrees.

Richard Masur, who plays the dog handler Clark, recalled to LA Weekly in a 2016 interview that after Carpenter watched a rough assembly cut of the film, he re-calibrated a handful of scenes to shake up the setting and break up the dialogue-heavy scenes. He said:

"John sat down with a roughly assembled version of the film between when we shut down at Universal and when we started up again in Alaska. There was little special effects in the film at the time. So John said, 'This is a boring movie about a bunch of guys talking.' He rewrote a couple of scenes so that they would be shot outdoors. Some scenes shot at Universal that were originally shot indoors were now re-staged outdoors, like the one where [MacReady] says, 'I know I'm human, but I don't know about any of you.' Turns out John was right: People love the scenes that we shot outdoors."

'Maybe we'll just warm things up a little around here'

Weeks later, filming resumed in British Columbia where the daily outdoor temperatures reflected the story's bleak conditions. How cold was it? It was so cold and isolated that, as Carpenter told LA Weekly, "Everybody was eager to do whatever I wanted in order to get out of there."

Masur, who wasn't used to such frigid surroundings but decided that his character Clark was, went without some of his arctic gear for rehearsals and often lost feeling in his extremities as a result. But the fraternity among the cast was as thick as a glacier, and star Kurt Russell, who plays helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady in the film, gave Masur as warm a welcome as you can get in that part of the world — a process known as "Hyderizing," named after the Alaskan inn that serves a unique warming agent. As he explained to LA Weekly:

"So we got into the Hyder Inn, and we're the only two people there. Kurt says to the bartender, 'My friend here needs to get Hyderized.' The guy brings this little 4 oz. juice glass, and he fills it with white liquid. You have to blow it back in one shot and then turn it over on the bar. Then the bartender rubs the glass around on the bar, picks the glass up and lights it on fire. The glass explodes instantly because it was full of pure grain alcohol. Your head explodes after the booze hits your stomach. You're s***-faced drunk almost immediately, especially if you've been working all day and haven't eaten in several hours."

The two-mile walk back to base camp was freezing cold, but Masur, fully loaded, didn't feel a thing. It's no wonder why MacReady kept his whiskey bottle close.