How The Thing Crew Created That Unmistakable Title Sequence
By VALERIE ETTENHOFER
Movies - TV
John Carpenter's "The Thing" is a stone-cold classic, from its first scene to its final shot. Like many of Carpenter's greatest hits, the Antarctica-set alien horror film establishes its level of cool early on, with a killer title sequence that still holds a place in the public imagination 40 years later.
The movie's opening titles start off simply, with cast and crew against a black screen until the scene changes to a starry sky and we see a ship come into frame. The shot follows the ship until it hits Earth's atmosphere and that's when the title fades in looking like it's tearing through the fabric of space.
This is an awesome and indelible image, and with "TRON" coming out that same year — modern viewers might wrongly assume this was CGI. However, as it turns out all it took was a fish tank, a trash bag, and a match.
To achieve this, visual effects designer Peter Kuran used a fish tank full of smoke with a celluloid-like title drawing attached to the back and a black trash bag stretched across the backside of that title frame. Once everything was in place and with some clever lighting, they lit the bag on fire and the iconic title intro was born.