Artifacts From John Carpenter's 'The Thing' (1982) Installed in MoPOP's 'Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film' Exhibition
Man is the warmest place to hide.
That tagline for John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) may be one of the most unsettling and effective short film descriptions in horror film history. At MoPOP, fans of the ultimate in alien terror starring Kurt Russell can now feast their eyes upon a few artifacts used during The Thing filming.
On display inside our museum's Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film exhibition are: Fuchs' burnt body (courtesy of Kurt Root), created by Henry Alvarez and designed by Rob Bottin; a hat worn by Kurt Russell in the film (courtesy of the Irwin family); and the clapper board used during filming (courtesy of Timothy Ridge) signed by cinematographer Dean Cundey and director John Carpenter.
As you make plans to see these terrifyingly awesome artifacts in person, we leave you with a quote from The Thing director John Carpenter on the universality of horror and the different types of horror stories, as told to MoPOP in an oral history interview.
"One of the reasons that horror is such a universal force is that all human beings are afraid of the same things," Carpenter says. "We're all born afraid. We're afraid of death, loss of a loved one, disfigurement, loss of identity. Everything that you're afraid of, I'm afraid of. It's a worldwide deal; a guy sitting in another country who's a rice farmer and here comes a big wave, a tsunami coming at him, he's terrified of dying. Same thing here, me too. And we are haunted by it because we are aware of our own deaths from an early age. So we ask these questions about why? What does it all mean? But that's the universality of horror because it tickles with your fears. We're born afraid and some of us die afraid.
"In a sense there are two basic horror stories, stories of fear, stories of evil. There are only two, you can kind of boil it down. One story, and we have to imagine ourselves: we're a tribe sitting around a campfire and the tribal elder or the witchdoctor or the medicine man or the priest, the religious leader, is telling us over the fire, and we're all in a circle, he's telling us about evil. He says, 'I can tell you where evil is from, where it hides, where it is. It's out there.' And he points outside the circle, into the darkness, into the trees, into the ridges beyond where we're sitting. The darkness is the other. It's the foreigner. It's somebody who's different than I am. It's the other tribe and it's the alien from outer space. It's the someone who looks different who doesn't have our customs, our culture, our beliefs. They are evil. So that's the evil of the other. The second story is — same setup, we're a tribe, we're sitting around a campfire, tribal elder, medicine man, priest is telling us stories about evil — he says, 'I'm going to tell you where evil is. It's located in here, in the human heart.' We are all capable of evil under the right circumstances. That second story is a harder one to tell because it's more disturbing, it's more disturbing to the audience. The first one is easier and more fun, but the second one says a lot about humanity."