One of the longest-standing debates among fans of the film is whether Kurt Russell or Keith David are a Thing in the last scene of the film. While John Carpenter has said he'll never tell, director of photography Dean Cundey recently stated that he made a point of having no light reflected in the eyes of the actors who were The Thing. Now take a look at this photo of Childs... hmmm?
Not one of Rob Bottin's most complex make-up jobs, he essentially just poured goo over actor Thomas G. Waites (not to be confused with actor/singer Tom Waits). It's still an effective moment, just nothing to write home about.
Animator Randall William Cook created a whole stop-motion animated sequence which showed the full-bodied Blair Monster in all his glory, but much like Dave Allen's stop-motion werewolves in The Howling only a fraction of it still exists in the film. The tentacles only appear for a few moments, and when you see the animated Blair Monster in the special features on the Blu-ray, you'll realize that it didn't quite stack up to the practical make-up in terms of realism.
Wilford Brimley shoves his evil alien hand right in Donald Moffat's surprised face and really wriggles it in there in one of the more subtle-but-haunting moments in the film.
If you look close you can see actor Peter Maloney's hands inside the "Thing Hands," although the look on his face is what truly sells the shot.
A half-formed thing that was burned at the Norwegian camp is brought back to the American station for study. It looks like exactly what it is, a really beautiful/hideous sculpture, though it's shot by Dean Cundey in such a way that it feels like a real alien corpse.
This shot from the dog cage sequence hints at a physicality of the creature that is almost limitless. It could literally turn itself into a gigantic monster if it wouldn't completely give itself away.
This may be one of The Thing's strangest iterations, as a flower-like appendage shoots out from the dog beast with tiny little dog teeth inside the peddles. It's as strangely beautiful as it is terrifying.
This little guy was actually the creation of dearly departed effects legend Stan Winston (Predator, Aliens, The Terminator), who was called in to assist Rob Bottin in meeting a rigorous deadline. It's actually a very simple hand puppet being operated under a stage.
During the blood test scene, the laid-back pothead/conspiracy theorist Palmer (David Clennon) is revealed to have been taken over by The Thing. His body immediately explodes in a flux of blood and gore, his head enlarging and turning into a large mouth that eats poor Windows.
Wilford Brimley's Blair, who is the first character at the outpost to truly recognize the danger of The Thing, later becomes one. The result is a true monstrosity, resembling a Lovecraftian tentacle with a half-man/half screaming jaw face and a dog bursting out of his stomach.
Eat your heart out, Little Shop of Horrors! Dr. Copper gets both hands bit off at the wrists when Norris' stomach turns itself into a venus flytrap from hell.
After the Norris Thing takes a bite out of Copper, another creature form resembling his facial features (if they were a werewolf) shoots out of his intestines.
Right after the gutbuster comes perhaps the film's most iconic image: Norris severing his head (painfully) from the rest of his body. Whatever materials Bottin used, it's totally disgusting and effective.
Then, as if guilding the lily, Norris's head grows spider legs and antennae, which was all fleshed out in comic book artist Mike Ploog's gorgeous storyboards for the film.
The biggest jump scare in the movie comes from arguably the smallest iteration of The Thing. When the actual blood comes alive when burned -- in an act of self-preservation -- it shows just how unpredictable and insane this monster is. This scene is a high-water mark for the genre.