There’s a snazzy new Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s monster classic The Thing coming out in October. One of its new features is a commentary track with cinematographer Dean Cundey—who reveals a sly lighting technique used throughout the film to indicate when a character has become no longer human.
Cundey, whose career includes several other Carpenter films (including Big Trouble in Little China), as well as Jurassic Park and Apollo 13, broke it down to Blumhouse’s Rob Galluzzo, who interviews him for the commentary track:
Early on in the commentary track, I asked Cundey if he and John discussed doing a subtle lighting trick to imply who might be “the thing.” He waited until the blood scene to answer my question. As the scene began, he explained, “So we were looking for some kind of a subtle way, to say which one of these (men) might be human. You’ll notice there’s always an eye light, we call it, a little gleam in the eye of the actor. It gives life.”
This is a fun thing to look out for during the blood-test scene—which I usually spend counting down the seconds until I can yell the “TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH” line—but it really gets interesting when you think about The Thing’s final moments. Standing by the flaming wreckage of their base, MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David), who have absolutely no reason to trust each other, decide to just wait and “see what happens.”
Though Cundey tells Galluzzo that Carpenter wanted to keep the ending ambiguous, anyone who watches the film can’t help but wonder if one of the men has already been overtaken by the alien. Looking for the “little gleam” might best be done on the big screen (or at least on the new Blu-ray, which boasts a brand-new 2K scan of The Thing’s original interpositive film). But as others have pointed out, it sure looks like Childs is the one with something to hide:
The Thing Collector’s Edition is out October 11 from Scream Factory.