The 13th Floor

Trivia Tidbit: Who Is “The Shape” In John Carpenter’s THE THING?

Like any self-respecting horror fan, I consider John Carpenter’s seminal 1982 remake of THE THING to be one of the greatest genre films ever committed to celluloid. I revisit it at least once a year and always get swept up in the eerie story and the masterful way the whole thing unfolds. Case in point, even though I’ve seen the movie dozens of times, I always forget who’s infected by “the thing!” When it gets to the blood test scene, I’m on the edge of my seat, every single time!

But there’s one particular mystery early in the film that has eluded us die-hard fans since we first experienced THE THING. Who is the shadow that very early in the film gets assimilated by “the thing?” If you’re not sure what scene I’m talking about, I found a bootleg snippet of the actual scene in question on You Tube. Here’s a refresher:

We’re led to believe fairly early on that “the thing” has infected one of the team. Or has it?

The identity of this character has never been properly explained, nor can it be, as the performer playing the “shape” is none of the actors from the movie! (Done intentionally to throw audiences off.) But I can tell you who it actually is. As confirmed to me by cinematographer Dean Cundey, that would be Kurt Russell’s stuntman Dick Warlock. And if that “shape” looks familiar, it’s because Dick Warlock also played Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN II.

That’s right. This guy right here!

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This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise if you know much about Kurt Russell or John Carpenter’s filmography. Warlock started his career as a stuntman way back in 1960 and after a few short years of some uncredited work, he became Kurt Russell’s stuntman on some television Westerns and eventually through Russell’s Disney years. His first time working with Carpenter was as Russell’s stuntman for ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. From there, he became part of that family, following it up immediately with his take on Michael Myers for HALLOWEEN II and returning as one of the lead henchmen in HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. He remained Russell’s stuntman for over 25 years, all the way up until the 1989 buddy-action flick TANGO & CASH.

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But hell, over the course of his career, he even got to make out with Jamie Lee Curtis once!

Well, sort of…

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This is one of those trivia tid-bits that is as nerdy as it gets, but come on! Doesn’t it make you a little excited to know that Michael Myers was “the shape” in THE THING? I know I think it’s cool!

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