The Thing movie question: Spoilers

I always felt like The Thing worked like zombification in some zombie stories, where you can’t turn into a zombie unless you die first. Every single time we see an attempt in progress of transformation it’s an incredibly violent process. If The Thing could just slip something into your water to turn you I feel it would have done that from the start.

I just looked it up for giggles and Nauls was supposed to be Thinged in the basement but they felt it didn’t look great and Carpenter liked the mystery. In the book he kills himself before it can Thing him.

That makes sense. I’ve always thought Nauls just walking out of the movie was its weakest moment, and suspected it was just that the scene was bad and they edited out after the chance to reshoot it.

You already have Fuchs choosing suicide earlier.

Who knows if it can go into space or not—all it needs to do is transport The Thing someplace else:

To borrow from Mafia terminology, taking pro-Town actions doesn’t prove you’re not Scum.

Which leads to the question - is MacReady’s blood test a trick? Does it actually work? Or is it a bluff to convince the humans that MacReady is one of them? Mac, heavily under suspicion as an infected after someone finds his bloodied and shredded long Johns, proposes the test to prove he’s human. But what if he’s infected, knows that the test is worthless, but has enough control/communication to have the infected blood sample react? The Thing sacrifices one pawn that’s tied to the couch, but now has a perfectly trusted agent inside the group.

The intelligence of the Thing is never established either-it may have been aping someone else in building the “spaceship.”

What book?

More of a short story.

“Who Goes There?” by John Campbell

Sorry, I meant the novelization of the movie. I haven’t read it, though. I just got that part from TvTropes, to be honest.

While that’s possible, it clearly does freak out at least one Thing.

Movie wise, MacReady’s speech where he clearly states what he has figured out - that every Thing’s tissue is a Thing, as opposed to humans, who are individual units - is presented to the audience as the revelation of a fact, not someone lying for gain.

That dialogue isn’t quote how the movie goes, it must be an older draft. In the movie, Childs isn’t there at all. It’s just MacReady, Nauls, and Barry.

I don’t think Things cooperated. If they did the blood extracted for the tests would just sit there and take the heat.

I had not noticed when I did the search, but you are right: it is labelled “Second draft, March 4, 1981.”

There are a lot of theories, but the most common one is that they are colony creatures of sorts, so the smaller the mass, the lower the net intellect. So a human-ish mass would be smart enough to fake things, but once separated, a few mL of blood can only act instinctively. In the greater world of the franchise (games and comics) there are confirmations that, yes, smaller creatures don’t have sapience/intelligence, and may not even retain a personal ego from prior, sentient iterations.

Although then you get into what you consider canon and the Fan-wars begin.

There really isn’t any canon to speak of; Carpenter left the motivations and capabilities of the ‘Thing’ as ambiguous for the audience as they are to the characters to produce the immersive experience of being isolated, alone and afraid. The editing, somewhat confusing progression and timeline, minimalist dialogue, and ambiguity in the ending are all quite deliberate. The studio objected to the downer ending and Universal exec Sid Sheinberg—the guy who later made it his mission to ruin Terry Gilliam’s Brazil with the abysmal “Love Conquers All” cut—wanted an ending with the creature dying in flame set to an orchestral crescendo, which makes you wonder if he watched any part of the actual film.

Carpenter was actually approached repeatedly over the years to make a sequel that would explain more about the Thing and its motivations, the prospect of which makes even less sense than the inane Jurassic Park series, and had the good sense to refuse. (One wishes he’d done the same with Escape from L.A. but he apparently needed both the money and some credibility with studios after both Memoirs of the Invisible Man and his remake of The Village of the Damned tanked at the box office). The 2011 remake-in-guise-of prequel actually gives no credit to Carpenter even though it clearly references the story of the earlier film and has several scenes that are virtually shot-for-shot copies. Presumably Carpenter saw a working print and asked to not be credited because there is no way that he doesn’t at least merit a “Story by” credit.


In terms of canon, it isn’t limited to only Carpenter’s vision - fans often select information from the original short story (substantially different in terms of the alien for those who haven’t clicked the links earlier), the video games, the comics, and even the short story from the alien’s POV linked earlier.

But as I said, that way lies wars in terms of what is ‘true’ or not.

I’ve wondered for years about Windows taking blood samples with a knife that he “cleaned” by wiping it on the leg of his pants.

Not “the book” he means. (I read WGT ages ago.)

Sure - that’s the sacrificial pawn. If Mac does the test, and nobody fails, then they don’t know if the test worked or not. If Mac does the test, and one person fails, then they think they have a method of proving who is and is not safe. If the creature is a genuine gestalt intelligence, giving up the instance on the couch isn’t a loss, no more than a lizard shedding its tail to escape a predator.

Given the film’s themes of suspicion and things not being what they appear, I wouldn’t put much stock in what ideas the film’s narrative appears to endorse.

Sheinberg also penned the famous memo to Robert Zemeckis suggesting that Back to the Future be renamed “Space Man from Pluto.”

He was also the exec that insisted on hiring Eric Stoltz to play Marty McFly when Zemeckis’ and the producers’ first choice of Michael J. Fox was not available for the shooting schedule to meet the studios’ release date. Stoltz turned out to be so bad at the role, and argued so much with the director and other cast members about the basic premise of the film (which he felt should be a tragedy in which Marty is aliened by the changed world that he returns to) that he was fired after weeks of filming and Fox was brought in as a last minute replacement with all filming being shot around his availability, literally being just driven back and forth between the movie set and the studio where Family Ties was filmed for days on end.

Sid Sheinberg may be the worst of all studio executives in history, including the guy who insisted on putting spiders in every movie including The Wild Wild West.