The Thread about The Thing (1982)

Thing 1 and Thing 2?

The subtle hint there is that Mac knows the other guy is human, otherwise he would not have shared the bottle. Or, that Mac is a Thing, and wants to ensure the other guy is one, too. We’ll never know!

I have to admit that, unlike virtually everyone else, I didn’t car for the ambiguous ending of the film. Campbell’s story (which the film does a pretty good job of following, up until a point) end when they find the Blair monster building its getaway vehicle (which isn’t a flying saucer, just as the original craft isn’t a flying saucer. It’s sort of an antigrav “jetpack”) and subdue and destroy it. The Thing is defeated and the Good Guys get new alien technology as a benefit in payment for all they went through. So the film is pretty much the same until they find the saucer Blair’s been working on, except Blair isn’t there.

Ooooo. Would a thing drink alcohol? It kills cells.

I haven’t seen it lately, but someone once told me that you can see Mac’s exhaled breath outside in the cold at the end, but not the other guy’s, suggesting the other guy is an alien. Anyone know if that’s true?

Or Mac realizes it doesn’t matter any more as there’s absolutely nothing more he can do. Especially since Childs still holds the flamethrower.

You can see the scene here, and it does appear that Childs breath isn’t visible, while MacReady’s clearly is. But I doubt it means anything. If people who have been copied by the Thing don’t breath, or have abnormally low body temperatures so you couldn’t see their breath in artic temperatures, that would be an immediate and obvious giveaway that someone’s been replaced. Plus, when they find Bennings outside, partially transformed, you can see his breath just fine.

Probably a production error (maybe Childs’ scenes were done in a studio) or some trick of the light where his breath just isn’t getting picked up on camera.

This is why I found the movie disappointing when I saw it in a theater as a teenager. I wanted the humans to unambiguously defeat The Thing, as Ripley does with the Alien.

Seeing it again years later as an adult, I recognized the genius of leaving audiences guessing as the credits roll.


I think that is it. McReady is backlit, Childs is lit from the front. So, it’s more difficult to see Childs’ breath. I can see his breath faintly in that scene, though.

I am jealous! I tried streaming The Thing for my 18yo daughter who still lives with me, a while back. No dice. In fact, she doesn’t like any classic movies I try to get her to watch (granted, maybe I over played my hand streaming movies starring Cary Grant, or Bette Davis).

Tibby: C’mon, girl, watch this movie, you’re gonna love it!

Tibberina: I AM watching it, Pop!

Tibby: You haven’t lifted your head from your phone once during the entirely of the movie.

Tibberina: I’m not old like you, I can watch two things at once.

Oh, but let me divert my attention for even a moment during one of her slasher movies, and I’m scolded severely.

My oldest daughter at least pretended to like some of my movies when she lived home. I’ll reward her well in my will.

I thought perhaps my daughter’s new boyfriend would like some of my selections, so I streamed Casino last week. Nope, they both buried their heads in their phones the whole time. At least he looked up during the head-in-the-vice scene and said, “that’s kinda bad-ass.”

Just read it. Fucking brilliant.

I saw the '51 Thing as a young boy, circa 1959 or so, on local tv and it frightened the living crap out of me.

On a re-watch decades later, I still appreciated the film as a product of its time but the casual misogyny made my eyes water. There’s a running joke through the movie about the scientist’s assistant trying to “land a man” while the team leader attempts to avoid “the trap.”

Ok, that was typical and the movie should be forgiven for it. But I couldn’t enjoy watching “Mad Men” either for kinda the same reason. Damn, I like old movies in general, too.

Similarly, I saw the '51 Thing early on. I videotaped it for whatever reason, and watched it quite a lot. I love the snappy, overlapping dialogue (characteristic of Howard Hawks) and the cool professionalism of the characters. It remains one of my favorite films. Much as I also love the remake, one of the things I hate about it is how, in so many discussions of it, a lot of people feel compelled to throw in a gratuitous “And the '51 movie sucks!” This thread has, thankfully, largely avoided that.

I would push back a bit on the notion of misogyny. Compared to the typical heroine of SF/monster movies of that day, Margaret Sheridan’s Nikki is a huge leap forward. She’s never individually menaced by the Thing (she’s in danger, but it’s the same danger all of the men are in), she doesn’t faint and get carried away, and–possibly unique in a horror film of this era–she never screams once. She’s clearly intelligent and self-assured. While it’s true that she’s obviously into Kenneth Tobey’s character and would like to marry him, I never get the impression that she is desperate to “catch a man.” On the contrary, they have a flirty, bantering relationship in which she gives as good as she gets. And as we know from the description of their most recent date, she can drink him under the table. In short, she strikes me as a very typical Howard Hawks strong, tough-talking leading lady.

That’s a very reasonable take and gives me pause thinking about my own.

I remember when I was a kid (1960s) the 1951 version being shown on TV very frequently (usually, on a creature feature-type show on the weekends). The kids I grew up with all knew this movie, and it wasn’t unusual for someone to occasionally make a “keep watching the skies” joke (eg, when talking about pigeons pooping). So it was part of the popular culture… back then.

Fast forward to the 1990s. Speaking to my nephews, I quoted the line, “Oh, the pain, the pain!” from Dr. Smith in Lost in Space (this was before the 1998 film had been made). My nephews–who are only 10 years younger than me–just stared at me blankly. I said, “You know? Dr. Smith? Lost in Space?” My wife turned to me and said, “Before their time, honey.” But then my nephews went on and on about Land of the Lost!

My point being, cultural exposure is often generational. So I’m sure there are many over the age of 60 who know and remember the 1951 film The Thing from Another World… as well as Gunsmoke, and James Arness… while there’s probably many millennials (and younger) who have never heard of it.

I hasten to mention: the film Gold Diggers of 1933 was way before my time, but I knew it well because it was shown frequently on TV when I was growing up (along with many other old movies that were shown on TV).

Kind of interesting that the '51 movie had a strong (for her time) female character and the '82 movie had none.

One of the other interesting things is that “Nikki”: Nicholson (played by Margaret Sheridan) isn’t the only woman at the arctic base. If you look close there’s another one, who I didn’t notice until I’d watched the film a zillion times. Based on the IMDB listing, this must be Sally Creighton (playing Mrs. Chapman).

I didn’t see it mentioned, but Tarantino was greatly influenced by The Thing when creating The Hateful Eight.

What do you call the Chessmaster 2000!? She beat mac at chess. How much more strength do you need?