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John Carpenter's The Thing

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The Thing is real classic from king of atmosphere, John Carpenter, and one of the most famous horrors which is, nowadays, a lot more easier to classify as a psychological thriller than a horror movie.
As a psychological thriller film works wonderfully. Horror elements fits perfectly and the atmosphere is brilliantly polished with scenery and music and special effects are pretty impressive for 80's. Many scenes in the film are still striking and recognizable. That's what makes the film special, but pretty much everything else falls under mediocrity.
The cast led by Kurt Russell did a solid job, and for many people Russell is most recognizable as MacReady. Here we come to the big problem of characterization. It is not strange for Carpenter that the main characters are superficial and purpose of many of them is only to die. Almost every his story is successful despite this, but that does not diminish the fact that this is still a big problem because the easiest way for audience to connect with film is through the characters. Also, some characters must behave totally illogical for story to be successful, what especially in the modern era, is very annoying.
But in total The Thing deserves a high mark. Especially because of the brilliant atmosphere and interest that it creates.



Just read up on the thread... I wouldn't class Carpenter's The Thing as a remake.

As I said in my own review of it, it's simply based on the same book that the 1951 film was.

If you class it as a remake, then yes, it's the best remake ever made. But simply, it isn't a remake.

The movie from 2011, titled also as The Thing... is definitely a remake but a remake of Carpenter's film. It's supposed to be a prequel to Carpenter's masterpiece, but only comes across as cheap and unimaginitive. They not only used scenes that mirror the 1982 film but they even lifted dialogue directly from it too.

Agree with Schimo to an extent though, a lot of the characters are basically cannon fodder but that's the point of the film to a certain extent.
It's a case of you know they're going to get chomped, but you never know who is next, what order the story will unravel and it adds to the tension of the screenplay.
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Originally Posted by doubledenim
Garbage bag people fighting hippy love babies.

Bots gotta be bottin'



Finished here. It's been fun.
This movie is amazing, as everybody knows already. I loved it's dark,cold atmosphere, pitch-perfect suspense, and excellent practical SFX.



A system of cells interlinked
The 2011 film can't be a remake and a prequel at the same time - those terms are mutually exclusive, and fan-service homage tossed in (similar dialogue or call-outs to beloved scenes from the 1982 flick etc) is just that - fan service and homage. This isn't a matter of opinion, btw; it just isn't. A remake would have the same characters, and the same events, and this film has neither - it's clearly and obviously a prequel that takes place at the Norwegian camp that spawns the dog that shows up at the beginning of the 1982 Carpenter film. It even dovetails into the 1982 film, showing the people in the helicopter chasing the dog towards the American camp.
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How scary would you rate this movie? I have yet to see it?



Just read up on the thread... I wouldn't class Carpenter's The Thing as a remake.

As I said in my own review of it, it's simply based on the same book that the 1951 film was.

If you class it as a remake, then yes, it's the best remake ever made. But simply, it isn't a remake.....
Carpenter's Thing wasn't a remake, it was much closer to the 1935 John Campbell book Who Goes There? than the older version. The 1951 Thing was excellent as a low budget re-imagining of the book, but Carpenter's version was pretty close to the semi-original Campbell book. It's worth noting that Who Goes There was itself inspired by Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, which was inspired by a chapter in Poe's only novel The Narrative of A Gordon Pym. None of the movies (especially the 2011 "prequel") is as good as Lovecraft's story, which had a movie version in the works to be done by Guillermo Del Toro. Elements of the story also appeared in The X Files. Unfortunately the investor interest in Madness dried up when James Cameron filmed a similar extraterrestrial version of the plot in Prometheus.



Carpenter's Thing wasn't a remake, it was much closer to the 1935 John Campbell book Who Goes There? than the older version. The 1951 Thing was excellent as a low budget re-imagining of the book, but Carpenter's version was pretty close to the semi-original Campbell book. It's worth noting that Who Goes There was itself inspired by Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, which was inspired by a chapter in Poe's only novel The Narrative of A Gordon Pym. None of the movies (especially the 2011 "prequel") is as good as Lovecraft's story, which had a movie version in the works to be done by Guillermo Del Toro. Elements of the story also appeared in The X Files. Unfortunately the investor interest in Madness dried up when James Cameron filmed a similar extraterrestrial version of the plot in Prometheus.



I think the most fun with The Thing is trying to figure out the labyrinth of mystery involving who's infected, and what the hey is going on in the background. It's a bit like The Shining in terms of background complexity.


First off, and this is major, the infected people.

There's a few obvious ones, people who are revealed to never be infected offscreen, and are proven to be unaffected and still remain unaffected before and after the blood testing scene. These are:

R.J. MacReady - suspected when shirt collar was found.
Nauls - looked suspicious, but ultimately innocent.
Windows - suspected for minor things, including trying to grab a shotgun.
Clark - suspected of being infected by Dog-Thing.
Copper (Doc) - never suspected to a great extent.
Gary - suspected of getting to the blood.

There's a few that either are shown getting infected, or elsewise are easy to conclude when and how it happened:

Fuchs - burns himself alive, presumably when about to be infected. Reasonable to assume he's never infected.
Bennings - gets infected by Split-Face remnants. Dies before being able to assimilate all the way.

The real issue, and the thing that makes arguing this movie so dang fun, comes from the few that are never shown onscreen how they came to be infected. These are:

Palmer - shown to be a Thing in blood testing scene, but could have been infected from the very start.
Norris - shown to be a Thing in the chest Defibrillation scene, but could have been infected from the very start.
Blair - shown to be infected once the spacecraft is discovered, but could have been infected anytime after he creates the computer program.
Childs - although shown not to be infected in the blood test scene, there's still the issue of after. He's left alone for a while, and then just wanders back in.

Now for the questions. The biggest issues come from the first three: Palmer, Norris, and Blair. If they were infected early on, how early? This changes the perspective of their actions later on in the film.

Another big one is the question of Childs being infected. If he was, that means The Thing won. If he wasn't, that means humanity won.

There's also a few more minor questions scattered throughout. Who got to the blood? It wasn't Windows since we hear him drop it, and it certainly wouldn't be any of the 'cleared' people. This connects with the three infected potentials in a big way.



Anyway, I agree that this is a very good movie. It's surprisingly deep, and goes beyond what most conventional movies tend to do.



There's no such film in 1951 called The Thing! it's called The Thing from Another World.

Carpenter's film The Thing isn't a remake of the earlier film, TTFAW is a damned good movie but a poor adaptation of the book. Carpenter's film is not a remake of the earlier film as they got little in common other than snowy place and alien from space. Yet the location (one in the north pole and the other south pole), the monster (In the book the creature is a shapeshifting being that can imitate any living person or animal where in TTFAW the creature has only one form a living vegetable humanoid Frankenstein vampire creature that can reproduce itself but didn't imitate into anyone where in Carpenter's film the creature can imitate into anyone and any living creature just like the creature in the book), characters and all are very different from each other. The creature's name The Thing is the villain in the book in which both TTFA and The Thing are from. The 2 films aren't anything alike.

I consider them 2 very different films and 2 separate films, Carpenter's film is actually a new adaptation of the 1938 book Who Goes There by John W Campbell as it's a good adaptation, Hawk's film The Thing from Another World is a very loose adaptation and a separate adaptation as well.

Whenever someone makes a movie based on the novel Moby Dick is not "remaking" John Huston's film, They're making a new film based on the same literary source material. That's what The Thing is, not a remake of the 1951 movie TTFAW but rather a new adaptation of the original source material.

To me, the definition of a remake is when it's based on a motion picture produced earlier and it's original screenplay (one that is not based on any existing source material like comics, novellas and books) like say The Blob, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes etc. TRUE remakes in every sense.

It would be like saying every Dracula film is a "remake" of the 1931 film or the silent classic Nosferatu, NO they are all separate and different adaptation of the same source material. Another example is the films Last Man on Earth, Omega Man and I Am Legend which are all separate and completely different adaptations of the original source material which have nothing to do with each other. Same goes for Nolan's Batman Trilogy which aren't remakes of the earlier Batman films while The Dark Knight is a sequel while not a remake of 89's Batman because of Joker and stuff as it's a completely different story with a different Joker as i consider Nolan's trilogy to be a separate adaptation of the comics and graphic novels. Calling a new film based on an old comic previously film or a new film based on a novel filmed before a remake cheapens it a bit, when like i said they are separate adaptations.

But anyway, this movie is a masterpiece and one of the reasons 1982 was a fantastic year for movies, my birth year. I saw this on video when my big brother rented it when i was 5 and thought it was scary as hell, i re-rented it at age 12 and loved it and became one of my faves. A brilliant mix of horror and sci-fi just like Alien and Aliens, it has that Lovecraftian feel and nice performances even by Kurt Russell to the 80s Quaker Oats commercial guy without his mustache.



I’m taking my entire convo from the Shoutbox and reorganising it for here…


I reckon it was Blair who was hit first.
He spent a lot of time with the split-face body, even touching his mouth with his pencil after he'd touched the body with the same pencil.
He goes mad, smashes up a load of equipment like radio gear and vehicles, and they lock him up in the tool shed... but I think Blair's behaviour was all a front.
He did build that ship, so there was no need really for him to escape using the radios and the chopper.
Smashing up the chopper and radios was the Thing's way of stopping the humans from getting away, or getting back to the world so they could spill the secrets of its existence.
Earlier in the film when Blair hadn't totally been overtaken was when he was simulating on the computer. He’d been infected, but not totally taken over and probably didn't know he was changing. Or maybe he did as his simulation on the computer showed a percentage rate for one or more team members being infected.


It was proven afterwards that though he was locked away, he was still able to move around underneath the base.
Blair was only locked up for a day or two but had managed to tunnel under the shed with no tools to help him, and then build almost an entire ship using spare parts from the smashed up chopper and tractor.
So he must have started digging and building the moment he was locked in the shed. This also means, once alone, totally isolated, the Thing's cells were able to take Blair over in whatever gruesome way it wanted with nobody knowing.
That says to me Blair was infected a long time before he went mad and smashed up all that equipment and vehicles.

I agree with all other ideas though, it simply could be any of them who were turned first.
Even at the end, MacReady sums it up... "If either of us have any surprises for each other, I don't think we're in any shape to do anything about it".
So, Were either of them turned at the end? Or were they both human?

That's the point though too with the shadow figure with the dog, it looked like Norris, but the shadow wasn't played by Charlie Hallahan... meaning it might not have been him. I always took it as Norris though tbh.

Also the argument over leadership... "Norris, I don't see anyone objecting to you"
And Norris, nervously, says he’s not up to it.
Norris knew something was wrong.
Whether he was the Thing backing down from the limelight and keeping attention off itself, or whether it was Norris being genuinely scared... or Norris simply under attack at a cellular level and Norris deep down knew something was wrong.
Like with Blair, I think the assimilation of Norris took a while rather than some grande attack.

If Norris was the Thing at that point though, and was backing down from the limelight to stay hidden… my theory on the Thing wanting to hide rather than fight is proven: I always took it as the Thing will only infect when it has to. I mean, really really must for survival.


I mean, for a while it was sitting doing nothing.
It was only when the guys started trying to hunt it out and when they stumbled upon it, that it became aggressive... or in Norris' case, when his heart gave out (which I think was a side effect of it taking him over) the Thing had no choice but to fight, and then flight.
It's only when they start poking around and it has no other choice, that it shows itself. The other example is when Palmer's blood is tested. The Thing had no other choice but to attack, or go nuts, to survive.

When it took over Bennings, it was I agree, an unprovoked attack, but remember, all it had at that moment in time was a chewed up body, that split-face body, and more than likely only one other person on the camp.
That means only one person and a dead mutilated body was the Thing. That’s not enough to ensure survival.
Also, that body would have given away its secrets if it ever made it back to the world.
MacReady said too: "The Thing doesn't want to be found, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but is vulnerable in the open."
It needed to ‘get out’, it needed to imitate another person so it had a solid chance of escape, and so took over Bennings giving it two bodies (maybe three, we’re not sure how many it had taken over to start with), meaning it stands a better chance of survival.
Sadly for the Thing, it got caught in the act.



Welcome to the human race...
The 2011 film can't be a remake and a prequel at the same time - those terms are mutually exclusive, and fan-service homage tossed in (similar dialogue or call-outs to beloved scenes from the 1982 flick etc) is just that - fan service and homage. This isn't a matter of opinion, btw; it just isn't. A remake would have the same characters, and the same events, and this film has neither - it's clearly and obviously a prequel that takes place at the Norwegian camp that spawns the dog that shows up at the beginning of the 1982 Carpenter film. It even dovetails into the 1982 film, showing the people in the helicopter chasing the dog towards the American camp.
I agree that the 2011 The Thing is a prequel (even if it started production as a remake), but there have been remakes that don't have the exact same characters/events and only really share the same premise e.g. Dawn of the Dead or Planet of the Apes. Bad examples, but they exist.

The real issue, and the thing that makes arguing this movie so dang fun, comes from the few that are never shown onscreen how they came to be infected. These are:

Palmer - shown to be a Thing in blood testing scene, but could have been infected from the very start.
Norris - shown to be a Thing in the chest Defibrillation scene, but could have been infected from the very start.
Blair - shown to be infected once the spacecraft is discovered, but could have been infected anytime after he creates the computer program.
Childs - although shown not to be infected in the blood test scene, there's still the issue of after. He's left alone for a while, and then just wanders back in.

Now for the questions. The biggest issues come from the first three: Palmer, Norris, and Blair. If they were infected early on, how early? This changes the perspective of their actions later on in the film.

Another big one is the question of Childs being infected. If he was, that means The Thing won. If he wasn't, that means humanity won.

There's also a few more minor questions scattered throughout. Who got to the blood? It wasn't Windows since we hear him drop it, and it certainly wouldn't be any of the 'cleared' people. This connects with the three infected potentials in a big way.



Anyway, I agree that this is a very good movie. It's surprisingly deep, and goes beyond what most conventional movies tend to do.
SPOILERS AHEAD

There is a brief scene early on in the movie where the dog-thing is wandering around the base and ends up walking into one character's living quarters. This character is by himself and only seen in silhouette - you never find out for sure who it is. Based on the shadow's appearance of thick, curly hair, it is implied to be either be Palmer or Norris (I'm inclined to think Norris myself). It has been never been confirmed - when questioned about it, Carpenter has said he doesn't know and refuses to answer it anymore. Blair most likely gets infected any time after he is imprisoned in the tool shed. As far as their actions go, it's never confirmed just how much an infected person is actually aware of whether or not they are a Thing - there are several instances of behaviour that could be interpreted either way, such as Norris's refusal to take command of the situation being a sign of either his nervous disposition or the Thing trying not to draw attention to itself.

When it comes to Childs at the end, consider the possibility that Mac has also been infected at some point. There's no telling how much time has passed between him blowing up the Blair-thing in the generator room and him running into Childs. Seeing as he was in charge of the blood test, it's entirely possible that he rigged it in his favour. That's why he says to Childs "if we have any surprises for each other", implying that he knows Childs suspects him as much of being a Thing as he suspects Childs. It once again ties into whether or not they know they're infected or not. It's also entirely possible that neither one of them is infected or both of them are and are either unaware or hiding it. Of course, if we were to take the videogame sequel as canon then they were both human.

As for who got to the blood - hmm, I should have paid attention to that when I re-watched it a few weeks ago. To me, it's almost irrelevant - Windows drops the keys and the next time they're acknowledged, it's once the blood's been spilled. It's another question that doesn't really need a concrete answer provided by the film.
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I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.



As far as their actions go, it's never confirmed just how much an infected person is actually aware of whether or not they are a Thing - there are several instances of behaviour that could be interpreted either way, such as Norris's refusal to take command of the situation being a sign of either his nervous disposition or the Thing trying not to draw attention to itself.
I would say they're very aware of it. I mean Blair was building an alien spacecraft with the purpose of escaping, not to mention sneaking up on Gary to infect him. Also, Palmer's facial expression before the blood testing scene is a dead giveaway that he's aware the jig is up.

How aware they are is interesting, considering how they turn into gross monsters when they get caught. Maybe it's a defense mechanism they can't turn off or something.

When it comes to Childs at the end, consider the possibility that Mac has also been infected at some point. There's no telling how much time has passed between him blowing up the Blair-thing in the generator room and him running into Childs.
quoting Childs from the movie:

CHILDS
The fire's got the temperature way
up all over camp... won't last long
though.

They're basically in sub-zero temperatures the entire time. When the final scene starts, the flames are still quite high, so it couldn't have been more then a few minutes. As shown with Bennings, it takes at least a few minutes for it to change one into a Thing, potentially 5 to 10 minutes.Within the context of the film, it seems unlikely that The Thing would be in a position to very quickly infect MacReady, when he basically just (potentially completely) blew up The Thing in an explosion strong enough to destroy the entire facility.

If MacReady was actually infected since getting lost in the snow, why would he even bother coming back? If it weren't for his intervention, Norris-Thing and Palmer-Thing would have easily taken care of the rest of the crew. Think about it, MacReady was the one who suggested the idea of the blood test in the first place. What would he have to gain by ratting out his fellow Thing?

Childs makes the most sense as being the Thing, for the simple fact that we don't see him for the entire climax. Considering how sneaky Blair-Thing is, it's highly likely he just got infected when he was all alone.


Of course, if we were to take the videogame sequel as canon then they were both human.
For the purpose of argument I say we exclude the videogame and movie prequel. Only information provided by what's in the actual film should count, I'd say.



Welcome to the human race...
I would say they're very aware of it. I mean Blair was building an alien spacecraft with the purpose of escaping, not to mention sneaking up on Gary to infect him. Also, Palmer's facial expression before the blood testing scene is a dead giveaway that he's aware the jig is up.

How aware they are is interesting, considering how they turn into gross monsters when they get caught. Maybe it's a defense mechanism they can't turn off or something.
Yeah, it does seem to vary from character to character. Norris is an interesting case because his nervousness only foreshadows his heart attack, which goes against the Thing's instinct for concealment. There is no reason for a Thing to have a heart attack, and its decision to chew off Copper's arms is clearly a reaction to the defibrillator unit.

quoting Childs from the movie:

CHILDS
The fire's got the temperature way
up all over camp... won't last long
though.

They're basically in sub-zero temperatures the entire time. When the final scene starts, the flames are still quite high, so it couldn't have been more then a few minutes. As shown with Bennings, it takes at least a few minutes for it to change one into a Thing, potentially 5 to 10 minutes.Within the context of the film, it seems unlikely that The Thing would be in a position to very quickly infect MacReady, when he basically just (potentially completely) blew up The Thing in an explosion strong enough to destroy the entire facility.

If MacReady was actually infected since getting lost in the snow, why would he even bother coming back? If it weren't for his intervention, Norris-Thing and Palmer-Thing would have easily taken care of the rest of the crew. Think about it, MacReady was the one who suggested the idea of the blood test in the first place. What would he have to gain by ratting out his fellow Thing?

Childs makes the most sense as being the Thing, for the simple fact that we don't see him for the entire climax. Considering how sneaky Blair-Thing is, it's highly likely he just got infected when he was all alone.
Another factor of the Thing's nebulous nature is just how easily it can infect someone else. The only time we actually see the Thing visibly assimilating a person is Bennings (you could also count the dogs in the kennel), and that's just because the two-faced corpse came back to life and started in on the deliberate, violent infection. If Blair's computer simulation is any indication (which, granted, it could very well not be), then it's possible that having any of the Thing's cells (which are all apparently autonomous right down to the slightest drop of blood if the test scene is any indication) enter one's body could cause the process to start from the inside and subtly take one over. You do make a good point about the ending, though the way that it is paced isn't an inconsiderable factor. We go from Mac throwing the dynamite and making a break for it, then the explosions that send the whole camp up in flames, and the next thing we know he's stumbled back to some other part of the base (and has apparently acquired a blanket in the process - from where? Who knows?).

There's also the question of whether or not other Things can consciously recognise each other as Things. At one point Mac states that he's human and that if everyone else was a Thing then they'd all attack him at the same time, which may or may not be true (him being human or Things being aware of each other or both). If the Thing's mission is self-preservation then it could very well be playing an elaborate chess game with the survivors (which is actually foreshadowed well by Mac playing computer chess at the beginning - his decision to pour whiskey on the computer and destroy it also foreshadows the fact that he would rather destroy the camp than "lose" to the Thing), such as having a secretly-infected Palmer point out the spider-head as it tries to escape.

To this end, an unwittingly infected Mac might be a pawn in the Thing's endgame. If Mac is already (unwittingly?) infected, then his plans actually work out surprisingly well for the Thing. Sure, Mac kills several Things over the course of the film, but if he's already infected then killing them off (aware of his nature as a Thing or not) is just a means to an end. His unintentionally causing the deaths of several other survivors still makes sense - and he can disguise it as him doing the best he can to fight the creature. It's his idea to do the blood test, which only adds to the theory that he can rig it, plus he ties all the suspects to the same couch so if a Thing is outed then it can kill other humans (as Palmer-thing does with Windows). Also, if Mac is already a Thing, then blowing up the base is the perfect way to preserve himself because it guarantees that any remaining humans will die of exposure while he/it can freeze as planned.

I've naturally considered the possibility that Childs is a Thing, and there is evidence to bear it out - the chief proponent is that the final scene is lit in such a way so that Mac's breath can be seen turning to ice in the air, whereas Childs' breath does not show up and implies that he is not actually breathing, therefore he isn't a Thing. Of course, that flies in the face of the idea that Things can replicate the humans perfectly. In any case, if Mac is infected then the fact that he decides to share his last bottle of whiskey with Childs at the very end could be seen as a deliberate attempt at infection (notice how, after Childs drinks from the bottle, Mac gives off a very satisfied little smile...)

For the purpose of argument I say we exclude the videogame and movie prequel. Only information provided by what's in the actual film should count, I'd say.
Yeah, especially when certain revelations from the prequel actually undercut the main film itself.



Just sat watching...


53 minutes in, when Blair is being locked in the tool shed...


Mac takes a drink from the vodka bottle... and leaves it with Blair...


Could Mac have already been a Thing? And was transferring some Thing Germs to the bottle so Blair would get infected while he was locked away in isolation?


Interesting too is that after Mac leaves, Blair looks at the bottle suspiciously just before the scene ends.



It's not a remake.


It's like saying the LOTR and Hobbit trilogies are remakes of the 1970s and 80s cartoons.