Well, that was… interesting. I’m not really sure what I think of that movie. It was definitely unlike anything I have ever seen before. Well, here we go.
The Thing, released in 1982, tells the story of a group of scientists in Antarctica who are infiltrated by an alien who can mimic any other biological organism. It kills them off one by one, hoping to get out of Antarctica to civilization where it can multiply and conquer. By the end of the movie, only two people are left alive, and we’re unsure if one of them is still human. (More on that later).
The Thing itself is a pretty creepy creature. It mimics any organism perfectly, it’s speech patterns, movements, physical body. It was the perfect chameleon. The first time we see it, it is trying to become a dog and it is creepy looking. The only way to kill it is to burn it, destroying all cells in the process. Luckily the scientists had a few flamethrowers just lying around for that.
Overall, the monster plays on our natural distrust of others. None of the scientists knew who was infected and that led to a lot of the conflict and death. They turn on each other without a good way to test who is who.
I did, however, have issues with the Thing. First, how was it able to have memories of the people it took over. None of that is cellular. It would stand to reason that just by taking over a person’s body would not allow for it to gain all of a person’s memories. But who knows?
I also had issue with the fact that these scientists had flamethrowers in Antarctica. What on earth were they going to do with those? Melt some snow? I can understand dynamite, if they were doing any kind of mining or drilling. But I couldn’t get over the convenience of having flamethrowers on hand and ready to go for this alien attack.
I thought the best part in this movie, as in Alien, was the setting. The isolation and impending freeze certainly added to the creepiness. But that isn’t all that goes into setting for film. The soundtrack is crucial and while I didn’t notice it as much in Alien, I definitely did here. From the beginning there is this suspenseful, creepy music that plays throughout the film. It definitely told you that bad things were going to happen and soon, setting the mood.
The final issue for me was the ending. It was a bit ambiguous. MacReady and Childs are sitting in the snow, watching the entire complex burn to the ground and sharing some whiskey. Kind of a sad ending, as they are going to freeze to death in the snow now. However, we are left wondering if Childs is actually one of the aliens. He was missing from the entire final confrontation scene. He could easily have been taken over. The alien’s plan was to get frozen anyways. This could be the way it was accomplishing that goal. But I guess we will never know.
9 thoughts on “The Thing”
My guess about how the Thing accesses people’s memories is that it can somehow access their mind when it assimilates them. It’s clearly intelligent and excellent at imitating other creatures. I think I mentioned in one of my posts that I’m a big Animorphs fan–when the Yeerks take over a host, they access their brain and memories to act exactly like them. I think the Thing does something like that as a part of its assimilation process.
Samantha was nice enough to share a link on facebook to a short story retelling the film from the monster’s point of view (http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/watts_01_10/). I thought it had an interesting theory on the level of control the Thing had over its victims.
I didn’t share the link; I just commented on it. XD
That was me! But Sam can jump on that too 🙂
I’m not an expert, but I do think memory is cellular on some level. I believe chemical and electrical imprints are sort of burned in the brain to create memory. That is a super simplified version of it. I also kind of figured the thing purposely left some of its host intact, and may have just manipulated their brains to get them to do what it wanted. After all, we never saw the think take some one over, shift, and then shift back into the person. It might ruin the memories of the host when it shifts, so it can’t reuse them effectively.
I typically prefer a more concrete ending, but I liked the ambiguity of this ending. It added to the fear of the monster could be anyone that prevailed throughout the film.
I actually didn’t have a problem with the flamethrowers. Seems like they’d be useful to quickly melt large sections of ice, perhaps if they had to build/move somewhere that ice was in the way? Also I got the impression that the station was military-controlled or at least in part, which to me means that there would usually be resources that you may not find on a private-funded study. I actually thought it was weird that they didn’t seem to have more guns.
I could have gone for the military controlled idea, if like you had said, there had been more guns. Also, I didn’t see anyone with any kind of military rank. So I just assumed it was privately operated.
Flamethrowers in an arctic environment could be very useful, not just for mining and melting snow but also rescues if there is an avalanche or for emergency heat, quick fire-making, etc. Also weaponized in a pinch without needing to rely on bullets. It honestly didn’t bug me at all that they had them.