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Beware of Imitations
March 10, 2011 12:45 PM   Subscribe


 
fuuuuuuuuuuuuck yeah

bum.... bum bum. bum bum. bum bum.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:55 PM on March 10, 2011


One of my friends used to work for Buisness Week Weekend (which is itself kind of hilarious) and met Keith David (Childs) on some shoot. The first thing my friend did was ask him whether Childs or Mac was The Thing at the end and David laughed but refused to answer. But I'm pretty sure it was him.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:01 PM on March 10, 2011


For those, like me, who didn't read the tags, this is the John Carpenter The Thing, not an ill-conceived solo sequel to Fantastic Four.
posted by zamboni at 1:12 PM on March 10, 2011


Well, there wasn't a lot either of them could do about it...
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on March 10, 2011


I always thought since they were going to both freeze to death anyway and it was established that The Thing could survive being frozen, they should have burned themselves.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:15 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's some great information on the DVD. Really detailed stuff.

Carpenter talks about how he set it up to be all men, to avoid complications basically. Which is sucky and sexist, but at least he admits it was a conscious decision, and doesn't act like it was just random happening.

Kurt Russell also talks about how the film was not well received by audiences but those working on it were happy with it and knew they would have to wait a while for it to be appreciated.

And they go into great detail about the creation of the thing and the makeup, expand on the discussion of how treacherous the conditions were, et cetera. It is a great bunch of features, for sure. Hours of content just like this page.
posted by cashman at 1:15 PM on March 10, 2011


October.
posted by steef at 1:41 PM on March 10, 2011


That's a link to an empty page, steef, and I don't know what you are talking about. It certainly isn't an IMDB page mentioning any kind of pequel, as no such thing will ever exist. That's like remaking Robocop or something...
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The head with legs, that scene still freaks me out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:47 PM on March 10, 2011


Brandon Blatcher, you gotta be fucking kidding me
posted by nathancaswell at 1:49 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel you Artw, and I've been duped before and paid the price, but OH MY GOD THE AX IN THE DOOR SQUEEEEEE
posted by steef at 1:49 PM on March 10, 2011


October.

Ron Moore? My feelings are so mixed...
posted by mikelieman at 1:50 PM on March 10, 2011


you gotta be fucking kidding me
posted by nathancaswell at 1:51 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


/sets fire to steef and self, just to be sure.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I cut Artw loose, yall.
posted by cashman at 1:52 PM on March 10, 2011


I love this movie, it's almost perfect, right up there with The Road Warrior.

Just watched it again this past weekend. I do think Childs is the thing. McCready was always with the other guys after the test and Childs was acting suspiciously.
posted by nikitabot at 2:01 PM on March 10, 2011


HA! I watched the Thing with my son when he was about a year old. He's afraid of dogs now, for some reason...
posted by Redhush at 2:03 PM on March 10, 2011


Movies that are almost perfect (for what they are):

The Thing
Alien
The Terminator
posted by nathancaswell at 2:10 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


In a further Campbell/Lovecraft/Carpenter crossover, I've just remembered Wilbur Whatley's problems with dogs.
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


1982 was a hell of year for SF movies: Bladerunner, The Thing, Khan, Tron, Road Warrier.
posted by octothorpe at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


My only real problem with The Thing is the Blair sequence where you find out that Blair has been building a spacecraft (how long has he been in the tool shed?) and The Thing is suddenly 20x bigger than it has been and the subsequent action scene is a little abrupt and disjointed.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2011


I used to have an anthology of classic sci-fi, and "Who Goes There?" was always guaranteed to scare the crap out of me as a kid. And the story with the tentacle cat thing, "Black Destroyer", by Van Vogt.
posted by shinyshiny at 2:17 PM on March 10, 2011


One of the very best movies of all time. Period.
posted by PepperMax at 2:19 PM on March 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Great film, and that was a greatread that I somehow missed when it was published -- and I thought I had read all the OMNIs. Oh well! Better late than never.

I love that scene with the dog running in the snow, and the guys in the chopper shooting at it. That was one creepy dog, too... and not a practical effect. At least, not until it...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:36 PM on March 10, 2011


Black Destroyer was part of the novel, Voyage of the Space Beagle, which was overall pretty good. There were other weird aliens in that book, too, not just the "kitty." Was BD in the famous Healy-McComas anthology? Who Goes There was, I believe...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:38 PM on March 10, 2011


Best dog actor ever. The way it lies down when they put it with the other dogs is so creepy.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:38 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dog? You think that thing is a dog? No dogs make it a thousand miles through the cold!
posted by shakespeherian at 2:40 PM on March 10, 2011


Am I wrong? I thought it was almost canon: in the last scene Childs is the the thing and, while MacReady knows it, he is too banged up/exhausted to do anything about it. Their conversation has that edge and there is strong proof in the fact that while you can see MacReady's breathe in every exhale, there is nary a whiff from Childs. I of course, can't find a copy of it on youtube.
posted by rtimmel at 2:41 PM on March 10, 2011


Oh yeah -- (Spoiler Alert) on above.
posted by rtimmel at 2:42 PM on March 10, 2011


not quite canon
posted by nathancaswell at 2:47 PM on March 10, 2011


Nick Johnston, of Big Dead Place, regrets that if you actually work at the South Pole, you don't get flamethrowers.

The move needs one ADR line: "I finally found the flamethrowers. They were in the closet behind the surfboards."
posted by warbaby at 2:50 PM on March 10, 2011


1982 was a hell of year for SF movies: Bladerunner, The Thing, Khan, Tron, Road Warrier.


Literally none of those films take place in San Francsico.

Oh. Wait. Do you mean SyFy?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:12 PM on March 10, 2011


Maybe the flamethrowers were shipped accident, like the Doom 3 chainsaws...
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on March 10, 2011


"Yeah, well, fuck you too!"
posted by Rangeboy at 3:49 PM on March 10, 2011


I always thought it was without need of remake, prequel or sequel. I do admit, though, that Peter Watts wrote a fine followup with Things.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:23 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


October.

You gotta be fucking kidding me.
posted by Ratio at 4:28 PM on March 10, 2011


This is great. Thanks, Artw. Carpenter's The Thing is such a wonderful movie.
posted by brundlefly at 4:33 PM on March 10, 2011


One of my favorite movies. The scene where the "dog" walks slowly, purposefully down the hall the first night, all quiet, alien malevolence... The rest of the movie is great, but that was a perfect shot.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:37 PM on March 10, 2011


I miss Omni magazine. It was the first place where I read a true description of tablet computing, and exposed me to science fiction and science quackery. Good times.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:37 PM on March 10, 2011


Electric blanket on a block of ice? I'd like to smack that guy.
posted by digsrus at 4:39 PM on March 10, 2011


I miss Omni magazine. It was the first place where I read a true description of tablet computing, and exposed me to science fiction and science quackery. Good times.

Yeah - [redacted] introduced me to both science fiction and Omni. And Omni may have been exactly where I first began to suspect that [redacted] couldn't quite tell the difference between science fiction and science quackery. *sigh*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:43 PM on March 10, 2011


ricochet biscuit, thanks for that link! That was a really brilliant retelling of the story.
posted by localroger at 4:53 PM on March 10, 2011


We had a Siberian husky when I was young, it was one of the first nights I was ever alone in the house... the night I watched This version of the Thing. "Dancer" walked into my room ready to sleep like the good dog she was, but her eyes shone brightly in the dim light.. the look of rejection as I made her sleep outside my door for the first time since she was a pup... I have only ever watched it that one time but I bet it is good. [trauma]
posted by mrgroweler at 4:55 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, the greatest video game translation of a movie, ever. Yeah, the video game for the PS2 was really, really good.
posted by mark242 at 5:15 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I gave in and am watching it right now.

"You don't understaaaand! *chop* That thing wanted to be uuuuusssss! *chop*""
posted by adipocere at 5:32 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm listening to the soundtrack.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:47 PM on March 10, 2011


"You don't understaaaand! *chop* That thing wanted to be uuuuusssss! *chop*""

"Eeeeeat yer oats! *chop* Diiiiiiiabeetus! *chop*"

That's all I can think of when I see that scene now. An insane axe-wielding Wilford Brimley peddling Quaker oats and insulin.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:03 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most awesome remake ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT7AH4JyuNs
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:41 PM on March 10, 2011


sorry, that's was supposed to be a link
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:43 PM on March 10, 2011


Love Road Warrior & Blade Runner, you say the thing is as good! Well...

Yes, this past summer I worked on The Thing, 2011 version as a scenic artist. There was no Alaskan location this time around, that's for sure. OTOH, imagine the actors bundled up as if it's the arctic in the stinking heat of summer! I wasn't at that location, a rock quarry.

The set was wicked with all these organic shapes, lots of sculpting and form making. It was large.

One tunnel looked like the inside of a spine, but 7feet tall. The snow making was interesting. Not seeing the movie, don't know how much more I should describe the set.

Had a friend return from Australia, who went to the house from the Road Warrior, was clearly disappointed that the brand of beans were fictional. Better'n your dogfood!Ha.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:55 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, the greatest video game translation of a movie, ever. Yeah, the video game for the PS2 was really, really good.

Dang, I keep forgetting that exists. When it came out, I didn't have access to a PS2. I'll have to look for it.
posted by brundlefly at 10:10 PM on March 10, 2011


mark242 already mentioned it, but yeah the video game was damn near perfect. Really put you into the movie and made you understand the mental & emotional strain the characters were under. You had no idea who you could trust, but the only way to win was to trust other characters and hope you were right.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:35 AM on March 11, 2011


Just to give pause for a moment to all of those who feel Childs is the Thing at the end- he clearly isn't. The reason they are destroying the camp is because the Thing wants to hide and avoid them and go back into the ice to deep sleep until the rescue crew comes.

Thing-Childs would just avoid Mac, and go wander into a snowbank. Confronting Mac when they are the last two alive would be an unwanted risk, more illuminated by the fact that if the Thing can reason, it has just watched Mac destroy a massive Thing-beast that would generally have been much more powerful than Childs-Thing. Avoiding Mac (and freezing in a nearby snowbank) is a 100% guarantee of spreading to the mainland after rescue teams arrive. There is absolutely no benefit to the Thing to reveal itself to Mac and try to infect him.

Remember- the whole move to destroy and burn the camp is to prevent the Thing from hiding from them- it only attacks when it is clearly destined to succeed against a lone target, and when it does, it does so almost immediately, more like a chemical reaction than a conscious choice- and Childs makes no aggressive moves even after he sees how beat up Mac is and they agree they are too weak to fight.

Anyways- one of the best movies ever made, can't wait for the new one, and if you subtract needing to jump through hoops to justify a sequel where the Thing escapes and gets away, it makes no sense to say Childs is the Thing.

Just IMO, of course.
posted by Bushidoboy at 4:01 AM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nice shot, Macready!
I have loved this move ever since opening day in (I think) October, 1982 at the Shattuck theater.
Nthing the anniversary edition DVD; I don't see the trove of goodies on the Blu-Ray version. Maybe there's some double-secret way to bring that stuff up. I'm pretty sure the commentary's on it, though, which is infectiously fun.
And I'm really glad Carpenter didn't score and perform his own music, leaving it to Ennio Morricone. This should be in the AFI 100! Citizen Kane? BAH! I say.
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:34 AM on March 11, 2011


The point is not who is the Thing at the end. The point is that they distrust each other.

I always read it as an allegory for the cold war.
posted by Eideteker at 4:48 AM on March 11, 2011


Also, the greatest video game translation of a movie, ever. Yeah, the video game for the PS2 was really, really good.

You know, there's a real opportunity to do a tie-in game for the new movie. The multiplayer could be great -- Assassin'c Creed: Brotherhood proved you can do stuff outside the usual FPS box and have it work. Instead of the mistrustful AI from the PS2/Xbox game, picture having to trust seven other living people to win ... except the one looking to kill and replace you.

It'll never happen, of course, but a boy can dream.

Also: The Dead Space games have a real Thing quality to them. Definitely recommended.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:47 AM on March 11, 2011


"Gentlemen, I know you have been through a lot, but when you can find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of the winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!"

The ending hinges on some unknowns. Childs Thing versus Childs Human, Macready Thing versus Macready Human. So, zero, one, or two infections. We know Things can recognize one another (assuming they have enough tissue to support a mind) and meld, we see that much in the film, so we can rule out a Thing-Thing ending. One Human, one Thing, and we're back to Macready's statement — a Thing would not wait if the numbers were in its favor, and they can definitely overpower us on a one-to-one basis.

This leaves the tragic ending, a Human-Human ending, both of them waiting until one says, "You know we have to burn ourselves alive, right?"

The biggest problem with those scenarios is that, up until the point where they erupt with tentacles, Things may not even know they are Things. Certainly initial infection puts you down for a while into a kind of barely conscious state that looks quite painful as you writhe around and get all slimy, but after that, we can see Norris struggling with his heart issues while nobody is watching him. Sure, he could have faked a heart attack just to get everyone gathered around a corpse, guard down, unaware that he is about to launch an attack, but right before that he is alone. We see him experience chest pain. Why would he do that if he were thinking-Thing?

Is he a Thing wondering to itself, "What's the deal with this chest pain? I totally copied everything right" or is he just being Norris, ignoring the umpteenth twinge from his chest, the one the doctor keeps tut-tutting about? Does the Thing have him on autopilot and he simply doesn't know? But why cry out if he is thinking-Thing? You're a Thing, you're used to rudely just shoving limbs out of your own body through whatever skin you've got on. A little pain is not worth murmuring over.

The switchover of control may be a one-way deal. Once you start thinking-Thing, you're a Thing all the way, but up until that point, you had a bad dream and you can't find your long underwear. Maybe you're a little hungrier than usual. Or could the Thing dip out of consciousness like a submarine, having replaced you neuron by neuron with an exact duplicate with only one difference — a potential of lethal plasticity, simply waiting for some consensus signal to burst your doppelganger skull into jaws, draining the biomass of the now-superfluous, inefficient human brain matter for something more practical, like another meter or two of tongue.

Either way, once you consider autopilot, the endings are wide open all over again.

And so is the opening. Perhaps the crashing flying saucer was not a UFO launched and piloted by Things, but rather some other sentient organism, exploring the cosmos, unaware of this stowaway lurking in their own cells. They were just going to do a flyby, scan for lifeforms ("those precious little life-forms!"), look for a civilization or mark the planet as worthy of a drive by in a few millennia. And then chaos, their grey skins and fat four-fingered hands punctured by chitinous, segmented limbs from within, their own alien horror and paranoia a brief bit of madness before a frenzied assimilation of pilot and crew, leading to a crash. Perfect for a Thing, to land on a planet crawling with available biomass. Just landed in a bad spot, is all. If you think the honey badger doesn't care, just imagine Things. "I will thaw eventually. I can wait."

And that is why the beginning of the film is just after end of the film. At some point in the future, humans will pick up these frozen corpses and fly off with them. Only there will be trouble on the ship and a sudden crash ...
posted by adipocere at 12:09 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


1982 was a hell of year for SF movies: Bladerunner, The Thing

Indeed, both of those came out the same day*. A hell of a weekend for SF movies.


*As did Megaforce. Can't win em all.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:08 PM on March 14, 2011


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