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YMMV / The Thing (1982)

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  • Adaptation Displacement: Not many are likely to have read John W. Campbell's original story and thanks to the Even Better Sequel reactions the film gets (at least nowadays), The Thing from Another World, while not totally displaced, is not as prominent as Carpenter's film.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The movie is ripe with this after watching, as you know who has been assimilated, but not always when they were. For example, did Blair destroy all that equipment in a desperate attempt to keep the Thing contained, or had he already been assimilated and was out to prevent the others calling for help? Also, Norris turning down taking a leadership role. Was it because of his heart condition as initially implied, or was he already a Thing at this point and knew being leader would inevitably focus a lot of unwanted attention/suspicion on himself?
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    • A big one overall: do the people who've been infected actually know they've been infected until the monster reveals itself?
    • The reason Windows went gunning for the shotgun right after realizing who it was who let the Thing get the keys to the blood. Was he trying to defend himself from the others with it or would he have used it to kill himself just to get an easy way out from the whole mess?
    • When the Norris-Thing is revealed in the surgery room, Palmer has the classic line "You've gotten be fuckin' kidding" when he sees the disembodied head skitter off to hide in a room. However, when Copper gets his arms ripped off, there's a brief shot where Palmer is shown watching with a barely surprised expression, which suggest that he's already been infected. Nobody else had spotted the Norris-Thing's spider-head running off into a corner, and probably wouldn't have if he didn't draw attention to it. Was he trying to preserve his cover by ratting out a smaller portion of himself that probably wouldn't have made it anyway? Or, more humorously, was he just so embarrassed at a part of himself pulling such a lame escape attempt that he couldn't hide his exasperation?
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    • The Thing itself is heavily subjected to this since we aren't told anything about where it came from or what its motivation is. See the WMG page for more, but put simply, one could interpret it as being malevolent, or simply acting in self-preservation, or it's a life form seeking to spread its species.
    • Forms the basis for this short story, wherein the Thing is more a result of Blue and Orange Morality than malice. Among other things it's at first unable to comprehend intelligent life that isn't an assimilating, shape-shifting organism, initially thinking of humans as soulless husks because they aren't a Hive Mind of independently functioning cells.
    • The giant Blair-Thing at the end. Was it attacking MacReady out of desperation, to keep him from finishing the destruction of the base? Or was it just a distraction, keeping MacReady busy long enough that some small piece, somewhere, was allowed to scuttle off and freeze down?
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  • Awesome Music: The original score by Ennio Morricone. It may be shocking to learn that it actually got nominated for a RAZZIE, though like the rest of the film, it was originally slated by critics (who accused Morricone of being lazy and just copying John Carpenter's score for Halloween), and has been Vindicated by History. Equal credit goes to Carpenter as well, for he provided the uncredited electronic part of the score, including the "heartbeat" cue.
  • Broken Base: As evidenced by many of the sticky posts on the Outpost 31 forums dedicated to the movie. The lack of solid information on the Things and other unanswered questions have led to some rifts amongst the fandom. Some have 2 main points of contention. Others have hardly anyone at all agreeing with anyone else's ideas.
  • Creepy Awesome: With emphasis on the creepy, The Thing is a remarkable creature with nightmarish transformations and surprising intelligence that makes it quite memorable.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • MacReady proclaims that winter has just begun in the opening scene. Yet the sun is shining brightly.note 
    • In a lesser-known example, the UN agreed that no weapons should be used in Antarctica, which means no guns or flamethrowers. (The flamethrowers could be justified as tools to melt ice, same as the thermite grenades, but the guns would be an absolute no-go).
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Between the Gorn, the heavy-handed gloomy atmosphere, and the fact that the story follows a bunch of starving, freezing Antarctic researchers being stalked by a murderous Eldritch Abomination, it's a pretty depressing experience. The fact that it ends with all the protagonists dead and the base destroyed could thus be considered almost merciful. John Carpenter himself even considered the film was just too bleak for the audiences, considering another movie with an alien was still in cinemas and had considerably nicer "first contact" scenario.
  • First Installment Wins: Of Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy, note  this movie is universally regarded as the best of the trilogy, where as the other entries, while retroactively have been vindicated as some of his better work, still don’t hold a flame to what was accomplished in 1982.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • This movie has become part of the culture in Antarctica. It is a long standing tradition in all British Antarctic research stations to watch it as part of their Midwinter feast and celebration held every June 21.
    • The movie initially didn't do so well in the U.S., but, according to Guillermo del Toro, it was very successful in Mexico.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Though not commonly known at the time, it's since become a serious concern in the scientific community that thawing polar icecaps could unleash hellish diseases.
    • Norris suffering a heart attack before turning out to be the Thing is this considering Charles Hallahan would end up dying of a heart attack.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Jerkass Woobie: Most of the characters, as while they may be arguing and trying to kill each other, considering they are trapped with the Thing taking them over, one can't blame them. Clarke in particular warrants mention, as while he comes across as rather creepy, one can't help but sympathize with his grief over his dogs being killed by The Thing and Blair.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Narm Charm: The cartoon-standard sound effects utilized a few times (such as the *goop* sound when Copper gets his arms torn off) really don't detract from the horror at all, and often work exactly as intended even when contemporary films could never hope to get away with half of them.
  • Nausea Fuel: And plenty of it.
  • Nightmare Retardant: While many incarnations of the Thing are frightening, some of'em are less scary than the others 'cause them being too grotesque or even goofy looking. For example: Norris- Thing with that fat angry face, look almost as if it's on drugs or drunken.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Maybe not technically true, but watching Wilford Brimley completely in-character as the Blair-thing is absolutely chilling.
  • Paranoia Fuel: This film is made of it, runs on it, and will take you over with it.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The Dog-Thing was played by Jed, an animal actor who would later go on to play the title character in the White Fang movies.
  • Signature Scene: Three. The blood test scene, the attack in the dog kennel and the scene with the defibrillator.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • While the majority of the effects have held up magnificently, it's a little sad that during the otherwise flawless blood-testing scene that when Windows is being ragdolled by the Palmer-Thing he is obviously, well... a ragdoll.
    • In the defibrillator scene, when the Thing bites Copper's arms off, his arms just sort of break off above where the Thing's teeth are sunk into them, rather than being cut through by the teeth.
    • When Palmer-thing leaps onto the ceiling, you can see a part of the tile fly off the ceiling, and then stick back up onto it. This was because that part was filmed with him on the ground, and the film was simply transposed to make it look like he was attaching himself to the ceiling.
    • Anytime tentacles sprout up, it's easy to see that they were being pulled through their props and just played back in reverse.
    • The blood tends to look very much like red syrup in a few close-up scenes, even when it's supposed to be real blood.
    • Although very beautiful, the wide shots of the crashed spaceship are easy to spot as matte paintings.
    • In the scene where the Thing as Palmer gets set on fire and goes crashing through the wall out into the snow, the outer walls of this Antarctic research station appear to just be some wood panels with no insulation.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • A unique example. In the kennel scene and some of its scenes in the camp before-hand, the Dog-Thing, before it transforms, it just...sits there. That doesn't sound bad at first, but it's literally motionless. No tail-wagging, no nothing. It just sits there and perplexes, making it really, really off-putting. The sound it makes before it transforms only adds to it. On a production level, the dog caused this for the cast and crew in an unintentional case of this, as the dog was part wolf and really just nervous.
    • Inevitably, some of the human transformations fall into this (which was likely intentional), with Palmer-Thing's face swelling up and the infamous Spider Head being the most unsettling.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Not surprisingly, the titular alien is beloved for being a creepy and effective villain by the audience with visually impressive designs and abilities, reasons the characters aren't fond of.
  • Vindicated by History: A huge flop when it was released, and initially received mixed to negative reviews. Then The '90s rolled along, and people started picking it up on VHS and DVD. It's now considered to be one of the greatest horror films in history. Kurt Russell is notably proud of the film, and doesn't mind at all that it took ten to fifteen years to "find its audience."
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The film is packed with terrific animatronic and makeup effects which have held up magnificently.
  • What an Idiot!: The Norwegian pilot at the beginning drops an active grenade and ends up obliterating himself along with his helicopter just because he decided to try digging through the deep snow for an explosive device that would detonate in mere seconds instead of running like Hell away from it. Either it was the wrong time to panic, or it's a classic case of Too Dumb to Live.
  • The Woobie:
    • Norris. Fat unassuming guy who is among the least argumentative team members and has a heart condition. He ends up getting assimilated and depending on how you interpret it, may have been infected first and was thus really an alien imitation for most of the movie.
    • Doctor Copper, who is polite to the rest and gives adamant health care. He gets tied down with Garry when The Thing plants evidence that implicates them both as potentially being assimilated. Not only is he human, he suffers a cruel death when trying to revive Norris, who reveals himself as an imitation and bites his arms off, killing him. And to top it off, it turns out in the blood test scene he was human all along.
    • Garry, who is a Reasonable Authority Figure shaken by the deaths that happen around him during the film. He suffers the above situation with Copper, and while he turns out to be human, he ends up killed by Blair in a painful death when he shoves his hand into his mouth and absorbs him.
    • The sled dogs, who suffer a horrifying attack as The Thing's first on-screen victims. The two that survive end up getting killed by Blair for their trouble.


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