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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Who Goes There? Aka The Thing From Another World Aka John Carpenter's The Thing

Oh boy where do I begin?  This story was around since 1938 so it's over 3 quarters of a century old.  It has had 3 movies, 2 sequel comic series, 1 sequel video game and a hell of a cult following.  It would have been better if not for a certain Jaws Director making aliens friendly.  Ah but I kid, Spielberg isn't to blame, but rather the audience for our one track mind of thinking all aliens are cute, cuddly creatures that want to be friends.  They did not fair well with the Thing despite it made 3 years after the first Alien and 4 years away from the Second Alien movie.  Plus a boatload of B-Movies prior to it.  Now that I am done insulting the audience yet again let's dig into the stories.  I say it in plural because there are so damn many. Spoilers ahead.

First is Who Goes There?  Set in Antarctica in the 1930s an American Research Outpost discovers a spaceship that they accidentally destroy it trying to uncover it. But thanks to their luck, they discover an alien muppet instead.  Said muppet is thawed out against better judgement and it begins devouring and imitating the crew.   Paranoia ensues as the survivors begin to distrust one and other as anyone or many of them could be The Thing.

The next story is, The Thing From Another World.  This Thing is very different from the one in Who Goes There as it's a Humanoid being that feeds on the blood of the living.  Like the original Thing, it can reproduce even when it's been dismembered and regenerate.  However unlike the Original thing, only electricity can kill it. There is also the distinct difference of this one landing in the Arctic Circle.

The third story was the one of Carpenter fame. It pretty much adapts the Novella more, but also modernizes it taking place in the 80s rather than 30s.  It also has the distinction of the American Crew not being the first people to uncover The Thing, as the Norweigen crew uncovers it prior.

Then there is the Prequel in 2011 which depicts said Norweigen Crew uncovering The Thing.  This one is well hated, but I don't see why and I'll explain in the CIEIR segment of this article.

Now for the fun part.  Could It Exist In Real Life?

The Answer is yes. 

First for arguments sake let's start with the first movie adapation Thing.  In the Thing From Another World, the titular alien is revealed to be vegetable based.   Upon searching for evolved living plants I stumbled upon a pet science project of our old friend Destination Creation.  They came up with a project that you can try at home in which you can fuse hair follicles of human DNA with that of a Fern plant.  The resulting mix creates a plant that can react to tactile contact by contracting itself.  Much like the alien, it is vulnerable to electricity as well since plants react violently to it. 

The next is the Original Thing itself.  The one from the short story and movies.  This one can exist in various ways.  The Muppet like one is an evolved Chameleon.  Many chameleons, can change their colors to match their surrounding environment.   Whereas this one can take a step further and literally copy anything from whatever it either touches and eats.  The other side of the thing is much more sinister, as it is a cross between a virus and a fungus.  A virus slowly kills it's infected host in order to survive, whilst a fungus can survive off of it living or dead.  The scary part is it could be any size from a small microscopic bacteria to a big lump of cells. Much like the story, fire and electricity can kill it as it destroys it on a cellular level.  Now here is the more scary part.  According to Darwin, we all evolved from single celled organisms. So in a way we all are Things. 

Last but not least in the matter is where it came from.  Who Goes There? hinted that the alien came from a planet with a blue sun.  Which seems impossible.  Yes there are solar systems with a blue sun, but those stars are over 18 000 kelvin, which is hotter than our own sun.  However as Jeff Goldblum once said. "Life finds a way."

Now I haven't done a final thought for a while but in this case there was one thing that bugged me.  This one is about how hated the prequel is.  Yes no one can really hold a candle to the likes of Howard Hawks or John Carpenter.  Yes compared to the practical effects the CGI is stupid,  however one thing I can disagree on is the way the Thing is portrayed.  In the Carpenter one, it is portrayed as cunning and silent, never really openinly attacking a group unless it's exposed.  While in the Prequel it attacks every ten seconds.  But there is a reason and Kurt Russell said it:

MacReady: I don't know. Thousands of years ago it crashes, and this thing... gets thrown out, or crawls out, and it ends up freezing in the ice.
Childs: I just cannot believe any of this voodoo bullshit.
Palmer: Childs, happens all the time, man. They're falling out of the skies like flies. Government knows all about it, right, Mac?
Childs: You believe any of this voodoo bullshit, Blair?
Palmer: Childs, Childs... Chariots of the Gods, man. They practically own South America. I mean, they taught the Incas everything they know.
Garry: So, come on now, MacReady, Norwegians get ahold of this... and they dig it up out of the ice.
MacReady: Yes, Garry, they dig it up, they cart it back, it gets thawed out, wakes up - probably not the best of moods - I don't know, I wasn't there!
Nauls: [skates in with ripped long johns] Which one of you disrespectful men been tossing his dirty drawers in the kitchen trash can, huh? From now, I want my kitchen clean, all right? Germ free!
Childs: So how's this motherfucker wake up after thousands of years in the ice?
George Bennings: And how can it look like a dog?
MacReady: I don't know how. 'Cause it's different than us, see? 'Cause it's from outer space. What do you want from me? Ask him!
[motions to Blair]
Childs: You buy any of this Blair?

The Thing just woke up it was too pissed off to care if anyone noticed it, but later on in the movie it calmed down.  It also explains why it became this big monster in the end of the first. MacCready kept foiling it to no end and it became pissed off again.  Hell the first line describing it in the movie was that it was "Weird and pissed off."

Now here's another thought, something that's been bugging me since I seen all of them.  While I know this was unintentional in the Novelists and filmmakers part, but while on record the John Carpenter's Thing is a remake, it really isn't. I can singlehandedly prove that from Who Goes there to the Prequel, that this entire thing is one big coherent storyline with a simple timeline.

Who Goes There? takes place in the 1930s.
 The Thing From Another World Takes  place in the 1950s.
The Prequel and Carpenter's film Takes place in the Early 80s.

Before I tell the whole story you gotta be willing to suspend your disbelief on this one.

Here goes....

For starters 3 ships crashed on earth.  The first was the Who Goes There? Thing.  The Second was the Carpenter thing.  Both Crashed into the Antarctic thousands of years before the events of Who Goes There?  Now there has been ongoing debate that the Thing was a prisoner on the Carpenter ship being transported.  I believe that theory as we never see any alien pilots on either ship. The Who Goes There? Thing is discovered first in the 1930s and it was promptly destroyed.  The Survivors were not infected and they did find a way home.  Then the 3rd Ship crashed into the Arctic in the 50s.  While the monster was called The Thing, it was not really a thing, but rather a space cop pursuing the thing for a very long time and crashing the ship in the wrong place.  It couldn't be reasoned with due to both language barrier and it's own paranoia that the people on the Arctic were infected.  Sound familiar? It should because that's also the opening of the 1980s Thing.  Anyone who speaks Norwegian could tell you that while the actions were aggressive, that the Norwegian outpost guy (Lars if you watched the movie.) Was trying to warn the Americans that the dog they were chasing was not a real dog.   They were warning, but when they weren't heeded, they decided it was best to kill the dog and anyone that tried to stop them.

Now I know what you're thinking "If they all take place in the same Timeline how come no one talks about the events of Who Goes There?"  Now let me ask you something even with the tech you bring with you, back to the mainlands as evidence would they believe you if you told them "An alien monster tried to eat us and copy us?" You'd get laughed at, committed or worse case scenario erased by any local MIB. Same goes with the Howard Hawk's Thing.  We only got the ending where he said "Watch The Skies."  It was left ambiguous to whether or not the people they were Radioing believed them or not.

As usual, debate, argue, and let me know what I missed.  Stay Tuned For More.   The Thing is out there, it could be you.  Say do me a favor and hand me that flame thrower.

Update: There was one thing I forgot to mention.  When Carpenter's flick came out, people hated it, but throughout history they started to like it, when the game sequel came out it was considered one of the worst games ever made, yet some still liked it for the command functions and trust feature.  When the prequel came out it was hated for not  being like the Carpenter flick. Yet over time people began to like it and even stated some of it's good points.  Maybe Thing exists in a meta sense as well, assimilating formally hateful audiences and converting them into fans. That's something, you the readers out there should think about.


  1. Stumbled across your blog here while trying to google the possibility of a "Thing" like creature actually existing. This was a pretty good read, glad to know I wasn't the only one to enjoy the prequel.

    1. First of all thank you for commenting. Second of all, ya I don't see why the prequel is so hated. True it doesn't hold a candle to Carpenter, after watching their making of I know they at least tried.

    2. No problem. I'm hoping for the best from that "Harbinger Down" flick the effects team is now working on.

    3. Anything's possible. I mean look at James Cameron. Before Terminator the one movie he was well known for was a shitty sequel to Piranha. Now he is one of the greatest film directors in the world.