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"The Thing," All Three Movie Versions

 
 
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2015 09:09 pm
I saw the DVDs for two versions of this movie in a store today and bought them. I have seen every version several times. This is a very interesting movie - interesting enough to have been done three times. It is based on a short science fiction story from the late 1930s. The movie versions came out in 1951, 1982, and 2011. In the first version, and I believe the succeeding versions were more or less the same, a research station in Antarctica discovers a spaceship which has been buried under the ice for a long time and digs it up. They recover the body of the sole occupant. The problem is that when the body thaws, it comes back to life. If we ever do meet extraterrestrial aliens, this is exactly what we want them not to be like. In both versions, the alien species is intelligent, but its intelligence is of a very different nature than ours and they cannot be engaged in any real dialog.

In the first version of the movie, the alien is a humanoid, slightly larger than a man, and probably more intelligent than we are, but completely evil by its basic nature. It can live on mammalian blood as a food source and that is the beginning and the end of its interest in us. It hides out in the snow somewhere and gradually tries to kill the research team one by one and make the station uninhabitable to make the survivors more vulnerable. When I describe it, it sounds a bit formulaic and hokey, but it really wasn't.

In the later two versions, more closely mirroring the short story, the alien is capable of assuming any physical form and even splitting into multiple creatures, and it lives by infecting other beings. When infected, you turn into one of them. It is, as I say, also intelligent in these two later versions, because it will pose as your friend and even engage you in conversation, all in an effort to lure you into a situation in which it can infect you. There is a scene in the 1982 version in which the leader of the researchers ties every other person in a chair and takes a blood same from each. He puts the blood sample from each person in a petri dish and one by one sticks a hot wire into the blood samples. His theory is that this will enable him to tell which of the people are human and which are creature masquerading as human. Everyone who is human will have given a real blood sample. Any blood taken from an incarnation of the creature will simply be the creature masquerading as blood and will flee a hot needle.

This is kind of like the "Alien" movies in that it concerns extraterrestrials that are intelligent, but in such a way that there can never really be a dialogue. Also, like the "Alien" movies, it concerns extraterrestrials whose basic nature makes them what we would characterize as evil.

Speculation about what we'll find when, and if, we meet extraterrestrials is something one hears a lot these days, and this is exactly what we don't want them to be like - creatures whose basic nature makes them our adversaries and who even evoke disgust.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 1,527 • Replies: 14
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2015 10:05 pm
@Brandon9000,
I recall , as a little kid,seeing the 1951 version on some late night "Super Horror Mystery Theater" on Sat nights out of PHilly. I recall it had James Arness as the monster and George Fenneman as a doctor /scientist (Fennaman was later Groucho Marx's quiz show sidekick-We used to watch that every Thirsday night ). I was a big Gunsmoke fan so whenever I saw the 51 version I always looked for Arness in costume. You could see it was him.
I saw the 1982 John Carpenter version with Kurt Russell and I recall it started with a dog that was infected with alien blood. I actually remember more about the 1951 version because the 1982 one was, (IMHO), largely forgettable

I hadda look up the 2011 version and saw that it was basically a "prequel" to the 1982. It eneded with the infected dog getting away.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2015 10:34 pm
@farmerman,
My understanding was that it wasn't a dog, but the creature masquerading as a dog. Maybe it had once been a dog, or maybe it was just the creature simulating a dog, but there is a scene in which it turns into something else to escape. The 1982 movie opens with people from the American base seeing their Norwegian counterparts pursuing and shooting at one of their own dogs from a helicopter, which makes no sense at all from the point of view of the Americans...until later. The Norwegians in the helicopter die and the Americans put the dog in with their own dogs, who immediately back away from and growl at it.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2015 11:08 pm
@Brandon9000,
too much information. I dont recall much about the 1982 except for the music.
I am going to see if I cant stream the 2011 version though.

I always wished they would've remade "THEM" wherein the ants would have won and the entire nation would be re jiggered covered by all these interconnected ant hills and major subterranean highways .Humans would be forced up to to the Arctic with enclaves in the Himalyas Urals, Highest Andes and Alps all in where they would try to stage an offense to retake the arable lands .


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BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 05:43 am
@Brandon9000,
To me the John W. Campbell book was far better then any of the movies and when I first saw the first movie version I remember being greatly annoy at how far it was from Campbell story even those it was a fair B level movie.

In that regard it was almost as bad as the movie Star Ship Troops that have little to do with the story by Robert Heinlein it was suppose to had been base on.

The very very worst example of taking a great science fiction story and destorying it was Nightfall by Asimov.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 08:23 am
As I recall, the "Nightfall" movie was a disappointment.

The 2nd and 3rd versions of "The Thing" were closer to the story, but the first version was also an interesting story.

I am interested in the idea of aliens who are intelligent, but in a way that makes communication impossible. In the story and all three movies, the alien is doing what evolution has programmed it to do, which makes it a monster from our point of view.
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 08:48 am
@Brandon9000,
I really love the concept of the monster in The Thing (particularly the most recent two versions). What is unfortunate however is that it's filmed as a "Horror" story instead of a "SciFi" story.

Horror films focus on gore and horror while skipping lightly over the implications of what they are showing. This alien can imitate a human and then behave like them to the point where others can't tell the difference. It's not even clear if the person taken over is aware of it. The alien, once in human form, can apparently begin building space ships, presumably with knowledge we don't possess, so it carries knowledge even though it is a microscopic multi-cellular organism. And it can take over other animals in the same way. Can it only take over mammals? Can it take over insects? Birds? Fish? Whales? Bacteria? Wouldn't it be great to see a while crawl out of the ocean, transform into something horrible/incredible and begin crawling up the beach...

There's so much the could do with all this if it was a SciFi story. Maybe the alien is only violent and dangerous when it's in its early stages. Maybe as it gains biomass it becomes more intelligent and moves from its initial "Military" form, to "Political" forms or "Scientific" forms. Maybe it forms colonies which begin to build spaceships so that it can get off the planet again. Maybe it merges with earth biology benignly so that nobody knows the difference, but people have the ability to regrow limbs and self-cure any disease. Maybe it shares knowledge with us. Or maybe it just eats everything and the whole planet turns into a big shape-shifting zoo.

I really wish they would produce another sequel to this film, but as a SciFi rather than a Horror film. I think the could get a lot of mileage out of what this creature can do. The only downside I can see is that this creature with its currently implied attributes would quickly dominate the planet if it ever got loose and there would be nothing we could do about it. All is would have to do is get out of the arctic, begin transforming mosquitos, birds, fish, krill, and pretty soon it's everywhere (particularly if it's intelligent in all of its forms). The writers would have to invent limitations for the creature in the story to bring it down to a level which isn't biologically devastating.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 08:55 am
@rosborne979,
This probably would have happened first on its original home planet. It would probably have annihilated every compatible species. What would chameleons on Earth be like if the struggle for survival and limited resources had been more intense? On Earth, chameleons only transform themselves to hide, not to attack.

Even in the original movie from 1951, in which the creature was humanoid, it had no desire to communicate. There is a scene at the end in which the team scientist tries to reason with it and ask it to cooperate with them. It listens for a few seconds and then swats him out of the way. It is undoubtedly doing what evolution has programmed it to do and that doesn't include cooperation.

From the Wikipedia description of the 1982 version:

Quote:
"The Thing" is annually viewed by members of the winter crew at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station during the first evening of winter. It is also viewed by scientific personnel at the Summit Camp on the apex of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 09:15 am
@Brandon9000,
That's all possible of course, because I think the simply think they never thought it through all that well, or just needed particular things to happen to support the "Horror" aspect of the story. Also, I never read the books or short stories, so I don't know what the original intent for this alien was. I'm only speculating on things I saw in the movie and in ways which I think might make a better SciFi story if they ever decided to do it.

The main thing in the movies which leads me to speculate in this direction is that Wilford Brimley was building a space ship out in that shed when he was locked up. So this alien is clearly technologically advanced. And while it inhabits a human, it can communicate and it knows when to transform strategically even if it hasn't been attacked directly. The character Windows transformed when the blood reacted to the needle, even though he wasn't directly exposed, so this creature knows the situation and is planning strategically to survive. So I don't think it's behaving through pure instinct. It's considering its situation and strategizing. That plus technological skill implies to me that it should be able to communicate, even if it doesn't choose to.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 01:09 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
....So I don't think it's behaving through pure instinct. It's considering its situation and strategizing....

I didn't mean to imply that it was acting through pure instinct. Humans don't act through pure instinct, but our goals and our basic nature are the result of evolution. That is what I meant. Humans certainly do what evolution has programmed us to do.

By the way, the origin is one single short story written by John W. Campbell Jr. in 1938. Campbell was an interesting character, famous in his own right.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 04:18 pm
@Brandon9000,
Brandon9000 wrote:
By the way, the origin is one single short story written by John W. Campbell Jr. in 1938. Campbell was an interesting character, famous in his own right.

Do you know if the short story is available online? I would like to read it. I think I'll try to track it down.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 05:12 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

Brandon9000 wrote:
By the way, the origin is one single short story written by John W. Campbell Jr. in 1938. Campbell was an interesting character, famous in his own right.

Do you know if the short story is available online? I would like to read it. I think I'll try to track it down.

I know that it's called "Who goes there?"

Edit: Here it is.

http://randerson3.weebly.com/uploads/3/2/1/6/32169097/who_goes_there.pdf
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 05:42 pm
@Brandon9000,
Campbell used to be the editor of the science fiction magazine Astounding/Analog and every month I would look forwards to reading his editorial for that month first of all before any of the stories.

He was indeed my hero.
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 06:27 pm
@Brandon9000,
Thanks much Smile
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2015 08:31 pm
@Brandon9000,
Yup, that was a nice little story. I'm glad to see that he didn't miss the fact that the creature could have imitated a bird or a seal. He didn't mention fish or insects or bacteria, but that would seem to be implied.

I really think this story could make a great SciFi movie if someone would actually do it. Unfortunately it will probably always remain a Horror story in the eyes of Hollywood.
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