It’s Halloween season, and for those of you who are super-smart and better than everyone else, you know what that means: time to re-watch John Carpenter’s The Thing in quiet reverence. We can all agree this 1982 cinematic masterpiece is the best horror film of all time, and maybe more important to the season than pumpkins or blood sacrifices.
Here’s a round-up of all the things The Thing has helped spawn over the years, in case you want to spend more than 109 minutes with Antarctica’s favorite monster.
Documentary “The Thing: Terror Takes Shape”
This feature length documentary was produced in 1998 and shows the creator, crew, and cast discussing the process of adaptation (filmwise and fleshwise) and their love for the finished project. For true fans only, as this spends upwards of ten minutes just discussing the painting of backgrounds.
The 1951 film The Thing From Another World is available in its entirety on DailyMotion.
Starting in 2007, Halloween Horror Nights designed as a haunted attraction called The Thing — Assimilation, guests walked through a military facility where the remains of Outpost 31 were brought for scientific research. Scenes and props from the film were recreated for the attraction, including the bodies of MacReady and Childs. This was later adapted at Horror Nights LA to tie into the prequel and was the goddamned best maze in 2011 and I screamed at everyone the entire time because I want to live in that haunted outpost goddammit. Here is video of an idiot walking through.
Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr.’s 2011 prequel is a more than worthy addition to the film’s lineage featuring some truly nightmarish body horror. Not every purist can get on board, but Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a great performance and the soundtrack pays tribute to Morricone’s stark original.
Original Short Story
“Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr. is a goddamn beast of short fiction.
The Thing screamed in feral hate, a lashing tentacle wiping at blinded eyes. For a moment it crawled on the floor, savage tentacles lashing out, the body twitching. Then it staggered up again, blinded eyes working, boiling hideously, the crushed flesh sloughing away in sodden gobbets.
Available to read for free here.
Award Winning Short Story
Peter Watts’ Hugo-nominated story “The Things” re-tells the entire story from the perspective of The Thing. It begins like this:
I am being Blair. I escape out the back as the world comes in through the front.
I am being Copper. I am rising from the dead.
I am being Childs. I am guarding the main entrance.
The names don’t matter. They are placeholders, nothing more; all biomass is interchangeable. What matters is that these are all that is left of me. The world has burned everything else.
It is WELL worth your read and can be found here.
In 2002, a third-person survival horror game came to PS2, Xbox, and PC. The story was a sequel to the film as military protagonist is sent in to look for survivors across multiple facilities. The story follows on where the film left off: Childs is found dead and frozen where he was last seen at the end of the film, but at the end of the game it is revealed that R.J. MacReady survived as he evacuates the game’s main character in a helicopter. While most of the game involves blast waves of alien monsters, there was a game mechanic whereby you needed to manage trust among your team including newfound survivors. You would win the faith of your team by spreading ammunition and health supplies among them, but of course some of these men would later reveal themselves to be Things and would attack you. Unfortunately, all of this betrayal was pre-programmed so replayability was pretty awful.
Video Game Sequel *Cancelled*
A follow up to the game was placed under contract and then the studio went under. Their pre-production artwork has leaked and in interviews they discussed a more complicated system of infection that would randomize who had been body-snatched, and an evolution path that would allow monsters that got away to evolve into more terrifying forms.
Postal 2 Mod
Dumb but quick mod for the brutal shoot-em-up-and-piss-on-em game Postal 2, as let’s played by not the worst let’s player ever.
This is an unauthorised non-collectable, non-profit game for two to six players, based on the 1982 horror movie masterpiece “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” and simulates the paranoid members of an American Antarctic research facility being overrun by — or conquering — a parasitic alien organism capable of perfectly imitating its victims. One player begins as the Thing — all the other players start as human. The game is primarily played out using six asymmetrical card decks - three decks for each side (each deck corresponds to a different section of the narrative). Managing your hand of cards, and when to use each deck, is key to winning the game.
You can download the game for free here.
A fan-made board game is detailed in ELABORATE detail on this site.
A novelization of the film based on the second draft of the screenplay was published in 1982 by the brilliant Alan Dean Foster. Although the novel is generally true to the film, there are minor differences: the Windows character is named Sanders, and an episode in which MacReady, Bennings and Childs chase after several infected dogs which escape into the Antarctic wastes was added (this sequence was featured in Lancaster’s second draft of the screenplay). The disappearance of Nauls is also explained in the novel; pursued by Blair-Thing into a dead end, he kills himself rather than allow it to assimilate him.
Dark Horse Comics published four comic sequels to the film in the form of three miniseries and one serial (The Thing from Another World, The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear, The Thing from Another World: Eternal Vows which sees the return of MacReady, as he pursues The Thing to New Zealand’s Stewart Island, and The Thing from Another World: Questionable Research, which was serialized in Dark Horse Comics #13-16), again featuring the character of MacReady as the lone human survivor of Outpost #31 and depicting Childs as infected (The Thing From Another World: Climate of Fear issue 3 of 4).
Questionable Research explores a parallel reality where MacReady is not around to stop the Thing and a suspicious scientist must prevent its spread, after it has wreaked destruction on Outpost 31. The comic series was titled The Thing from Another World after the original 1951 Howard Hawks film in order to avoid confusion and possible legal conflict with Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four member, the Thing. Much later, Dark Horse released a digital comic called The Thing: The Northman Nightmare as a prelude to the film’s prequel.
This 35 minute fan film is on YouTube and is… a fan film on YouTube.
Doctor Who Christmas Special 2014 — “Last Christmas”
Such a great episode, it remains the only ep of the show I’ve only watched once. Nick Frost plays Santa and joins The Doctor and Clara in a polar research station where alien creatures are eating the brains of the scientists. Without giving away the twists, it is a direct and meta-narrative inclusion of The Thing.
According to the Wikipedias, The Thing is annually viewed by members of the winter crew at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station during the first evening of winter. Another traditional feature is The Shining. It is also viewed by scientific personnel at the Summit Camp on the apex of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Anything we missed? Let us know below so I can buy it and make it part of me forever.