OBJECTIVE: Watch a popular or critically acclaimed film we’ve never seen to the halfway point. Pause it. Work together to predict the ending.
THE THING (1982)
THE LAST THING WE SAW: We paused at 00:54:30, just after the men at the station have subdued the doctor, who is destroying the room and taking potshots at them.
And now… discuss!
Ben: Here’s the thing about The Thing: they’re well on their way to resolving it all. Honestly, this feels like a Two-Thirds Flick. This film moves at a steady clip. Hell, the first thing we see is the UFO burning up in Earth’s invadosphere.
Phil: Well, we’ll see: I feel that there will be many more twists along the way. For example, straight away, I’m guessing that the Thing is still alive and is masquerading as one of them right now, having done a better job of assimilating itself this time around.
Ben: Absolutely. Now forgive me, because as usual I don’t remember many names, but Dog Handler is probably a Thing by this point if he wasn’t already. Also, Dog-Thing snuck into someone’s room early on. Was it Radio Hyde or Stoner-Face?
Phil: The Dog Handler was the exact one I was thinking! The film has been also setting up Doctor Blair to be an obvious choice (he’s been on his own, and he’s been paranoidly tossing chairs and bullets around), but for this very reason I think he’s just a red herring (at least for now…).
Ben: Yeah, I don’t think Blair is a Thing either. I think he’s being the most responsible, trying to make sure the Thing never reaches civilization—although I can understand his base-buddies not wanting to be revolver-dead in the land of forgotten snow-graves.
Phil: So, the men will be keeping a close watch on the Doc—and yet, because of this, Dog Handler Clark-Thing will be evading their scrutiny, and he’ll strike when they least expect it, infecting yet more of these ill-omened Antarctic adventurers.
Ben: Oh, if they have any sense, Blair is gonna be straight-up incarcerated, because who needs to be shot by your well-meaning, oatmeal-slinging, diabeetus-alarmist pal? Blair was the one who suspected Clark to be a Thing, so now that he’s in the brig, Clark-Thing can wreak havoc on Sassy Skater Cook, Gun Leader, and other characters whose names I never learned. Radio Hyde is gonna be the next to die.
Phil: Entirely possible, as he’s the one we’ve seen the least. I think eventually they’ll discover whose form the Thing has taken. Recall that one of them shoved his torn-up under-drawers into the mess hall’s trash can. They’ll figure out that the undies’ owner is the Thing: tossing one’s BVDs into a kitchen’s trash is rather aberrant behavior and implies that the Thing hasn’t quite got all these human customs down yet; furthermore, the fabric will be discovered to have been torn during the mutation.
Ben: Ooh, good call; they are probably tentacle-marks from forcibly slithering into the bum of whomever. I’m glad you said that, because up until you did, I had sub-zero ideas about what the trash undies meant. Seems like the next Thing-entity to die is gonna get torched by Baldie McFlamethrower, though. I like that guy: no hair, no shortage of napalm, no mercy.
Phil: Indeed! But the Thing is resilient and is exceptionally good at its job: infecting others. One by one, the Thing will pick off his next victim, creating an endless game of Werewolf.
Ben: Fun and accurate!
Phil: It will be decidedly interesting when the Thing becomes Doctor Blair, as I expect that by that point it will be better at assimilating itself into human culture, and it will be throwing them off with all sorts of “We’ve got to figure out who the Thing is!” talk.
Ben: Whoa, hold your imitating probes, there, space-cowpoke. Now, it may not look like it, but Doctor Frowny McShootMyFriends here is the picture of sanity in this flick. Granted, it looks like he’s going off the deep end, but think big-picture: he’s trying to stop Ben Grimm… I mean, The Thing from reaching civilization and save all of humanity.
Phil: His sanity is the exact reason this film is going to throw us a curve ball—whom else would you suspect any less at this point? He’s totally going to be thrown to the Thing’s clutches.
Ben: Maybe when he’s the last one left and he sets himself on fire before it completely Things his brain. The conflict at this juncture is so genuine and fair: Doctor Blair is trying to save human civilization and so he has to screw over his buddies by axing their equipment and offing them. Meanwhile, Team Buddies has to force-feed him a folding table and punch the tits off of him because of the whole aforementioned base-destroying and them-shooting.
Phil: I think Doctor Bad-Ass Blair might be transformed late in the game, but Kurt Russell will be the last person… non-Thinged.
Ben: Here was the exact *ahem* thing I wrote: “Kurt Russell will survive because Kurt Russell.” I’m not a complicated man, and I don’t think that requires any further explanation. I think he’ll be the surviving hero of the piece, but if not, I at least wanna see a clear-headed Kurt and Blair duo self-immolate to save the planet.
Phil: Absolutely. The exact *ahem* paraphrase of what I wrote is: “I’m hoping that the film will have this twist at the end: it’ll get down to Kurt Russell and the Thing, but that the Thing will still get the upper hand and kill Kurt, the last human. He’ll crawl out into a blizzard and get himself frozen, to be found again in another 100,000 years.” However, I have seen two other John Carpenter movies and [SPOILERS] I know how they end: with the bad-ass protagonist doing whatever it takes to stop the crazy-powerful antagonist. So I agree: it’ll end either with Kurt Russell defeating the Thing or taking him out in a kamikaze blaze of glory. And in this case I’m going with the latter, à la (SPOILER!) Fallen.
Ben: Upon reflection, Kurt Russell does need to survive and make more John Carpenter movies. So, I guess that neatly ties up all of the… actually, why did Team America: Science Police have a stable full of dogs just kinda caged?
Phil: Oh, it’s just a Thing.
AND NOW, WE FINISH THE MOVIE: