The Thing - Can someone explain...

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joeranger

Sr Member
The progression of how it spread? I always think I am missing something.

Is there some kind of diagram of who gets infected and when? Starting with the dog running into camp?
I would like to watch it with a cheat sheet and look for signs that people were infected and how they acted.
 

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CB2001

Master Member
The progression of how it spread? I always think I am missing something.

Is there some kind of diagram of who gets infected and when? Starting with the dog running into camp?
I would like to watch it with a cheat sheet and look for signs that people were infected and how they acted.
Well, most of the information is speculative, as there are some pieces that are ambiguous as to who got infected when (namely off screen infections that we get hints about, but no definitive answer to until the Thing has a Thing-out), while there are more up front and obvious ones (such as the Kennel dogs and Bennings for example). The film was purposefully designed in a way where you can't be sure of who, let alone when, a character was absorbed and duplicated.

The closest thing that could possibly help you show the narrative flow is this image from the Outpost 31 website (Warning: Graphic heavy): http://www.outpost31.com/vistar/images/the-thing_chart.jpg

They also have text breakdown of the timeline: Outpost #31 - Movie - Timeline
 

Jet Beetle

Sr Member
Gone but not forgotten.
The act of infecting another living being changed a bit from the clues we got in the Carpenter version and the newer movie. MacReady says it likes to strike when people are alone - which made me think it took some time or at least a bizzare intrusive act - in the new movie it could just grab you and merge with your body. I, of course, prefer the Carpenter rules - a small part of the Thing can take over an entire organism. So, if you were eating a steak and the thing dripped some blood on it - you are now a Thing.
 

CB2001

Master Member
The act of infecting another living being changed a bit from the clues we got in the Carpenter version and the newer movie. MacReady says it likes to strike when people are alone - which made me think it took some time or at least a bizzare intrusive act - in the new movie it could just grab you and merge with your body. I, of course, prefer the Carpenter rules - a small part of the Thing can take over an entire organism. So, if you were eating a steak and the thing dripped some blood on it - you are now a Thing.
What Jet Beetle has said is true. But one thing to keep in account with both films (or just with Carpenter's film alone), is that the Thing's first encounters with human beings was with the Norwegians, and it learned how aggressive humans can be. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised its original strategy was an up front assault on the creature it was planning to absorb and mimic, like how most predatory creatures on Earth charge at their intended target while surrounded by other similar targets (like a lion after a gazelle in a heard of gazelles). That could be a factor to take into account when it comes to the crashing of the saucer, that it tried to forcibly assault and turn the crew up front, possibly leading to one of them to attempt to crash the ship in order to stop it from spreading further. And by learning what it did from the Norwegians, it changed its strategy of attack when it came to Outpost 31. We have to remember, the Thing is like a virus, but one that has the ability to think and, as we've seen in Carpenter's film where one of the Things attempted to build a smaller saucer in an attempt to leave, to learn and apply knowledge it's acquired and absorbed.

Of course, this is all speculative. For all I know, I could be very well wrong.
 
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Jet Beetle

Sr Member
Gone but not forgotten.
I could go with that CB. Changing his tactics to avoid the humans committing suicide or loosing all potential hosts. Could be the beast's assumed or learned in his travels that creatures have trouble killing those they knew, much the way when someone turns into a zombie and it slows their loved ones down from pulling the trigger against them. The Thing didn't count on the fact that Kurt Russell don't play that ****.
 

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CB2001

Master Member
I could go with that CB. Changing his tactics to avoid the humans committing suicide or loosing all potential hosts. Could be the beast's assumed or learned in his travels that creatures have trouble killing those they knew, much the way when someone turns into a zombie and it slows their loved ones down from pulling the trigger against them. The Thing didn't count on the fact that Kurt Russell don't play that ****.
True on that. In fact, I think I remember someone here saying that the pilot of the saucer may have been the alien version of R.J. MacReady (if you believe the idea that the pilot deliberately crashed the saucer, when the odds of survival were slim, it did pretty much what MacReady did: tried to make sure the Thing couldn't do any more harm and was willing to die in order to stop it from doing what it did to others).

But I agree, Kurt Russell pretty much made MacReady totally boss. :D
 

SSgt Burton

Sr Member
I think I remember someone here saying that the pilot of the saucer may have been the alien version of R.J. MacReady (if you believe the idea that the pilot deliberately crashed the saucer, when the odds of survival were slim, it did pretty much what MacReady did: tried to make sure the Thing couldn't do any more harm and was willing to die in order to stop it from doing what it did to others).
That was me. :cool

One of a few scenarios of why the ship crashed.

The biggest question is who was infected first- Palmer or Norris? Apparently the answer around the net is pretty much 50-50. "The Thing" aficionados have tried to analyze the shadow on the wall of the sitting person that the dog-thing encounters and arguments go either way.

In either case, if you watch the film and assume that it could be either Palmer or Norris, their interactions with the other Outpost members take on a whole new meaning---

When Mac, Copper and Palmer find the flying saucer, it is Palmer who finds the hole in the ice (that the Norwegians cut the Thing out of). If Palmer is The Thing, why does he call the other group members over to have a look? Is he gaining their trust? Acting exactly as a human/Palmer would?

Palmer makes his “Chariots of the Gods” comment- if he is a Thing by this point then he IS the aliens the "Chariots" comment refers to. It becomes another whole level of sarcasm.

Of course there is Palmers’ double bluff of saying he doesn’t want to go with Windows and rather go with Childs (casting suspicion that Windows might be a Thing... when in hindsight he clearly wasn’t and Palmer was).

Consider Norris turning down the gun Garry offers him. Essentially it would put Norris in charge. His answer is so subtle and very human (he just doesn't have what it takes to be a leader) however if he is a Thing at this point, being in charge means everyone will be focused on Norris- something the Thing definitely does not want; more attention.

Norris is the one drawing blood from Garry, Copper and Clark (which when Copper says he's going to break the needle, Childs responds that Norris is "doing a real fine job"--- Childs is completely convinced Norris is human)...

...Or Childs could be a Thing at this point for all we know! :eek :lol


Later in the film (before Norris/Thing reveals itself) when the paranoia levels peak amongst the men, Norris has a line or two about “That’s just what this thing wants- for us to turn on each other.” However by this point he and Palmer are definitely the Thing. So his statement is ironic in that The Thing is solidifying his humanity with the group, while at the same time flat out revealing The Thing’s game plan.

There is also the “bluff” the Thing tried to pull by planting MacReady’s torn clothes, casting suspicion that MacReady has been assimilated. Windows asks when could the Thing have gotten to MacReady and Palmer (a Thing at this point) says it could have been anytime. Palmer mentions “the lights going out and guys were missing” and Norris adds “That would have been the perfect time.”

But MacReady wasn’t a Thing and Norris and Palmer definitely were at that point- so what did Norris mean by “The perfect time”? Is he just playing along heightening the possibility that Mac is a Thing...

Or is he just talking out loud (as The Thing)--- saying that, “It would have been the perfect time for me to assimilate MacReady... but I missed the opportunity to do it.”


Needless to say I love this film! :D


Kevin
 
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joeranger

Sr Member
Oh well you guys clearly were not paying enough attention; I'll watch it again and answer all these questions;)

I think the main question is answered for me. The real genius of this movie is that we don't know. Why would an alien/thing trying to act human act a certain way?

It reminds me of a far side cartoon where an alien in a back ally with a fake human face and a tail coming out of the back of his trench coat says to two thugs, "Why yes. I would like a knuckle sandwich".

One other question. Are they working together? Communicating?
 

Solo4114

Master Member
On the subject of infection itself, here's a question for you guys.

The Carpenter version of the film -- and even the Prequel -- suggest that the smallest portion of the Thing can take over a host organism. So, as said, a mere drop of thing-blood will do it.


I think the actual infection/assimilation depends heavily on the method of infection, though. In other words, the Thing isn't fully a "thing" and doesn't have complete control, depending on how the infection happens. This would also explain WHY the Thing chooses one approach over another.

So, for example, a small amount of the Thing could conceivably take over a host, but it'd depend on how much of the Thing made it to the host, and then it'd vary by time. If we assume from the prequel that even a microscopic portion of The Thing can infect a host, then even a single drop of blood or saliva could do it. Thus, the Thing could simply drop some blood in the water supply and wait a day or two. The problem would be that the hosts could realize what was up and kill themselves, or might be discovered and destroyed before being turned. Or killed in an accident. Or whatever.

By contrast, absorbing someone wholesale is a LOT faster, but also messier, noisier, and offers no stealth. If you get caught in the act, someone's gonna torch ya. Of course, sometimes speed is more important than stealth, and survival most important of all.


I think this explains a few things in the film.

First, it explains Blair. At the start of the film, Blair's behavior suggests that he's human. The Thing would obviously want to allow for outside communication, which is why Blair's destruction of the radio suggests he's human. If he's infected at that point, the infection may not have had time to take him over yet, although he might be noticing the effects. If he isn't infected then, the Thing could simply bring him some food while he's in the cabin, feed it to him, and wait until he can say "I'm better now." Again, this would explain how and why Blair clearly turns.

Second, it'd explain how someone who might be infected could ALSO appear human. If assimilation was happening slowly, and the blood drawn hadn't been contaminated yet, then an infected person might still appear human from the blood test.

Contrast all of that to what happens at the Norwegian camp with one of the characters. Grabbed and gobbled, right there on screen. Absorbed right before your eyes, and right at the central processing spot (his head), too. After that, the Thing has almost instantaneous control of the host. So, it can be assumed that this approach, while less stealthy, is a LOT faster. A hybrid approach could be taken, too, for example sticking someone with a tentacle, and then pumping some Thing-blood into them to speed up the process.


You've got to figure that the process starts slow, depending on how much "Thing" is introduced to the host, but progresses at an exponential rate. If one thing makes one copy, and two things make two copies, four things make four copies, and so on, you've got standard exponential growth right there. So, the bigger the initial "thing" that gets to the host, the faster it'll turn. Likewise, if the Thing can get hold of the host's brain, that's it. It has control. After that, further conversion merely creates redundancies so that if, for example, you blow a limb off of a controlled-but-not-fully-assimilated host, the limb will just lie there, rather than turn into a "Thingling."



One factor that still puzzles me, though, is how the Thing apparently does not obey the laws of conservation of matter. It seems able to make "more" of itself than what's there initially. Like, how is it that some "things" are able to become physically bigger than their host organisms are? Almost as if they can inflate. I don't get that part. Unless "Things" are more elastic and simply appear bigger, when they're really just stretched very thin.
 

crabra comander

Sr Member
Just gonna throw in something simple here: Is it possible someone fully assimilated has no clue they're a Thing and would go about their business while the Thing is sort of subconsciously controlling their actions?
 

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SSgt Burton

Sr Member
I guess the easiest way to answer that is going by the dog/thing (as it is too hard to tell with the human characters as they are meant to keep "us" the audience guessing just as much as the other characters).

So with the dog- when it is around other humans it totally acts like a dog. However when it is alone it clearly behaves very methodically and very undog-like. We easily see that the dog is no dog and it is The Thing in disguise.

So my take on it is that when a person is assimilated there is nothing left of the original person. The Thing has completely taken over and has either "learned" correct repsonses/actions (from its interactions with people over the two camps) to ensure its camouflage is perfect, or has retained the memories of the host.

I'm thinking more the latter as it really didn't have much time to interact with people considering how well it imitated the behaviour of the members of the American camp.


Now about the "one drop of the Thing can assimilate you"... What if Blair was infected when he did the autopsy of the Dog/Thing?

Now think if he was a Thing when he smashed up the radio room-

The Thing might require a radio in order to bring more "hosts" from the outside World to the camp to assimilate, however more importantly before Blair goes nuts, the men were discussing using the blood in the storage fridge as a test to find out who was who. At least one other person (Palmer or Norris or both) were a Thing, so the radio room chaos was a perfect distraction in order for another Thing to recover the keys to open the fridge (Windows dropped the keys when he was frightened by Bennings' transformation), and destroy the blood bags.

Of course- that could go either way that Blair was human and sincerely trying to save mankind by destroying the radio (although the radio could just have easily been used to warn the outside World to stay away- so if he was a Thing he was preventing the men from warning anyone), and The Thing used the chaos as a perfect opportunity to slip away and destroy the blood bags.

Oops! I remembered that a bit wrong- the blood bag test was discussed after Blair went nuts, however I think it still stands that the Thing slashed the bags during the radio room rampage as it was probably aware of the importance of the bags even before the men planned on using them.


Kevin
 
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CB2001

Master Member
That was me. :cool

One of a few scenarios of why the ship crashed.
Definitely. It's either the pilot tried to crash it to stop it or the pilot inadvertently crashed it when being taken over.

The biggest question is who was infected first- Palmer or Norris? Apparently the answer around the net is pretty much 50-50. "The Thing" aficionados have tried to analyze the shadow on the wall of the sitting person that the dog-thing encounters and arguments go either way.

In either case, if you watch the film and assume that it could be either Palmer or Norris, their interactions with the other Outpost members take on a whole new meaning---
A lot of fans have asked that question, one of them even going as far as to attempt to recreate the shadow on the profile on the wall to determine which of the two it was in the scene with the Dog-Thing. But the fact is that for that scene, Carpenter got a crew member to sit in and play the shadow on the wall, so to make it ambiguous about who it was. And I think that shows how great Carpenter is as a director, going as far as to keep the audience guessing by substituting someone who could be either Palmer or Norris with the shadow.

When Mac, Copper and Palmer find the flying saucer, it is Palmer who finds the hole in the ice (that the Norwegians cut the Thing out of). If Palmer is The Thing, why does he call the other group members over to have a look? Is he gaining their trust? Acting exactly as a human/Palmer would?
If you were a human being and you found a huge hole in the ice that matched the block that the Norwegians found, wouldn't you share that with the others in your group? I know I would, I'd either show them or tell them about it.

Palmer makes his “Chariots of the Gods” comment- if he is a Thing by this point then he IS the aliens the "Chariots" comment refers to. It becomes another whole level of sarcasm.

Of course there is Palmers’ double bluff of saying he doesn’t want to go with Windows and rather go with Childs (casting suspicion that Windows might be a Thing... when in hindsight he clearly wasn’t and Palmer was).
Well, he did just see a UFO. At this point, we don't even know if Palmer is a Thing or not. If he is, yes, it'd be ironic that the Thing would refer to the "Chariots of the Gods", because its the kind of thing that Palmer would say (and since a Thing takes over a human body on a cellular level, the first thing that goes is the areas where the human personality and individual are located, leaving the area where memories are stored intact until they're absorbed too, according to the Alan Dean Foster novel adaptation).


Consider Norris turning down the gun Garry offers him. Essentially it would put Norris in charge. His answer is so subtle and very human (he just doesn't have what it takes to be a leader) however if he is a Thing at this point, being in charge means everyone will be focused on Norris- something the Thing definitely does not want; more attention.
Actually, the actor who played Norris stated that he was a Thing at that point, and saying that when Garry made the offer to him, he stated that the Norris-Thing had sort of an internal message that said, "don't do it, it'd draw attention to us." He talks about it during the retrospective making-of documentary on the DVD (the same documentary is on the Blu-Ray with the extra view setting turned on). And it makes sense. If the Norris-Thing was in charge, everyone would be looking to him to make decisions and there wouldn't be any chance for him to be alone with anyone else (thus cutting down the chances to potentially infect other members of the group).

Norris is the one drawing blood from Garry, Copper and Clark (which when Copper says he's going to break the needle, Childs responds that Norris is "doing a real fine job"--- Childs is completely convinced Norris is human)...

...Or Childs could be a Thing at this point for all we know! :eek :lol
Again, that's Carpenter being the master craftsman of his art. He never gives you definitive answers of when someone is infected, or how. A great example is what happened to Fuchs. We still don't know if he was murdered by one of the Things (let alone which one, but some think maybe it was the Blair-Thing) or if he committed suicide to avoid being turned into a Thing.

However, at that point, Childs was still human (especially when we find out later with Mac's needle test).

Later in the film (before Norris/Thing reveals itself) when the paranoia levels peak amongst the men, Norris has a line or two about “That’s just what this thing wants- for us to turn on each other.” However by this point he and Palmer are definitely the Thing. So his statement is ironic in that The Thing is solidifying his humanity with the group, while at the same time flat out revealing The Thing’s game plan.

There is also the “bluff” the Thing tried to pull by planting MacReady’s torn clothes, casting suspicion that MacReady has been assimilated. Windows asks when could the Thing have gotten to MacReady and Palmer (a Thing at this point) says it could have been anytime. Palmer mentions “the lights going out and guys were missing” and Norris adds “That would have been the perfect time.”

But MacReady wasn’t a Thing and Norris and Palmer definitely were at that point- so what did Norris mean by “The perfect time”? Is he just playing along heightening the possibility that Mac is a Thing...

Or is he just talking out loud (as The Thing)--- saying that, “It would have been the perfect time for me to assimilate MacReady... but I missed the opportunity to do it.”
Again, you have to look at it like a Thing. If you're trying to play a human and not stand out against the group, you'd say things like that. Why do you think the Palmer-Thing reacted to the Norris-Spider-Thing going by? Because that is what a human being would do, thus a Thing (having to absorbed the personality of the person it took over) would play the role of the person down to the finest detail (much like how an actor plays a character). Setting MacReady up as a likely suspect works better because it causes confusion instead of allowing the group to band together (plus, MacReady was smarter than most of the men, and since it had taken over Blair and killed Fuchs, it had taken out the only people who could have helped in figuring out who is a Thing or not and by taking out MacReady, it would have taken the last person who was capable of thinking outside the box in this situation. I mean, who'd thought that MacReady's test would work when it was based on what he saw happened with the Norris-Thing and not based on any kind of scientific method?)


Needless to say I love this film! :D


Kevin
I know. I kept telling my film school classmates that they should watch Carpenter's films, especially The Thing. I honestly feel its one of the best examples of excellent filmmaking and suspenseful storytelling, next to any of the works of Alfred Hitchcock (whom we know inspired him).
 

SSgt Burton

Sr Member
Thanks CB. :thumbsup

Most of my questions are rhetorical. Though I didn't know about the crew member as a stand-in for the shadow. Learned something new! :) :thumbsup

I've watched the Bluray documentary, the "in movie" interviews and read an essay from Outpost 31.com (where most of what I mentioned comes from).

I kind of forgot about Childs passing the blood test. :$ :lol

The whole movie becomes severly ironic if you assume everyone who was indeed a Thing was infected a lot sooner than we assume. For instance Blair looking at the computer simulation of how long it will take to infect the planet... If he is a Thing he's just getting an estimation on how long it will take for him to take over the World!

Carpenter was just brillant! The Thing is a masterpiece disguised as a horror/sci-fi film.


Kevin
 

CB2001

Master Member
Thanks CB. :thumbsup

Most of my questions are rhetorical. Though I didn't know about the crew member as a stand-in for the shadow. Learned something new! :) :thumbsup

I've watched the Bluray documentary, the "in movie" interviews and read an essay from Outpost 31.com (where most of what I mentioned comes from).

I kind of forgot about Childs passing the blood test. :$ :lol

The whole movie becomes severly ironic if you assume everyone who was indeed a Thing was infected a lot sooner than we assume. For instance Blair looking at the computer simulation of how long it will take to infect the planet... If he is a Thing he's just getting an estimation on how long it will take for him to take over the World!

Carpenter was just brillant! The Thing is a masterpiece disguised as a horror/sci-fi film.


Kevin
No problem, man. :D

Just gonna throw in something simple here: Is it possible someone fully assimilated has no clue they're a Thing and would go about their business while the Thing is sort of subconsciously controlling their actions?
Actually, a lot of people have asked some of the questions that's been discussed (including this one) and the kind folks over at Outpost 31 have compiled a completed FAQs that pretty much clears up some of these questions (while those that there isn't a definitive answer, it does attempt to address both sides to the same issue) using the film (it hasn't yet been updated with the info from the prequel) and the novel adaptation by Alan Dean Foster:

Whose shadow was on the wall?

A: This is the biggest and easily most contested issue in the entire film, and it’s been fascinating to observe how the debate has progressed over time. There can be only three candidates here: Norris, Palmer, and Blair -- with most people immediately ruling out Blair because of his baldness. This leaves it up for grabs between Norris and Palmer.

There was a day when virtually any Thing fan would’ve fingered the geophysicist Norris as the first American the Thing assimilates. This was primarily because of the hair style suggested in the shadow as well as the silhouette’s large size. Norris struck most people as the one who best matched these characteristics.

But in recent times Todd Cameron, a major mover and shaker in the worldwide community of Thing fans, after having viewed The Thing on the big screen, started a significant shift in the opinions of the film’s followers. Todd pointed out that the chin and neck of the silhouette are too tight to belong to the chubby Norris. Also, the sheer size of the shadow is explained if we think of the person as sitting some distance from the wall (or quite close to the light source). In this case, even a skinny dude like Palmer would end up looking big. But what really clinched it for Todd was the way the shadow is shown turning to face the dog-Thing. There’s a certain point, it was claimed, when the shadow has the unmistakable outline of Palmer’s hair and head.

In the wake of Todd’s dramatic turnabout on the issue, Thing fans have been forced to do a thorough re-evaluation of the matter. It is remarkable to now see the two sides fairly evenly split. What was once an issue believed to be essentially resolved is now a hot topic for impassioned debate. As of this writing, the question of Whose Shadow Was on the Wall? is approaching 200 responses on Outpost31’s Discussion Board. Both sides have constructed elaborate and sophisticated arguments, and the discussion shows no sign of slowing down.

Interestingly enough, John Carpenter himself was asked this very question during a question and answer session at a Film Festival. His reply was that the shadow didn’t belong to any of the actors but was that of a stand-in just for the sake of getting the shot. Well, needless to say, virtually no Thing fan believes this. People point out that Carpenter has not had the best reputation for recalling events from 20 years ago. Besides, would you reveal the secret to what is arguably the greatest mystery of your film career?

This story is far from over. It will be very interesting to see in the future if the opinions of Thing fans continue to change. The Palmer side has steadily gained adherents. Will it continue to do so? The Norris side has supporters that are just as enthusiastic and are just as convinced. Will it remain as strong it is? Stayed tuned. Only time will tell. (FYI: The actual shadow was not a cast member at all but stuntman Dick Warlock.)

Stuart Cohen, co-producer of John Carpenter's The Thing, seems, at the time of writing, to have settled this matter conclusively on his blog: it was supposed to be Palmer. The reason why David Clennon was substituted by Dick Warlock in this shot is that Clennon's silhouette was too recognizable for there to be any ambiguity.
BTW, a stand-in is a crew member who stands in an actor's spot (normally of same height and width as the actor) so that the shot can be set up and that the shot is in focus while the actor can remain in the green room and prepare for the following scene.


If Norris was really a Thing, then why did he decline leadership of the team?

A: It probably passes up the opportunity because it knows full well that the leader will fall under close scrutiny by the other men, scrutiny that it would not be able to hold up to. (Just look what happened to Garry and Mac.) Norris-Thing had very quietly gained a level of trust with the men and used this position to keep the attention focused on others. It worked.

It also works well as a believable excuse to the other men because, as an imitation, it knows that Norris has a weak heart and the stress might not be a good thing. "Sorry fellas, I'm not up to it."
Why did Palmer-Thing point out the escaping Norris Spider-Head?

A: It would certainly give the impression of being human, wouldn't it? :)

Things probably watch out for each other as much as possible, but the Norris-Thing's survival was compromised. Palmer-Thing had nothing to lose (and the men's confidence to gain) at that point by pointing it out.

In the same way, it could be asked why MacReady shot Clark. The logic probably applies both ways, though in a more twisted sense to the Things.
How smart is the Thing?

A: The Thing's level of intelligence is a function of its size. The larger the Thing, the more intelligent it is likely to be. The smaller the Thing, the less intelligent it will be. MacReady's blood test is directly dependent on this idea. The novel has Mac explaining his theory in greater detail than the film:

"When attacked, it looks like even a fragment of one of these things will try to survive as best it's able. Even a sample of its blood. Of course, there's no higher nervous system, no brain to suppress a natural instinct like that if it's in the best interests of the larger whole to do so. The cells have to act instinctively instead of intelligently. Protect themselves from freezing, say. Or from incineration. The kind that might be caused by a hot needle, for instance." (Alan Dean Foster, The Thing, 169)

This perhaps also accounts for why the Norris spiderhead scurried from its hiding spot when it did. Maybe its body mass was not sufficiently large enough to form an intelligent brain center. Consequently, it didn't know enough not to blow its cover when the men still presented a danger.

On the other hand, a full-sized Thing is extremely intelligent. It is theorized that it has the combined intelligences of all the organisms it has ever assimilated. This is borne out by the fact that Blair-thing, having likely been a product of either the Norwegian dog directly or one of its descendants (Norris or Palmer), has the intelligence to build a non-terrestrial ship out of helicopter and tractor parts. Blair-thing "inherited" the intelligences of its previous organisms, the knowledge being passed into the newest assimilant.
How is a Thing able to imitate the behavior of a person so perfectly?

A: This obviously has to do with how the Thing can retain the memories and brain patterns of its victims. The most detailed description of this is found in the novel as Blair explains to the other men how a Thing could take over a dog while maintaining its canine behavior:

Blair's voice remained even, tutorial. "As you say, the body is only designed to keep so much organic material alive and functioning. Portion's of this dog's brain, for example, have been blocked off by new structures. The flow of oxygenated blood has been redirected."

"In other words," Copper said quietly, "part of its brain has been turned off."

Blair nodded. "Certain cerebral regions were dead before this animal died, having been supplanted in importance by new activity elsewhere."

"What regions were kill ... were turned off?"

"Difficult to say. There was massive parasitic invasion. Some of those which control portions of the memory, intelligence, and in particular individuality. Hard to tell with a dog, of course, be it dead or alive." He turned his gaze back to the interlocked bodies.

...

"One cell is enough. The DNA pattern of the new host is irrevocably altered. And so on and so on, each animal it takes over becoming a duplicate of the original thing."

"You been into Childs's weed, Blair?" Norris muttered.

Blair's fist slammed onto the table. "Look, I know it's hard to accept! I know it's difficult to picture an enemy you can't see. But if that stuff gets into you system, in about an hour --"

"It takes you over," Fuchs finished for him.

"It's more than that, more than you becoming a part of it. The 'you' is gone, wiped out, shunted aside permanently by a new set of cellular instructions. It retains only what it needs of the original, the way it used the memory patterns of the Norwegian dog to make certain it acted in a recognizably doglike manner."

"It licked my hand," Norris murmured, "as it was being chased by those guys in the helicopter. It came right up to me and licked my hand and whined for help."

Blair nodded. "Sure it did. It keeps anything useful. This organism is highly efficient, not wasteful. And it's clever. Much too clever for my liking."

(Alan Dean Foster, The Thing, 81, 82-83)
Does a Thing know that they are a Thing?

A: Yes. A Thing is no longer the person that was being imitated. That person is dead, and an alien imposter is in its place. So, there is no longer awareness coming from the human that once was for it to know or not know. Therefore, if you are sitting there wondering if you are a Thing, you certainly aren't.

In the blood test scene, the men themselves appear to doubt their humanity, but they probably weren't operating at peak logical power (several days of no sleep), still didn't know 100% how the alien operated, and were unaware that a Thing had been out consciously scavenging parts and framing people (except for Mac, the victim of a framing, who seemed very confident in who he is). It was also an important dramatic device to keep the tension up in that scene.
 

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aeonpulse

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I envy you! :D


I would love to be able to watch this movie for the first time once again!


Kevin

Ya know, (this is way off topic, but) I've thought about this before, most recently after seeing Cabin in the Woods last weekend. Sometimes I wish I had a machine that could wipe parts of my memory, so I could watch my favorite movies "for the first time" as many times as I wanted. I wouldn't even use the machine to wipe out things that I'd rather not remember, I'd just use it for movie memories! Although, I'd be sure to keep a tally of how many times I've seen each movie.
 

DARTH SABER

Master Member
I always assumed that if the Thing even touched you, contact with oil from the skin, you were pretty much done .
 

terryr

Sr Member
"It licked my hand," Norris murmured, "as it was being chased by those guys in the helicopter. It came right up to me and licked my hand and whined for help."
There's DNA is saliva. So Norris was infected first. But maybe it just took a while to replicate.
If a drop of blood could infect you then the Thing wasn't very clever. Just put some blood in the food and sit back and wait. All of them would slowly turn.
 

Solo4114

Master Member
The prequel film pretty much establishes that. In some ways that makes it even scarier, but in other ways it strikes me as "too easy." Plus it raises some real questions like "Why not just get everyone in a room and shoot out twenty tendrils to touch them each and be done with it?"
 

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