The Thing

My wife and I spent the first 10 minutes of the film cursing the Norwegian sniper for trying to shoot the very cute dog running through the snow. Little did we know what evil lurked within. The Thing is a creature feature with excellently gross and gooey monstrosities bursting through animal and human flesh. Having watched Alien recently, I thought this had a pretty similar vibe. Like the xenomorph, the Thing is a ruthless and inexplicable killer preying on a crew stationed at the end of the world where nobody can hear them scream. There are some potential sexual undertones (unwanted penetration, a monstrous birth), as well as your standard cosmic horror of an unknowable being of incredible power warping humanity by its presence.

What's more interesting is the idea that the monster is a parasite hiding behind the masks of friends and colleagues. By its very nature it sows suspicion and turns people against each other. The film's ending majors on this theme – the two survivors facing one other uncertain if either of them secretly harbours the beast within. Perhaps that speaks to a kind of cold war McCarthyite paranoia about a communist fifth column within Western democracies. That point may have been stronger if it was revealed that the all-American hero Mac (played with typical swashbuckling style by Burt Reynolds) was an agent of the alien intelligence. As it stands, the political subtext is just suggestion, and for me, Alien holds richer symbolic significance.

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