Lock this thread, Patrick didn't provide enough commentary to form an actual discussion.
Also, as my boss just mentioned, in film terms there's earlier set-up of there being a fair bit of alcohol at the base (MacReady obviously doesn't mind wasting supplies just to teach his computer a lesson) so it's more likely that it's just plain ol' booze.
Still, as I said above, Patrick presents a very cool theory even if I don't subscribe to it.
Had to rewatch it. It's been a long time. Figured there'd be a gun shot after the pan out or something.
How about this for a melon-'sploder: The Thing, in Keith David's body, saw the true strength in the spirit of humanity in MacReady and decided to stop devouring everything, stay in its human form and live peacefully among these creatures. Centuries later, after many necessary name changes, it saw its adoptive species at its most imperilled when it first felt the reawakening of its Reaper overlords: the very beings who had sent it to collect and analyse the genetic material of that backwater planet's sentient races in the first place. It decided then and there it would defend humanity to its very end as Captain David Anderson.
Apologies for spoiling Mass Effect 3 everyone.
Whaaaaa.....That's incredible! but after giving it some thought I don't believe it to be the actual case, but that will always be how it ends whenever I see it now. Or whenever it's on TV again because it gets sooooo much play over here, and I ain't complaining.
One of the very few films I can think of where if it's on TV, no matter how many times I have seen it, I watch it all the way through no matter what I do. It's unstoppable.
I always figured that A) they killed The Thing, and were gonna die, or B) they didn't, and it would come to get them. Basically, I still thought there were two parties, the Thing party and the Human party. I didn't ever consider that either could be a Thing already. It's been a while since I've seen it, and I assume everyone gets just enough offscreen time to cast doubt on them, but DAMN. In a single paragraph my entire perception of the movie is tipped on its head.
PS Patrick, I've seen the Thing From Another World (1951) and it's alright. It definitely avoids the gore aspect, and it's a decent movie - they get a lot of mileage out of 'telling, not showing', but in the end you see the Thing and it's just a dude in a green latex suit, which kind of blew it for me. The dialog is very snappy, which carries the movie very well. If anything, it's worth it to hear the final lines of dialogue, "Tell the world. Tell this to everyone, wherever they are. Watch the skies everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies." I can't say I'd heard them before verbatim, but they sounded incredibly known to me, as if I had actually heard them before.
PSS For anyone that's not aware, The Thing franchise consists of the 1938 book, 'Who Goes There?', the 1951 movie, the 1982? movie and the 2011 prequel. Kind of amazing.
Just being the devil's advocate here but I've heard that it can be so cold that your breath no longer mists up. The cast and crew of some terrible B movie about being stuck on a ski lift were talking about this during the commentary and how they actually had to add mist effects because after a prolonged amount of time in the freezing cold, they no longer were naturally creating the breath mist. It's possible (though unlikely) that Keith Davis was just much colder than warmed up Kurt Russel but judging by the almost comical amounts of mist coming from KR's mouth, it was prolly an intentional nudge indicating KD was the thing.
@patrickklepek: This is actually invalid because the creature is able to imitate the humans it consumes perfectly, therefor not only would it have a gag reflex but it would also be able to recognize the difference in taste between gasoline (or ether) and alcohol. It's just a continuity error.
@N7: Yes and no, mate; specifically, what you're referring to is Carpenter's attempt to pacify some rather hostile producers after early-screening audiences had expressed a distaste for the ambiguity of the ending. To be more specific, there were originally three endings for the movie. The haunting, suggestive ending that we all know and love, and try desperately to understand (que this topic for instance), the one that you just mentioned, and finally one where Childs simply walks off into the deep night, abandoning McCready.
I don't think I'll have another opportunity like this for quite some time, so, hey! All you folks with seemingly impeccable film-taste; here's a blog that ought to interest you. It's written by one of the co-producers of the film and contains all kinds of trivia, ranging from utterly useless and inane to genuinely interesting. I'd suggest you take yourselves a look. The page I'm linking you to specifically speaks of the three different endings.
Oh, Patrick, Patrick.. I know you mean well, but I think you're going to ruin this film for me. This is probably the first and only hypothesis to provide some closure for the ending that also seems genuinely believable. It's subtle enough to work without ruining the integrity and lovecraftian element of the ending. That said; I'd actually be heart-broken to learn that there was something like a clearly defined villain at the end of this film. The feeling that the ending leaves you with is one of helplessness, of despair, of futility. It perfectly emulates the situation that the characters find themselves in, fighting against themselves, as much as the monster itself. For all The Thing's horror and gruesome nature; and canine dislike, what truly makes it dangerous is it's capacity to sow distrust and disorder among the humans. Rendering them into animals and thus into cattle. In the end of the film, McCready and Childs sit there, an inferno in the background that will only provide them with enough heat for a short amount of time; but like the protagonist in Jack London's "To Build A Fire", they both understand that the fire will die and when it does, so will they. Despite that neither moves, both are waiting for the other to make the first step. Why? A "monster" came into their midst, yet it was people they forgot how to trust; for you never know what's beneath the surface.
And yeah.. Uhh.. I'm going to watch that movie again.. Catch you later.
Interesting theory, though I have always liked the open ending so I never take any of these to heart even the official alternative ending.
The alternative ending shows MacReady being rescued and having a blood test which proves that he is human; it is hinted that Child's died in the cold. The final shot is of a Alaskan Malamute (the dog from the very beginning) running from the camp, the idea being that The Thing is alive and has taken that form once again.
EDIT: Oh and as for the breathing theory, it was supposedly not intentional and was simply down to Keith David's positioning. Never understood the theory anyway as infected members are shown outdoors breathing normally so why would that change? Watch this and you'll see the condensation form in the air during the incredibly haunting and unsettling scream:
Here's the ending for those wanting to see it. Also notice that Keith David's breath doesn't show in the cold air like Kurt Russell's.Loading Video...
Jesus... watching that again now, it all screams at me! The possible guzzling of gasoline, the over-abundance of breath materialising out of Kurt because of the cold, and the musical cue as Keith drinks whatever is in the bottle. Kurt laughing as Keith drinks it could have some merit as well, like he's specifically laughing over how persistent The Thing has proven to be till the very end and how his suspicions held true.
There's been a lot of solid theories brought up to discredit all of this, though. The video game does go against the implication that Keith is The Thing, but obviously Carpenter hadn't exactly had it in mind to make a video game sequel to his movie back then, so it's still very possible that they just worked that in because even the video game developers never thought of this whole ''gasoline guzzling'' theory.. then again, you'd think Carpenter would point that out so as to avoid any further smudges towards his ''true'' ending. Oh whatever, thanks to this thread I can't not notice all of the potential signals now anywhoo. And like everyone else, I think it's time I give one of the greatest horror films another watch.
@stinky: Probably not even a prop slip; the theory just relies on that fact that the substance in the bottle is never revealed.
There is not evidence to prove that it isn't just drinking alcohol, which makes perfect sense considering MacReady regularly drinks throughout the film.
@stinky: I'd need to watch it the entire way through again to make sure but from memory I don't recall such a scene. If I remember correctly they show some of the preparation for the explosives but not for the molotovs.
Either way I don't think the molotovs are ever really shown in clear view so you cannot discern what they look like; because of that you can never be certain as to whether they are in the same bottles as the drink given to 'Childs' at the end.
There's another theory based on the idea that the film plays out like a chess game, with person after person being killed much like chess pieces. Childs is infected at the end and Macready knows this and gives him the drink because he is in a weak state and realises that he has lost; laughing to himself. This links back to the early scene in the film where Macready loses against the chess wizard and pours the drink into the machine.
So many theories, but I very much doubt that Carpenter will officially label one as the true ending. I still think it was always meant to be an open ending and it is just the fans looking into it a little too much.
They are both just human; The Thing is dead... or is it?
Just re-watched the film, there's definitely more breath coming off mcready and the bottle could have contained something other than alcohol, but as people have already mentioned, isn't the thing supposed to perfectly immitate how the species it assimilates with behaves and functions? I think there might still be something to it, they would have been more careful with that final scene cos it ends without a true conclusion and they'd therefore expect people to pick the scene apart...