The spaceship we see crashing to Earth at the very beginning
of the film pretty much has the look of a classic-style flying saucer,
perhaps in homage to the original film version,
Thing from Another World, from 1951, during a decade
which saw a plethora of flying saucer movies (and
sightings!). The spaceship in
Thing from Another World
is also depicted as a saucer.
Why does the saucer crash? We never learn the reason and
there was no apparent damage to the craft as we see it
soaring through space towards Earth. Perhaps the Thing
itself was not the pilot; possibly an alien pilot had just
been caught by surprise by the Thing and the transformation
process was in the middle of occurring, leaving the ship out
of control or internally damaged by a battle. (Peter Watts'
story "The Things" has a different explanation.)
The opening scene of the alien saucer soaring towards
Earth's surface must take place about 100,000 years ago.
Norris later guesses the ice in which the ship was found
buried is that old or older.
The land masses seen on Earth as the saucer enters the
atmosphere are the white, snow-covered Antarctic peninsula
and the brownish-green tip of South America.
The film's opening tells the viewer it takes place in
Antarctica, Winter 1982. Antarctica is the icy continent at
the South Pole. If it were really winter there as the story
is taking place
(June 21-September 21 on the continent), there would be no significant sunlight as
the continent is essentially dark for the 6 months of autumn
The "Norge" on the tail of the helicopter should tell
viewers right away that it is a Norwegian vehicle; "Norge"
is Norse for Norway.
The sign outside the U.S. installation tells us it is United
States National Science Institute Station 4. This appears to
be a fictional installation and institute made up for the
film. It is more frequently referred to in the film as Outpost 31.
From the open toolbox sitting on the snowcat treads at 4:45
on the DVD, it appears Childs was making repairs to vehicle.
When Palmer comes out of the compound (with a couple of the
others) to investigate the arriving helicopter, he appears
to have some tools in his hand, so he may have been about to
come out to help Childs with repairs anyway.
Being an all male research station, it's not surprising
that, at 4:49 on the DVD, we see numerous photos of
scantily-clad and sexily-posed women on the wall of the rec room.
At 4:57 on the DVD, MacReady is drinking a bottle of J&B
Rare Blend, a blended Scotch whisky. This is a real world
brand, J&B standing for Justerini & Brooks, which has been
around since 1749 (though known as Johnson & Justerini at
that time). MacReady is playing a Chess Wizard computer
while he's drinking. Chess Wizard appears to be a fictional
model of game-playing computer for the time, though there are some
computerized chess games using that name now.
There appears to have been some moves cut from MacReady's chess game because the monitor screen showing the
board, and the computer voice's description of the moves, do
not entirely correlate with the seemingly two rounds of play
The Chess Wizard's female voice is too realistic to have
been a computer voice of the time. Allegedly actress
Adrienne Barbeau provided the voice in an uncredited role
(she was married to John Carpenter at the time).
The discarded oil drum seen outside of the U.S. camp at 6:05
on the DVD has a Chevron logo on it.
is a multinational energy corporation, best known for oil
At about 6:20 on the DVD, there is a sign posted below the main Station
4 sign. According to the
Outpost31 website, it is a Smokey the Bear sign and is
only clearly visible on a theater sized screen.
At 7:46 on the DVD, a Busch Beer neon sign can just barely
be seen behind the bar of the rec room. This is a real beer
brand brewed by
Anheuser-Busch. To the left side of the bar,
a Natural Light neon sign is seen, also an
Anheuser-Busch beer. Some Budweiser cases can be
seen stacked up just outside of the bar, in the rec room;
Budweiser is another, more popular,
Anheuser-Busch brand of beer.
There is an Asteroids Deluxe arcade game in the rec
The scene of one of the Norwegians grabbing a grenade out of
the case at 8:05 on the DVD, is a repeat clip from the
earlier scene at 7:14.
At 8:41 on the DVD, a
Caterpillar mini-tractor can be seen parked in the
background. It is seen a few times in various shots of the
outpost exterior, but it's never used.
After the "attack" by the Norwegian copter,
Windows tries to
call McMurdo Station on the outpost's radio, to no avail.
McMurdo Station is a real world U.S. research station on
Ross Island in the McMurdo Sound of Antarctica. It was founded in 1956 and is the
largest community on the continent.
At 11:25 on the DVD, there appear to be two
plastic model boxes on a shelf. At 1:22:55, we see another
Revell box labeled "Stratofortress", the Boeing B-52 bomber
built for the U.S. Air Force.
At 11:34 on the DVD, Palmer appears to be lighting up and
smoking a joint.
Fuchs reads from a report of some kind that the Norwegians
had only been at their outpost for about 8 weeks.
Nauls is heard referring to Garry as "bwana".
Bwana is a Swahili word which
more-or-less means master or lord.
Palmer wears a denim jacket with the sleeves cut off. The
back of it has a motorcycle gang logo of two crossed battle
axes over a motorcycle wheel and reads "Barbarians,
California". On the front of the jacket is an olive
drab patch that says U.S. Army.
At 14:22 on the DVD, the new dog seems to be listening
attentively to the sound of MacReady's copter taking off.
Later, the dog also watches it return through a window.
The U.S. helicopter flown by Mac appears to the same model
as the Norwegian one that chased the dog to the outpost.
Probably the production just redressed the same copter to
act as both.
At 14:48 on the DVD, we see that Nauls has a
Panasonic boom box in his kitchen. The song that
is playing on the box is "Superstitious" by Stevie Wonder.
There has been much speculation about who the first human
victim at Outpost 31 was. Presumably, it is the person whose
shadow silhouette we see at 15:38 on the DVD, as the new dog
walks in on him. To me the head silhouette looks like
someone with puffy hair like Windows or, since we later
learn that Windows isn't infected, Norris. (Peter Watts'
short story "The Things" suggests it was Palmer.)
Throughout the scenes of MacReady and Copper exploring the
ruins of the Norwegian base, occasional icicles can be seen
jiggling on the ceiling beams, etc., indicating they are
plastic props on a soundstage.
At 17:55 on the DVD, the band on Copper's goggles is seen to
logo on them.
Since the Norwegian base had seemingly been set on fire, how
is that the large, carved-out ice block is still unmelted?
How did the Norwegians get the huge block of ice inside
their outpost? The block appears to be quite a bit larger
than the door!
At 21:49 on the DVD, it looks like there may be two burned
bodies in the snow at the Norwegian base.
At 24:26 on the DVD, Windows has fallen asleep at his station in
the radio room with a copy of Photoplay magazine on
his chest. It must be an old issue because the magazine
ceased publication in 1980. Possibly it's an old copy that
was lying around the station from previous inhabitants.
At 25:58 on the DVD, Palmer and Childs are watching an old
video tape, on a Panasonic TV and VCR, of Let's Make a
Deal, a TV game show the original version of which ran
pinball machine can be seen in the rec
room at 26:54 on the DVD. This game was produced by Williams
in 1964. It's probably intended as ironic that a game called
is at an outpost in Antarctica; perhaps also that MacReady
is standing right next to it while he tries to reignite his
flame-thrower to kill the Palmer-Thing at 1:23:07.
At 29:00 on the DVD, the Thing-dog squirts a pressurized
stream of fluid at one of the other dogs in the kennel. What
is the purpose of this?
Was it just meant to chase the dog away from the hole it was
tearing in the chain-link fencing to prevent its escape? Or
was the Thing using the fluid to squirt its own cells
at the dog in order to infect it from a distance? Possibly,
the slime-covered dog still in the kennel and being "tentacled"
by the Thing at 31:17 is the same dog.
When Clark goes to investigate the barking and other noises
coming from the kennel, he flicks the light switch but the
light inside the pen itself does not come on like it did
earlier when Clark put the new dog in. Did the Thing
deliberately smash out the bulb with its tentacles in hopes
of going unseen should a human walk by?
At 30:07 on the DVD, MacReady uses a can of Budweiser to
break the glass on the fire alarm.
When MacReady pulls the fire alarm after hearing the sounds
of the chaos in the kennel, notice that at about 30:23 on
the DVD, Dr. Copper appears to have stumbled out into the
hallway with no underwear on! Yet, he is wearing socks and
At 30:47 on the DVD, the men walk past a crate with the
stenciled words, "FROM, SUSMAX SCIENTIFIC, PALM DESERT, CA".
As far as I can tell, this is a fictitious company.
There were 6 dogs in the kennel when the Thing-dog was put
in with them. Two of the dogs dash out of the gate when
Clark comes back and opens it to investigate the disturbance.
Two more are seen under attack by the Thing. Did the Thing
already absorb the other two?
Notice that an eye opens in the middle of the pulsing mass
of the Thing at 32:11 on the DVD. Another one is briefly
seen at the bottom of the frame seconds later.
According to special effects designer Rob Bottin, the
Thing-formation that looks like some kind of carnivorous
flower at 32:20 on the DVD, is actually intended to be made
up of a number of dog tongues with teeth along the center of each!
Looking at the records brought back from the Norwegian camp,
Norris remarks that the inhabitants seemed to have been
spending a lot of time at a spot 5 or 6 miles north of their
camp. This would be the location of the crashed saucer.
At 36:05 on the DVD, the group is watching the Norwegian
video records on an RCA TV. They see the Norwegian team
plant thermite charges over a large object buried
in the ice. Thermite is a metallic powder that can generate an
extremely hot burst of heat when combined with a catalyst.
Later we see that the Norwegians apparently used the
thermite to melt the ice away from the object, discovering
the crashed alien saucer. However, in The Thing
prequel, the activated ship melts its own way out of the
ice; their does not appear to have been any thermite used to
The Antarctic map seen at 37:05 on the DVD is labeled in
Norwegian and uses real world place names on the continent
such as Dronning Maud Land and Enderby Land, etc.
At 40:45 on the DVD, there is a bottle of Budweiser and a
Coke sitting on the table next to Blair.
When Palmer starts supporting MacReady's theory of the
creature being of extraterrestrial origin, he mentions
Chariots of the Gods. This is a 1968 book by Erich von
Daniken postulating his theories that aliens visited Earth
in the distant past and interacted with ancient human
Blair's computer projection predicts that if the alien
organism reaches civilized areas, the entire world
population would be infected 27,000 hours from first
contact. That comes to 1,125 days, or a little more than 3
At 43:14 on the DVD, Blair has a bottle of Smirnoff vodka as
he uses the computer to calculate infection projection rates
by the alien organism.
Smirnoff is a real world brand but,
strangely, the word "vodka" appears to be obscured by a
black strip on the bottle seen here.
MacReady is drinking some more J&B at 43:23 on the DVD.
There is also a can of
Coors Beer next to the J&B bottle.
Bennings tells Windows the grotesque body brought back from
the Norwegian camp is going to win somebody the Nobel prize.
The Nobel prizes are awarded once a year by a committee of
the Scandinavian countries for work in the studies of
Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and
Peace and are considered the top prizes in the world in each
After Windows covers the recovered Norwegian corpse with the
blanket, the blanket is seen to be moving slightly at 45:03
on the DVD. At 45:21, thawed fluid is seen dripping from the
thawing corpse down to the floor.
Fuchs tells MacReady he wants to talk to him privately in
the Thiokol. Thiokol is a manufacturer of snow vehicles (as
well as chemical compounds). Thiokol vehicles were also seen
modified as the landrams and snowrams that appeared in some
episodes of the original
Battlestar Galactica. When Fuchs and MacReady go
outside and climb into the vehicle, it can be seen that it
is actually a Skidozer, manufactured by
Thiokol. A model plate on the front shows that there are at
least two Skidozers at the outpost, a Skidozer 301 and a Skidozer 302.
At 51:42 on the DVD, why is there a flashlight conveniently
sitting on the helicopter's landing pontoons for MacReady to
pick up and examine the interior at night? I guess we have
to assume Blair left it there when he came out to sabotage the
When MacReady runs into the main building from outside at 52:12
on the DVD, he runs past a door marked "M.T. Garry, Station
Manager". It must be Garry's office or quarters.
In the director's commentary, Carpenter points out that at
around 53:00 on the DVD, we can see that actor Keith David
(as Childs) has a cast (painted brown to match his skin) on
his left hand. David had broken his hand in a car accident a
day or so before this scene was shot.
At 57:42 on the DVD, several large containers of Rhoplex are
seen stacked in the hallway. Rhoplex is an acrylic polymer
used in many sealants. Probably it is used at the outpost to
seal floor, wall, and window edges to keep in heat and keep
out cold and ice.
There has been some controversy among fans over the years as
to whether Doc Copper is wearing a small nose ring in his
right nostril. Some say yes, some say he just has a small
mole there that occasionally reflects the light. Well,
photos of the actor himself do not show any mole there. And
a scene at 58:29 on the DVD, definitely shows a ring in his
nostril! In the screen shot below, you can see not only the
reflection of light on the ring, but also its shadow cast on
his upper lip. It does seem odd though that a "midwestern
doctor" (as described in the novelization), especially at
his age, would wear one!
After finding the blood supply to have been sabotaged, Garry
and Copper both agree that only one of the two of them had
access to the key which opens the locked medical refrigerator
where the blood was stored. Of course, they both deny having
done it, which makes sense since we later learn that
neither are possessed by the Thing. So, how did the blood
get sabotaged? (In
Peter Watts' story "The Things", Copper was, in fact, a
Thing; he just hadn't been one long enough for his blood to
be entirely converted, so it didn't react to MacReady's
Apparently, one of the Things was smart enough to think of the
blood serum test before the human group did since he had
already sabotaged the blood supply before they thought of it.
This would make Blair the most likely to have done it, being
a biologist (or, again according to "The Things", Copper).
When Windows starts to get a little paranoid about who's
still human or not, he runs and busts the glass out of a gun
cabinet to grab one of several rifles. Why does the station
have the rifles in the first place? There are no native
predators there dangerous to humans. Possibly the guns are
for hunting (seals, penguins) in case they should be
stranded for an extended period without resupplies of food.
(The novelization tells us the rifles are for recreational
shooting or in case the biologists need to bring down a
Since Garry is under suspicion, there is a bit of argument
over who will take the leadership role and possession of Garry's Magnum.
MacReady ends up with the unenviable promotion. We see him with
the Magnum in the later scenes, but presumably he also hid,
or locked up more securely, the rifles from the glass case
that Windows broke into earlier.
After the group discovers the sabotaged blood, MacReady
mentions that a storm will be hitting them in 6 hours.
Later, it seems that a couple of days have passed since then,
because we hear MacReady recording a log onto a
tape and he comments that the storm has been hitting them
hard for 48 hours.
During his recording, we will learn that MacReady's first
and middle initials are R.J. We also later see the name R.J.
MacReady on the torn clothing found by Fuchs.
When Fuchs is startled by MacReady walking in on him at his
desk, he quickly wraps his hand around an Erlenmeyer flask
sitting on the desk,
half-full of a dark liquid. Is the
solution in the flask possibly his idea of a weapon, like
maybe some kind of acid?
At 1:04:37, Fuchs appears to have a coffee mug with his name
on it sitting on his desk.
At 1:06:28, a six pack of Natural Light beer is resting on
top of the juke box in the rec room.
There is a line art poster
of a woman
in the rec room with the
phrase at the top, "THEY AREN'T LABELLED, CHUM", and she is
holding a tag that reads, "I HAVE Vd!" This may be a
reproduction of a WWII-era "public service" poster warning
G.I.s on furlough about venereal disease.
At 1:06:49 on the DVD, the sedated Dr. Copper has fallen
asleep on the couch with his head on Clark's shoulder.
At 1:13:00 on the DVD, there appear to be a couple cases of
Milk Duds in the storage room.
Milk Duds are roundish
caramel candies coated with chocolate.
When Dr. Copper delivers the first charge to the dying
Norris with the shock paddles, at 1:15:09 an electrical
spark can actually be seen from the paddle closest to the
When Copper gets is arms bitten off inside Norris' chest,
notice that the arm on the left somehow was severed
above the location of the teeth!
When the Norris-Thing shoots a
grisly stalk from its torso up
towards the ceiling (at 1:15:30 on
the DVD), there appear to be two
tiny, baby-like, human arms and
hands growing out of the stalk at
different locations. I attempted to
get decent screen grabs but each
frame always came out with the hands
looking blurry from motion, as
below. Watch it closely on DVD and
you'll see the horizontal appendages
look more like hands than they do
Seconds later, at 1:15:39, the hands
seem to have turned into tiny feet!
Note that the Norris-Thing actually has two Norris
heads. While the head on a stalk is distracting the humans
by its presence on the ceiling, the original head is sliding
down the back of the table to sprout spidery legs and make
an attempt to escape.
One of the most well-known lines from the film has got to be
when the Norris-head-spider-thing is scuttling out the door
and Palmer says, "You gotta be fuckin' kidding..!"
Ironically, Palmer is himself already one of the Things at
this point (as we learn minutes later)!
Notice that when MacReady begins explaining his idea to test
each person's blood, he is now wearing a "bandolier" of
dynamite on his lower torso.
At 1:16:03, what appears to be an Atari 2600 Game System,
with two joysticks, can be seen sitting on top of the TV
As MacReady makes Windows draw blood from each member of the
group, Windows is using the same scalpel on each man. Isn't
that inviting the Thing's cells to infect the next man's
open wound? They should have been using clean scalpels on
each, or at least disinfecting the scalpel with alcohol or
flame after each cut. The best we see Windows do is to wipe
the blade on his pants!
As Windows is thrown into the wall at 1:24:02, we see
another shelf of games and puzzles. Legible titles are:
Stay Alive, Gribbit, Chess, Easy Money,
Numbers Up, Backgammon. These are all real board games;
in this case all appear to have been produced by Milton
Starting at 1:25:30 on the DVD, you can see in the
background that MacReady has leaned a ping pong table,
propped with another table and a chair, up against the hole
in the rec room wall that was made by the Palmer-Thing.
On the small, saucer-shaped ship Blair was building
underground, there appears to be some exhaust jets at
1:29:04 on the DVD. The dual exhausts are similar to the
ones seen on the large saucer.
Notice that the Caterpillar tractor that Nauls drives
through the building wall has gasoline cans strung up all
over the outside of it to further facilitate the explosion
they plan to ignite.
Notice that when Blair attacks Garry at 1:35:40 on the DVD,
his fingers appear to merge into Garry's face. Seconds
later, at 1:36:03, Blair is seen dragging Garry's corpse by
his fingers which are still fused into the man's face.
This same type of attack is later seen again in
"Climate of Fear" Part 2.
As the camera zooms in on the creature at 1:37:59, notice
that the head is Blair with a giant carnivore mouth
emerging from the side of his head!
As an exhausted MacReady sits within the wreckage of the
outpost and sucks down his bottle of J&B, Childs staggers
up, claiming that he had earlier thought he'd seen Blair
outside and went out after him, then got lost in the storm.
But, looking back, it seems that Blair must have been inside at the time, blowing the
generator just seconds after we saw Childs run out into the
snow. So, who did Childs see outside if not Blair (if
anyone)? This may be a clue that Childs is a Thing
(as depicted in Peter Watts' short story "The Things").
Notes from the Director's Commentary on the DVD,
with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
The opening scenes of the Norwegian dog running through the
snowfields were shot near Juneau, Alaska. The outpost was a
specially-constructed, working set of buildings built by the
crew during summer on a glacier near Stewart, British
Columbia, Canada; then the winter was allowed to set in for
the appropriate look of snow and ice for the shoot.
The Norwegian who is firing his rifle at the dog from the
helicopter was played by the film's first assistant
director, Larry Franco. The Norwegian dialog spoken by him
to the pilot was just ad-libbed sounds and are not real
Norwegian words at all!
Kurt Russell and John Carpenter came up with a back story
for MacReady that he was a Vietnam vet and alcoholic.
Actor David Clennon came up with a back story for Palmer
suggesting that he had just recently gotten out of rehab
before taking on the mechanic job at the outpost.
Carpenter and Russell reveal that there were endless
discussions on the set about whether the people who were
secretly Things knew they were Things or did they still
believe they were human? From my vantage point as a fan
analyzing the film and the novelization, I'd have to lean
towards the idea that the characters did not know they were
Things; they are duplicated so perfectly that they have
their normal personalities and memories (except for the memory
of being "assimilated") with a small part of the brain
reserved for the Thing consciousness to observe and take
over when needed. In the "making of" documentary on the DVD
called John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape, actor
Charles Hallahan, who played Norris, seems to agree that the
possessed characters did not know they were possessed when
he comments that he actually played Norris that way and, in
the scene when Norris is asked to take charge in place of
Garry, he played it that Norris says he's "not up to it" because he
subliminally knew something was wrong even though he had no
recall of the assimilation. The writers of the various comic
book mini-series published by Dark Horse seem to also have
followed this concept of the possessed not knowing it.
Notes from the novelization of
The Thing by Alan Dean Foster
(The page numbers come from the 1st
printing, paperback edition, published February 1982)
Page 1 calls Antarctica the worst desert on Earth, except it
never gets hot. In fact, Antarctica is officially classified
as a desert due to its low precipitation rates. The narrative
here references the Sahara, the Gobi, and Rub al Khali.
These are all large real world deserts, the Sahara in north
Africa, the Gobi in northern China and southern Mongolia,
and Rub al Khali covering most of the Arabian Peninsula.
Page 1 also mentions the Vinson Massif. This is the highest
mountain in Antarctica at 16,050 feet.
Finally, also mentioned on page 1, is Erebus. Mount Erebus is
the southernmost historically active volcano on Earth,
located on Ross Island in Antarctica.
On page 2, the passenger with the rifle in the Norwegian
copter is said to be using Zeiss binoculars in search of the
dog on the snowfields below.
is a real company in Germany that has made optical devices
Page 2 reveals that the dog which has escaped from the
Norwegian compound and made its way to Outpost 31 is a husky
and malamute mix.
Page 3 describes the sign outside the U.S. station differently
than the one seen in the film and also seems to contain a
mistake. "NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION - OUTPOST #31, UNITED
STATIONS OF AMERICA". I assume "United Stations" is supposed
to be "United States". Notice also that the sign suggests
the outpost is run by the National Science Foundation (a
real U.S. government scientific research organization)
instead of the
National Science Institute (fictional) as in the film.
The novel gives us a little more background on the characters
than the film.
||Norris is a geophysicist, at
the outpost mostly in the
interests of find potential oil
||Bennings is a meteorologist.
||Childs is the outpost's
mechanic and comes from Detroit.
Like Palmer, he occasionally
likes to indulge in smoking pot
and, with Palmer, maintains a
small marijuana crop in a heated
room of the outpost.
||Garry is ex-Army and
continues to carry a gun out of
habit. He is the manager of
||The character of Windows is
instead called Sanders
in the novel (which is
particularly odd because he was
called Sanchez in the first
draft screenplay, and Simmons in
the second draft, with the final
name Windows in the third; so
where did Foster get "Sanders"
from? "Sanchez" would make more
sense since he is depicted
speaking Spanish a few times!). He
is just 21 years old,
runs the outpost's telecom, and
from Los Angeles. He worries
that, while he's sitting in the
Antarctic freezing his ass off, his girlfriend,
for whom he took the job in
impress, is laying on
the beach in Santa Monica with
||Clark maintains the snow
dogs and their kennel.
||Fuchs is an assistant
||Copper is the station doctor
and is well-liked by everyone,
with a Midwestern, country
doctor charm. The book
suggests, that he is from
||Nauls is from Chicago and is the outpost cook.
||Palmer is good with
machinery and is a pilot, though
he has only 2 months training on
the outpost's choppers. He has a
slightly radical past from the
'60s. Fuchs says Palmer
dropped a lot of acid in the '60s. With
Childs, he maintains a small
marijuana crop in a heated room
of the outpost.
||MacReady is the main pilot. He
hates the cold and is only there
for the money. He has an
inflatable love doll he calls
||Blair is the senior
Page 6 mentions the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest ice shelf in
Page 8 reveals that the gun Garry carries is a .44 Magnum
(although this is more a designation of the type of
cartridge used; the actual model of the gun is not
In the novel, the low-flying Norwegian copter is blown into
the ground by the wind after releasing the passenger, and
blows up. Here, the pilot dies in the explosion and the
passenger lives long enough to shoot and injure Bennings
while trying to kill the dog. In the film, a fumbled grenade
accidentally blows up the copter, killing the passenger
while the pilot tries to shoot the dog and injures Bennings
(unlike in the film, he does injure the dog's hind leg as well).
On page 9, Sanders grumbles, "Mierda del toro," at Garry's
order to dig up another pane to replace to shattered window.
Mierda del toro is Spanish for "bullshit".
Page 9 reveals that the Norwegian pilot's name was Jan
On page 10, Fuchs mentions Sanae, on the other side of the continent,
from which the Norwegians have recently set up a smaller
base about 80 kilometers southwest of U.S. Outpost 31. SANAE
is the South African National Antarctic Expedition which has
set up a series of bases in Antarctica since 1962 called
SANAE I-IV. In 1982, when this story takes place, it would
have been SANAE III.
In the film, Nauls uses the term "bwana" with Garry. In the
book, it is Childs who does so.
Childs tries to recall what the Norwegian was saying before
he began shooting. He says, "Tru de menge, halt de foggen."
I have not been able to get a good translation of this
sentence; the translation engine at
babylon.com translates it from Norwegian into English
as, "believe they rub shoulders, hauled the Fogg." Oh, of
Page 11 suggests that Doc Copper belongs in a Norman
Rockwell painting. Rockwell (1894-1978) was a popular
American painter and illustrator, best known for his covers
to the Saturday Evening Post magazine.
Page 11 also compares Copper to Dr. Gillespie.
Dr. Leonard Gillespie was the mentor of Dr. James Kildare in
the Dr. Kildare series of films beginning in 1938.
In the book, Palmer is described as having a ponytail.
Here, Fuchs' information says there were just 6 people
stationed at the Norway base. In the film he says 10.
Page 18 describes MacReady's unusual hat as "a large, gaily
colored Vera Cruz sombrero." Although the hat he wears in
the film could not be described as "gaily colored" it does
resemble a sombrero. I am not aware of a variant called a
"Vera Cruz sombrero."
Page 18 also describes MacReady's shack as being decorated
with posters of warm places like Naples, Rio, Jamaica, and
On page 21, MacReady tells Copper that their chopper ride to
the Norwegian base isn't Disneyland.
This is a reference to the
Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, CA.
On page 23, Copper mentions the Arctic, the region of frozen
land masses around the north pole.
On page 24, MacReady muses that the burnt out Norwegian base
looks like Carthage after the last Punic war. Carthage is an
historical city on the Gulf of Tunis in Tunisia. The city
was destroyed by the Romans in the Third Punic War in 146 BC
(though it was rebuilt and destroyed and rebuilt again in
the centuries following; the city still exists today).
Page 23 mentions a Ganz lantern resting on a table in the
ruins of the Norwegian base. I've not been able to find what
a Ganz lantern is. Possibly, it's a Norwegian brand of
On page 31, MacReady muses that Copper is only a GP, not a
scientist. Presumably, GP stands for General Practitioner.
Page 33 describes a metal cabinet with several Polaroid
prints taped to the front. Polaroid is the company that
introduced instant film to the camera community in 1948 and
the photos taken on this film were often referred to
as Polaroid prints or just Polaroids. The Polaroid company has
not manufactured instant film since 2008 due to falling
sales as a result of the popularity of digital cameras.
Page 34 mentions the sounds of howling within Outpost 31
which degenerates into the lyrics of a song about werewolves
in London. This is a reference to the Warren Zevon song
"Werewolves of London" being played on Nauls' boom box.
On page 35, Garry complains to Nauls that Warren Zevon isn't
culture...Beethoven, Janacek, and Vaughn Williams are. These
three were composers of classical music. Nauls comments that if
he hears the Antarctica symphony blaring from Garry's room
one more time, he'll go nuts. He is probably referring to
Vaughn Williams' seventh symphony "Sinfonia
Also on page 35, Nauls answers Garry's request to turn the
music down with, "Oui, mon sewer." This is a bastardized way
of saying, "Oui, monsieur," which is French for "Yes, sir."
On page 36, Garry tells Sanders in the radio room to let him
know the minute he gets through to McMurdo or anyone else.
Sanders asks, "Even the Russkies?" At this time in history,
the Cold War (no pun intended) was still ongoing, and
relations between the U.S. and "the Russkies" (Russia/Soviet
Union) were not warm. Russia has had a permanent presence in
Antarctica in the form of Vostok Station since 1957.
Page 39 mentions Mendocino. This is a small town south of
San Francisco, on the California coast.
On page 39, Childs plays some Al Green for his
"babies"...his pot plants. Childs starts singing, "IIIIII
cried out..." Unfortunately, I have not been able
to identify this song. Green is a soul and gospel singer and
also a pastor.
Also on page 39, Childs recalls seeing Al Green perform his
music "...at the Music Center, in the Dorothy Chandler
Pavilion, singing on the same stage usually occupied by the
Philharmonic." This is a reference to the Chandler
one of the halls in the Los Angeles Music Center, where the
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra performs regularly.
As the outpost crew watches some of the video footage
recovered from the Norwegian base by MacReady and Copper,
the operator of the video camera is compared unfavorably on
page 42 with Victor Seastrom. Seastrom was a Swedish film
director. The comparison of the Norwegian video to a
Swedish director is probably intended as an in-joke by
Foster about MacReady's constant referral to the Norwegians
as Swedes. On page 52, MacReady is going through all of the
videos himself and reflects that the cameraman was no Abel Gance,
a French film director.
On page 42, Norris jokes that he learned Norwegian about the
same time he learned Xhosa. Xhosa is a Bantu language spoken
by some of the citizens of the country of South Africa.
Besides video, the group also listens to audio tapes
recovered from the Norwegian base.
On page 45, Fuchs comments that, despite his more radical
past, Palmer no longer uses any drugs stronger than
sensimilla (sic). Sinsimilla is the seedless bud of an
unpollinated female cannabis plant, the part that is
commonly smoked to get high.
On page 48, Sanders is thumbing through an old issue of
Page 50 reveals that four of the camp's dogs are named
Nanook, Archangel, Lobo, and Buck.
Page 51 mentions Wellington. This is a reference to the city
of Wellington in New Zealand, apparently one of the supply
points to Outpost 31.
On page 52, Palmer is reading a collection of Gilbert
Shelton. Shelton is an underground comic book artist and
writer, known for the stoner antics of The Fabulous
Furry Freak Brothers among other comics.
Page 52 also mentions several different kinds of beer
available in Outpost 31's pub: Foster's Lager from
Australia, Dos Equis from Mexico and Hinano from Tahiti. It
also mentions a Hamm's Beer sign hanging on the back wall of
the pub. These are all real beers of the world.
Page 54 mentions that, after dissecting the freakish corpse
found at the Norwegian base, Copper's white overcoat now
resembled a Jackson Pollack canvas. Pollack (1912-1956) was
an American abstract expressionist artist, known for his
paintings of seemingly randomly splattered or streaked
On page 56, MacReady is watching the Norwegian videos and
the scene of them packing charges into the ice to get down
to the saucer buried there. He wonders if they're using
thermite or maybe decanite. As mentioned above in the movie
study, thermite is a metallic powder that can generate an
extremely hot burst of heat when combined with a catalyst,
but I have not been able to find any real world reference to
what decanite might be. The term is also used in the
original short story by John Campbell, "Who Goes There?";
seemingly, scriptwriter Bill Lancaster got the term
"decanite" from this story.
On page 70, Norris mentions NATO. NATO is the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization, a military alliance of most of the western
world's democratic nations.
Norris mentions "surface Quonsets" on page 72 as potential
structures in a temporary Antarctic camp.
Quonset huts were introduced by the
U.S. Navy during WWII as a lightweight, easy to ship and
assemble building for housing offices, barracks, latrines
and medical facilities.
On page 73, Norris comments that the uncovered ice at the
Norwegian excavation site is "...over 100,000 years old.
Pleistocene at least." This is correct, the Pleistocene
epoch ranges from 2,588,000 to 12,000 years ago.
On page 75, Nauls is listening to the Gossamers on his boom
box. I have not been able to find a reference to a real
world musical group by that name.
On page 76, Childs says he believes the theory that the
excavation site was part of a former Russian site and the
Norwegians must have found evidence of it, such as materials
with Cyrillic markings. He is referring to the
Cyrillic alphabet, a variation of which is used officially
by Russia (originally developed in Bulgaria in the 10th
Russian alphabet (from
Page 76 reveals that Palmer is doing his own research on
what the creature might be, perusing back issues of
The National Enquirer and
Star for information. These are both supermarket
tabloids which currently run stories mostly about celebrity
and political scandals and gossip, but have gone through
periods when they published stories of the bizarre and
unusual. Childs disdainfully comments to Palmer, "That shit
you're reading ain't exactly Scientific American,
Scientific American is a science magazine for the
general public, published since 1845.
On page 77, Palmer asks the others who they think built
Sacsayhuaman, implying it was ancient aliens and not the
Inca natives of the time.
Sacsayhuaman is a walled complex, perhaps a fortress,
outside of the ancient Incan capital of Cusco in Peru.
Page 78 reveals that MacReady broke his leg trying to play
basketball on the ice last year.
Also on page 78, MacReady gets irritated about Childs'
questions to him about his alien life-form theory, saying,
"What am I, Einstein?"
Einstein, of course, is a reference to Albert Einstein, the renowned German theoretical
physicist who refused, during a visit to America, to return to Germany after Hitler came
into power and became an American citizen.
On page 83, Blair goes into more detail on his theory that
the alien organism can mimic other life forms it encounters.
He believes that while one cell of the organism is enough to
imprint a pattern from another creature, it's not enough to
initiate the takeover procedure; much more protoplasmic
material is needed, which is the function of the tendrils it
extrudes and wraps around the victim during the procedure
(which probably takes about an hour).
Page 91 reveals that MacReady worked as a chopper pilot for
a sight-seeing service in Tahiti for a year.
Page 92 implies that MacReady's love doll, Esperanza, is for
more than just show.
Blair mentions skuas on page 95. Skuas are large, predatory
seabirds known to inhabit both temperate and arctic (and
Page 100 mentions that the mess of busted equipment in the
radio room after Blair's breakdown would probably take a
Bell labs instructor to fix. Bell labs is the research and
development subsidiary of, currently, Alcatel-Lucent, but
previously of AT&T when they owned Bell Telephone.
Instead of killing the dogs as in the movie, someone
(presumably Blair), opens the external gate for them so they
On page 103 Norris thinks of MacReady's plan to go out after
the dogs as tantamount to the seventh level of Dante's
Inferno. This is a reference to the classic 14th century
epic poem The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. In the poem,
the seventh level of hell houses those who have committed
violence against others and are immersed in a river of
Page 104 reveals that Childs built the extra flame-throwers
for use against the Things.
On page 109, Bennings laments that he should be checking his
anemometer and barometer instead of searching for alien
dogs. These are common meteorological instruments, the
anemometer being a device for measuring wind speed and a
barometer for measuring atmospheric pressure.
Page 114 comments that MacReady and Childs had just seen two
gargoyles (the Things) that would put the haunting visages of the ones at
Notre Dame to shame. This is a reference to the Notre Dame
cathedral in Paris, France, famous for the gargoyle statues
perched along its roof and buttresses.
The book mentions the arrival of the vernal equinox to
Antarctica, beginning 6 months of darkness in the region.
The vernal equinox takes place in March of each year,
marking autumn in the southern hemisphere (and spring in the
On page 117, Copper comments that most of the men at the
outpost are wearing long underwear made of damart, an
artificial cloth with insulating properties. Damart is
actually the French manufacturer of the material which has
become a generic term for the material (officially called
On page 121, MacReady wonders if the Thing actually plans
the paranoia it induces, letting the human population know
it's there, then allowing the people to tear each other
apart with accusations and fear. (The short story "The
Things", however, suggests this was not the case.)
As he's trying to repair the engine of one of the
helicopters, Palmer looks around for a magneto. This is a
type of electrical generator that produces alternating
current with the presence of two rotating magnets.
Page 129 reveals that Norris used to practice first aid in
the Army, which is why he's chosen to inject the sedative
into Copper, Garry and Clark when they are deemed the most
likely Thing suspects.
On page 132, MacReady refers to the presence of the alien
cells in another creature as "thingism".
On page 139, MacReady bumps into somebody in the dark and
says, "Who goes there?" This is probably an homage to the
title of the 1938 story that inspired The Thing,
"Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell.
On page 141, MacReady says to Sanders, "De nada." This is
Spanish for "It's nothing.'
Also on page 141, the group begins to realize that a lot of
small pieces of equipment have gone missing. These would be
the pieces Blair stole to build his escape saucer.
On page 146, Copper recommends that Norris should have an
EKG. An EKG is an electrocardiogram,
which measures the electrical activity of the heart.
On page 151, Sanders says, "Quien sabe?" This is Spanish for
On page 162, Dr. Copper asks for the fibrillator to be
wheeled over. He probably means defibrillator, a device for
delivering an electrical pulse to the heart in order to allow
the heart to reestablish a normal sinus rhythm. As far as I
know, there is no such device as a fibrillator (though the
word is commonly misused to describe a defibrillator).
On page 164, Sanders says, "Madre de dios." This is Spanish
for "Mother of God."
On page 181, the remaining crewmembers of Outpost 31 make a
number of Molotov cocktails to use against the Thing.
Molotov cocktails are homemade firebombs consisting of a
common glass bottle filled with a flammable liquid such as
gasoline or kerosene and a cloth wick bunched into the
Page 182 comments that there were now enough explosives in
the rec room to blow it halfway to Tierra del Fuego.
Tierra del Fuego is the archipelago off the tip of South
Page 183 mentions that one of the arcade games in the rec
room is Space Invaders. Ironically enough.
On page 184, MacReady gives the others small capsules of
sodium cyanide to bite on and swallow if the Thing gets a
hold of them. Sodium cyanide is a highly toxic salt that
brings nearly instantaneous death in sufficient quantity.
Page 186 mentions a time when Nauls was a teenager in
Chicago and had to flee from the Crips on his roller skates.
The Crips are a street gang originally founded in Los
Angeles, CA. Although they have spread to some other states,
Chicago residents do not seem to recall there ever being a
Crips gang in the city (though there are other gangs who are
loosely considered allies of the Crips).
On page 188, the crewmembers are speculating on whether they
have enough electrical power from their two small generators
to burn out the Thing. Nauls' opinion is that they need
Boulder Dam. Boulder Dam is more commonly known as Hoover
Dam and produces hydroelectric power on the Colorado River
along the border of Nevada and Arizona.
On page 192, MacReady finds a surviving bottle of Jim Beam
to drink in the outpost pub.
Jim Beam is a brand of bourbon, produced in the U.S. since
1795. In the movie, MacReady has a bottle of J&B Scotch
Also on page 192, MacReady tries to lure the Thing to its
death by taunting it. At one point he says, "You like
whiskey? Come on, join me for a drink. Be good for you. Put
fangs on your chest." I just thought it was a funny
substitution for "put hair on your chest".
Were there any crewmembers aboard the original saucer
besides the pilot? If so, what happened to them? (The
director's commentary of The Thing prequel suggests there
Why doesn't the Thing just imitate a flying creature in order to
escape Antarctica for warmer (and more populated) climes? The
original short story, "Who Goes There?",
speculates that the creature may not have previously visited worlds
which had a sufficient atmosphere to have flying life forms it could
imitate. Peter Watts' short story "The Things" suggests the creature
has visited a thousand worlds, in which case it seems unlikely it
never encountered a flying life form it assimilated and could make
use of now.
In this film, we see the bodies of five of the 10 Norwegians: the
passenger in the helicopter is killed by a dropped grenade;
the pilot of the helicopter is shot by Garry; one is found
to have seemingly committed suicide by slashing his wrists
and throat at the Norwegian base; and two burned bodies are
found at the Norwegian base. What were the fates of the
other five? Might one or more of them still be alive as
Things? Or frozen somewhere, awaiting "rescue"?
(Of course, since the time this study was originally
The Thing prequel has been released and we see how
the others died.)
What of the Norwegian sled dogs? We see just one, infected,
dog. Surely the Norwegians had more? Again, might one or
more of them have survived or gone into deep freeze? (Again,
The Thing prequel suggests there was just one dog
at the at the station for some reason.)
Is Garry actually dead? It seems like the Blair-Thing
quietly suffocates him, and later we see the Blair-Thing
dragging Garry's body away with his hand fused into Garry's
face. But maybe Garry was still alive and about to be
copied? It doesn't seem that enough time passed for the
Blair-Thing to have copied Garry, but we don't really know
how long it takes.
Blair guesses it takes about an hour earlier in the film,
but, again, we don't know that for sure, and if Blair was
already a Thing at that time, he could have been lying!
Could a Garry-Thing still be frozen alive out in the snow,
"The Thing from Another World" Part 1
depicts MacReady finding a third frozen Thing body (after
finding Nauls-Thing's and Blair-Thing's bodies). The body is
not identified in the story, but it seems only Garry would
be left for it to be.
What happened to Nauls? He investigates a noise (the sound
of Blair-Thing dragging Garry away) and then disappears.
Again, might he have been infected and still living? ("The Thing from Another World" Part 1
shows his frozen body in a state transformation as a Thing.)
At the end of the film, is Childs a Thing? For that matter,
is MacReady? If the Blair-Thing somehow survived the
explosion (as MacReady apparently did) MacReady could have
been attacked and infected; after all, we don't know how
much time has passed since the explosion and MacReady
stumbling into shelter with his bottle of J&B.
If MacReady was a Thing, then it might not have been a good
idea for Childs to drink from the J&B bottle; remember,
Fuchs warned that they should all prepare their own food and
eat only from cans since it might be possible to be infected
internally by a small number of Thing cells.
you're starting to lose it aren't you.wav
maybe we at war with Norway.wav
a chance to use his popgun.wav
thanks for thinking about it.wav
you really want to save those crazy Swedes?.wav
maybe they found a fossil or the remains of some animal in
put this mutt with the others.wav
it's weird and pissed off whatever it is.wav
an organism that imitates other life forms.wav
Chariots of the Gods.wav
probably not in the best of moods.wav
trust is a tough thing to come by.wav
he could be one of those things.wav
somebody a little more even-tempered.wav
I know I'm
takes us over.wav
who says I want you going with me.wav
you gotta be fuckin' kidding.wav
I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter tied to this
it just wants to go to sleep in the cold.wav
why don't we just wait here for a little while.wav
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