READ-ALONG RECORD BOOK: THE THING

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell. The film’s title refers to its primary antagonist: a parasitic extraterrestrial lifeform that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them. The Thing infiltrates an Antarctic research station, taking the appearance of the researchers that it absorbs, and paranoia develops within the group.

The film is based on John W. Campbell, Jr.’s novella Who Goes There?, which was more loosely adapted by Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby as the 1951 film The Thing from Another World. Carpenter considers The Thing to be the first part of his Apocalypse Trilogy, followed by Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness. Although the films are narratively unrelated, each features a potentially apocalyptic scenario; should “The Thing” ever reach civilization, it would be only a matter of time before it consumes humanity.



On June 25, 1982, The Thing opened #8 in 840 theaters and remained in the top ten box office for three weeks. The lower-than-expected performance has been attributed to many factors, including Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which was also released by Universal Studios around the same time and featured a more optimistic view of alien visitation, as well as another popular science fiction film, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, being released on the same day. However, The Thing has gone on to gain a cult following with the release on home video. The film subsequently spawned a novelization in 1982; a comic book miniseries adaptation, entitled The Thing From Another World and published by Dark Horse Comics, in 1991; a video game sequel, also titled The Thing, in 2002; and a prequel film with the same title on October 14, 2011.

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