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Movie Fact #64 - October 20th, 2020

 

The 1982 classic The Thing has a unique antagonist. A nameless, unidentified alien that can warp and change into whatever it comes in contact with. So, it should be no surprise, that nailing down the finality of the tale at the end was not easy. In fact, despite the now legendary ambiguous ending that leaves audiences wondering if MacReady or Childs is the titular creature, Carpenter filmed multiple endings for The Thing. This was because editor Todd Ramsay thought that the bleak, nihilistic conclusion would not test well with audiences. The ending goes as you might think it would. R.J. MacReady (Played by Kurt Russell) is rescued and given a blood test that proves he is not infected. A pretty bow of an ending. However, Carpenter said that stylistically this ending would have been "cheesy" and editor Verna Fields was tasked with reworking the ending to add clarity and resolution, particularly in regards to what to do then with the suspicion of the character Childs (Played by Keith David) so Fields's removed him completely, leaving MacReady alone. The irony was that both versions of the happy ending tested poor to mediocre with audiences.


Despite this, it was set to go to print for theaters with the happy ending when the producers, Carpenter, and executive Helena Hacker decided that the film was better left with ambiguity instead of nothing at all. So, Carpenter gave his approval to restore the ambiguous ending> However, a scream was inserted over the outpost explosion to posit the monster's death. And, to this day, it's considered one of the greatest endings of a film! Stay tuned!

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