John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of the best films ever made about an intrusive and subversive force. While the film’s overt theme is a visceral and biological subversion akin to a virus, there are also profound metaphorical elements and these go beyond the situations that the characters experience throughout the film. As with most great symbols, entire long essays can be spent indulging in long-winded analysis, but one could also opt to go with concise observation and real-world applicability.
The title appears to cut, burn, or in someway force itself onto the screen from behind. Effectively, this image sets up the theme of covert subversion as titular monster will go on to invade the bodies of its victims thereby transforming them from the inside out.
Another Ominous Start
The quiet, snowy expanse of the Antarctic is suddenly interrupted. A lone husky runs from a wildly pursuing a helicopter from which a man with a rifle shoots. Eventually the dog makes its way into an encampment and happily runs up to someone friendly, but the men in the chopper still go after it. They land the craft, one fumbles with a grenade – the last thing he ever does before going up in a fireball along with the helicopter – while the other attempts to aim at the dog that is now standing amidst surprised personnel of the camp. The rifleman fires once, wounding one of the men, and then is promptly taken down with one well-placed shot – right in the eye – from one of the buildings.
The camp here is an American outpost with a small crew of science personnel and a pilot. The chopper had come from a Norwegian camp a few miles away. Upon investigating that camp, the men find it burned down and everyone dead with signs of great struggle. They also find an odd corpse that seems to consist of parts from various animals, both human and non. Back at the American camp, the husky walks into the room of a person identified only by silhouette.
It still takes a few scenes for the terror to start, however, it is sometime during these events that the husky, revealed to be an alien life form imitating the familiar species of dog, had infected at least one of the protagonists. We find out that the husky is an alien when it is put into a kennel with the camp’s other sled dogs. In this scene, the dog does not decide to infect the other canines, but rather it is here that the alien’s cover is blown – the normal dogs growl at it – and now that it is cornered it unleashes a full scale attack with tentacles latching onto the helpless dogs. Like all clever parasites, it didn’t want this to happen, but when cornered and exposed, it tried to grab and infect all that knew its true identity. The men upstairs here the struggle in the kennel and torch the beast, but a portion of it escapes.
This is the film’s most terrifying aspect: the titular “Thing” isn’t a monster in the traditional sense, but a parasitic system that can imitate any creature that it has had contact with. What’s more, is that one cell of the Thing is enough to cause an infection leading to inevitable total subversion of an individual creature with the final result being an imitation of the infected. The key idea here is that while the infection starts from an outside source, the subversive process itself starts from within.
The promotional poster at left is a thematic summary of the Thing’s subversive strategy, which we can call “total subversion.” Note that the image contains a subliminal Pyramid and Eye composition. First, the body in the image looks human, however the Thing is apparent in the head with a piercing light cutting out from behind, which mirrors the film’s opening title. There is a particular ambiguity here: the abnormally large head could be just the parka hood, however it could also be already transformed into alien flesh. This ambiguity plays throughout the entire film: it is hard to who is infected and at what moment the Thing go to them. Furthermore, the symbolism of the head is indicative of subversion of the flesh and mind. As the men in the film try to figure out who is infected, paranoia sets in and they begin to suspect each other of being the Thing.
This constantly gnaws at their morale and prevents them from working together to figure out who’s really who. Conquest from within (of the mind) precedes conquest from without (of the body). An able invader will always attack both, but the mind first. The Thing is doing just that. Note that as the dog initially arrived at the camp, it acted friendly to get the men’s trust, which it then exploited and began to murder them. The men treated it like a regular dog using the only bit of empirical knowledge that they had in their possession about it. This proved folly and ended up leaving them pitted against a powerful and aggressive creature(s), but it also must be said that once they realize what the Thing is, the empirical assumptions stop and a militarist course of action is undertaken, one in which the foe’s next move is carefully and effectively considered.
The Course of Struggle
First, they realize that any “Thing” cannot be shot or locked up, but it must be totally destroyed. Shooting it and burying it would be the worst move of all, and the Thing, several times through the film, attempts to run out into the vast Antarctic landscape and freeze, so that it can be discovered by another group of unsuspecting people. Ones over which it will have a dominance of empirical information, which is all it needs for its insertion. Second, now that the men know that the Thing, their Foe, exists stealthily among them, they make no assumptions as to who may or may not be infected. The camp pilot, MacReady, takes command and shows no hesitation in his position. When one of the crew starts to act up and threatens to break the unity of the group, first by sowing distrust and then by attempting to assert himself as leader with force, MacReady shoots him down cold without so much as bating an eye. It is soon revealed that the Thing had not infected this man, but MacReady rightfully spends no time lamenting the former loose cannon.
MacReady’s leadership skills are aptly foreshadowed in the film’s beginning right before the dog runs into the camp. His introductory scene has him playing chess against a computer opponent and when the machine puts MacReady into a checkmate, he dumps his drink into the computer and fries it from the inside out. It is precisely this that MacReady will do for the rest of the film, play a game of chess with the Thing as he tries to anticipate its moves. The fact that the computer put him into check and he destroyed it may seem like a brutish move, however, it clearly demonstrates MacReady’s non-complacency and not giving up when he’s cornered. The rules of chess demand that a checkmated player forfeit the game, but on an actual battlefield, what is to prevent a heroic king from fighting despite being cornered? The answer is nothing, and MacReady is that: the cornered leader who never gives in. By not letting his spirits be conquered, his able to save his body from infection and subversion.
An Unusual Antagonist
The titular monster is a real unique antagonist in the world of horror film. There have been all sorts of creatures that have wreaked havoc in numerous ways over the years. Peoples’ imagination has developed all sorts of metaphors and images to represent human fears with the most basic being death. For this reason, the most of the horror market is packed with literally thousands of permutations of the same basic idea: monster, darkness, and death. Since at least the 1970s, gore and graphic on-screen mutilation has also become a staple of the genre, as well as sex.
Leave it to John Carpenter to work completely outside of genre conventions. “The Thing” is a title that most accurately describes the monster, for it cannot be described in the conventional sense. The basic story arc is similar to the second basic genre example above, however with a key difference: the characters do not find the beast – it finds them. The unwanted stranger metaphor is most apt. It also makes the audience receive the characters differently, since no blunder of theirs can be attributed to the terror that befalls them. The conventional story arc of people “finding evil,” is presented by Carpenter in the form of the Norwegian camp, which is completely destroyed – Carpenter has effectively destroyed genre conventions here.
He also altered elements from the original 1951 film, The Thing from Another World: switched the location from the North Pole to the South Pole, changed the monster from humanoid to physically amorphous, changed the Thing from planting seedlings to infecting victims. Carpenter also made several key alterations in his remake of the Village of the Damned as well, and these served to take the film off of the conventional track and into deeper, more profound metaphor.
This film’s key symbol is that the Thing “infects” and copies other life forms. It doesn’t hack away with claws, or eat people or anything else that’s conventional of horror film monsters. Rather than seek to kill, it actually seeks to procreate, but due to its fundamentally perverse nature, it kills in doing so. This detachment from established conventions, allows the film to show a truly radical antagonist with its most frightening concept.
The Thing’s fundamental drive is not to coexist with other life forms, as most living things on our planet do. Even wolves and deer coexist – if there are too many deer one season, the wolves have more food than usual, but if there are too little deer, than the wolves go hungry. Also, too much deer may mean over grazing and the deer going hungry, etc… the point is that nature is built on a long series of interlocking relationships – if one is changed than so is the next and there is a ripple effect from that point affecting all the rest. One could call it “Natural Order” or “Cosmic Order” depending on the scale of observation. For centuries on end, man lived more or less according to this idea. The National Socialist principle of optimization was meant to raise man above this natural, but bestial, state while still honoring the eternal laws of nature. It was a vision for a triumph unlike any that preceded it in human history. The Thing, however, is the polar opposite of this – it doesn’t coexist, nor does it want to, it just wants to dominate. Each new ecosystem is a potential space to be monopolized for its material needs.
By forcefully assimilating new members everywhere it goes the Thing is nothing more than a monstrous and aimless conflation that just seeks to grow and spend and grow and spend ad infinitum. It is a symbol for the Jewish systems of capitalism – not necessarily invented by, but since monopolized with Judaic principles – and Marxism – thought of by Jews and first implemented by Jewish mass-murderers in Russia. The core of these two systems is identical: a central bank with an arbitrary monopoly on printing a particular type of paper, which is deemed to have value, is the central motor in fueling growth. The exterior of both systems are just differently organized systems of administration. As the Marxist USSR expanded and grew and eventually collapsed, the capitalist West today is growing and attempting to assimilate new nation states into its overall mass. There is no goal and there is no purpose, there is just the desire to grow. It’s like eating just to get fat and, not coincidentally, that’s what many people do these days. The end goal of human life has become self-gratification and the Thing is a symbol for this. The Thing is the ultimate ego-driven, self-pleasing, all consuming life form or system of life forms and it only moves forward with each new deception that it plays out.
The Thing was discovered frozen in ice and many times throughout the film it tries to return there so as to be uncovered anew. This is perhaps the perfect symbol of anti-struggle and Jewish fatalism and passivity. The Thing is a pure opportunist, it never works for what it gains, but waits until the pieces fall into place and then seizes advantage. Note that when it attacks the dogs it is in a dark space. It doesn’t even attack when it could have the best possible result – such as right after coming into the camp and the men were still phased by the shooting and helicopter explosion. It is hard to tell exactly when who gets infected, but the Thing is awfully irresolute about its only course of action considering that all of its potential victims are in one building and cannot easily escape. Thus, one cannot even say that it truly wants or believes in anything for there is not a shred of conviction in its actions, just a consistent bowing to basic survival necessity. Its ultimate goal is to infect and monopolize an eco-system just so that it can go to fall into slumber again!
“This thing doesn’t want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an
imitation. It’ll fight if it has to, but it is vulnerable out in the open.”
This quote from the movie about sums up the behavior of the Thing as much as it does of Jewry. Jews see themselves as separate from, and better than, the rest of humans and all life on Earth and the Thing is a basically world Jewry with the light of the Swastika revealing their true inner character. A core motivating belief of intrinsic superiority over others with the perceived entitlement to dominance, as well as the exercising of perpetual passive-aggressive subversion, is Jewish thinking. The Thing shows just that, but removes the artificial, gentle facade and the insidious illusion of a benevolent soul. Those infected by the Thing become empty imitations of their previous selves and are capable of spreading the infestation. In effect, each imitation is just a slave that is subservient to whatever force drives the Thing. This goes down to the cellular level as the Thing is shown to infect and copy on cell at a time; if a piece of the Thing is hacked off, it becomes a separate Thing. Thus, as in Devil, there is the concept of a fractal with each repetition being a microcosm or macrocosm.
Cell < Organ < Body < Group < …etc… < Zion
The “Body” is one complete creature. The “Group” is any unit of society or an ecosystem that has been monopolized. The Thing is not in any one place along this fractal, but rather it is what binds it together! It is what ensures full-spectrum subversion from single cell all the way to Zion. The Thing is the life force of the Devil. It is the connecting matter of Zion!
Space & Time
In each scene where the Thing makes a move or attempts to make a move, it either deceives or attempts to deceive. Since all of its work is hidden, the progress that it makes is quite subtle and it is quite hard to tell who was infected where and when. For one, who was that person identified only by silhouette earlier? We know that the Thing tears through people’s clothes when assimilating them, and sure enough, there are at least two key clothing changes in the film. First, there is Blair, the scientist, who runs a model on his computer and sees how the Thing copies the cells of a host organism. After this scene his clothes change and he goes on a seemingly pointless, paranoid rampage smashing the camp’s radio equipment all the while swearing that he isn’t mad. Being an older member of the crew and a respected one (he is the head scientist at this camp), the crew gives him the benefit of the doubt and spares his life, albeit quarantined in a separate, small building. Second, there is Childs, one of the more resilient members of the crew and he survives to the end, but in this last scene, the final one of the film, his jacket can be seen to be a different one from the one he was seen wearing just minutes earlier. Here Carpenter ends the film on his trademark ambiguous note with no feel good ending handed to the audience, however, there is some additional symbolism that comes into play here; that of time.
The forever repeating fractal prison of Zion is not confined to just three dimensions. It is also present in the fourth, the dimension of time. Take the opening of the film right before the title screen: a space ship is seen flying, it seems to get caught in Earth’s gravity and plummets down to the surface. The conventional explanation would be: that’s the Thing arriving to Earth. However, take note of the fact that the film goes on to abandon conventions and forge its own path. Thus, we must throw this explanation out.
The ship crashing in the beginning is thematically replayed with the exploding helicopter just one scene later. The helicopter held the last survivors of a group that was infected and almost totally monopolized by the Thing. They managed to fight it off and the Thing escaped, but they chased it. However, in their crazed effort to stop it they wound up dead. It is reasonable to believe that a similar scenario played out on that alien ship. A group from another planet came into contact with the Thing, it infected them and the ship ended up crashing after being pulled towards a planet that it was passing. Maybe all the crewmembers were dead, or maybe this was a last ditch effort of self-sacrifice, but unfortunately the Thing survived to be discovered anew and the cycle repeated when the Norwegians found it. The helicopter exploding was just a replay of the ship crashing with the next repetition of the cycle coming to an end. Also, note that the protagonists’ camp ends up destroyed in the battle with the Thing just like the Norwegian camp that the crew explores; it also had been destroyed.
The title to the right translates to “The Jew as World Parasite,” referring to our World. However, with the aforementioned cycle, we can see that this is one repetition in “The Thing as Parasite of Worlds.” No one knows how the Thing originally looked and no one can be quite sure from where it came, but that only reinforces the fact that it has no true home or true form. It just molds to whatever form lets it survive as it assimilates and monopolizes. On one world it is one thing, on another it is another thing, on our world it is Jewry, but at its core it is always just the Thing.
To see who is infected and who isn’t, the crew does a blood test. Jews see themselves as racially different and superior, so this may be seen as a satire on that Zionist obsession that reduces the quality of good to a purely material base and willfully ignores the concept of a metaphysical drive such as Aryan Nobility. However, the blood test scene is also the most concise indicator of the Thing’s behavior: when cornered, it cannot help but make itself known, and so on the Petri dish, the infected blood reveals its true vicious character – as MacReady applies a hot needle to it, it jumps off and starts an attack. When Jews are cornered with criticism of their deeds they react in just about the same fashion, but in general they spend most of their time avoiding situations that could reveal their true character.
While the film doesn’t give a clear-cut, happy ending, it does end on a small up beat. MacReady has destroyed the Thing, which at that point was a huge conflation of many life forms. Less than a minute later, and much to his surprise, Childs shows up and he’s wearing that different coat. Thus, the cycle of Zion might go into its next repetition here: Childs will kill or infect MacReady and then they’ll freeze in the Antarctic until someone investigates the camp and finds the bodies. In MacReady’s introductory scene he was sitting with some whiskey, as well as playing computer chess. When MacReady lost the game, he fried the computer by dumping the drink inside it. In this last scene, he is also sitting and now has a bottle of whiskey, which he offers to Childs. By performing a repeat of his own moves he seems to be pushing the Thing’s cycle out of play by introducing his own. If Childs is infected, we can presume that MacReady will be ready to take him out, possibly with the flame-thrower he was handling earlier, in other words, by frying him like he did the computer. If Childs is not infected than the Thing has been defeated. MacReady’s slight laugh after Childs takes a swig of whiskey clearly shows that he knows what is going, he has a checkmate move planned, but… in trademark Carpenter form, we do not see this ending. The film cuts to black. For the real ending to the cycle of Zion should not be in a film, but in our real World.