Is “The Thing” Actually MacReady?

When “The Thing” was released, it would have been June 1982, and that meant it came out right before I turned 11 in July. John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” I know it well. I saw it in the theater by myself at that point. It was around 1980 when I was 9 or so, my mom would take me to see R-rated movies and cool stuff! Like we saw, I remember seeing “The Shining,” terrified me, scared the shit out of me. I remember seeing “The Shining” and “Alien” in the theater with my mom. Yes, “Alien” in the theater, “The Shining” also; but when 1982’s “The Thing” came out … maybe it’s because I saw it by myself, but it scared the shit out of me. Terrified me! Unnerved me for months; the powerful tension building over and over, and just the paranoia.

The practical FX are legendary. And as far as who could be “the thing” at the end (because it’s definitely not totally clear) it just showcases the brilliance of John Carpenter. But it wasn’t until, I guess, a couple of years ago when the 40th anniversary of “The Thing” was released, that I watched it on the anniversary at home, and the surround sound system on the big screen – by myself in the dark. That’s when it dawned on me once again. For the first time in years, like, is “the thing” actually MacReady? The whole time could it be MacReady?

It’s maybe the last quarter to third of the movie that Fuchs and MacReady have a conversation. Fuchs has been looking at the research of Blair on the computer, and MacReady walks in, and Fuchs tells him, “I think everyone should start eating out of cans. And everyone should prepare their own meals.” Because “the thing” operates on a cellular level and very fast, to which MacReady agrees.

It’s not that long after that Blair goes crazy. They put him in the shack. MacReady walks up, takes a sip of that vodka, and puts the vodka bottle back down right in front of Blair. Says, “What’s up? Old boy,” and they have a conversation, then he leaves. There are multiple scenes throughout the movie where MacReady is sharing whiskey with people, including the final scene as Childs walks up, and MacReady sits there with his bottle of whiskey. Maybe it’s actually gasoline? And not actually whiskey, and that’s why he laughs, he isn’t actually sipping on it yet, but he hands it to Childs, and Childs takes a drink, and MacReady kind of chuckles to himself, MacReady does.

As far as “the thing” itself, it clones the victims on a cellular level entirely like Childs says, “So, how do we know who’s human?” Leading to the explosive blood test scene. Notice, we don’t actually see MacReady cut his finger or donate any blood. We see Nauls and Windows donate after a cut.

As “the thing,” you would probably do whatever it takes to ensure survival. Including act like a genuine human and attack other “things” to appear human. The cloning process seems so deep the beings don’t even seem to know; they seem to believe entirely that they are the human or cloned being until that explosive survival moment. Take Norris’ heart attack, for example, or that damn dog!

The intro to the film is a great example of what you are in for: Norwegian helicopter guys chasing and shooting at this poor dog lost in the ice plains turns your logic and compassion brain sideways; it’s all for a reason.

The real question is when? When and how was MacReady assimilated? Carpenter’s genius again, many events happen off-screen just enough… MacReady’s torn clothes, finding Fuchs’s glasses in the snow, the blood bank being sabotaged, or Blair’s UFO!

Carpenter puts exactly what he wants in the story, little clues like MacReady sharing whiskey with everyone, even after he agrees not to with Fuchs. Like the power going out right after McCready leaves Fuchs after their agreement, and then Fuchs being startled by someone in the dark, and he goes outside, and then McCready “finds” his glasses… Maybe those dirty drawers Nauls found were actually MacReady’s.

Tension building at its best, thrown into panic and horror, as there’s nobody to trust.

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