The Thing

Wilford Brimley, iconic actor of the 1980's and beyond, passed away last month at 85 years old. Luckily for us, he plays a pivotal role in John Carpenter's equally iconic horror film, The Thing, which finally gave us an excuse to tackle this special effects extravaganza.

As a creature feature with a lot going for it, it's a bit difficult to understand why it wasn't as well received in its day. Listen as we try to answer this question and throw in a few clips of Wilford Brimley's unmistakable voice.

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The Thing (1982)

Episode 226, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Hello, and welcome to another episode of two guys and a chainsaw. I’m Todd.

Craig: I’m Craig,

Todd: This one is going to go down in history as our tribute episode to Wilford Brimley. Wilford Brimley died on August 1st this year, and we’re very sad to see his passing. He is a very notorious actor known for a number of roles he has about 77, actually exactly. 77 screen credits to his name on imdb.com. I think it really just depends. It depends on the generation you’re in. What do you know him from? He actually got started in acting a little later in life. He picked up some speed in the eighties, but he was, was actually born in the thirties. He was like in his late forties, early fifties when he started acting dang, but he ended up getting it ton of roles.

I remember him the most from cocoon. And then he was in movies and in TV shows. Yeah, throughout the eighties, he was in commercials and stuff. I think for. Hemorrhoids and stuff like that,

Craig: diabetes,

Todd: Diabetes, but actually quite a good actor. And he was also in the movie that we’re doing this week, which is the thing from 1982 by John Carpenter, which itself is a remake of an earlier film by Howard Hawks.

And then of course later on was redone, I think, a little closer to now, but I. Fricking love this movie. And I loved it when I first saw it. It is a special effects extravaganza. It’s a John Carpenter picture that didn’t get as much love when it came out as it does now. Uh, he’s definitely gotten the credit lately that he deserves for this film.

So I’m really excited to talk about the thing and to look for this excuse, to talk about Wilford, Brimley, who, you know, a lot of movies. When we, when we do these tributes episodes, we’re looking for a horror film where a person has. Ends up having kind of a minor role in it, like in like likened Christine, which we did recently, but here we are, Wilford Brimley actually has a pivotal role in this John Carpenter film.

So it’s, it’s good to be able to use this film as a vehicle to talk about him and talk about his career.

Craig: Wilford. Brimley is just. Kind of guy who is just, I don’t know, kind of been on it, the cultural radar, my whole lifetime. It seems like because he had diabetes and, uh, was a spokesperson. They’re still running his commercials for diabetes awareness, but I remembered him I guess, from this.

And then he also did back to my days of our lives connections. He did a TV show with Deidre hall called. Our house or something like that.

Todd: Our house is a very, very, very fine house. Yeah.

Craig: A little tiny baby Shannen Doherty, I think was in that show too. And so I’ve just always kind of been aware of who he was, but just kind of reading up on him today.

You know, like you said, he got, uh, started kind of late. And he talked about in interviews, how he never got to play the leading man. He always, he said that he started playing the role of the father to people who were 25 years as junior, right. From the beginning of his career. And he kind of got. Stuck in that he was by far.

I think, I think he was 49 when he filmed a cocoon and he was at least two decades younger than any of the other people who played senior citizens in that movie. And so he was just kind of, I cast in that way, um, he was cast in the thing. Because carpenter wanted a nonthreatening. Every man spoiler alert, he ends up being one of the central antagonists.

Yes, I arguably I guess the big, bad, huh? Uh, in this movie. And I found out just minutes before. You and I got online together that Brimley hates this

Todd: movie or hate it.

Craig: Yeah. I hated this movie.

Todd: He said,

Craig: wow. He said, from the time carpenter yelled action, he knew he was in trouble and he did not. He thought it was garbage.

He thought it was a trash movie.

Todd: So interesting. Well, this movie didn’t get a lot of love when carpenter put it out there. I, it wasn’t, I mean, it was just a, sort of a modest success at best at the box office. It was almost critically panned. And in retrospect, it’s revered. This movie is. And I mean, I think I’m just going to say nothing but nice things about this movie is I think it’s fantastic.

And I haven’t seen it, the original, the thing from another world or whatever it is that. And carpenter was a huge fan, apparently of the original film. He watched it a lot, even in preparation for his breakout film and Halloween. That’s how influential this movie was and how important this movie was to him.

So I think he was very disappointed when this movie came out to not so great, critical acclaim and even. One of my, I mean, I’m a serious fan boy of Roger Ebert. And I think I’ve said it before in this, on this podcast, how much I love him. I went back and I watched his contemporary review of this movie. He gave it two and a half stars.

He wasn’t terribly kind to it, but in retrospect, years later, he revised his opinion and said that this is one of the all time great scifi movies of 1982. I just love it. I’ve always enjoyed this movie. I don’t honestly, don’t see. What anyone would see wrong with this film? It’s got a little bit of everything.

It has a lot of suspense. It has a lot of tension, what God, it has a ton of characters and the special effects might be the specialist. Facts are the thing that carpenter, because carpenter was such a fan of the original. He originally was not terribly keen on doing this film. This went through a ton of directors and a ton of screenwriters before it finally landed on him.

Play. And he finally agreed to do it. And everybody got on board. This was a thing that was a couple decades in the making this remake. And a lot of people were reluctant to join on board. But the thing that carpenter that kind of cemented carpenter’s interest in this was the idea that he could add a little bit of realism, add a little bit of effects to it and centralize a little bit more of the focus on the thing and get.

I don’t know, a little more exploitative about it, to be honest, you know, just get a little, gorier get a little more update UpToDate about the, the, the monster, make it a little bit more of a monster movie, which he did. And that was kind of ended up being what he got creamed on. People said us. It’s just a little, it’s kind of a gory special effects extravaganza.

Doesn’t have a lot of heart, but I think nowadays, because we’re used to gory special effects, extravaganzas this doesn’t look like such an extravaganza for the crux of the film, home, the plot, the idea that. There’s this monster here, and nobody knows what it is. It’s kind of an invasion of the body snatchers type thing.

That tension may be floats a little bit more to the top. And so I think maybe a more modern audience appreciates us a little bit more. Then the audience that came out, that’s the only explanation I can come up with with why this wasn’t as critically revered then as it is now.

Craig: Yeah. I don’t know either it is gory, um, and all the effects.

Well, I think at least the vast majority of the facts, uh, are. Practical and they look fantastic, but yeah, like you said, it was, the critics just felt like it was an excuse for Gore that he was a blood hound kinda guy. And it was put on the video nasties lists in the UK and. It just didn’t go over very well.

And it may be because it was a different type, you know, with Halloween and Friday, the 13th slashers were becoming really popular. And so I think maybe some people were anticipating something more along those lines and it was even a carpenter was really disappointed with. Did the poster design, because it was kind of disconnected from his vision of the movie.

And he felt like it made it look like a slasher. And so people were, uh, maybe anticipating that it does have the interest backstory of, you know, going through all these different people. Yeah, Toby Hooper was at least before carpenter stepped in, that was who was going to be doing the project. And he had envisioned it in a totally different way.

In fact, he had wanted to kind of make it a dark comedy. Hmm. But, uh, the studio rejected that. And so they ended up going with carpenter because of his success with Halloween. They wanted to also in the marketing, uh, highlight the fact that this was an alien movie. They, they used the word alien and one of the tag lines because of the success of Ridley Scott’s alien.

And so maybe there were just too many. You know, people didn’t know what to expect. And then it was very different than anything else that we had kind of seen coming out at the time. It really is kind of more of a throwback to, to those, uh, Saifai movies of the fifties and sixties. But. You know, amped up a lot in, in terms of Gore, who knows when it comes down to it.

Uh, I agree with you. I think it’s a solid movie. I think I’m a little bit nervous in talking about it because it’s such a large cast of characters. And so it’s sometimes gets. The hard to keep up with who everybody is. Um, but that being said, it’s a really strong ensemble. I think the performances are, are really solid and it’s got that isolated, um, kind of claustrophobic field because it takes place primarily all in one pretty confined space.

Plus it takes place in Antarctica. So it’s highly desolate, um, which. Is great for atmosphere and, and suspense and buildings dread. And, and the story really is, is pretty simple. You know, it’s a bunch of American guys at some outpost in Antarctica. We don’t really have any indication of what they’re doing there.

Todd: I do wonder, I do wonder we do at this research station in Antarctica or what they’re doing in particular,

Craig: I have no idea. And you know, like why they have an arsenal, including flame throwers. Like what kind of dangers were they anticipating that they might need flame throwers? I’m not sure

Todd: is the Arctic and it’s all ice and snow.

So I mean, the op you know, you’ve got to have a flame thrower. Counteract, I don’t know the ice and snow. Good question.

Craig: Wait, they’re all there for unknown reasons. And my gosh, one of my favorite parts of the movie is the opening scene. You get the title, which is pretty cool in itself. Oh actually even before the title, isn’t there.

It’s the spaceship is that the

Todd: first day there’s a spaceship flying through space near, you know, over earth. And then it kind of. I don’t know. I guess it burns up into the atmosphere. You get the sense that a land, something like that. It’s smart. And I mean, it starts out in that interesting Saifai fifties way, right?

Where it just shows a spaceship coming to earth. There’s no more explanation. And then the score comes up and then the thing title comes out to a. Pretty good score, actually. Um, any more, had some involvement in the score with this, uh, uh, John Carpenter really wanted him to do the score and John carpenter’s pretty famous for doing his own scores for his films.

And he would use, I mean, he, his father’s a very accomplished musician. He has a very musical background, but he was doing synthesizers and I’ve, I’ve watched some interviews with carpenter who said that honestly, the whole reason he ended up doing scores for his films was purely economical. It was just.

Kind of made sense with the lower budgets he started while working with that, he would just kind of end up scoring the movie himself. And so he’d bring in some sense and he’d do it. And, and, you know, we get Halloween, we got some very iconic scores from him. I think actually he’s pretty good at doing at, at, at giving the movie, the kind of music it needs, but for this smoothie, he really wanted Ennio Morricone to do some scoring for him.

So he asked him to do it. He flew to Italy and. You got about, I don’t know, it’s like 22 minutes to an hour’s worth of music from Oh. And then came back and yeah, I mean, if you read online and do some research, apparently he manipulated it quite a bit. He had his own, his own sense stuff to it. And so even though the title card comes out, music by Ennio Morricone the reality is that John carpenter’s thumbprint is.

At least as prevalent on the score of this movie as any hoses, but he’d ended up doing some music that was very atypical of him. He was intentionally trying to match John Carpenter style from his earlier films. So you get a nice score. And I thought, actually the movie started out quite well with that.

You get the spaceship by earth and then you get this cool title, the thing, and you get this swooping score. That’s a little bit orchestral and sort of half. As well. And so, uh, it’s different. And, and actually there’s not a ton of music throughout the whole movie, really small parts pointed parts where there is music, otherwise I think smartly.

So really, you know, John Carpenter chose to not score certain, very tense moments of the film. So, uh, you know, we had talked about doing this movie as a tribute to Ennio Morricone and our tribute to MEO Ennio Morricone who also died this year. Coming up soon, but at the end of the day, I think we decided that because of the history of this film and that his score is maybe have been manipulated considerably that, uh, we would be better off choosing another film for that.

So anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent anyway. Yeah, you’re right. The movie starts with a spacious.

Craig: Well, I was, I was just going to add that like the movie at the time, the score was also critically panned. In fact, it was nominated for a Razzie. It didn’t win

Todd: crazy. Right.

Craig: But, uh, again, just like the film, it’s kind of become a cult classic, uh, of scores.

Uh, and it’s interesting cause it’s, it’s very subtle and it just makes use of very simple kind of base notes. And, uh, I think a lot of our listeners. Even if they can’t think of it off the top of their head, if they heard it, they would recognize it. It’s a recognizable, uh, score in part, because it is so simple, but I had really even forgotten about that whole spaceship thing.

What I remembered was the opening scene, where you just see kind of this Arctic landscape and this helicopter comes up over and over mountain range and swoops down, um, towards the ground. And you. See that they are chasing a dog and it’s, I don’t know, probably a minute long, long scene of this helicopter following this dog and the dog, looking back over its shoulder, seeing where the helicopter is and kind of maneuvering a way from it.

And eventually the dog runs into this camp of these American guys. All of the men, by the way, uh, which also makes the film kind of unique. There’s narrate there’s, there’s not a woman in the entire movie. Originally, there was a female character, but the actress who was going to be playing her had to drop out for some reason, they replaced her with a guy.

So it’s an entirely male cast, but the dog runs into this camp and the people in the camp hear gunfire because the helicopters shooting at this dog. And so they run out to see what’s going on. And the dog runs up and approaches them in a very friendly fashion. It jumps up on one of them that the actor who had jumps up on, uh, I guess, was terrified of dogs and really struggled with that scene, uh, which is kind of surprising because I have to say, I think, and this is sarcastic, but the dog is the best actor in the movie.

That’s really not true, but this may be the case. Best animal actor I’ve ever seen, because as it turns out this dog, It’s not really a dog. Uh, it is some sort of shape shifting parasitic life for that can insect and, and basically replicate any living organism and in doing so. It. Kills the original organism, but it becomes an exact replica of that organism.

So this Norwegian helicopter, it has to guys in it and they land. And one of them starts screaming at the guys in Norwegian. Of course they can’t understand that the Norwegian actually translates to get away from it. It’s not dog. It’s some kind of thing that Norwegian guy actually fires at the dog and hits one of the guys in the leg.

And then also, and this is kind of stupid. He goes to throw a grenade at them dog, but he ends up accidentally dropping it right by. So it blows up the helicopter. You’re killing the other guy in the helicopter. And then once the guy with the gun shoots, one of the Americans in the leg, one of the other Americans shoots him dead.

So they have no idea who these people are. I mean, they know that there was a Norwegian outpost. But they don’t know why they were here and they don’t really, there doesn’t seem to be any suspicion about the dog. At all. So they just let the dog kind of wander around. Yeah. And honestly, I don’t know how the trainer did this, or if it was just the nature of this dog, but dogs seems so aware, like it’s slow in its movement.

It looks like it’s observing them. It looks like it’s snooping around. It seems to have much more intense awareness than your typical dog. They don’t notice it. But as a viewer, I was just like, dang, that is, that dog is a nail in

Todd: your. You’re a hundred percent right about that, that dog. And I was impressed.

I was impressed with the scenes. And the thing that I really like about this movie is it jumps right into the action. And I don’t think this was something, of course, this went through, doesn’t like it like about a dozen scripts and they were even working on a John Carpenter and, uh, you know, the final screenwriters that were given credit for this all the way up to the end.

But. One thing that, um, that they did right here was to jump us right into the middle of the action where this happens, and this dog comes on to camp. And like you said, there are these scenes of the dog just wandering around and. And like you said, it’s not just the dog wandering around, but it seems to have some intelligence about, it seems to be snooping a bit.

It seems to be observing. And from the beginning, you understand there’s something wrong with this doc. Like this dog is not, I mean, obviously this guy was chasing it and trying to kill it, but people on this. On this outpost should be worried about this dog and they’ve completely let it go because they’re a little more concerned about the mystery of why this helicopter from the Norwegian outpost apparently came in.

And unfortunately they shoot him dead because he tries to shoot the dog and instead ends up shooting the leg of one of the guys. And then, uh, Gary kind of called the captain or whatever ends up and him and response and killing him. So nobody really knows what’s what’s going on. And so they decide to go out and check out the normal region camp.

And so McCready who Kurt Russell’s character ends up going out, along with. Um,

Craig: I dunno, there are, uh, one of the doctors, that’s the thing. There are so many guys

Todd: they’re like, yeah, it’s 12 people at this camp, which makes sense. I mean, if you’re going to have an out a research outpost in the Arctic, you’re going to have a lot of people, but for a film and trying to keep track of everybody well, for a podcast, you know, you gotta, you gotta write a lot of names.

It’s not hard to keep track of everybody. As far as watching the movie goes and seeing what happens, it’s actually quite simple, but he ends up going out to check out and investigate. This Norwegian camp. And when they get there, they find out it’s completely burned out. And there’s a weird corpse, an odd amalgamation of like two humans.

And it’s a mess. It’s an odd corpse that they bring back to the camp. But what they also find is a big block of ice. It’s obviously been excavated from the Arctic ice block or whatever, and it’s clear that these people have found something. In the ice, excavated it. And then sometime later decided to burn out their whole camp and there shouldn’t have stalk.

And there’s this weird

Craig: ass one guy that had committed suicide by slitting his wrists, which was really kind of a cool image because in these freezing conditions, the blood had frozen as it was dripping out. And I got it. It seemed really stupid that they would take that weird thing back.

Todd: Yeah.

Craig: I don’t think that I would have wanted to touch that thing because they can’t tell what it is, but it has definite human attributes, but they are horribly, horribly disfigured.

And there’s what appears to be kind of like a head, but it kind of appears to be split as though. Were two faces being either pulled apart or converging. Um, and you see some teeth there and it’s got some hands, but like the fingers are abnormally long and other appendages, but they’re just all not right.

You know, they’re just all it’s wrong. It looks like an abomination. Therefore have anything to do

Todd: in now, were you thinking of the shunting from society? Yeah, it was just, it was totally that. I mean, it was just a massive of, of human weirdness and it was brought back to the camp. They bring it back to the camp.

They don’t know what to do with it. And honestly like this part of the movie, I kind of get, I mean, these guys are just WTF the whole time and that part of it, I really liked. You know, nobody really knows what to make of what they’re finding. And the key element here is that they have no communication back to anybody else it’s established pretty early on, uh, that their radio guy, uh, windows is unable to.

To make any contact via radio with any of their other camps or, you know, with bass or whatever like that. So they’re pretty much on their own and winter is coming. So it’s an especially harsh time in a day or two there expecting lots of storms and there completely isolated and disconnected. So they bring this thing back and it’s quite well in the film that they’re all going to be pretty much on their own.

That they’re going to have to deal with whatever they find. And I thought that was smart too. I mean, I think the movie in general is very smartly written. You know, it establishes very quickly steaks. It establishes some mystery, uh, and the sense of isolation from all these people. So they’re going to have to deal with it themselves.

Yeah. And then also it very quickly, I think is sort of establishes all the characters as best as it can. All 12 people in this camp, you’ve got Wilford, Brimley who’s I guess a scientist. You’ve got the doc who they call doc and he’s the doctor. And then the only person, you know, that they don’t really, Oh, you’ve got like a stoner guy, you know, it was, yeah.

Every single scene, lighting up a Doobie, which I thought was hilarious. You have Childs who’s played, uh, by an actor that, uh, everybody would, would well recognize David keys notable for being one of the few black actors. And at this time who actually survives a horror film. And he’s quite proud of that, arguably yeah, he’s quite proud of that fact, but then, you know, you get this, this character of, uh, McCready.

Well, I thought it’s cute. When you finally kind of see how his name is spelled out. It’s like mic ready, which is nice, but it’s Kurt Russell. And, uh, in the beginning of the film, you’re not quite sure what role he plays in this. It’s not til about midway through that. You realize he’s just a freaking helicopter pirate.

Pilot, you know, he’s, he’s nobody special. He’s not the leader. He’s not anything. He just pilots the helicopter, he drinks whiskey the whole time, but he ends up being the guy with at least enough sense or at least in the position to be able to sort of become the leader in this movie. So, and, and Kurt Russell is.

Even by this time is, is kind of a long time, becomes a long time. John Carpenter staple. I think it was escape from New York, came out before this movie, but, uh, yeah, so, I mean, it’s, it’s neat how the film sets all this up in a relatively quick time frame. I liked that about the movie is that it wasn’t slow, even though you’ve got 12 characters in the situation and it captured my interest and it kept my interest.

Craig: Like you said, there are a lot of characters and it’s kind of hard for us to keep track of them and talking about them, but they all just have distinct looks and distinct character traits. So it’s not as though you’re confused as to who’s who and all that kind of stuff. And, and most of these guys, uh, are guys that you, if you are familiar with.

Films and television of the eighties that you’re going to recognize. Yeah. TK Carter. His NOLs was in a lot of movies at that time. Keith David, like you said, very recognizable Richard Mazer plays Clark and he’s the dog keeper. He’s from tons of things, but we did a mini series and he was. Adult Stanley and that, like I said, I’ll hold their own.

There really aren’t any weak performances. But when, when they get back to the camp, dr. Blair Wilford, Brimley, scary a is tasked with doing an autopsy on this thing. And, uh, the other doctor, I think, does the autopsy on the pilots that they shot and the pilots that they shot, there was nothing. You know, remarkable about him, just a regular dead guy and, but Wilford, Brimley, Dyson, this, uh, thing, and yeah, it’s gross.

Um, they used actual animal organs that he like pulls out of this creature. And I guess everybody else on set was just really squeamish about it. Wilford, Brimley. Didn’t bother him at all handling all of that Gore and grow stuff. Well, well, we got here is what appears to be anyway, a normal set of

Todd: internal organs,

Craig: heart

Todd: lungs, kidneys, liver

Craig: intestine

seem to be normal. It’s just a mystery. They don’t know what’s going on. Uh, at some point the dog, this new dog startles one of the other guys. And so they tell Clark to put. Not for any reason, just like it bumps into him or something. Um, but they tell Clark to put it with the other dogs and he does, he puts it in the kennel with the other dogs.

And this is when, if you didn’t know what was going on in the movie, this is when it becomes clear because this dog transforms in the kennel it’s face like opens up and like an interior skull kind of protracts and it starts growing all of these tents tickles, it shoots some kind of. Who’s at one of the other dogs that seems to start to kind of like externally digest it.

And the other dogs of course are freaking out. So everybody hears the dogs freaking out. So they go running in there and they all see what happens. Um, so they know, they know, yeah, there’s no question and they shoot it and nothing, it doesn’t seem to phase it. Uh, so they get the flame thrower and, uh, they.

Seemingly kill it with the flame thrower. And that’s when Blair starts doing some, I don’t know if research is the right word, but starts trying to figure out what’s going on. He figures it out seemingly right away. You see what we’re talking about here is an organism that imitates other life forms and

Todd: it imitates him perfectly

Craig: when this thing attacked our dogs that tried to digest them.

Absorbed them. And then the process shape its own cells to imitate them. This, for instance, it’s not dog

temptation. We got to it before it had time to finish. It’s finished. What. Finish imitating these dogs. And when he realizes that he kind of looks at Clark and says, how long were you alone? Were you alone with the dog? And Clark’s like, I don’t know, a while. Why? And he’s like, Hmm, I don’t know. So it seems like, it seems like Blair figures out pretty quickly, what can happen.

And so they go back and they look at the footage from the Ridge, they had taken some like a, they called it a portable video. Something, I don’t know, but anyway, footage and they see footage of these Norwegian guys finding something in the ice. So McCready goes back to the site to check it out. And there’s a huge spaceship there.

And I don’t know how they figured this out, but one of the guys says, you know, that I has probably been frozen there. It, the Norwegians had dug this spaceship out of the ice. And one of the American guys said that ISIS we’ve been there for a hundred thousand years. And then they somewhere just a little bit distant from the crash site or the spaceship, they find the big square where they had dug the ice out.

So they theorize that whatever this thing is had either been thrown from the ship when it crashed or head. Left the ship and frozen nearby. And as it turns out, that’s accurate and by throwing it out, they have brought it back. And then there’s a really funny scene. Gosh, these movies. Our computer technology was not,

Todd: we gave computers a lot of credit back in the eighties.

Craig: Yeah. We liked to pretend that our technology was far more advanced than it was, but really it looks like we, Blair is looking at this simulation, um, which is supposed to show how the thing works. It’s cells. Uh, in fact, the cells of other organisms, and then basically it, it destroys the cells and replicates then imitates.

Um, but it looks like he’s playing like, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s, it’s really still

Todd: the computer itself. Allah, the fly. Can speak in full sentences. And it’s like probability of, one of your crew members being infected is 75%. Right.

Craig: And then it says entire world population infected 27,000 hours from the first contact, which would be about three years.

So that freaks Blair out. Gosh, I don’t know. This story is so simple, but like a lot happens, basically. The thing. They have, you know, they have that body or whatever, they’re going to store it in like the storage room. Again, it doesn’t seem like really a great idea. Like maybe freeze it. Yeah. In Antarctica you could just like put it outside, but of course it comes back to life and then it starts copying the guys.

Todd: Well, that’s the interesting thing about this movie. And this is, this is really the crux of the, the original film, which was itself was based on a short story. But the idea is that this thing can completely replicate someone. So we have a sort of invasion of the body snatchers scenario, and it becomes impossible for everybody on this.

12 person crew to trust each other because they realize pretty quickly that any one of them could actually be the thing. And it’s interesting in the movie, like maybe they don’t even know, or maybe they know, but they are continuing to act like they normally would. And so it really becomes this game. And it’s an interesting juxtaposition.

You have these moments where the thing is just a full out monster and somebody just, you know, their head like bursts open and then. It becomes this crazy ass thing. That’s this DNA, you know, kind of nightmare, but the other half of the movie and the thing that provides the most tension to the film is, okay, so we know maybe somebody is infected, so who is it?

And who’s going to trust who, and who’s going to go off with them and who won’t go off with who, and, you know, it just slowly picks away. At the people in the camp as they themselves can’t really trust each other and are trying to figure out how can they figure out who is the thing? And who’s not, I mean, it’s a neat premise.

It’s a really cool premise. It really goes far beyond this monster movie to this sort of psychological thriller terrorists.

Craig: It is. And, and the way that they know all of this, like they kind of figure it out from Blair’s notes because Blair kind of goes missing for a little while. And they can’t find him, but they read in his notes, uh, what he had already figured out that it can replicate.

And that the thing that they had brought back was not dead yet. Um, and as soon as they figure that out, one of the guys gets attacked by the thing, and it starts to assimilate into him and. In mostly human form runs outside of the outpost building and they chase it out. And when they find it, it’s almost complete, but not quite.

And so they kill it with fire too. And they talk about how, you know, if, if. In Italy, if it had just had another minute or so it would have been complete and we wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. And so that’s how they know. And so at that point, they don’t know, they think that maybe something of the rest of them already are things McCready is standing in front of all of them outside at one point.

And he says, I know I’m human.

Todd: And if you were all these things, then you just attack me right

Craig: now. So some of

Todd: you are still human.

Craig: This thing doesn’t want to show itself. It wants to hide inside the name of station. Go fight if it has to, but it’s vulnerable out in the

Todd: open.

Craig: Meanwhile, Wilford Brimley, his character.

They catch him destroying the helicopter and he had also. Off-camera destroyed a attractor or something, so they don’t have of any transportation. And then there’s a big confrontation where he is in the radio room, destroying all of the communication equipment. They eventually. Converge on him and lock him up in a shed.

Um, and then that’s when they start talking about how they’re going to figure it out. Who’s who first they have an idea that like yeah, if they mix their blood with blood that they know is human. If the alien blood gets mixed with that, they should see some sort of reaction or something.

Todd: Right. It’s

Craig: dark.

I didn’t really quite understand

Todd: box idea and it’s that they have blood of their own that they’ve stored away because this thing, every bit of it is alien. So there will be some kind of reaction. And so they will know. That there is a problem. It’s a little tenuous, but when they get to the blood supply, they see the blood supply has been destroyed.

Somebody has actually gone and sabotage the blood supply, and this is what turns them all against each other. Like Gary had the key, but doc, you know, is the one who normally. Accesses it. And so now they’re, they’re worried, well, who would have come here and sabotage it cause they know that Blair has been locked away.

And so they turned on each other really quickly. Uh, and McCready ends up taking charge because Gary who apparently was the guy in charge, just kind of like the captain. Yeah. Very noble sort of lays his gun down and says, look because of this, this whole situation, I understand. You’re not going to trust me.

So somebody else needs to take charge and McCready. Grabs the gun and decides to be the guy and everybody more or less goes along with that. So they decide to morphine, doc and Clark, who was the guy who was with the dogs and Gary. Right. And Blair had actually said to McCready after McCree had, had locked a Blair, he said, look, Watch Clark watch him closely because he was with those D he, you know, he was with those dogs from the beginning.

He could be wrong. So that’s why those three are under suspicion at the same time the storm is coming in. Uh, and they say, nobody trusts anybody. Now in McCready starts recording a message. He records a tape saying like, look, if, if, if anybody finds a, some were all dead, at least there’s this for posterity.

I wanna, I want to record this and I’m going to hide it. Criti, signing off helicopter pilot for the outpost. And that’s the first time. And I think it’s, it’s a telling moment, really, when we find out that he’s at this point, he’s actually just the helicopter pilot. I mean, up until this point, I felt like he had some level of importance at this facility.

You know, I feel like at least he has agency that not a lot of other people have. And then when you realize he’s just a helicopter pilot, that’s that struck me a little bit like a, like a, a ton of bricks. Uh, it was a nice touch. I thought in the narrative that, uh, that he, that we realized that, but you know, he’s also the.

Typical American like Clint Eastwood type antihero, right? He’s swigging, scotch. He seems to not give a crap about anything. He seems to be clever because in the beginning we saw him playing chess with the computer and he puts a cowboy hat on, you know, when he goes out and about, he’s very much an archetype in this movie, but ends up becoming the hero, uh, has to come in and kind of be smarter than the doctor and like the experts and everybody else.

Craig: Yeah, they considered Clint Eastwood for the role. I don’t know if they even approached him with it, but he was somebody that they had in mind. But yeah, he’s that kind of guy, just kind of the unlikely hero, I guess, um, based solely on circumstance at this point, there’s some business and it goes in, it never gets boring ever.

I mean it, the action movie. But in talking about it, I feel like it might get a little bit, so basically all that happens is they do some investigating, a couple of other guys die for some reason, McCready and Nalls, um, who is the cook? Uh, ended up checking out McCready’s cabin or shed or whatever it is because the light is on when it shouldn’t have been.

And then Nalls comes back alone and he says, I cut the toe line or the guideline, because I think that McCready it’s one of those things because in the, in the shit or cabin or whatever it is, Nalls had found a suit of McCready’s that was all shredded. And they had already decided that the. Person’s clothing gets destroyed in the transformation.

And so they’re convinced that McCready is one of these things that he comes back again, like a badass with a flame thrower and a big thing, a dynamite, and basically threatened to blow them all up and say, attack him. Yeah. And it’s very tense because, you know, There’s still at this point, I don’t know several guys have died at this point.

Plus, um, Wilford Brimley. His character is locked out in a shed somewhere. So there’s probably at a seven or eight of them at this point, but plenty of them that did McCready not have the dynamite and the thrower in hand, they probably would have just dispatched him right away. And you keep seeing these shots of people like.

Concealing weapons kind of behind their back. So you know that he could face attack at any point, but that leads to probably one of the most recognizable scenes in the movie where Norris, who. It is a character that you barely even realizes. Yeah.

Todd: Like it’s like he’s in there twice. This guy

Craig: he’s, he’s a guy like me, he’s kind of this kind of schlubby guy who kind of fades into the background.

And then you’re like, Oh, I didn’t realize you were here, but he, like, he has a heart attack seemingly and the other doctor tries to use a  later on him and he  them once. And then when he goes to do it again, the guy’s chest. Norris, his chest opens up like a huge mouth and bites off coppers.

Todd: Are

Craig: it looks amazing.

Todd: You’re right. This whole scene is notorious. I call it the head crab scene because as soon as he bites off his arms, they go back and, uh, and has got the flame thrower on his back this whole time. It’s a good thing. He’s got enough gas in this thing for this, you know, for as long as the movie goes, But he blasts and they’re so busy blasting the hell out of corpse that he’s head somehow extends off of his body and Tara’s off and falls to the floor.

And then out of it, of his mouth, this sort of second tongue. Type appendage shoots out and, and, and grabs around like a desk or something. It starts pulling it across the floor. It’s like, nobody notices this because this is all happening behind this corpse. That’s been flamed throat and they’re all trying to deal with that.

And then this head suddenly sprouts legs, like a, like a spider. And to ice stocks and cross around to this desk. And by the time they end up putting the flames out and kind of seeing what’s going on, suddenly the spider head runs past them. And it’s such a great moment of this movie where they all just like turn around and look at it.

And their only reaction is just. What the fuck is that? Yeah,

Craig: I don’t remember if it’s at this point, but I, one of the characters says something like, are you fucking

Todd: kidding?

Craig: Oh,

Todd: that’s funny. And of course they blast that and it burns up as well. So, uh, you know, Norris is out of the picture and so is his head crap, but I mean, we’ve said it before, but the effects in this movie are incredible. Are

absolutely

Craig: they look really cool

Todd: and they hold up today, huge team working on this and the special effects guy, the poor guy, it was only like 21 years old.

And he had just come off of doing effects for another film. And they tried to get Rick Baker and some other more experienced people in here. But. Uh, they were busy with other projects. They pull the sky in and the effects budget is what ballooned the budget on this movie originally universalism, just going to spend like 200,000 on it.

And I think they ended up with 1.5 million going into the effects because they ended up with a huge crew. Like 35 people doing the effects on this and all kinds of puppeteers by the end of the movie, the creature required like 30 to 35 puppeteers just to get him, you know, going on on camera. And I think it’s well worth.

That, this is the thing that this is one of the really most notorious things about this movie is how great and in your face the creature effects are. And it’s what really sets it apart from the first film, which was John carpenter’s 10. And again, like we said, it was the thing that brought the criticism in the beginning, but I think at the end of the day, it’s.

It was a wise choice, you know, it was the thing that really, uh, put this movie, uh, ahead of the pack in terms of what could have been just sort of another invasion of the body snatchers film and elevated it just a little bit to incorporate a little bit of that creature monster element.

Craig: Yeah. Rob Barton is the name of the guy who did the effects and he.

At one point was living on set and was working around the clock point where he literally worked himself into exhaustion and not just, you know, being tired, like he was medical clay diagnosed with exhaustion. And so, uh, Stan Winston stepped in to do some of the effects. I think Stan Winston ended up.

Doing the dog thing, Rob and had previously worked on a werewolf movie or something like that. I think he said he was glad that Stan Winston was willing to do the dog. Affects because he was sick to death of working on dog effects. And so Stan Winston actually did work on some of the effects and he just gets kind of a brief mention in the end credits,

Todd: but yeah, and he insisted that he didn’t get, you know, credited.

He said really, Rob Martin does Rob Baton deserves all the credit. And I think he also worked with John Carpenter on the fog before this Rob Bart, Rob buttoned-up.

Craig: Gotcha. Well, and somewhere in that whole melee Clark had tried to attack McCready. Clark had been acting shady for. I thought he was one of the things, but he ends up because he tries to attack McCready, McCready.

He shoots him. And so he said, but McCready says something like the whole thing, the thing with Norris and seeing how Norris died. Right. And seeing how the head it separated itself and try to scape. He says, I think that this thing, every little piece of it. Is its own animal. And so like, just like the head tore itself away to try to protect itself, he gets the idea that if they do something to try to hurt any part of a thing, that it will react.

And so his idea is to draw blood from all of them and then use a hot needle to. See if the blood will react in any way. And it’s really smart. I don’t know if I would have thought about it, I guess. Yeah, no, this is taken directly from the original short story. And so they do this, everybody bleeds into Petri dishes and it’s a great scene that builds tension because every time he does it, I mean, I’m on the edge of my seat.

Is it going to happen? Is it going to happen? Is it going to happen that, so they do windows first. Nothing happens. They do, uh, McCready’s blood, nothing happens. Uh, they do the two dead guys, copper, nothing, Clark, nothing. Uh, Gary says something like, this is a bunch of bullshit. McCready’s like, yeah, I figured you’d say that.

We’ll do you last. And so then he goes to do Palmer, but because they have just in that split second before made Gary a red herring, you don’t expect. In that second, when he does Palmer’s blood for it to react. And it does react. The blood like jumps up out of the Petri dish and it’s such a great scare.

Cause I feel like they do such an excellent job of setting it up. So you’re waiting for it to happen. But then you think just in that moment, Oh, it’s not going to be this one. It’s going to be Gary. And then it pops out. Oh,

Todd: uh, It is awesome. It’s a great effect. And it’s like you said, it’s a perfectly timed scare and this is the part of the movie that I remember the most.

Honestly more than the head crab scene was this jump scare. Cause it’s like this thing just jumps out of the blood. It’s like the blood itself becomes a thing and, and Springs out of his hand in this Petri dish. It’s so cool. And then you realize it’s it’s, it’s it’s him. And so Palmer himself starts like convulsing, like.

Like he’s been discovered. So like, you know, he starts convulsing and the thing starts oozing out of him. He starts kinda melting. It’s super gross. They take care of him,

Craig: not before he kind of like. Eats windows.

Todd: Oh God. Like his head becomes a mouth.

Craig: Yeah. And he doesn’t eat him. Really. What he’s doing is he’s trying to assimilate with him to which he starts to do, but then they torch him to this, I guess, was an unintentional metaphor, I guess, for.

The AIDS crisis. Now, like I said, this blood test was written into the original, short story, which was, you know, decades before the AIDS crisis, but that idea of people being infected and you don’t know no who is carrying this infection and who isn’t, and that you can only find out through a blood test.

It wasn’t intended. To be a metaphor for the AIDS crisis, but it’s not as though he wasn’t unaware of it. He knew that people might read that into it and it actually serves well, you know, like it, it makes a lot of sense, uh, in that context and sadly, um, it’s. Somewhat timely for us today.

Todd: Yeah. Any, I mean, why is it that lately we’ve just been dealing with all these movies that take deal with infections and things spreading with people.

God. Yeah. But at least this scene leads to my absolute favorite line in the whole movie, which, you know, all these people, you know, several of them have been tied up because they’re under extra suspicion like Childs and Garry and whatnot, and being tied up, obviously in this circumstance when somebody who’s tied right next to you turns into this.

The thing is a bit of a liability for you. And by the time all this is done, Gary looks at them and they test Gary and Gary’s fine. And he looks at them and he says the best line in the whole movie.

Craig: I know you, gentlemen, I’ve been through a lot when you find the time, I’d

rather

Craig: not spend the rest of this winter time.

Todd: Oh great. Oh great.

Craig: But anyway, so they test all the rest of them that are their Nalls Childs and Garry, and they’re all fine. So seemingly the ones of them that are left there, which I think at this point is McCready, NOLs, Childs, and Gary. They’re all fine. So they go to test Blair, but when they go to the shed that they had him and he’s gone and they find a tunnel under the floor and, you know, Blair who is an older gentleman and, you know, also, you know, a portly gentleman, there’s no way that he dug this huge tunnel under there.

So he’s got to be a thing. So they go into the tunnel. And they see that he’s been building like a spaceship down there. And uh, somebody says, where was he wanting to go? And somebody else says anywhere, but here, because they know that this thing wants to get out of this isolated space so that it can continue to spread.

I guess at some point the power gets cut and I think it’s McCready says. With the generator, not running with the heater’s not running. It’s going to be like negative 40 here in any time. And we’re all gonna freeze to that. They say, you know, why, why would the thing want that? Right. And McCready says, it wants to freeze now.

Um, it can’t get out of here on its own. So it wants to just go to sleep until a rescue team comes and finds it and takes it somewhere else. And at that point he also says to them, rest of them, we’re not getting out of here alive, but neither is that thing. So they, they blow up Blair’s shed and their plan, I guess, is to blow up the whole camp.

I don’t know if they’re checking on the generator or they’re planning on turning it back on or they’re going to blow it up. I don’t know, but they find that it’s gone. And then they’re off. They kind of split up setting, uh, explosives in different. Places Blair pops up behind Gary and puts his hands into Gary’s face.

And so we assume that Gary is either assimilated or killed or both. And then novels go, it goes down a corridor, inspecting some sort of noise and he just disappears and we never see him again. Now, I guess there was a deleted scene. That showed him getting attacked by Blair too. And it was an effect scene where the thing would out of a box, like burst out of a crate and attack NOLs and assimilate him as well.

But carpenter ended up not liking the way that it looked. So he decided to just leave Nalls death I’m ambiguous. But at that point, a huge thing comes under the floor boards, uh, tremors style. Throws McCready off to the side bursts out of the floor. And it’s this huge like amalgamation of dogs and people, and Blair’s face is a part of it, but it’s just this big monstrous thing.

And of course, you know, it may not look as clean as some of our effects today. Look, but I’ve said it a bazillion times. I much prefer. My practical effect that at least. Really looks tangible. Yeah. It looks like something that you could reach out and touch. It doesn’t look like something in a video game.

And so I think it looks great, but Mac blows it up pretty unceremoniously. Really? Yeah. And that’s kind of the end. Like he blows up the whole outpost and then he’s just sitting there kind of in the rebel and then Childs walks up to him. And he claims that he saw Blair wandering around. So he went out, looking for him and he got lost in the storm is just found his way back because of the explosion and the two of them sit there and they kind of talk about like, how do we know if we’re both human?

And Max’s something like, well, if either of us has any surprises, I don’t think any of us are in, in the condition to do anything about it. And so they say, well, so then what are we going to do? And McCready says, well, let’s just sit here a while and see what happens. Cut to black and that’s the end.

Todd: It’s appropriate.

I mean, this movie went through a number of endings. They shot some endings. This, everybody had an opinion about what the, what the endings of this film should be. You know, John Carpenter had this kind of nihilistic ending and the studio thought it should be a little more upbeat. They should thought they should show, you know, the kind of getting the better of the thing once and for all.

But I think it’s really appropriate. And. Again, sadly commentary on today. Like at this point, like what can you do about this? Like, this is like Pandora’s box has been opened and this thing can affect any of us. We really don’t know who it is. And the movie ends, I’m wondering if either Childs or McCready or both of them are infected and we’re just sort of left to hope.

That may be at the end of the day, whatever it is is contained there in the Arctic with their deaths. We know they’re going to die. We presume or are they going to freeze to death? And there’s going to be a thing that comes back later,

Craig: you know? Right. That’s the thing. If one of them is a thing, if they freeze that we know doesn’t kill it.

So it could just be in suspended animation until somebody comes along and finds it, which in theory. Somebody eventually would carpenter has flip flopped on this. You know, he allowed the film to be licensed for a video game. And in the video game, both guys are rescued and neither one is a thing. And he has said, That’s cannon with the movie, but then he’s also said in other interviews that one of them definitely is a thing.

Um, so he’s gone back and forth on it. There are other theories in the 2000. Okay. Or it was 2013, 2017, somewhere, I think 2013. They made a precall and in the prequel it’s established that when the thing yeah, assimilates and replicates a, an organism, it does not replicate any. External nonorganic materials.

So let’s say you had a pacemaker. It wouldn’t replicate that piercings. It wouldn’t replicate. And in that last scene, child still has his earrings. So some fans think he can’t be because it wouldn’t be there. Um, but we don’t know anything about McCready, but I like the ending because it seems appropriately nihilistic.

You know, that I, I didn’t want. Anybody to be rescued. And that was something they considered to have at least McCready be rescued in the end and fly off, you know, be flown off in a helicopter. I think it’s much more in keeping with the tone of the movie that we can hope that the threat has been destroyed, but we don’t have hope for these remaining people.

Yeah. And I think it’s, it’s, uh, appropriate. And again, ultimately it’s, it’s a dark. Film, as long as we’ve talked about it, really, the plot is very simple. It’s just so many times. We talk about movies and we say, well, the plot’s pretty simple. Just not a lot happens. Well, the plot here is very simple, but a lot does happen and it keeps you on your toes and it keeps you interested.

And, you know, at an hour and 50 minutes, um, that’s pushing my attention span, but it does not. It feels short. It feels like a short movie because it goes so fast.

Todd: And I think it’s a shame, you know, I, uh, I’m going to quote John Carpenter who was, um, quoted in 2008 and he was talking about how this movie was received.

And he said, quote, I take every failure heart. The one I took the hardest was the thing. My career would have been different. If that one had been a big hit. The movie was hated even by science fiction fans, they thought that I had betrayed some kind of trust and the piling on was insane. Even the original movies director, Christian Nivea was dissing me.

It’s so hard to believe that now. You know, I think, yeah. I mean, the movie is great. I love it. And I think it’s tense and it’s got special effects and they’re done well and they hold up today. The ending is very appropriate. Like you said, it doesn’t cop out. It never gets cheesy. And the acting is great.

It’s a great ensemble cast. I can’t really find a fault with this movie. So, uh, I love it. And I, and I think a Wilford Brimley, of course, uh, his, his part in it is big and he does it

Craig: and we didn’t talk about him. We didn’t talk about him a whole lot. Just because things move so quickly that he does a really good job in this movie.

And he did a good job. I thought, and I, this is the writing too. I at points, I suspected that he was a thing. And at some times I didn’t, I thought surely he can’t be when he was destroying all the communication stuff and destroying the transportation stuff that doesn’t make sense. A thing would want to get out.

But then later when, uh, McCready is talking to him through the window of his little shed, right. He’s like, I’m fine now. I’m okay. I calmed down, I just went out, please just let me out. Then I started to think kind of shady. So he had good nuances of character. He played it well. So I think despite the fact that he didn’t like the movie, I thought that he did a great job in it.

And I thought that he was cast did really well because he doesn’t seem. Like a threatening presence. It just works. You take somebody who seems grandfatherly and innocuous and, and then he ends up being the big, bad, uh, it just, it, it really worked for me. And I’m glad that we chose to do this, uh, Wilford Brimley.

It’s not like he’s somebody that I’ve admired my whole life or anything, but like I said, he’s just always. My entire life been on my cultural radar. You just, you know who this guy is, you know, his voice, you associate things with him. Um, and so I think it’s fitting that we at least pay a little bit of respect.

Todd: Absolutely. Well, thank you again for listening to another episode of two guys in a chainsaw. If you enjoyed it, please share with friends. You can find us online. You can find our Facebook page or our website to guys.red, 40 net.com. Please leave a message there anywhere you find us really. And let us know what you thought of this movie.

Give us some suggestions for films coming up as well until next time, I’m Todd.

Craig: and I’m Craig

Todd: with two guys and a chainsaw.


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