I’m probably the worst man alive to do a write up of The Thing. Firstly, I have not read Who Goes There (1938), seen The Thing From Another World (1951) or watched The Thing (2011), so I’ve little choice but to concede to posterity and assume this is the definitive version of John W. Campbell’s original story.
Secondly, I love this movie, to an almost psychotic degree. I facetiously remarked to my flatmate moments before it began that it was the second greatest movie ever made (we had both unanimously agreed on the original Total Recall’s pre-eminence the evening previous). This is perhaps only the second time I’ve conceded that I’m totally compromised as a source.
As such, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Childs is infected at the end. Not because of the evasiveness of his explanation, nor the fact he’s changed his quote, nor that he’s not wearing goggles in an outside scene for the first time. Nor, even, for the more esoteric theories I’ve heard before, like his lack of steam breath in the cold compared to MacCready.
No, the reason Childs is infected at the end is because the final action of Kurt Russell sharing a bottle of whiskey with the creature is too good an image to pass up, and frankly elevates the film even beyond the high standards it had already set for itself. In a story that borders on existential terror – what it means to be human – man’s offering of whiskey to his alien adversary in a moment of defeat is just fantastic.
Just as he “offered” it to the computer that beat him at chess at the start, incidentally.
I hope to some day to a more extensive write-up of what this flick means to me – I first saw it as a child, having already seen Alien, Terminator and Predator, and was shocked to discover that this was far more frightening than any of the above – and hopefully without going too deep into the Cold War analogy hypothesis, but this will do for now.