Turns out this super-grim horror masterpiece was almost a little less grim.
John Carpenter's 1982 film is considered a classic blend of horror and science fiction, but some viewers are still troubled by its ambiguous ending, which sees Kurt Russell's MacReady and Keith David's Childs sitting among the burning ruins of their arctic base, waiting to freeze to death, sharing a drink and trying to make peace with the fact that neither of them really knows whether the other is a deadly shapeshifting alien. Neither of them knows who "the Thing" is, and neither do we. It can be a little infuriating to watch if you were really hoping the mystery would be solved by the end of the flick, but that's the way Carpenter wanted it.
“Really, this is a movie about the end of the world,” Carpenter said at a screening of the film last week at the Entertainment Weekly CapeTown Film Festival. “It does not have a real happy ending. And it has what a lot of audiences cannot stand, which is an ending that has no real conclusion. It’s ambiguous. Now, I do know, in the end, who the Thing is, but I cannot tell you.”
Carpenter also revealed that the ending initially drew disapproval from executives at Universal Studios, who wanted Carpenter to cut out the final scene to make it look like MacReady simply blew up the base and escaped, free of the alien menace.
“The studio asked me to cut the movie, drop out the final scene, have Kurt Russell do what he does with the dynamite, blow it up and then walk out, and the movie ends. It didn’t test any differently. I said, ‘We’re not gonna do that. We’re gonna do my ending.’”
So Carpenter got his way and we're left wondering about the Thing's new host forever. What do you think? Was Carpenter right?
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