If director Christian Nyby's name sounds familiar to
Apostles, it may be because his son, Christian I. Nyby II,
directed several episodes of the original
TV series. Nyby, Sr. was a prolific television director as
This version of the story is set in the Arctic (around the
North Pole) rather than the Antarctic (South Pole) as in
Goes There?" and the 1982 film version
The story opens at an Officers' Club in Anchorage, Alaska.
The base it's on goes unnamed, but would presumably be
Elmendorf Air Force Base since the military personnel in the
movie are U.S. Air Force officers and Elmendorf was
established in Anchorage in 1940.
The reporter, Scotty, comes into the Officers' Club and comments that it's 25 below outside. Although
such temperatures have been experienced in Anchorage, it is
not frequent. Average winter temperatures there are 5-30
The characters all have different names than those in
Goes There?" and there are no real parallels between the
characters in the film and in the short story. However,
there is one supporting character, Lt. MacPherson, who is
occasionally called "Mac", as MacReady is also called in
The Thing (possibly
scriptwriter Bill Lancaster borrowed the nickname for
MacReady after hearing it in this film, because the McReady
in the short story is never called that).
In the Officers' Club, Eddie comments that Scotty is a warm
weather man. This may have been Bill Lancaster's inspiration
for MacReady's interest in warm climes in the script of
Eddie says he and Scotty first met in Accra, where it was
105 degrees in the shade. Most likely he is referring to
the capital city of the country of Ghana in Africa.
Scotty and Mac comment that Dr. Carrington was at Bikini.
This most likely refers to Bikini Atoll, a series of islands
in the Pacific controlled by the U.S. from 1945-1986 and
where the U.S. conducted a series of nuclear blast tests
The main character in the film is a pilot named Captain
Patrick Hendry rather than the McReady of the short story.
Hendry's copilot comments that Peary went to the North Pole
and retired with a sack-full of medals. This is a reference to
Robert Edwin Peary, who, for some time, was credited as the
first explorer to reach the geographic North Pole in 1909,
although it has also been contended that it was actually Dr.
Frederick Cook who reached it the year before.
As in the short story, the U.S. research base detects a
magnetic anomaly in the region that causes them to
Notice that the U.S. Air Force plane flown by Captain Hendry
has both wheels and skis on its landing gear, for landings
on the Arctic ice. The plane is a Douglas C-47.
When Dr. Carrington dictates a note to Nikki, he lets us
know that the story has opened on November 2. The year is
never stated, but would likely be 1950/51 when the movie was
Dr. Carrington says the crash site is 48 miles due east of
the outpost. In
Goes There?", it is located 80 miles southwest of the
Reading back Dr. Carrington's notes to Captain Hendry, Nikki
mentions the magnetometer registered a deviation the day
before. As the name suggests, a magnetometer is a device for
measuring magnetic fields.
At 16:13 on the DVD, the researchers
first spot the saucer crash site
from the air. Why does it appear there are already vehicle
tracks across the surface of the
impact zone? When they land to
investigate, not only are the tracks
gone, but the impact zone appears to
be quite a bit smaller!
Just as in the short story, the researchers decide they will
melt the ship out of the ice with thermite bombs.
Scotty calls the saucer discovery the biggest story since
the parting of the Red Sea. This, of course, is a reference
to the flight of the Israelites from Egypt across the Red
Sea in the Biblical Book of Exodus.
Notice that at 23:05 on the DVD, the sled dogs are not
reacting to the explosion and flames off-screen!
Dr. Carrington says the alien "got out or was thrown out" of
the saucer, similar to MacReady's line in
At 25:20 on the DVD, Lt. MacPherson is reading from an issue
Air Force Magazine.
Eddie mentions having been stationed on Beulen Island. I can
find no real world reference to an island by that name.
Reporter Scotty is upset that permission to send out his
story is being delayed by the military as each succeeding
officer in the chain of command passes the buck on to the
next. He wonders who Truman will ask when it gets to him and
Eddie answers, "Margaret." This exchange is a reference to
the current President Harry S. Truman and his wife,
At 34:37 on the DVD, Bob mentions a mission over Rechenberg.
This is most likely a reference to Rechenberg-Bienenmühle,
Germany and probably a reference to events during WWII.
At 38:54 on the DVD, we get our first glimpse of the alien,
still in ice. The head looks rather like the stereotypical
aliens of modern-day abduction lore.
At 39:52 on the DVD, we see that apparently the sled dogs
are made to sleep entirely outside at night in the Arctic,
without even a wooden shelter as a kennel!
The dogs start to bark like crazy when the Thing wakes up
even though it seems unlikely they could know it was awake
from outside while it was still inside.
In their argument that the alien appears to be a highly
evolved, thinking plant creature, Drs. Carrington and Stern
comment on a couple of Earth's own "thinking" plants such
as the telegraph vine and the acanthus century plant.
Unfortunately, it seems that scriptwriter Lederer grabbed a
few plant names and threw them in without research! The
telegraph vine does not communicate with others of its
species; it's name was simply derived from the movements of
the plant's small leaflets as they sample the intensity
of the sunlight for the larger leaves, which resemble a semaphore
telegraph. The "acanthus century plant" is actually two
separate plants, neither of which traps and eats small
mammals as described in the film. (There are other plants that behave in manners
similar to the ones described, but these aren't them!)
When Scotty hears about the "intelligent" Earth plants, he
says, "That's one for Ripley." This is a reference to
Believe It or Not, a franchise of books, comic
strips, comic books, radio shows, television programs,
museums and more that tell the bizarre but true stories of
people, places, and things in this world.
At 54:20 on the DVD, we see that the C-47 airplane piloted
by Captain Hendry is apparently called, ironically, Tropical
We get our first good look at the Thing as Hendry throws
open the greenhouse door at 57:34 on the DVD. Somehow, the
eyes do not appear to be large and black as they did on the
face frozen in the ice.
Bob tells the others that after dousing the creature in
kerosene, they can use a veri pistol to ignite it. A veri
pistol is another name for a flare gun.
When asked if he knows how to fire the veri pistol, Lt.
MacPherson mentions he saw Gary Cooper in Sergeant York.
Sergeant York is a 1941 biographical film starring
Gary Cooper about Alvin York, a poor enlisted man in the
U.S. Army during WWI, who was a skilled marksman.
Scotty mentions having been at Alamein, Bouganville, and
Okinawa. These are all locations where campaigns were fought
As they await the creature's approach, MacPherson worriedly
asks the others, "What if it can read our minds?" This is a
callback to the suggested telepathy of the Thing in
Scotty mentions he was at the execution of Ruth Snyder and
Judd Gray. This references back to a sensational crime in 1927, the two
illicit lovers having murdered Ruth's husband, which led to
the arrest, trial, and execution of the pair. Scotty goes on
to say he didn't get a picture because "they didn't allow
cameras...but one guy--" before getting interrupted as the
Thing approaches the building. What he was about to say is
that a photographer for the Chicago Tribune, Tom Howard,
smuggled in a special camera strapped to his ankle and got a
now famous picture of Ruth Snyder's execution in the
Dr. Carrington's attempt to sabotage the base's defense
against the Thing by turning off the generator and holding
the others at bay with a gun is derived from Blair's
paranoid attempts to stop the Thing, or anyone else, from
escaping the base in
At the end of the film, the outpost is referred to as Polar
Why does the saucer crash? We never learn the reason.
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