Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
The Thing (Prequel)
Written by Eric Heisserer
Directed by Matthijs Van Heijningen
Released in 2011
An international team at a Norwegian Antarctic research base
dig up from the ice a frozen creature from
The Thing is a prequel to the 1982 movie of the
The Universal logo at the beginning of the film is not the
one normally used by Universal since 1997. The one seen here
is a somewhat updated version of the classic logo used on
the 1982 John Carpenter film.
As in John Carpenter's 1982 film, this one's opening tells the viewer it takes place in
Antarctica, Winter 1982. Antarctica is the icy continent at
the South Pole. If it were really winter there as the story
is taking place (June 21-September 21 on the continent), there would be no significant sunlight as
the continent is essentially dark for the 6 months of autumn
The Norwegians are driving a Thiokol Spryte snowcat. The model
ceased production in the early 1990s but are still in wide use.
At 1:41 on the DVD, Olav appears to be using a Cushman Model
301 Communications Monitor to track the signal coming from
the buried spaceship.
At 3:52 on the DVD, notice that Olav's glasses are resting
on the inside glass of the snowcat's windshield as it hangs
facedown in the ice trench.
At 4:14 on the DVD, the crew of the suspended snowcat begins
to get a glimpse of the spaceship at the bottom of the ice
trench. I've brightened the screenshot below to show more
At 4:46 on the DVD, the computer screen shows that Kate is
studying a specimen of Ursus spelaeus. This is a cave bear,
a species which lived about 27,500 years ago, just as shown
on the screen. As the camera pulls back at 5:01, we see the
frozen remains of the creature.
The computer screen mentioned above suggests that Kate works at
University in New York.
The monitor Kate is using on her lab computer is made by
The shot of the frozen cave bear carcass at about 4:56 is
probably intended to trick the viewer who is familiar with
into briefly believing
they are seeing a Thing carcass.
The song heard playing on Kate's earphones at about 4:57 on
the DVD is "Who Can It Be Now?" (1981) by Men at Work. She
hums along with the song while she adjusts the view of the
cable camera that is penetrating the interior of the cave
At 5:31 on the DVD, the sign on the door in the background
shows that Kate is using Paleontology Lab B-206 at the
Paleontology is the study of prehistoric life.
At 5:45 on the DVD, other paleontological specimens (mostly
animal skulls) can be seen on the shelves in the lab behind
Dr. Halvorson. In fact, throughout the scene in the lab, we
see various silhouettes of animal shapes, such as a turtle,
a carnosaur skull, and a plesiosaur.
Dr. Halvorson remarks in Kate's lab that she specializes in
Dr. Halvorson remarks that a colleague of his from Oslo has
made a remarkable discovery in Antarctica. Oslo is the
capital city of Norway.
At 8:00 on the DVD, there is a dashboard figure (possibly a
hula dancer) in the cockpit of the helicopter.
During the copter ride to the Norwegian station, Carter asks
Kate if she knows how the Cavaliers are doing. This is a
reference to the NBA basketball team the
Cavaliers. The dialog
between Carter and Jameson suggests that the Cavaliers were
not doing well, which was true; the team had a horrible
15-67 win-loss ratio in the 1981-82 season.
Carter and Griggs warn Kate that a nasty storm is moving in
in two days. This sets up the outpost being unable to
communicate with the outside world after digging the Thing
out of the ice.
Jameson calls in to the Norwegian base from the copter with
the call sign H-3 Sea King. This is probably meant to imply
that the copter is a
Sikorsky H-3 Sea King helicopter,
which were in service from 1961-2006. The
one seen here though does not seem to have the standard H-3
but is probably a Sea King model of some other type.
The Norwegian outpost is called
Thule Station and an English
language sign proclaiming so is
posted outside. "Thule" is a word
from classical European mythology
that refers to a land far in the
north. Many modern historians
believe it was a reference to
Norway, the northern most portion of
Scandinavia, though it may have also
referenced certain islands in the
At 10:40 on the DVD, we see the
Norwegian flag and another flag that seems to be related to
an Oslo academy (see the note a few items below about the
logo on the doors of the Sprytes) flying on the pole at
Thule Station appears to have at least 4 snowcats on site.
We see Kate and the others loaded onto a large one (three
passenger windows visible) after they get off the
helicopter, while a second, smaller one (with 2 passenger
windows) and two more with just 1 passenger window are seen
later. (The screen shot below is from later in the movie
after all personnel have returned to Thule Station.) Later
scenes in the movie, where groups of people are in different
places in the exterior of the outpost at the same time seem to
indicate even more snowcats than that. Later still, the
Juliette-Thing tells Kate she knows where they keep the keys
for the five vehicles; is she/it referring to five snowcats
or also including the helicopter?
When the large Spryte arrives at the cave site, 2 smaller,
one-windowed Sprytes are already parked there. Also the one
that fell into the ice trench earlier was of the 2-window
variety; was it left stuck there or were the Norwegians able
to tow it out somehow?
As mentioned above, two small 1-windowed Sprytes are already
parked at the cave site when the large Spryte arrives. But
when the camera switches to show Kate inside the vehicle as
they arrive (11:03 on the DVD), the view out the window
shows them driving past a parked 2-windowed Spryte!
At 11:08 on the DVD, a pole appears to be sticking up on the
hill above the cave entrance. Possibly the Norwegians
planted an antenna to facilitate communications between the
cave site and Thule Station.
The doors on the Sprytes have the logo
of Oslo Norsk Geo-(something) Academy.
A nice view across the top of the spaceship is seen at 13:06
on the DVD.
After viewing the spaceship, Kate and the others are driven
to the nearby location where the Thing's body is frozen
beneath the ice. But the Spryte they arrive in is now one
with two passenger windows! Notice when they all return to
Thule Station at 14:42 on the DVD, only the 3-winodowed and
two 1-windowed Sprytes drive up; the 2-windowed one is still
parked where we last saw it when the helicopter first
The form of the Thing in the ice
seems to have similar spines as the
one in the
ice shown on the cover of the
novelization of the
A fuller view of the Thing in ice is given at 14:11 on the
Several photographs are seen on the wall at 14:46 on the
DVD. The upper middle photo may be of the slats on the top
of the spaceship
(which open up when the ship is powered up late in the film). The left-most photos may be of the Thing
in the ice.
At 14:52 on the DVD, two maps of Antarctica are hanging on
the wall in the background.
It seems that there is only one snow dog at Thule Station (a
husky and malamute mix as revealed in the novelization of
Why? What possible use is a single dog? In the
1982 film, Outpost 31 has
six dogs for sled pulling as needed.
At 16:19 on the DVD, one of the station personnel (it's
dark, so it's hard to see who it is) appears to
have the Union Flag of the United Kingdom hanging next to
At 17:20 on the DVD, we see that there is a signpost outside
Thule Station pointing and stating the distance to various
points around the world. It's too far away from the camera
to read, but the Bonus Materials on the DVD give us a closer
look. The signs all indicate real places in the world.
Notice the top sign points to Nordpolen (North Pole) in four
directions, all equidistant, since the station is almost at
the exact opposite location (the South Pole) as it is.
The song the Norwegians sing in the rec room is a Norwegian
song that was entered in the Eurovision Song Contest in
1980, which director Heijningen heard one of the actors performing off set
and decided to include in the film. The song is "Sámiid
Ædnan" ("Lapland") by Sverre Kjelsberg and Mattis Hætta.
Lapland is a region covering parts of Norway, Sweden,
Finland, and Russia that was demanding autonomy in the late
1970s and the song is about a hunger strike by its citizens
during this time.
At 22:08 on the DVD, we see that Carter has an earring in
his left ear. This sets up Kate's observation about it at
the end of the film.
I have not been able to identify the brand of beer being
drank in the rec room; we never get a close, steady shot of
a bottle. Presumably it is a Norwegian brand.
At 22:45 on the DVD, as Griggs goes out to the copter to get
some of "the good stuff", we hear the dog barking and
howling in the background. This is presumably an indication that the dog somehow senses the awakening
Thing in the ice block. At 23:18, we see the dog scratching
at the bottom of the kennel door and trying to chew through
the wires, just as one of the dogs does in the
1982 film. But how is it that
the animal is able to sense the Thing's impending emergence
while it's still frozen in the ice? Is the scent of the
creature sublimating through the melting ice?
At 22:55 on the DVD, Griggs picks up a magazine that has an
advertisement on the back proclaiming, "Carlton is lowest."
The ad is for Carlton cigarettes and the slogan refers to
the brand having less tar than other brands.
At 23:31 on the DVD, when Jameson opens the door to check on
the frozen creature in the ice, we see that the door is
labeled "STUVE ROM". "Rom" is Norwegian for "room" and I
wasn't able to find the translation of "stuve", but most
likely the sign is meant to read "Storage Room".
At 17:39 we see
a sled-like contraption leaning up against the wall (on
screen-left) in the storage room where the ice block is
stored and another one at
24:34 is seen up in the rafters. These must be the two
sleds we see cluttering the floor of the room in the
1982 film after the station has
been mostly gutted by fire.
The windows of the storage room appear to be slightly
farther apart from each other than in the
From the clouded, quick, and scorched glimpses we get of the
Thing in the form it has in the ice and after it emerges, it
appears to have somewhat of a dark, crab-like body and legs.
Most likely this is not its true form, if it even has one.
At 25:12 on the DVD, an Antarctica map is hanging on the
At 31:25 on the DVD, a version of
the Norwegian coat of arms is seen
hanging in the mess hall.
The chalk boards in the mess room have Norwegian writing on
them, presumably describing the food items of the last meal.
The only words I've been able to read clearly and translate
are marinert sild (marinated herring).
When Kate finds the titanium plate from Henrik's arm inside
the Thing corpse, Karl confirms that Henrik broke his arm
last year and had to go to Argentina to have it set.
Argentina and Chile are the two closest countries to
Antarctica, reaching the southern tip of the South American
Notice that when Kate and Adam look at Henrik's cells,
whenever we are given the microscopic view of the
cells, we also hear squishy, watery sounds as the cells are
seen moving around. A typical Hollywood trope of inventing
sounds that don't exist, and that the audience couldn't
possibly hear if they did, to add a sense of mood.
Carter wears a cap with a patch on it, but it's too blurry
At 43:58 on the DVD, a sign on a door says "toalett". This
is Norwegian for "toilet".
At 53:47, Kate and Lars disable the vehicles to prevent the
Thing from escaping. But then, near the end of the film,
both the Halvorson-Thing and Kate & Carter seemingly manage
to repair two of them pretty quickly and easily, so what was
At 54:37 on the DVD, Lars shows Kate the case full of
grenades, which becomes important later in the film and in
the 1982 film. It's hard to
imagine though, exactly what was the use of grenades at an
Antarctic research station?
The black and white photo on the wall of the mess hall at
1:00:14 on the DVD is of Olav V, king of Norway from
1957-1991. He was a very popular ruler and known as the
At 1:01:41 on the DVD, we see the words "vaffel kake" on the
chalk board in the mess hall. This is Norwegian for "waffle
At 1:02:30 on the DVD, we see a Norwegian flag hanging in
the mess hall.
One of the Things sabotages the blood test, just as one will
later at Outpost 31 in
As the station personnel gather in the rec room at 1:09:58
on the DVD, we see that there is a small Christmas tree with
lights on it (plus the other Christmas lights strung around
the bar seen earlier). This tends to suggest that the story
takes place sometime around Christmas. That conflicts with
the film's opening text that it is Winter, 1982, since
Winter in Antarctica is June-September. Possibly the text
refers to the Winter of the northern hemisphere since the
film's country of origin is the United States, where Winter
occurs in the months of December-March; this would also
explain why there is still daylight seen in the Antarctic in both
this and the
At 1:10:05 on the DVD, we see a box on the wall of the rec
room that says "Post Norge". This is for deposit of postal
items to be sent to addresses outside of the station,
essentially meaning "Norway Post (Office)".
At 1:10:43 and 1:13:03 on the DVD, several books are seen on the
shelf behind Jonas as he is attacked by the Thing arm:
Third Edition (I've been unable
to translate this title. It may
be German rather than the
Snow Gods by
Frederic Morton (Frederic
Morton is an American essayist
H.V. Morton ("Schottlandreise"
is German for "Scotland". H.V.
Morton was a travel writer.)
Hvem Hvad Hvor (all
three volumes of this are on the
Hvem Hvad Hvor [Who
What Where] is a Danish series
of handbooks about yearly events
in Denmark and the rest of the
The Power of Empathy
(this is a book by Arthur P.
Ciaramicoli Ed.D, Ph.D and
Katherine Ketcham; however, this
book wasn't published until
2000, so couldn't have been part
of Thule Station's library in
1982! It may have been placed by
the set dressers as an ironic
statement of Kate's mercy in
granting a fiery death to Jonas
in the wake of the Thing
absorption he was currently
40 Woorden in de
Woestijn by (Bernard H.)
At 1:11:06 on the DVD, there is some kind of a device
(probably audio) in the rec room,
made by Tandberg. Tandberg is a Norwegian manufacturer of audio and
video entertainment systems (now owned by Cisco).
At 1:11:24 on the DVD, we see there are a bunch of mini
Norwegian flags strung up above the bar of the rec room.
As Kate and Carter stalk down the hallway at 1:14:52 on the
DVD, there is blood stained on the wall. But when did this
stain get there? Who or what was injured/killed there?
At 1:16:12 on the DVD, Carter buries an ax into the wall in
an attempt to stop the Thing arm that is crawling along it.
The ax is later seen still embedded in the wall in the
At 1:20:55 on the DVD, the two-headed Thing is left dead and
burning and will be seen again in the
1982 film. The sculpture of the
deformed creature is generally the
same as the one in the
1982 film but looks quite
different in the details; this can
be excused due to the fact that this
film needed to use the likenesses of
the real actors who played the
characters who became the fused
creature, although the original,
1982 version appears to be more like a single person stretched apart
in the process of transformation than the fusing of two individuals
as depicted in this film.
The kerosene cans that are scattered near the burned
corpse in the
1982 film are missing here. This
film depicts it being burned simply with a flamethrower,
with no extra fuel having been dumped on it.
The open hatch of the spaceship
looks fairly different from the one
Here, we see the activated engines of the saucer melt the
ice above it. But in the
1982 film, the crew of U.S.
Outpost 31 bring a videotape back from the Norwegian station
that appears to show the scientists using thermite charges
to melt away the ice and uncover it.
At 1:27:18 on the DVD, we can see that the grenade held by
Kate has a label including the initials TH on it, which may
stand for thermite, a metallic powder
that can generate an extremely hot burst of heat when
combined with a catalyst. The label design is not the same
as seen on the grenades used by Lars in the
The shot of the Thing revealing itself behind Kate at
1:27:30 on the DVD is reminiscent of the aliens coming to
life from within the resin-coated walls of the base on
Acheron in the 1986 film Aliens.
Seemingly having destroyed the Thing, Carter tells Kate
there is a Russian station about 50 miles from them. We do
not hear of this outpost in any of the other Thing stories.
And, since we soon learn that Carter is a Thing at this
point, is his statement accurate? In the novelization of The Thing, Fuchs mentions
that the Norwegian station (Thule) is about 80 kilometers
(49.7 miles) from U.S. Outpost 31.
At 1:31:57 on the DVD, if you look closely, you can see that
Carter no longer has the earring in his left ear, tipping us
off that he is a Thing a little bit before Kate notices it
When Kate confronts the Carter-Thing, it seems that it
doesn't have access to all of his memories because he puts
his hand to the wrong ear (his right instead of his left)
when she tells him she knew he was still human back at Thule
Station because of his earring (which is now missing).
The shot of Colin, who has committed suicide by slashing his
wrist and throat is a bit different than the shot of the
suicide man seen in
1982 film. He is slouched
farther down in his chair here and the radio equipment is
not as badly damaged. It almost seems as if the
1982 film wanted to give the
impression that someone had deliberately sabotaged the
equipment (as occurs at Outpost 31); that scenario does not
occur in this prequel. The face is different, of course,
too, but they needed to match the current actor, so that's
Given that Thule Station is said to be about 80 kilometers
from U.S. Outpost 31 in
the novelization of The Thing,
it doesn't seem realistic that Lars and the helicopter pilot
took so long to track down the dog, seemingly catching up to
it only as it is nearing the U.S. outpost, having flown
after it almost immediately after it flees Thule.
During the closing credits, we see the dog suddenly emerge
from the wreckage of the station and bolt into the
snowfields. This is slightly off from the statement in
"The Things" that the
main portion of the Thing's soul hid inside the Norwegian
dog and fled while the human forms it imitated fought off
the attack at the Norwegian camp.
Lars' clothing and radio headset are
slightly different than seen in
1982 film. Also, the helicopter pilot
has a different-colored headset and
The closing credits name the helicopter pilot at the end of
the film as Matias. The novelization
of The Thing tells us
his name was Jan Bolen.
Notes from the Director's Commentary on the DVD,
with director Matthijs Heijningen and producer Eric Newman
It is stated that they thought it was too unbelievable that
the Norwegians would use a bunch of thermite to uncover the
spaceship in the ice as implied in the
1982 film, hence the scene of
the ship's engines melting the ice above it.
An early script featured a main character that was
MacReady's brother as a helicopter pilot to the Norwegian
station! There had been an idea to use digital effects to
show a younger Kurt Russell as the original MacReady in a
flashback to introduce the brother character.
The spaceship depicted in this film is slightly modified
from that seen in the
It is confirmed there is only one dog at Thule Station.
The production was not able to account for all the holes in
the station walls seen in the
1982 filmby the end of
this film; there were just too many to track.
The filmmakers did not consider the spaceship to be the
Thing's ship. A back-story in early drafts of the script
described the Norwegians boarding the craft early in the
film and discovering dead alien bodies and evidence that the
ship was a zoology lab in space that had brought the Thing
aboard (perhaps unknowingly) and it had escaped and attacked
the crew, causing the crash.
(Peter Watts' story "The Things" has a different explanation.)
The filmmakers assumed the Thing had no true form of its
own, only assuming the forms of other life forms it had
The filmmakers assumed the Thing intentionally froze itself
in the ice, waiting to be revived at some time in the future
by other life forms.
At about 26:20 on the DVD, the portion
of the Thule Station seen on the left of the screen is what
is later seen still standing in the
In the first appearance of the Thing (after it has escaped
the ice block), it has already absorbed the dog.
Heijningen says that, in his mind, the fillings found on the
bathroom floor by Kate were Juliette's.
The radio communications problems being suffered by Thule
Station tie in to dialog in the
1982 film, where Windows says he
hasn't been able to raise anyone for two weeks. (In fact,
Windows even goes on to remark, "I doubt if anybody's talked
to anybody on this entire continent...")
At around 44:37 on the DVD, Olaf speaks Danish to Trond and
Trond speaks Norwegian to him. Norwegians and Dutch often
speak to each other this way in the real world and are
perfectly understood among themselves.
The filmmakers wanted to be able to see the actors' breaths
to indicate cold, but in reality your breath would not be
visible in Antarctica because there's no moisture in the air
Juliette's shocked expression as she Things-out is meant to
suggest that she did not know she was a Thing. This conforms
to the depiction of the Thing in
"The Things" and in comments made by the cast and crew
Heijningen states he checked into the use of flamethrowers
in Antarctica and found that they are not allowed, let alone
used, on the continent.
The shots of the dog/helicopter chase during the end credits
at 1:37:47 and 1:37:58 are from the
Notes from the Deleted Scenes
In the deleted scenes in the Extras of the DVD, there is a
scene in which the crew of Thule Station attempts to contact
Outpost 31 (the U.S. outpost in the
1982 film) when they
can't get through to McMurdo.
McMurdo Station is a real world U.S. research station on
Ross Island in the McMurdo Sound of Antarctica. It was
founded in 1956 and is the largest community on the
In another deleted scene, Colin is seen to be the one who
committed suicide in
the communications room
by slashing his own wrist and throat when he realized he was
trapped by flames on one side and the Thing was about to
enter on the other.
A more complete version of the helicopter arrival and dog
chase from the end credits is seen. It shows Lars grabbing
the box of grenades from one of the storage rooms and
tossing it into the helicopter.
Notes from the U Control bonus feature on the DVD
The producers decided on a female lead character because
they liked the idea of a woman acting as the voice of reason
among a group of men. Also, they wanted to avoid unfavorable
comparisons to MacReady in the
Unanswered Questions (and answers!)
1982 film, Fuchs says there
appeared to be ten people stationed at the Norwegian camp. In this
film, we actually have 15, but 3 of them can be considered guests
that would probably not show up on the normal station roster (Kate,
Adam, and Halvorson.) That still leaves 12! (Carter, Jameson,
Griggs, Edvard, Juliette, Lars, Olav, Peder, Jonas, Henrik, Karl,
and Colin.) [I posted a link to this page on the Facebook page of
The Thing Prequel and got a nice note back from the owner
of the page, who pointed out that Carter, Jameson, and Griggs should
also be considered guests of Thule Station and Matias (the
helicopter pilot at the end) should be considered a regular
crewmember, as suggested in one of the deleted scenes from the
Why doesn't the Thing just imitate a flying creature in order to
escape Antarctica for warmer (and more populated) climes? The
original short story, "Who Goes There?",
speculates that the creature may not have previously visited worlds
which had a sufficient atmosphere to have flying life forms it could
imitate. Peter Watts' short story "The Things"
(if we were to take it as part of continuity) suggests the creature
has visited a thousand worlds, in which case it seems unlikely it
never encountered a flying life form it assimilated and could make
use of now.
Why do the ship's engines power down after we see Kate blow
up the Thing with her grenade? Did the engines need constant
supervision to remain running? Did Kate and Carter "somehow"
figure out how to turn them off?
What happens to Kate? Does she take the snowcat to the
Russian station mentioned by Carter near the end of the
film? Was that Russian station even real?
Why did the Norwegian helicopter pilot seen during the
closing credit scenes fly to Thule station in the first
place? I suppose McMurdo (or some other station) may have
been expecting the return of the Americans by then and, when
they didn't arrive and communication with Thule could not be
acquired, sent someone to investigate. (The owner of the
Facebook page of The Thing Prequel points out that
a deleted scene from the movie suggests that Thule station's
resident chopper pilot, Matias, is away, picking up kerosene
at Halley Station. We're simply seeing his return during the
1982 film, why don't
MacReady and the others notice the burned and abandoned
snowcat left behind by Kate at the end of this film? (There
is a fairly compelling answer in the video evidence put
together by the owner of
the Facebook page of The Thing Prequel at YouTube.
See the video below. Basically, it shows that MacReady and Company
landed on the opposite side of the crater from where the two
snowcats were parked and weren't able to spot them over the