The Thing: Crafting Uncertainty

A Method To the Madness Oct 01, 2020

Undoubtedly a classic, John Carpenter's The Thing still persists through the ages, remaining as shocking as it was when it was released almost 40 years ago. Aside from the tantalisingly grotesque props, the merit of this film lies in its ability to craft mystery and sow seeds of doubt, begging the question - who is The Thing?

We discuss this mystery, as well as the decision for an all male cast, and it's place in the historical context of monster films. You can read an excerpt and listen to the full episode below.


Patrick: As I've gotten older and I've started noticing the shifts and evolution of films and media in my own time, I now realise that this is also how it was back in the day too. So stuff subverting other stuff. I've been watching the mission impossible movies recently, and I've realised that it's a riff on James Bond, but it's James Bond taken to a hyperbolic level. So the action and the heists are elevated to an excessive level of improbability. Hence the name, 'Mission Impossible', right?.

Michi: Fair enough

Patrick: And in the same way, I think 'The Thing' is like an evolution of those pulp, creature and monster films from the 50's. Y'know those movies I'm talking about like 'It came from Outer Space' and 'The Blob'.

Michi: Yeah with those classic posters

Patrick; Yeah exactly, and the reason I think it's a riff on those films is because it (The Thing) kind of starts out that way. Like the title screen when it shows 'The Thing', the font and style is kind of similar to those films I feel.

Michi: I mean I just took that as it being an old movie. I didn't realise that it was because it was subverting something from even before then.

Patrick: Yeah well that's the thing, we wouldn't pick up on that right?

Michi: I guess you're right. Those original alien movies were from the 50's so someone making a movie in the 80's would realise that, and base his movies on that.

Patrick: All these movies from the 50's had this one material creature in it right? Some tangible form of antagonism. Whereas this film, it introduced the idea into mainstream culture, that concept of something formless. Which I don't think existed before this movie. Y'know at least in films. Science fiction in books were way beyond it's time, but I think it (this film) was baiting the audience into thinking it was probably gonna be another one of these pulp, alien movies; and then it devolves into this terrifying, abstract nightmare.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. Please take a moment and review the podcast where you find it. It really helps.

Reach the show via email at to send in your questions.


ZeroIndent is an independent, reader funded publication. Consider supporting us on patreon to unlock exclusive content and behind the scenes info.

Patrick Lovern

Patrick Lovern is the co-host of A Method To The Madness podcast. An aspiring filmmaker, with a passion for all philosophy; religious, scientific, artistic, and otherwise.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.