John Carpenter’s The Thing is re-releasing as a two-disc, special edition 2K Blu-ray on October 11, along with new commentary from cinematographer Dean Cundey. The commentary was moderated by Rob Galluzzo of Blumhouse, who revealed part of the commentary about a hidden detail in the movie which makes us want to watch it all over again looking for it. Specifically, the secret to telling who is or isn’t The Thing is hidden in their eyes:
“So we were looking for some kind of a subtle way, to say which one of these (men) might be human. You’ll notice there’s always an eye light, we call it, a little gleam in the eye of the actor. It gives life.”
Cundey was speaking of the blood test scene, in which every actor has that subtle reflection of light in their eyes, except for Palmer (David Clennon) who is no longer human. Although it makes us wonder if the same hint was given during the ambiguous ending, in which R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) are trying to figure out if the other man is The Thing, and they’ll just have to see what happens:
It appears they both have just a bit of light in their eyes, although people have speculated for years that Childs doesn’t seem to have enough condensation in his breath compared to MacReady, but that it’s also strange that MacReady didn’t drink the whiskey. Cundey also had an answer about that final scene. “That was discussed. Should one of these guys be treated as if one of them are ‘the thing?’ But no, John [Carpenter] very deliberately wanted to leave the question of if one, or both, or neither of these guys is ‘the thing.'”
That’s no surprise. Theories about the ending have been swirling since the film’s release in 1982, as John Carpenter intended, so he likely wouldn’t give away the answer so easily. Although my favorite theory is that MacReady had already replaced the whiskey with gasoline while making Molotov cocktails, and he tests how Childs will react to taking a swig of gasoline. That subtle laugh Kurt Russell makes at 1:47 in the video above sounds like the resigned cynicism of a man who just realized the dude sitting near him drank gasoline and didn’t notice.