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The Alternate Ending Of The Thing That You Never Got To See

John Carpenter's "The Thing" is one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. Adapted from John W. Campbell's novella "Who Goes There?", the story follows a U.S. research team in the Antarctic who discover a brutal shape-changing alien that can imitate anyone it chooses. The film impressed gorehounds thanks to its visceral use of body horror whenever the titular monster reveals itself. The infamous chest chomp scene always springs to mind when discussing the visual effects in the film. When Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart) tries to defibrillate Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan) after a heart attack, the geologist reveals himself as an alien and bites down on Copper's hands using giant teeth in his ribcage. 

The paranoid atmosphere that hangs over the U.S. research base makes for an intense watch, and it only gets worse by the end of the film as the cast is whittled down one by one. Only MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) remain after the latter supposedly loses Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) in the snowstorm. Since MacReady blows up the base in an attempt to kill the huge Blair-Thing, there's no real escape for either character; they're stuck in the frozen wilderness, each unsure whether the other is a human or a shape-shifting alien.

It's pretty bleak, but it carries a heavy impact that keeps audiences talking long after "The Thing" ends. But studios always consider a dark ending a risky move, which is why there's an alternate version of the finale that fans never got to see.

A definitive blood test

Fans have long debated whether MacReady or Childs is an alien at the end of "The Thing." There's evidence that Kurt Russell's bearded character is human since he conducts his own blood test in front of everyone earlier in the film. But his ripped clothes are also found by Nauls (T.K. Carter) and Fuchs (Joel Polis), so although MacReady takes the test, he's still a bit suspicious. Childs goes missing for quite some time while the rest of the team places explosives around the base, too, leaving plenty of time unaccounted for when he could've been assimilated by the titular monster.

So although the final film revels in its ambiguous ending, editor Todd Ramsay was concerned audiences might not enjoy it. "The Thing" DVD includes "Terror Takes Shape," a documentary about the making of the horror classic. It reveals that Ramsay persuaded John Carpenter to shoot an alternate ending which definitively answered whether MacReady or Childs was a monster. MacReady is rescued in the second ending and takes a second blood test just to prove that he's still human and hasn't been taken over by the Thing.

Thankfully, the alternate ending didn't make it into the theatrical cut, and the mysterious conclusion works so much better amidst the paranoid sense of dread which hangs over the base from the very beginning. It would be interesting to see the scene at some point — it's just a shame it's never been included in the special features on the DVD or Blu-Ray version of the film. But if you're desperate for an answer about the ending, this does clear up some of the ambiguity.