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John Carpenter's

 

The Relationship between the Thing and the Blob

by Schuyler Gray

 

Despite both the Blob and the Thing being the subjects of classic 1950s science fiction films, and both films having high quality remakes produced in the 1980s, the biology of both creatures are eerily similar.

            The Thing, as Blair described in Carpenter’s 1981 film, absorbs the cells of living organisms and assimilates them for its own use.  The Blob also consumes and assimilates the cells of its victim but lacks the Thing’s ability to shape its cells for the purpose of imitating the life forms it has consumed.  As we never discover the Thing’s true form in the 1981 film it could be argued that the Blob is the Thing’s original form.  Perhaps the Blob is nothing more than the Thing before the evolutionary steps allowing it to perfectly imitate its victims.

            It could be argued that the reason the Thing requires so much time to imitate its victim is because it is no longer the simple and under evolved eating machine that is the Blob.  Many theories fly amongst Thing fans as to how long it took the Thing to imitate Norris, Palmer, and Blair.  In the film’s original script Blair theorized it probably takes over an hour for the Thing to finish assimilating a human, but the Blob, except for when it is first emerging from its meteorite, consumes flesh at an alarming rate of speed.  Take the 1958 The Blob as an example.  The old hobo the Blob attaches itself to takes nearly an hour to die, but immediately after the Blob has finished with the hobo it attacks a nurse who is completely consumed in only seconds.  But the Blob can also prolong the absorption process as seen when it attacks the projectionist at the town movie theater in the 1988 remake.   

            Combine those facts with the way the Blob, in the 1988 film, is able to disguise itself inside the skin of a teenage girl sitting in the front seat of a young man’s car.  It doesn’t attack until the young man’s arms are around the girl when, without warning, pink and purple tentacles erupt from the girl’s body and immobilize the young man and the Blob entire flows from her face and onto the young man’s body.

            Think also of the primary way humans are able to render the Thing and the Blob helpless: they freeze them.  In both the original films and the remakes extreme cold plays an important role in the neutralization of the threat.  Of course in both versions of The Thing cold is what has preserved the Thing for millennia and allowed poor unsuspecting humans to discover it; contrast that to all versions of The Blob, including the piece of crap Larry Hagman film Beware the Blob, where cold neutralizes the threat.  In the 1981 version of The Thing the Blair-Thing is intelligent enough to realize that it should freeze again so that it can be located and recovered by a rescue team that would surely be sent to Outpost 31 once contact with the outpost was unable to be established.  In all films about the Blob our monster fears cold and wishes to avoid it at all cost.  Even the promise of warm flesh isn’t enough to make the Blob risk cold, as seen when Steve and his girlfriend have locked themselves inside of the grocery store’s meat locker in the 1958 film.

            As I pointed out earlier I think it is a logical deduction to say that the Blob is merely a life form a few evolutionary steps from the being the Thing.  As many know from nature’s rules of evolution the simpler life form is the most likely to survive any form of natural or unnatural disaster.  By that I mean that the Blob seems to be unstoppable except by freezing it and storing it in a location where it is unable to thaw.  The Thing, by contrast, can be stopped by freezing it like the Blob, but fire also poses a distinct threat.  Though there is no way to be sure you’ve killed the Thing by burning it you can at least see that fire is an effective deterrent where as the Blob is entirely unaffected by flame.

            Another similarity between the Thing and the Blob is that if you separate a small portion of the Blob from the whole it can survive on its own.  This is the same as the Thing whose body can be separated into pieces and the pieces continue on their own.  Once again I point to the Blob and Thing films of the 1980s.  At the end of Blob ’88 an old and clearly insane priest has a small piece of the Blob in a mason jar and he’s awaiting a “sign from God” to unleash it upon the world.  In Thing ’81 Norris’s head detaches itself from Norris’s body, sprouts legs, and proceeds to leave its burning body behind.

            Naturally the ways both monsters hunt are quite different.  The Blob prefers to move throughout the sewers and stick to dark and isolated places until large enough the attack with impunity.  The Thing hunts via camouflage, imitating the life forms that surround it.  It isn’t afraid to be seen in public or in busy areas so long as it is in its assumed identity.  Yet if the odds are stacked against it the Thing will attack isolated targets.

            Of course the most lethal threat from both the Thing and the Blob is the danger of physical contact.  If the Blob is able to make contact with the skin of a victim you may as well call the poor schmuck’s life insurance provider and ask when the check will arrive.  The rule is similar with the Thing in that a single cell is enough to assimilate an entire organism.

            I hope I’ve effectively demonstrated the possible evolutionary relationship between the Thing and the Blob.

 

 


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