It’s July and with that comes blistering, oppressive heat. Could there be a better time to talk with author Kristin Dearborn about her favorite movie/monster—the Thing.
Set on the barren, bitterly cold continent of Antarctica, John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing gives the horror lover a different kind of monster to fear. Dearborn says that she considers this version of the movie and monster her own because she and the movie came about in the same year. She also loves it because of the isolation and claustrophobia of the setting. To her the monster is the perfect killer with the ability to attack anyone and bring about severe paranoia.
To this end, Dearborn says, “The assimilation piece of the monster tells us the truth that we can’t trust anyone, no matter how well we think we know them, how long we’ve known them, how close we feel to them.”
The Thing first appeared in the 1938 novella Who Goes There? and in the 1951 movie Thing from Another World. Over each incarnation, the monster has represented something different. Dearborn says in the 1951 movie it represented the fear of Soviet communism. By the time the monster made it to the 1980s, it became the stand in for the true horror of the decade, AIDS.
A monster that can be interpreted into contemporary fears of different time periods is a true classic creature. The Thing can be lumped into the category of alien monsters like the xenomorph from The Alien franchise, the pod people, and the Martians from War of the Worlds. Aliens have always represented the fears of the times.
The Thing is a different kind of alien monster. The fact that is an extraterrestrial isn’t that important to the overall plot. Dearborn notes that the Thing’s true form is never seen in the Carpenter film. She notes that the creature’s backstory isn’t really discussed and is that important.
Dearborn states, “We never see or know its true form, or even if it has one. Was the ship the Thing’s, or did it simply assimilate a race with ships, and use them to find new worlds to conquer? Even the Pod People in Invasion of the Body Snatchers are markedly different when they’ve been compromised, one can tell there’s something off about them. You’ll never know you’re standing next to a Thing until it’s too late. The perfect mimicry is terrifying and enthralling.”
The Thing also has similarities to other alien monsters, those created by H.P. Lovecraft. Many people have noted that Carpenter’s The Thing is Lovecraftian in nature. It has similarities to other works like At the Mountains of Madness, which is set in Antarctica. The Thing is from the cosmos and ancient with no regard for humanity. It is simply out there for survival. The monster like so many of Lovecraft’s creatures is also indescribable as noted by the fact that the true form of the Thing is never seen. Dearborn pointed out these similarities. She also noted that the scientist in the story goes mad in response to the invasion, which is a common Lovecraftian trope. The fact that there seems to be no escaping the Thing leaves the viewer with a deep sense of dread and ultimate doom another marker of Lovecraftian fiction.
Dearborn believes that the Thing is almost the perfect monster, and that is why it’s her favorite. Her love of the alien-type monster is apparent because she mentioned that the alien queen from Alien is her second favorite monster. Maybe, she’ll talk to us about that creature another time.
An introduction at the end? Yep.
If you’ve ever casually met Kristin Dearborn, you might not know how dark and twisted she is, but she’s been writing stories before she even knew how to write by dictating them to her mother. These early stories took on a macabre nature due to watching Scooby Doo and reading Bunnicula. Dearborn holds an MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University. She’s the author of the novels Trinity and Stolen Away, as well as, the novellas Sacrifice Island and The Woman in White. Her short story “The Dancer” is in the up-coming anthology Hex Life. Dearborn is currently working on two new works both set in Florida as well as other short stories for anthologies.
Go find a story or book by Kristin Dearborn. You won’t be disappointed.