The Mimic, the Abstract, and the Familiar in John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2042-1869
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1877


is an American science fiction film that explores the survival of a group of scientists when they encounter a shape-shifting alien life-form in Antarctica. This article draws attention to the monster in three specific forms and how they depict various manifestations of anxiety; the dog-thing, the head-spider, and a human copy. This article examines these versions of the monster and parallels them with three understandings of anxiety; the mimic, the abstract, and the familiar. Therefore surfacing the idea that anxiety molds itself into a parasite that adapts and manipulates the host until there is no distinction between the copy and the original. Through the support of scene analysis and the study of stylistic choices, these presentations of the monster work to prove that the horror genre continues to broaden the idea of ‘fear’ in the realm of the human experience.


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  1. Carpenter, John., director. The Thing. Universal Pictures;, 1982.
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  2. Carroll, Noël.. The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart. Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Inc.;, 1990.
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  3. Muir, John Kenneth.. The Films of John Carpenter. McFarland;, 2000.
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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): anxiety; horror; John Carpenter; Kurt Russell; monster; sci-fi; The Thing
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