I saw an article on your site in GEEK MONTHLY and decided to check it out. There’s lots of fun to be had, and I’m still reading it even now, but I did want to respond to your article on THE THING. Because as good as the movie is, it will never hold a candle to the original short story (“Who Goes There?” by JOHN W. CAMPBELL JR.), which I read as a child and which terrified me like nothing else. It’s an absolutely gripping read, tense and claustrophobic in a way that even CARPENTER‘s excellent (and faithful) film can’t match.
The most terrifying thing about it was that after I finished reading it and went to bed for the night, a friend of mine stopped by our house. He didn’t want to wake my parents, but he did want to see if I was awake and up for sneaking out, so he tapped on my window and whispered, “John? John, are you there?” through the curtains. Needless to say, I didn’t respond, primarily because I was sure that saying anything or even moving would result in being devoured by a shape-shifting monster.
UNK SEZ: John, thanks for reminding me just how great and effective “Who Goes There?” really is. I read it in my youth as well. In fact, before JOHN CARPENTER’s THE THING was released in theaters, FANGORIA magazine held a contest asking readers to draw THE THING based solely on the description provided by CAMPBELL‘s text. The young Unkle Lancifer worked diligently in his Trapper Keeper and produced a work that, by rights, should have changed the history of art forever. (I had just discovered a revolutionary shading technique that involved smearing pencil lines with my eraser!) I’m not sure what exactly happened, but for some reason I DID NOT win that contest. I have developed many conspiracy theories over the years. Did the editors of FANGORIA decide that my work was so astounding that I was clearly a seasoned professional with far too many awards already under my belt and therefore disqualified me?? Did my postman, having entered the contest as well, destroy my submission in order to secure his own unwarranted victory? Was JOHN CARPENTER himself involved? Perhaps he was concerned that after seeing my illustration audiences would find his film somehow inadequate! Or was it the government? Maybe THEY stepped in and destroyed my masterpiece because it was a far too convincing a depiction of an alien life form and could potentially blow the lid off their decades long U.F.O. cover-up! One things for sure, “Who Goes There?” is one story that really can really produce paranoia!
P.S.: Thanks to the beyond excellent OUTPOST 31, I have found the winning submissions to the obviously rigged FANGORIA “contest.” If you look below you will discover evidence that concludes, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have been robbed! FANGORIA, if you’re reading this, it’s never to late too make amends. Simply print a retraction in your next issue that states that you acknowledge the fact that you made a HORRIBLE, HORRIBBLE, MISTAKE!
NOTE: For even more horrible mistakes related to THE THING go HERE.