Friday Night Knife Fights Presents: ALIEN VS. THE THING (PART 1 OF 3)
FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS: ALIEN VS. THE THING
PART 1 (OF 3)
Featuring Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, and special guest, Mark Onspaugh
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Welcome to another edition of FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS. I’m Michael Arruda, and as always, I’m joined by L.L. SOARES. In addition to LL, we have as our guest tonight on FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS, the very talented MARK ONSPAUGH. Welcome, gentlemen.
L.L. SOARES: Gentlemen? Who walked in?
MARK ONSPAUGH: Happy to be here. I can’t wait to talk about two of my favorite movies.
MA: That’s right. We’ve got a great FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS for you this evening. It’s ALIEN (1979) vs. THE THING (1982). You heard me correctly. Tonight these two horror classics go head to head, and it will be up to our panel of experts to decide which one of the two is the better movie. It should be quite the bout.
It’ll take us three segments to get through this debate. Part 1 is tonight, and we’ll have Parts 2 and 3 for you over the next two Friday nights.
Let’s get this party started.
Mark, we’ll start with you. Which is the better monster, the Alien or the Thing?
MO: Tricky one.
MA: I think we’re going to be saying that a lot tonight.
LS: I know. I had the hardest time with this one. It was much harder than I expected.
MA: Both these films are terrific, and so it’s tough to compare them. Okay, Mark, give it your best shot. Which one is the better monster?
MO: While I love the design of the Alien (especially the final form) over that of the tentacled, mandibled Thing, an intelligent Thing is the perfect invader, hiding in plain sight and able to kill in a lot of ways—the Alien may be fast, but it can’t walk down a city street or sit in a diner without being noticed. I go with The Thing for invasion, the Alien for design.
MA: So, in terms of which one is the better monster, you’re calling it a draw?
MO: Something like that.
MA: Well, I won’t call it a draw. While I love both these monsters, I think Alien is the better monster, because it’s the coolest of the two. I definitely agree with Mark. Its design is out of this world!
LS: Of course it is, you knucklehead. It’s an alien!
MA: Ha, ha! I think Alien’s design is superior to that of the Thing. We also see more of the Alien. We hardly see The Thing at all, as it spends its time inside the bodies of humans, hiding out like a scared alien baby. Alien isn’t scared at all. It’s a big bad-assed monster that bleeds acid. Alien is an amazing creation, one of the most memorable ever to appear in a horror or science fiction movie.
And while I agree with Mark that an intelligent Thing is the perfect invader, I don’t really get the impression in THE THING that the creature is all that intelligent. I know he’s supposed to be. I mean, he builds a ship and all, but I don’t think his cunning is on display all that well in THE THING. I think that’s one of the flaws of THE THING, that the monster isn’t as well defined as it should have been.
On the other hand, there’s little doubt in ALIEN about the Alien’s purpose. It breeds and it kills, period.
So, in terms of which one has the better monster, I’m going with ALIEN.
LS: Yeah, my first reaction is to say ALIEN too, because H.R. Giger’s design for the monster is pretty amazing. When the movie first came out, audiences had never seen anything like it before. And it’s been copied a lot since. It really is an iconic monster.
But so is Carpenter’s version of THE THING. While the ALIEN monster looks cooler, and has different stages of development (all of which are dangerous and scary in their own way), the Thing can imitate any life form and attack when you least expect it.
They are both pretty formidable. I give a slight edge to ALIEN, but THE THING comes very close.
MO: I just thought of something else. The Alien needs a queen to reproduce, but the Thing seems asexual and any part can become a new creature—a definite advantage for an invader, especially if all “things” are part of a hive mind…
MA: It sounds like you’re giving the edge to The Thing?
MA: All right. Even so, Round 1 goes to ALIEN, since both LL and I gave the edge to the acid-blooded creature.
Next question. Which is the better hero, Kurt Russell or Sigourney Weaver? Russell of course was in THE THING, and Weaver was in ALIEN.
LS: They’re both great in their roles in these movies, but I’d have to give a slight edge to Sigourney Weaver. Personally, I just prefer strong women, and Weaver’s Ripley is one of the strongest in cinema history.
MA: No argument there. She pretty much dominates the entire ALIEN series, especially when you get to ALIEN 3 (1992) and ALIEN RESURRECTION (1997), two of the lesser sequels. She’s the best part of those movies.
LS: But Kurt Russell is pretty terrific in THE THING as well. I’d say they both turn in great performances.
MO: Kurt Russell is a total bad-ass, and many of us have been watching him in movies since he was a kid—it’s like seeing a good friend become a superhero (not that I have).
(MA & LS exchange glances.)
MA: I could see you becoming a super villain.
LS: I could see you becoming soup. Trapped in a giant pot surrounded by cannibals.
MA: You think of the most pleasant things!
LS: Don’t I?
MO: You two never stop fighting, do you?
MA: I don’t think our readers want to see us get along.
LS: Where would the fun be in that?
MO: Anyway, if you two are done, I’ll continue.
As bad-ass as Russell is, Sigourney’s Ripley goes from scientist to action hero without ever losing her femininity – I don’t think her final scene in her underwear is so much about titillation as it is about being vulnerable—and she still kicks ass! Ripley paved the way for characters like Sarah Connor and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I pick Sigourney.
MA: Tough one, very tough. Like you two, I should go with Sigourney Weaver for all the reasons you guys put forth, but I really like Kurt Russell in THE THING. He is such a total bad-ass. As much as I like Sigourney Weaver in ALIEN, I just have more fun watching Russell in THE THING, so I have to go with Russell as the better hero. However, I’m in the minority here as you two picked Weaver.
Round 2 also goes to ALIEN.
And that’s all the time we have tonight folks. After two rounds, ALIEN has the early lead. Tune in next Friday night for Part 2 of FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS: ALIEN VS. THE THING to see if THE THING can catch up.
Thanks guys for joining me tonight.
MO: No problem. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next segment.
LS: Me, too. (to audience) And thank all of you for joining us. We’ll see you next Friday for Part 2.
MA: This has been FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS. Good night everybody!
—THE END…. FOR NOW!—
This edition of FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS is © Copyright 2011 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares and Mark Onspaugh