John Carpenter Confirms He Knows Who Was Human at the End of 1982’s The Thing

The eternal debate has once again reared its ugly head: who was human and who was an alien in disguise at the end of John Carpenter’s The Thing? With Carpenter officially back on the press circuit for Peacock’s Suburban Screams (premiering tomorrow), the semi-retired filmmaker was once again posed with the fan question it seems he’ll be answering until his dying breath.

As expected, though, his response was maddeningly vague and indicative of the fact that he’s tired of fielding the same query regarding the final standoff between Childs (Keith David) and MacReady (Kurt Russell).

RELATED: Director of 2011’s The Thing Prequel Reveals Sequel Would Have Taken Place Aboard Antarctic Oil Rig

John Carpenter sounds off on who was human at the end of The Thing

“Yes, I know. I know who’s the Thing and who’s not in the very end,” he said during an interview with But if you were hoping for any elaboration, then keep on hoping. “Nope,” Carpenter added when probed for more information. “Cannot tell you. Sorry,”

It was pretty much the same answer he gave SYFY WIRE last summer: “I know, but I’m not telling you … I just feel like it’s a secret that must be kept. The gods came down and swore me to secrecy.” then asked Carpenter whether or not cinematographer Dean Cundey’s clever eye-light trick used during the iconic blood test sequence could be applied to the ending, given that Childs’ eyes seem to be devoid of a gleam. 

For those unaware, Cundey subtly hinted at Palmer (David Clennon) being infected by keeping the light out of his eyes. “I didn’t put that little sparkle that we use most of the time on characters to create the sense of life, of intelligence,” the director of photography explained to SYFY WIRE last year. “I kept the light out of his eyes, so his eyes were the ones who were dark and dead. I think just subconsciously, the audience sensed that.” However, that technique was only used for one scene and has no bearing on the ambiguous conclusion.

“[Dean Cundey] doesn’t know,” Carpenter asserted. “He has no idea. He puts the lights up. He puts the lights up, and we were in the snow. He has no clue. You tell him that. Tell him he’s full of sh-t.”

So it seems the great sci-fi mystery will… remain a mystery.

John Carpenter’s The Thing is now streaming on Peacock alongside the 2011 prequel.