Monday, August 5, 2019

A Crossover Between THE THING and Dean Koontz's PHANTOMS?

One of the Facebook groups I follow is Stan Winston's School of Character Arts, which is always good for something interesting about movies, special effects, etc.

(When I was a little kid movie special effects was actually a field I wanted to go into and I remember reading a lot of books about it.)

The other day they had a poll on who would win, the alien Thing from 1982's The Thing and its eventual prequel or the Ancient Enemy from Dean Koontz's novel Phantoms, which was later adapted into a film starring Ben Affleck. The voting period has probably expired, but here it is b/c it includes snazzy monster GIFs.

(Apologies for the big blank block here--the GIF that was part of the original image seems to have disappeared.)

For those of you not in the know, the Thing is an alien parasite that absorbs people and can take their appearance--its original form might be some kind of microorganism but as it infects people and absorbs their biomass it can create larger and larger creatures. The Ancient Enemy, meanwhile, is a gigantic amoeboid creature that might be thousands or even millions of years old. Every so often it emerges from underground and feeds, causing historical mass disappearances like Roanoke, ghost ships like the Marie Celeste, etc. In the novel one such creature consumes a mountain town in California and torments those who arrive to investigate, claiming to be Satan himself (a concept it had derived from the memories of people it had consumed). Both of them can spawn lesser creatures from a central biomass to use as weapons, scouts, etc., although the Ancient Enemy when it's all in one place is basically The Blob as well.

So me being me, I devised a crossover plotline for anybody out there who might want to write a fan-fic combining the two stories. Basically a follow-up expedition to the Antarctic base destroyed in The Thing finds the frozen remains of the alien and after taking appropriate precautions (based on journals at the American or Norwegian bases or the testimony of a surviving Childs or MacReady) they bring it back to a secure facility in America to study. If we want to include the characters from the Phantoms novel, perhaps it's in the mountain town where the book takes place at the time Dr. Jenny Paige and her younger sister Lisa are coming home.

Then the Ancient Enemy arrives and attacks the town. During the hubbub the Thing is set loose (perhaps it's been in a freezer for 15-20 years and gets defrosted when the facility is attacked) and the Ancient Enemy in its pride simply tries to eat it much like it does the humans and animals nearby or simply consumes a Thing-infected human not knowing it's any different.

Bad idea. The Thing is infectious at the microscopic level and it begins assimilating the Ancient Enemy from within. The Ancient Enemy detaches part of itself to avoid being completely consumed--in the novel the characters theorize that fire wouldn't be effective at killing it because it could simply break off the burning part--but this means the Thing has absorbed a significant part of the Ancient Enemy's biomass and probably much of its intelligence. It is now a vastly more dangerous foe. The Thing at the Antarctic base was a relatively small group of creatures of roughly human size whose power was in their deceptive ability--now we're talking something even bigger than the monster from the climax of the film and probably a great deal smarter. Meanwhile, the Ancient Enemy has absorbed the knowledge and memories of the scientists studying the Thing (and possibly some of the Thing's own intelligence as well) and knows that cold will force it into hibernation and fire will kill it.

So when the sisters, the surviving local law enforcement, etc. show up, the town is a war zone between an alien parasite that could potentially assimilate the entire planet in a matter of years versus a vindictive, massively egotistical giant amoeba whose insane pride drives it to avenge itself rather than return to hiding and simply wait out this strange new creature. The story could even feature an alliance between the Ancient Enemy and the humans, since the former needs the latter as a food source and only feeds every few centuries or millennia and the Thing is a voracious monster who will assimilate the whole planet if it can. In the film it showed no interest in trying to communicate or bargain with the human scientists in Antarctica, after all. The Ancient Enemy could initially appear to the humans as a survivor or survivors of the town and the humans eventually deduce it's not really human (this is where Dr. Flyte, the eccentric scientist who was able to deduce the Ancient Enemy's existence from studying historical disappearances, could come in) or it appears openly, either due to its pride or in an attempt to get the humans to trust it and not the other shape-shifting predator.

Anybody want to take this idea and run with it? I'm too busy with my own work and my day job to actually write something I can't make money on, but if someone does take a stab at this idea, I'll promote it.

(Also check out the Myopia podcast episode on The Thing. Maybe we'll do one on Phantoms later?)

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