Several characters do very risky behaviors in the movie.

  • Windows puts his hands into Norris' mouth right before the chest defibrillator scene.

  • MacReady holds a dish of infected blood in his hand up near his own face where it could splash onto his face. Earlier he leaves the dish on a desk and pokes the blood.

  • 2 people let MacReady and Windows tie them to a bench where they are helpless. They do this even though they believe the whole blood test is bogus.

In each scene, I am assuming the person is human, and not assimilated yet.

Does the novelization by Alan Dean Foster mention why supposedly human people engage in risky behaviors? Or is this just an oversight by the film crew?

  • 9
    You're over-thinking this. When the doctor uses the defibrillator, I don't think he can foresee the stomach turning into a giant alien mouth and biting his hands off, and when the men are tied up for the blood test, they are forced to at gunpoint.
    – the guest
    May 6, 2017 at 2:06
  • 1
    @theguest Check that scene again. It's not the doctor who puts his hands in somebody's mouth. it's the other man in that scene, and he does it well before the Norris' chest opens up into a huge alien mouth. And if MacReady forced me to be tied to a bench at gunpoint, I would still say "Hell, no!" Better to die from a gunshot than to be mauled by an alien.
    – RichS
    May 6, 2017 at 3:03

2 Answers 2


I have not read the novelization, but I have both seen the movie and read the original novella many times.

  1. Why did someone stick his hands into his mouth during this scene?

He didn't just stick his hands into the guys mouth, he was making sure the air passage was clear while the doctor performed CPR. Once he was sure the passage was clear, he grabbed the defibrillator. They had no way of knowing what would happen. The point of this scene was to be a surprise. This scene was not in the novella.

  1. Why did MacReady hold the dish near his face?

He didn't. It's called a camera angle. It was done at that angle for dramatic tension. In reality he was holding it out from his body. You'll also note that nothing happened previously so he didn't know exactly what would happen. In the original novella, it describes the blood flinching away from the hot wire in a test tube. MacReady likely expected something along these lines, not the sudden transformation we witness.

  1. Why would they allow themselves to be tied up?

Because MacReady was clearly ready to kill anyone who was unwilling to do so. It was a case of certain versus uncertain death. In the original novella, nobody was tied up because as soon as someone was identified as alien, the others ganged up and killed him immediately. But that was because more people were still left by that point.

I think you need to appreciate that the characters don't necessarily all have the same information that you have as the viewer.


Windows isn’t a doctor and as of that scene no one had the idea that a small part of the thing could infect you. It took the Norris head that Mac torches to give him the idea for the blood test. In addition to the fact that they assumed Norris was either human or dying human.

  • 1
    But why does that cause them to be so risky? You seem to have missed the answer.
    – Edlothiad
    Nov 2, 2017 at 22:01

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