7. The Thing (1982)

Right off the bat, let’s just address the obvious: The Thing doesn’t end on a particularly happy note. After their remote Antarctic base is attacked by a predatory alien creature capable of perfectly replicating any life form, MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) find themselves the final two survivors. In one of the most ambiguous endings in cinema – and one that is still being debated 40 years later – the two men sit and freeze to death in the cold, knowing that they can never trust one another, and therefore, that they must both die rather than risk the Thing reaching the outside world.

The ending seems to be a relatively happy one as it’s clear that the Thing isn’t going to reach to the outside world, but freeze there on the base, which has been decimated by the paranoia of MacReady and his colleagues. The idea that both MacReady and Childs will simply freeze in the snow rather than risk revealing themselves as the Thing (and earning a swift death) is one that leaves it unclear if either man was infected at all, but it does seem to confirm that the rest of the Earth is relatively safe.

What The Thing‘s ending doesn’t tell you, though, is that it ultimately doesn’t matter. The film establishes that even a single cell of the Thing is enough to assimilate other life forms, and there are plenty of cells that will remain unaccounted for and most likely unharmed by the destruction of the base. What’s more, the Thing is able to survive being frozen – having survived in the ice for thousands of years already – and it’s practically a certainty that someone will come to rescue potential survivors, meaning that the alien life form will almost definitely take over the Earth regardless of the film’s ambiguous ending.