‘The Thing‘ is a sci-fi horror film brought to us by John Carpenter, one of the genre’s finest directors. The movie had its release in 1982 and with stiff competition at the box office, it failed critically and commercially. In later years, it would go on to become a cult classic.
At U.S. Outpost 31 in Antarctica, the team there is seemingly shot at by a Norweigan who is yelling incoherently as he shoots at a dog. He is killed by station commander Garry (Donald Moffat) in self-defense. Helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and medic Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart) fly to their base and are shocked to find many of the staff dead and a mysterious vessel buried under the snow. Clark (Richard Masur) places the dog with his own sledding dogs. When McReady and Dr. Copper return, they discover that the Norwegians discovered an organism that is parasitic and could possess anyone. Their communications officer Windows (Thomas G. Waites) finds their radio destroyed as their mechanic Childs (Keith David) demands a hardline approach to the situation. One by one, the team gets murdered by the thing and MacReady realizes it is not only killing them but trying to escape.
As stated earlier, the critics labeled the movie “instant junk” when it first premiered in cinemas. It is easy to see why. Despite being a horror film, it has imagination, wit, and creativity. Essentially, it is not the monotonous fluff that Hollywood insiders prefer in a film, even a horror flick. John Carpenter is a master of his craft and he proves it here, despite the mainstream critics’ pandering.
I will admit, the effects were a bit outdated, even for its time. There are some scenes that make no sense. Such as MacReady using the same knife to test the blood of his colleagues when the thing is said to be highly infectious to whoever it possesses. Using the same knife, even cleaning it, would still allow the infection to spread.
That being said, even though they were dated, the effects from Rob Bottin still managed to bring out the “cosmic horror” aspect of the plot, making it a pulse pounding and sometime gross moment as the team fights the Thing. That goes for the music by Ennio Morricone. He makes the score and the soundtrack pulsate through the movie, building the tension, especially when it needed to be claustrophobic. Carpenter has a way with these types of horror flicks and on this one, he proved again why he is the master.
Before I forget, I also want to praise the cast. Everyone did a superb job in their roles, but I want to especially give credit to Russell and David. The two of them are excellent in their respective roles and show the competing view points of how to handle the danger in the camp.
Bottom line, The Thing is a trip to another time when sci-fi horror was meant to terrify. It stands apart from the other horror flicks of its era for being crafted by John Carpenter and the first of his unofficial “Apocalypse Trilogy.”
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Disturbing and gory images, Strong violence, Strong foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: I don’t know. Thousands of years ago it crashes, and this thing… gets thrown out, or crawls out, and it ends up freezing in the ice.
Check out the trailer below:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.