The Thing is a 1982 scifi horror drama thriller film directed by John Carpenter. Based on John W. Campbell Jr.’s Who Goes There? The Thing was ostensibly also a remake of Howard Hawk’s The Thing From Another World (1951) which was also an adaptation of Campbell’s 1938 novella.
The premise of The Thing is the stuff of nightmares – a group of American researchers in Antarctica encounter a parasitic extraterrestrial life-form that assimilates, then imitates other organisms. The threat of the alien monster leads the group to begin to distrust each other, for good reason as any of them could be the alien amongst them.
The ensemble cast is headed by Kurt Russell who plays helicopter pilot MacReady, who despite his loner personality finds that he needs to take charge in order to survive this extraordinary ordeal. What is noteworthy is that the group – composed of different ages, social classes and personalities – come across like a realistic social unit. Which makes the tension and conflict all the more palpable and relatable for the audience.
Thematically, The Thing revolves around paranoia and mistrust as the bonds amongst the various members of the Antarctic base begin to break in the face of the other-worldly threat. The camaraderie has disappeared to be replaced by fear but despite all that, the human spirit fights on despite the odds. This survival instinct is represented by MacReady’s resolve to come of this nightmare intact.
What makes The Thing particularly memorable, of course, is the amazing practical special effects – which several memorable action sequences e.g. the dog kennel, the medical bay and the blood test scenes, will be burned into any viewer’s mind for its visceral impact.
However, it must be pointed out that the third act is relatively tame compared to what came before. The ambiguous ending totally compensates for that minor flaw though. Certainly, nobody would be too upset if a sequel was produced to find out what exactly happened to MacReady and Childs.
Oh and the word is that a remake of The Thing is currently in development – the 2011 prequel is a good reason why this should not happen. In any case, why not adapt H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness instead? No improving a masterpiece. Highly recommended.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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