The Thing is a John Carpenter science fiction/horror masterpiece starring Kurt Russell and some of the best practical effects the 1980s had to offer. It’s one of the origins of the 1980s’ over the top horror films that would go on to influence cult hits like Slither. If you have not yet seen this film, and you enjoy classic horror, this film is for you. It’s one part murder mystery, one part invasion of the body snatchers, one part Halloween, and all parts terrifying.
The setting for the film is a remote Antarctic research station crewed by a few scientists, grease monkeys, and one grizzled pilot named MacReady (Kurt Russel). Although it is a bit heavily armed, this is forgivable as it takes place during the height of the Cold War, and everyone seems to be a military veteran of some sort. While it lacks the claustrophobia of Aliens, it does boast a remoteness that really makes you feel like these guys are isolated and definitely without hope of rescue.
The story itself revolves around an escaped sled dog fleeing a Norwegian helicopter, being shot at by the helicopter crew. Things quickly escalate when it turns out that not all is as it seems, and someone… or something… is actually some sort of alien intelligence that is also able to mimic the organisms around it. This leads to some seriously gory–and amazing–special effects, puppetry, and practical effects. The tension is built expertly by the cinematography, the actor’s performances, and the score. Even though this reviewer had seen this movie many times before (it is a favorite), he still jumped at certain scenes (and is ashamed to admit that when his pizza arrived he was startled and spilled water all over himself) such is the quality of the screenplay.
The performances themselves are all fantastic, with a small cast you will find memorable performances from each cast member and recognize a great many of them. Of course, this is Kurt Russel after having worked with John Carpenter on Escape from New York ,but long before Big Trouble in Little China. Another performance worth mentioning comes from Keith David who puts in a fantastic turn as Childs, another member of the expedition.
Though this film was initially received poorly, possibly on the coat tails of Spielberg’s snooze fest E.T. (don’t @ me) it has since become a cult classic among horror movie fans. This film is a definite recommendation from this reviewer. Pair this with a double of J&B Scotch and some seared ahi with a nice ginger-soy sauce drizzled over the top. Be sure to sear your ahi with a flamethrower for that authentic alien menace flavor.
I just have to say that I thoroughly enjoy most films–even really bad ones. Some, however, I find to be victimized by the hype surrounding them, and this is where I classify The Thing.
I really just find the film to be boring. This definitely isn’t coming from a “OMG I CAN’T WATCH ANYTHING PRE-1999” either (I mean, duh, look where you’re at). I just don’t find the film enjoyable, and I’m also one of those people who can’t stand when a dog is killed, even if it has been possessed by an alien being. I also lack the understanding of the weird fixation some people have with Antarctica. Like… I get it… you’re sequestered if you go to the most barren place on the planet.
I also don’t understand the appeal of aliens. Realistically, if we ever made any contact, the beings in question would be much more intelligent, capable of intergalactic space travel, etc. I just don’t see a parasitic worm that can shape shift landing in Antarctica to eat people. Wouldn’t it go some place more populated? What about its home planet? MAKE IT MAKE SENSE. Go have it eat some cats.
I must admit the film features excellent performances by the entire cast (even if I don’t care for the script). Keith David as Childs by far gives the best performance of the film. Kurt Russell is Kurt Russell which means ridiculously hot mountain man that I still want to marry almost 40 years later. Wilford Brimley shines as the grumpy average man he always plays. Special effects are also very well done for an 80s gore fest.
Overall, I’d pair the film with some beef tongue and Basque apple cider.