Horror-meister John Carpenter (Halloween, Escape from New York) teams Kurt Russell’s outstanding performance with incredible visuals to build this chilling version of the classic The Thing. In the winter of 1982, a twelve-man research team at a remote Antarctic research station discovers an alien buried in the snow for over 100,000 years. Once unfrozen, the form-changing alien wreaks havoc, creates terror and becomes one of them.
It took me a while to watch ‘John Carpenter’s The Thing‘. I was browsing a forum and people keep saying this movie is their at least top 10 favorite horror movies, and at least top 20 scariest horror movies ever made. Based on positive reviews on how scary it is, and very impressive rating on IMDB, I decided to give it a try and watch it.
The movie starts with some Norwegians chasing and shooting a dog in a helicopter but eventually, the helicopter exploded. There we find out that there’s an American scientific expedition team at the Antarctica and they saved the dog, not knowing why it was being chased. For all we know, being in the middle of icy nowhere is enough to drive a man out of their mind and go totally bonkers. They went to investigate and found at the Norwegian camp completely burned down, dead bodies and a huge block of ice giving hint that they must have found something. Then by night time, the dog that was chased earlier mutated and attacked other dogs and soon other team members as well. But the question here is, what attacked them?
The point of this movie is, it’s trying to instill a sense of fear of the unknown. We don’t know what is attacking them, we can’t see it, and that makes it scary. It can attack anybody without anyone realizing, sort of like snatching the body and imitating them. Anybody can be next. The only way to way to know is to test the blood with something hot because it will react.
The movie does a great job at creating the fear of the unknown, and a sense of paranoia of being the only people out there in the middle of nowhere with no chance of calling for help or run away. The more they discover that thing, the scarier it gets. The special effects is AWESOME and gory. Remember, this is the time when CGI does not dominate horror movies. I love that. It gives a sense of realism – like it did happen even though it’s just animatronic or puppets and not computer imagery. The cinematography is beautiful, showcasing the icy white Antarctica. It adds to your fear of being alone in the middle of nowhere. The cast did an amazing job at their roles, and they make you believe that they are paranoid, and will make you feel their paranoia.
But even though the movie has some good elements, there are some elements that I seriously do not like.
Involvement of animals particularly dogs. I’m the kind of person who absolutely HATES any movies that involve the death of animals. I’m a huge animal person, and seeing the animal being chased, and then mutated and attacking each other, it turned me off greatly. You can show me anything and I can try to handle it, but never animals. So for that, this movie turned me off. If it wasn’t for the awesome gore and special effects, I would’ve stopped watching it at the beginning.
-ending spoiler-The ending was very depressing. Since the beginning of the attack, you see one by one of the team members being attacked by this unseen ‘monster’, and you hope that they would survive. At the end, you find out two of them did survive, but only by just being alive… they can’t be helped, and they won’t survive for long so you know that they will die soon. It’s a very unhappy ending for characters you were rooting for to survive the whole ordeal and make it out of there without being the victim of ‘The Thing‘. The ending also felt draggy.. like it wants you to be depressed with them, and lose whatever hope you have…
It’s a good movie, with a good story, well-crafted horror, good effects and gore and somehow even the theme song gives you some kind of ‘fear’. It’s a reminder of when horror movies used to be good without the need of nudity and dumb characters or cliche story. John Carpenter is the master of horror and you can’t deny that. It’s a must-watch movie for horror fans. It could easily be a 5 stars horror movie, but for the involvement of animal, and the ending, I have to rate it 3 stars instead but it’s purely personal opinion.
There is also a remake (so not surprised by this) released in 2011 of the same name. I’m going to try to find it and watch it though I’m not so fond of the lead character being a female instead of sticking with the original male lead.
JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING (1982)
LDG’s Rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Director: John Carpenter
Writers: Bill Lancaster, John W. Campbell Jr.
Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur, T.K. Carter
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror and violence, and thematic elements