The amazing science fiction year that was 1982 continues!
As much as I love Escape From New York and Big Trouble In Little China, I think this is probably my favorite John Carpenter film, and I was so glad it’s on the 101 Sci_Fi Movies list. Based on the 1951 classic The Thing From Another World, which I also loved, and the original story by John W. Campbell Jr. the film still chills, creeps, and thrills, and has the one of the best endings EVER.
The film thrives on paranoia and some fantastic practical effects and brings us a top-notch cast that when the plot gets rolling leaves you wondering exactly who is human, and who is The Thing?
Kurt Russell plays R.J. MacReady, a pilot at an Antarctica research station, which is also manned by Blair (Wilford Brimley), Nauls (T.K. Carter), Palmer (David Clennon), Childs (Keith David), Copper (Richard Dysart), Hallahan (Vance Norris), Bennings (Peter Maloney), Clark (Richard Masur), Fuchs (Joel Polis), Windows (Thomas Waites) and Garry (Donald Moffat).
The film opens with a throbbing, threatening score by Ennio Morricone as a dog runs across an icy plain being pursued by a rifleman in a helicopter. The dog makes it all the way to the American base, and the Norwegian crew of the helicopter try to warn everyone that the dog is not what it appears, but are killed.
While Mac investigates the Norwegian station, the dog seems to be making itself at home, wandering the station…
Mac and company find a downed spacecraft that has been in the ice for thousands upon thousands of years, and it looks like the Norwegians recovered a frozen creature, which when thawed, poses a threat to everyone.
And now, it’s in Mac’s camp, with the ability to mimic anyone’s appearance.
This film is brilliantly tense, wonderfully put together, and the visual effects are still incredible, and the petri dish sequence is still jump worthy, if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.
The film builds upon tension, mistrust and paranoia as one after another they fall victim to the shape-changing alien. The sequence with the dogs is fantastic, as the Norwegian dog lays tensely amongst the camp’s dogs, and then reveals its true self as the other dogs, growl, bark and try to chew their way out of their cage. Wow.
Kurt Russell is one of my favorite actors, and his work with Carpenter is always fun.
Carpenter has crafted a brilliant film, that doesn’t let up, leading you to the inevitable climax of the film, as Mac and the rest of the station have to make sure that the Thing doesn’t get to civilization.
I also like the reality of the environment, now while they didn’t shoot at the South Pole they did shoot in Juneau, Alaska and British Columbia, for exteriors so the snow, the ice, is all real, and it shows.
By making the environment and the effects as realistic as possible, you can’t help but get pulled into the story, and begin to suffer from the same paranoia that begins to permeate the camp.
I can’t rave enough about this film, I love it more and more each time I see it, and it’s always one of my go to recommendations for films, this is how sci-fi horror is supposed to be done. And it is done so well!
Have you seen it? What’s your favorite part? The Head Spider Thing? The dogs? The petri dish? Gah! There are so many bits I love!