The Thing (1982)
Director: John Carpenter
T.K. Carter Nauls/Cook
A scientific crew at an Antarctica based compound sees their world go to hell when an extra-terrestrial organism that mimics everybody it consumes enters their midst. Chaos, mistrust and some genuinely INSANE creature shenanigans ensue.
"Trust is a tough thing to come by these days."--- MacReady
"The Thing" surprisingly didn’t catch a break upon its initial theatrical release. You see, the flick came out 3 weeks or so after Spielberg’s smash hit “E.T: The Extraterrestrial" and people were too busy wanting to “phone home” to pay attention to a movie about a killer, shape-shifting alien. Over the years though, "The Thing" has deservedly gained a very strong cult following and for me, re-watching it today for the umpteenth time, I was again taken aback at just how gracefully the film has beat out the test of time.
More of a direct take on John W. Campbell Jr's story “Who Goes There?” than a remake of the 1951 film “The Thing From Another World”, Carpenter’s film works on all counts with the first notch on its belt being the involving setting in which its mad tale takes place. The desolate, icy and snowy surroundings wondrously amplified the film’s overall bleak and claustrophobic tone. I could really feel the aura of isolation while watching this movie and that helped me sympathize with the characters and their predicament on a deeper level. The actors in this ever-glowing gem also brought in their fair share of positive weight with Kurt “The Man" Russell and Keith David, in particular, owning the screen every time they popped up. I’d let these two tough hombres have my back any day!
It must be said that since the action in this twisted adventure started at frame one, the narrative never really had the breather to go into its characters’ backgrounds. We don’t get to know much about these fine gents and that is one of the reasons, in my opinion, that this loony foray into horror works so well. Not knowing much about them definitely jacked the paranoia factor to “HIGH” when it came to the guessing game game that this flick was playing on us. Speaking of paranoia, Carpenter must be high-fived and lent Paris Hilton for a night for managing to evoke the emotion of “mistrust” so strongly here. Who can forget the tension-filled “blood testing” scene? Even with the knowledge of how it turns out on my side, it still whooped my skull to ashes. To this day, I have yet to see a movie that played that angle with such efficiency. Shite, I was only a spectator watching a screen and I was getting freaking paranoid! Let’s just say that I didn’t look at my dogs the same way while viewing this sucka.
Scare-wise, if it wasn’t the constant sense of imminent doom crawling snuggly under my skin, it was the “surprise” beast attack that got to me. I was bouncing off my couch like a tweaked grass hopper. FUN STUFF! Which brings me to the film’s revolutionary special effects. Rob Bottin (who was 21 years old at the time) really outdid himself here. I heard that he worked every day of the shoot and that he actually didn’t go home at night-- he slept on set. I RESPECT THAT! Well my man, your efforts were not in vein. Not only do Bottin’s effects easily bury any visual tricks put out today in terms of impact, but the creativity and the daringness behind them, made the "out there" creature scenarios some of the most memorable latex jamborees to ever grace the blood-stained screen. This Bud’s for you Bottin! You earned it and then some!
All in all, I have absolutely nothing negative to say about "The Thing". To me, it’s a perfect horror effort, from the acting, the firm directing, the gloomy score, the open-ended ending…you name it and this flick excelled at it. "The Thing" is the REAL thing! Mutate into this!
It’s a carnival of fun gooey times with Rob Bottin goodies on display for all to munch on. We get a bullet in the head, self-inflicted scalpel wounds, bit off arms and a slew of unique, over-the-top and totally crazy creature-at-play effect set pieces. You haven’t live until you’ve seen a severed head grow legs and walk around a room. FUCKING A!
Since the script itself wasn’t in depth when it came to the characters, the fact that all of the men found here were endearing was quite a statement on the actors’ talent and charisma. Among the crowd, men’s men Kurt Russell (MacReady) and Keith David (Childs) stood out the most. I love both these guys! They oozed of strength and presence. Wilford Brimley (Blair), T.K. Carter Nauls (Cook), Richard Dysart (Copper) and the rest of the extensive all-male cast, also came through hardcore. I bought every single performance found in this film. Shite, even the dog (played by half-dog, half-wolf Jed) was highly credible. Talk about “method acting”!
T & A
It’s an all-male cast so us dudes get nothing. The ladies get Kurt Russel’s impeccable beard.
Carpenter’s directing served the film well, with slow, methodological camera movements upping the tension of the happenings. We also get well used POV shots that augmented the mystery factor of the film and an addictive dread-filled mood. Awesome!
The bleak score by Morricone mucho reinforced the dark tone of the film. GENIUS! We also get some pop/rock tunes with one of them being Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious”.
Although I adore Carpenter’s "Halloween", "The Thing" remains my favorite film of his. It just hits paydirt hard in every damn way possible. Look up “Horror Classic” in the dictionary and you’ll see the cover art for "The Thing". If you haven’t witnessed this priceless genre offering yet…SHAME ON YOU! Toss that "Urban Legend" DVD in the trash already and run to get it like...now! As for me, I’ll keep re-watching this flick at least once a year till the day I die. Hopefully when I have kids in the future, I’ll name my son MacReady and have him watch this horror treasure with me. Wow, I’m talking kids???? WTF? Mr. Carpenter, what have you done to me???
The flick was shot in British Columbia, Canada.
An uncredited Adrienne Barbeau was the female voice of MacReady's computer chess game.
Stan Winston did the Dog-Thing effects. He didn’t want screen credit because he didn’t want to take away from Rob Bottin's accomplishment (class act). He does get "A Special Thanks to Stan Winston" in the film's end credits though.
Screenwriter Bill Lancaster is the son of actor Burt Lancaster.
The X-Files episode “Ice” was an homage to this film.