Monday, 4 July 2016

The Thing (1982)

"The Thing" aka "John Carpenter's The Thing" (1982, John Carpenter, Turman-Foster Company, Universal Pictures) is one of the most defining and masterful pieces from genre great, John Carpenter. I'm a Carpenter fan, but "The Thing" really stands out as one of his finest films. It's also one of my favourite sci-fi films which comfortably straddles the worlds of horror and science fiction.

Based in the Antarctic, a group of American researchers are disrupted by an apparently crazed Norwegian helicopter chasing after and shooting at a dog. The dog is saved, but the Norwegian gentlemen and their chopper are not so lucky. The crew of Americans are shaken, but put the dog along with their own and decide to investigate the Norwegian camp. They send their own 'copter pilot, Macready (Kurt Russell), and camp Doctor, Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart), over to find out what they can but all they find is the burnt remains of the Norwegian camp, some research and a grotesquely misshapen corpse.

Their troubles really begin, however, when they return back to their own base to find that the creature they saved is not in fact a dog and that this Thing is now amongst them....

An intense and well crafted sci-fi mystery with a good cast of three-dimensional characters and some truly disturbing effects (which still stand up today). The plot keeps moving along at a good pace as our team begin to unravel, each suspecting that he is alone amongst imposters. It's a good character study on the human mind's reaction to fight or flight survival. The character banter-turned-bickering really helps hammer home the change in team dynamic, too.

I'll just put my hands up now and admit how much I like Kurt Russell: he is one of my favourite actors. It helps, of course, that he was as handsome as hell in this film, but he really is one talented and very cool guy. Macready loses his shit along with the rest of his camp-mates, but he does it with style and a big hat, and you have to respect that.

"The Thing" remains a disturbing film and, as much as special effects have developed and changed over the years, this film still holds its own and churns the stomach. But it's more than just the effects. "The Thing" creates a tense and uncomfortable atmosphere that draws the viewer in to the camp where the danger isn't just the lurking creature, but the other frightened humans ready to murder each other to survive.

[Image: Turman-Foster Company, Universal Pictures]
Sure, I could have chosen a monster-pic.... But Kurt Russell just seemed like the right choice to me...
Ok... Here's a monster pic too for good measure:

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