The Thing (1982) Poster

(1982)

User Reviews

Add a Review
958 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Good things come to those who wait
Rainfox27 May 2000
* * * * ½ (4½ out of 5)

The Thing

Directed by: John Carpenter, 1982

Looking back on John Carpenter's The Thing – today a highly treasured cult favourite – one has to wonder why it was dismissed by both the audience and critics when it first came out in 1982.

Steven Spielberg's extra terrestrial adventure about a sweet alien that phoned home (that stole the hearts of both children and adults world wide) had opened just two weeks before and was on its historic box office rampage. Bad scheduling may have had a greater impact than anything else on the fate of Carpenter's first big studio effort for Universal Pictures. Nobody was prepared – moreover wanted anything so dark, gory and scary as this genuine remake of the famous 1951 original. This was the time of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

It then makes for great movie history trivia, that The Thing has gained such a remarkable afterlife on video, DVD and television. Both financially and critically. Carpenter's version is less a remake of the Howard Hawks' version than a more faithful adaptation of John W. Campbell's short story "Who Goes There?' (on which both were based), and critics today point out how well Carpenter plays his characters against each other. Kurt Russell will never top this one, and he gets a brilliant sparring from the entire cast.

It opens in Antarctica with a sled husky running from a pair of crazed and armed Norwegian men in a helicopter. The scene is long, slow and uneasy. It feels like the Apocalypse. It oozes doomsday.

This scene comprises one of the greatest opening sequences in film history.

Ennio Morricone's moody synth score (heavy on naked thumping bass lines in classic Carpenter style), the windswept massive white of the desolate polar ice and the majestic husky running across the tundra chased by the chopper, compromises a completely mesmerizing piece of scenery.

A satisfying example of a movie that today – 18 years after – looks downright muscular in its simplicity.

The budget was big ($14 mill), yet it allowed Carpenter to visualize his ideas better than ever before. There's a brooding darkness to this film, making the whites and blues of the icy Antarctic claustrophobia seem poetic and almost angelic. Dean Cundey's extraordinary photography created a palpable chill to every shot. The careful preparation (the crew went into a record 11-month pre-production) paid off immensely.

Horror specialist Rob Bottin was handpicked for the many gory and grotesque special effects. Be warned – there's a lot of splatter and gore here. The Thing is actually notorious for its creature morphing scenes. Some find them disgusting, some mere cult.

An argument could be made against The Thing being an Alien rip-off; it has its origins in an old sci-fi story and it creates tension by popping a crowd of people (note: all-male) on an isolated outpost (an Antarctic research facility) terrorized by an alien life form.

Where Carpenter was clearly inspired by Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece, his own alien movie is original and intriguing in its own right. There's a rhythm and an environment that equals Scott's in every way.

The husky was in fact half-wolf and half-dog, and it was noted that it never barked or growled on or off the set (Horror Takes Shape, the making of - DVD version).

Watch in awe at the scene where it walks through the hallway and stares at a human shadow, slightly tilting its head forward in stalking position like a wild wolf. This is a fine piece of animal training, sure, but that's not the point. This is as spooky as anything ever made in a horror movie.

Carpenter had all the right tools here, and he utilized them to perfection, making The Thing his best movie alongside Halloween.
365 out of 410 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
A classic that still holds up to this very day
MovieAddict201626 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won."

John Carpenter's "The Thing" is one of the most entertaining horror films ever made – fast, clever and purely exciting from start to finish. This is how all movies of the genre should be made.

Taking place in the Antarctic in 1982, the movie focuses specifically on a group of American scientists. We are given no introduction to their mission, but are thrust into their existence when a pair of seemingly crazy Norwegians appears at their base camp, chasing an escaped dog. The Norwegians are killed, and the dog finds its way into the colony, which is when things really start to get crazy.

It is soon made quite clear that the "dog" is actually a shape-shifting alien organism, which manifests itself upon the physical form of its victims – in other words, it begins to eat the Americans, and imitate them so well that the remaining humans cannot discern the difference between their friends and enemies

The pack of scientists, led by MacReady (Kurt Russell), begin to fight for their own survival, using wits instead of brawn. If the Thing is indeed amongst them, then how are they to go about revealing it? How many Things are there? How can the Thing be killed? (Or can it be destroyed at all?)

The creature's origins in the film are explained easily: Thirty thousand years ago a spacecraft plummeted to Earth, and was frozen in the Antarctic ice. The Thing tried to escape, and was discovered in the ice by the Norwegians, who unknowingly released it from its natural prison.

"The Thing," the movie itself, is similar to Ridley Scott's iconic "Alien" (1979). Many comparisons have been made – the protagonists are stranded in a desolate area, stalked by a seldom seen foe that manages to kill them off one-by-one. However, "The Thing" – for all practical purposes – came first.

Based on the famous short story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. (writing under pseudonym as Don A. Stuart), the film was originally adapted as a feature production in 1951 by Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby. The result was "The Thing From Another World," an unarguable classic. But to be fair, it bore little resemblance to the short story, and Carpenter's remake does it more justice.

The idea of the Thing being able to adapt the physicality of anyone is what essentially makes this movie so great, and is the most vital link to the short story. In 1951 the special effects were simply too poor to reasonably portray the shape-shifting organism, but thirty-one years brought many advances in SFX.

Creature effects artist Rob Bottin does an excellent job of turning what could have easily become a cheesy gore-fest into a startlingly frightening (and realistic) mess of blood and fear. The Thing, although never actually taking one specific form, is constantly seen in a morphing stage, and the effects are simply superb. They still pack a punch twenty-two years later.

Ennio Morricone's score (nominated for a Razzie Award at the time) is a bit too electronic and tinny, but nevertheless haunting when used correctly.

From the fact that its cast consists entirely of males, to the fact that its ending is one of the most thought-provoking and untypical conclusions of all time, "The Thing" – by any standards – is unconventional Hollywood at its best. It comes as no surprise that, at the time of its release, "The Thing" performed poorly in theaters, and "E.T." – released the same year and featuring a much kinder alien – became the higher-grossing picture of the two (by far).

In the long run, however, "The Thing" is superior in almost every conceivable way. Spielberg's tale is outdated and flopped during its 20th Anniversary Re-Release. "The Thing," on the other hand, has gradually climbed a ladder of cult classics – it is one of the most famous non-famous movies ever made.

Carpenter is notorious for having a very uneven career – from his amazing "Assault on Precinct 13" (1976) to the magnificent "Halloween" (1978) to the disappointing and silly "Escape from L.A." (1996), "The Thing" remains his very best motion picture. Although its reputation over the years has never been honorary enough to land it a spot on most "great movies" lists, "The Thing" is still one of my favorite horror films, and – upon close inspection – masterfully crafted. It is a daring and ingenious thrill-ride that is simultaneously unique and chilling – a genuine relief for film buffs who are tired of the same old horror knock-offs. This one, at the very least, is genuinely unpredictable.
347 out of 391 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Today it's still one of the best horror films
Stibbert11 July 2005
Antarctica, winter 1982. The team on an American research base get surprised by a couple of mad Norwegians who is chasing a dog with a helicopter, trying to kill it. All the Norwegians are killed and the Americans are left with nothing, but a dog, a couple of bodies and questions. That's the beginning of the greatest horror/thriller film I've ever seen.

From the very beginning all to the end you feel the tense, paranoid mood. Helpless and alone out in no-mans land. Ennio Morricone was nominated for a Razzie Award for his score. Why I don't know 'cause as far as I can see his score is simple, creepy and very good. It really gets you in the right mood.

The acting is great! The best performance is probably given by the dog who's just amazing. As for Russell and the others on two legs I can say nothing less.

You may think 1982 and special effects are not the most impressive? Well, think again! You haven't seen it all until you've seen this. Bodyparts falling off and creatures changing forms... Rob Bottin has done a great job witch today stands as a milestone is special effects makeup.

The movie didn't get a big response when it first hit the big screen due to other alien films at the time and so it's not very well known. In fact you can almost consider it an unknown movie. Nobody I've asked have heard of it. However the movie has managed to survive for over twenty years as a cult film on video and DVD. Twenty years is a long time and except for the haircut the movie is still pretty much up to date. This movie is to be considered a classic.

The movie is without doubt one of my, if not my favorite. I've seen it several times, but it's just as good as the first time I saw it. As a Norwegian the only thing I don't like about this movie is that MacReady keeps calling the Norwegians swedes!
189 out of 210 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
"The Thing" is John Carpenter's masterpiece and one of the best classic horror films!
ivo-cobra831 October 2015
A classic film. John Carpenter's "The Thing" is one of the most entertaining horror films ever made - fast, clever and purely exciting from start to finish. It is one of my personal favorite horror movies. This is how all movies of the genre should be made. Set on an isolated base in Antarctica, this version seems almost to pick up where the original version (The Thing From Another World) left off. The American scientists discover a decimated Norwegian base some miles distant. Everyone is dead, and only the half charred remains of some unidentifiable thing left to smolder outside the compound might offer any answers to what may have happened. The Thing is brought back to the American base and, too late, the scientists realize that it is alive and lethal. The Thing thaws out and is off, not only killing anyone and anything that crosses Its path, but also absorbing them, making Itself into whoever and whatever it wants. The film then turns into a brilliant paranoia piece. Everyone is suspect, anyone can be The Thing, and no one trusts anyone anymore. Gone is the strength and security found when human beings band together in spite of their differences to battle a monster. The group splinters and fear rules supreme. Who is the Thing?

Seriously I Love this movie I love it To Death. I love Escape From New York and I love Escape From L.A. but I also love The Thing so much better this is definitely the best Carpenter film a truly masterpiece classic I love R.J. MacReady - Kurt Russell I love everything about this film that is. Science Fiction, Horror and an Action Epic Film. A lot of the practical effects were left out but the it looked nice and the acting was good and it expanded upon the monsters background and showing you the inside of the ship. It must of been tough to bring across on screen the visual design.

In my opinion, nobody has topped this film in the 25-odd years since its release. I'll put any of "The Thing's" old-school effects up against any CGI-driven movie, or this cast against almost any other ensemble. If you haven't seen the film yet, I envy you because I WISH I could see "The Thing" again for the first time. WOW! Does more need to be said? How about this...there is no parallel. Who's your friend? Who's the Thing? Who do you trust? Who can you afford to trust? If you've never seen this movie...your in for a treat. The only other movie that had such an impact on me was The Matrix (the first movie)...where I left the theater touching the walls wondering if they were really real. This movie will leaving you wondering....is the guy/gal next to you really real?

"Trust is a tough thing to come by these days."

John Carpenter's The Thing is a seminal piece of horror that is not only a fine specimen of its era, but it also serves as a shining example of horror done absolutely right in any era. Combining gross-out special effects reminiscent of Hellraiser, the nail-bitingly intense, claustrophobic filmmaking of Alien, offering a story that is very well-paced, such as George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, and presenting the idea that true terror can be found at any time, in any place, and inside anyone, much like Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, The Thing works on every level, and represents the peak of each and every aspect that may be utilized to make horror films effective. Granted, this amalgamation of styles is not the only formula for winning horror.

The basic plot about this movie is Horror-moister 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.

The Thing (also known as John Carpenter's The Thing) is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell.

It is one of the best favorite horror films of the 80's ever. I love this film to death. The Thing is the best classic horror film from master and genius John Carpenter! 'The Thing' is classic Carpenter and one of the few remakes that is better than the original. Kurt Russell's characters: Snake Plissken, R.J. MacReady and Jack Burton are Kurt's best favorite characters he ever played. I also love the music score from Ennio Morricone! Awesome!!! 10/10 Grade: Bad Ass Seal Of Approval
33 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Timeless Look in Paranoia, a Horror Classic
ChadKuhns5 August 2002
Just to put things in perspective for you before I get into my thoughts on this film, I am only 20 years old and have grown up in the era of CGI, blue screen effects...and this movie was made around the same time i was born.

With that said, WOW, I only recently saw John Carpenter's version of 'The Thing', and what a masterpiece it truly is. I have long since been a fan of John Carpenter, in particular his works from the late 70's and 80's. In 'The Thing' John Carpenter has truly crafted a paranoia inducing, perhaps gut wrenching classic.

The movie is an update of the classic 'The Thing From Outer Space', but only like it's predecessor, this film is in full color, and the characters of this film have much more to worry about than an alien veggie

The film centers around a group of Arctic Researchers you encounter an alien lifeform capable of taking the form of anything it comes into contact with, and out of for that matter. Kurt Russell stars as R.J. MacReady, an alcoholic Vietnam Vet, thrust into the role of leader of a group of relatively cold and callous men all of whom are readily plunging into manic paranoia and somewhat madness once they realize that they are up against a creature that can take any form, be any one of them.

John Carpenter, more than in any other of his films, manages to create a truly believable and incredible atmosphere. When watching this film you truly get the sense of the dark,sinister, desolate surroundings, you feel and realize that these characters have no where to go...never for one second do you not believe they are stuck on a polar ice cap. Also, this film has perhaps one of the greatest endings to any film of it's genre, or any genre for that matter. I'm not going to give it away here, but to say that it will leave you wondering would be an understatement.

Kurt Russell is superb as MacReady....truly conveying the emotions of a man thrust into a situation of unimaginable horror, forced to lead a group of men who cannot trust that the man next to them is not the creature that has driven them to the brink of paranoia and emotional meltdown.

I don't care if this movie is 20 years old by now, the special effects in this movie are gut wrenching, mind blowing, and absolutely awesome. They blow away any CGI pixel based crap out there today. The 'Thing' itself is a truly horrifying and disturbing creation...unlike any alien you have ever seen in a movie before. Those who have a low tolerance for gore and blood had best prepare themselves for watching this movie.

This movie does what any good horror/sci fi movie should do, it really thrusts you into it's character's world. It leaves you wondering, what would you do, who could you trust if anyone you knew could be the creature waiting to feed on you, and take you over as well. The images, and ideals of this movie stayed with me long after i first saw it, and today as i write this review send a chill up my spine.

It is a true shame this movie is only now getting the proper recognition it deserves. A box office flop when released, now more then ever when movies are paper thin with plot, and one dimensional in effects, this film can be appreciated as a true masterpiece of sci/fi and horror.

If possible, get the Collector's Edition DVD, and enjoy it in anamorphic widescreen..the way it is truly meant to be seen. Marvel at the incredible scenery, the taught direction, the excellent atmosphere, the sweat inducing, gag reflex activating, and everything else that makes this movie great.

Watch it with the lights out, with a group of close friends...maybe even with a dog around...if you don't what i'm talking about...you will afterwards.

Don't let a classic pass you bye
342 out of 397 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Finally getting recognition.
mcseph29 September 2001
I am ashamed to say it, but I have to admit, the first time I saw this film was only about a year ago. After seeing it, I immediately rushed out and bought the DVD collectors' edition and have watched it many times since.

The film is terrific on many levels. It works as your straight monster or action type film, as a horror/sci-fi and also as a very intriguing look into the human psyche. The incredible sense of paranoia, mistrust and fear, lent not only by Carpenter's direction (which is stunning) but also by the incredible acting of the cast in general. Kurt Russell (obviously) is spectacularly understated in the lead role of MacReady, and, as a direct result he "feels" like a real person, rather than a hollywood "all american hero". The other cast members all carry off their roles with style, and the net result is an intensely believable atmosphere, and a truly fantastic film.
317 out of 369 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Flips the scenario round from the original to great effect.
Spikeopath4 March 2008
John Carpenter shows how much he loves the 1951 original by giving it the utmost respect that he possibly could, the only difference here is that Carpenter chooses to stick to the paranoiac core of John W Campbell Jr's short story.

The secret to this version's success is the unbearable tension that builds up as the group of men become suspicious of each other, the strain of literally waiting to be taken over takes a fearful hold. Carpenter then manages to deliver the shocks as well as the mystery that's needed to keep the film heading in the right direction.

Be it an horrific scene or a "what is in the shadow" sequence, the film is the perfect fusion of horror and sci-fi. The dialogue is laced with potency and viability for a group of men trying to keep it together under such duress, while Ennio Morricone's score is a wonderful eerie pulse beat that further racks up the sense of doom and paranoia seaming throughout the film.

The cast are superb, a solid assembly line of actors led by Carpenter favourite Kurt Russell, whilst the effects used around the characters get the right amount of impact needed. But most of all it's the ending that is the crowning glory, an ending that doesn't pander to the norm and is incredibly fitting for what has gone on before it. Lets wait and see what happens indeed. 10/10
124 out of 144 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Intelligent Splatter
Gafke28 December 2003
This is another one of those films that I remember staying up late to watch on TV, scaring the crap out of myself at the impressionable age of 12 or so and dooming myself thereafter to a life of horror movie obsession. This is a GREAT movie, and stands as living proof that there were indeed realistic effects before CGI.

Set on an isolated base in Antarctica, this version seems almost to pick up where the original version (The Thing From Another World) left off. The American scientists discover a decimated Norwegian base some miles distant. Everyone is dead, and only the half charred remains of some unidentifiable thing left to smolder outside the compound might offer any answers to what may have happened. The Thing is brought back to the American base and, too late, the scientists realize that it is alive and lethal. The Thing thaws out and is off, not only killing anyone and anything that crosses Its path, but also absorbing them, making Itself into whoever and whatever it wants. The film then turns into a brilliant paranoia piece. Everyone is suspect, anyone can be The Thing, and no one trusts anyone anymore. Gone is the strength and security found when human beings band together in spite of their differences to battle a monster. The group splinters and fear rules supreme. Who is the Thing?

The gore effects here are absolutely amazing and messily realistic. I could have done without the dogs head splitting open like a banana peel, but that's just the animal lover in me being picky: kill all the humans you want, but leave the kitties and puppies alone. Sanity and reason disintegrate rapidly as, one by one, the humans are taken over by the shapeshifting alien. The power of this film lies in its paranoia, and although I liked the original version, I prefer this one; the real threat lies within, and is scarier for the fact that it cannot be seen or easily detected. When it is forced out of hiding, it's wrath is huge and the results are horrific.

This is one of Carpenters best films, right up there with The Fog and Halloween. All of the actors give strong, realistic performances and the special effects are so powerful that they stand as their own main character. This film has something for any lover of the horror genre. Don't miss it.
298 out of 356 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
I worship this film. 10/10
The_Wood20 April 2002
John Carpenter's The Thing is hands down the best horror film ever made. Not only that, but it is also on of my personal favorite films of all time. What makes the movie so great? It's hard to put my finger on it. Everything just seems to work in The Thing, it's one of the rare occasions where everything just seems to fall in place. The film is even superior to Alien in creating a type of moody atmospheric hell. The fact that it's not only about the gore (which is wonderful btw), but it is able to create a paranoia that is unmatched in films. A truly wonderful film that is worshiped by all horror buffs, and anyone who has good taste in films.
275 out of 351 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Right up there with "Halloween"--one of Carpenter's best!
preppy-36 December 2003
Remake of the classic 1951 "The Thing From Another World". 12 men are in a completely isolated station in Antartica. They are invaded by a thing from outer space--it devours and completely duplicates anything it chooses to. It starts off as a dog but gets loose--and has a chance to duplicate any of the men. Soon, nobody trusts anyone else--they're isolated--the radio is destroyed--their helicopter likewise. What are they going to do?

The 1951 film had the thing just be a big, super human monster. That movie was scary. This one is too--but the story is different (and based more closely on the source material--the novelette "Who Goes There?") and it's scary in a different way. The movie starts right off with Ennio Morricone's extremely eerie score setting just the right tone and--when the Thing gets attacked--the amount of gore is astounding. There's blood and body parts flying all over--arms are bitten off, heads detach and--in the strongest one--one man is devoured face first by the Thing. The gore effects are STRONG and real nightmare material. I don't scare easy but I had to sleep with the lights on when I saw this originally back in 1982. Rob Bottin's effects are just incredible--how this picture got by with an R rating is beyond me!

It also has a very creepy feel--gore aside, it is very suspenseful. You're not sure who is what and Carpenter's direction and the score really build up the tension. One complaint--no one is given any distinctive personality traits. They actors just remain straight-faced and say their lines. That's annoying...but the movie still works.

This was a critical and commercial disaster in 1982--it competed with "E.T." and MANY critics complained about the amount of gore and there being no female characters in the movie. It's now considered one of John Carpenter's best. A must-see...for strong stomaches. NOT a date film!

An amusing note: When this was released Universal sent a note along with all prints of the film. They suggested to theatre owners that they play the film in an auditorium near the rest rooms. They were afraid that people would be so sickened by the violence that they'd have to be close to a facility to throw up!
150 out of 188 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Still my all time favorite sci-fi/horror!!!
PeachHamBeach22 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The silly saying, "You can't touch this" surely applies here. With all the clone horror and sci-fi films coming out, along with all the inferior remakes, it's hard to find anything worthy of 2 hours of your time. That's why I always rely on the classics that scared the weewee out of me when I was a pre-teen.

THE THING is, without an ounce of doubt in my mind, the goriest, ickiest, screechiest sci-fi horror classic that John Carpenter, or any other director (sorry, even you Mr. Spielberg) ever made. What really gives it power, though, is not the gore (it OOOOOZES of slime and blood and God knows what other fluids), but rather the sense of dread, isolation, and distrust it fosters in the characters and the viewer.

You can't get more remote than Antarctica, and in this howling, freezing white setting is where the story takes place. Several Americans, researchers and military men, are stationed there. One day, they witness a Siberian Husky dog running for dear life from gun-wielding Norwegians. Before they know it, the American outpost is battling a mysterious creature that can imitate any creature it wants. It may morph into disgusting slimy bloody shapes before it's finished, but once it's finished, if you didn't see it in progress, you can't tell it among humans or other normal Earth animals.

Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, Richard Masur, Donald Moffatt, TK Carter, Thomas Waites and Charles Hallahan are just a few of the fine cast. This film is the reason why horror CAN be a great genre. It actually STILL scares me. The alien blood "jumping" out of the petri dish when the hot wire touches it still makes ME jump!!!

Still the scariest of them all.
16 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Why The Thing?
allst27 September 2003
Many people has got a film they think of as their favourite movie. My movie will always be John Carpenter's The Thing! The main reason why this movie is a cult-film is perhaps the splatter-effects created mainly by genius Rob Bottin and that this is the movie that made Kurt Russell what he is today (along with Escape from N.Y.) In my opinion, this is not a great film because of the effects, it has to do with the story, the atmosphere, and of course, the acting. I have watched thousands and thousands of movies (3-6 every day the last 10 years), but none has had the impact on me as this one, not even the great "Das Boot".

Here's my suggestion to you who likes sci-fi and horror movies: Place yourself in the good chair of your home. Be sure you're not interupted by anyone. If you aint got a projector, sit close to your TV and watch this miracle of a film. Let it absorbe you, and you'll see it my way!

Best View Time: Late February between 5 and 9 in the evening.
249 out of 338 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
The last John Carpenter classic
DAVID SIM1 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In 1982, two films were released within weeks of each other that were both about aliens. Steven Spielberg's ET, and John Carpenter's The Thing. Of the two of them, ET was the one that won the hearts of people the world over, even though The Thing debuted first. Because people were so entranced with Spielberg's warm, fuzzy feelgood alien fable, they stayed away from The Thing in droves.

Its not hard to see why. The two are diametrically opposed. One is an optimistic tale designed to warm the cockles of the still-beating heart. The other is a harsh, uncompromising film that paints alien life as something purely determined to destroy us. I guess audiences felt ET was a much cuter prospect than The Thing's tentacles and slime coated saliva!

It's taken some time, but The Thing has gone on to win over a substantial cult audience. As it should. Because The Thing is that rare example of a superior remake. It takes all the best qualities of the 1951 classic, and reinvents them in startling and imaginative ways. Indeed Carpenter does his job so well he actually succeeds in making a film that is in every inch the equal of the genre's showrunner, Alien. And that's even rarer!

Carpenter's film follows its source material more faithfully than The Thing From Another World did. It keeps the frigid wastes of Antarctica as a setting, because its the perfect backdrop when you're trying to establish a heightened sense of isolation. But although a bit thin on characterisation, the remake gets right inside the mindset of the actors, and amplifies the uncertainty and fear that slowly surrounds them.

Frequent Carpenter collaborator Kurt Russell returns, hot off the success of Escape From New York, cast once again as one of Carpenter's perpetual anti-heroes. He plays MacReady, the helicopter pilot at an Antarctic research station (what they're researching is anyone's guess). The trouble begins when a Norwegian chopper from a nearby station flies over MacReady's, trying to gun down a Siberian Husky from the air.

They end up dying for their troubles, and while the camp tries to solve the mystery of what happened, they take in the Husky and add it to their own. Except that this Husky, is not a Husky at all. But a shape-changing alien. The Norwegians discovered it frozen in the ice, and when they thawed it out, it massacred their crew. Capable of absorbing its victims at will, it can duplicate a living being right down to the smallest detail. Soon paranoia and suspicion works its way through the 12-man crew, until no-one is certain who is human and who is not.

The Thing is one of John Carpenter's finest films. In fact I'm tempted to say its the best film he's ever made. Even surpassing classics like Halloween and Dark Star. The reason why I place The Thing at the top of Carpenter's list is that it feels like the last film of his that could truly be called a classic. All the others thereafter have felt like Carpenter was slumming it. Films that didn't flow with the cool sophistication and ragged intensity so prevalent in his earlier works.

But The Thing had John Carpenter at the peak of his powers. Never has he generated suspense to such an unbearable degree. Not even in the ferocious Assault on Precinct 13. From the second the alien makes its presence known, Carpenter ratchets up the tension level relentlessly. And when he delivers his punches, they come with an agonising jolt.

The film is a blend of pure atmospherics and visceral horror. An approach that can often seem at odds with one another, but in Carpenter's hands melds together beautifully. Bringing in Rob Bottin of The Howling fame, he lays to bear some of the most astonishing transformation effects you'll ever see in a horror film. Amorphous shapes. Half-formed human features starkly contrasted with gaping jaws, spider legs and fully flexible tentacles. Indeed the film's effects are so amazing and squirm-inducing, The Thing came under fire for being too realistic!

That type of thinking misses the point entirely. It only shortchanges the film's values. And there are many. Carpenter only stages an effects setpiece when he needs to. Its in the film's quieter moments where he seems especially attuned to the story. The Thing is an often bewildering tale of shadows, whispers and implications. Characterisation has never been one of John Carpenter's strong suits, but it works to his advantage in The Thing. Because we hardly know anything about the cast, it only makes the present situation that much more confusing. We're never certain, from one moment to the next who is who. And because of this, The Thing holds up very well and maintains its mystery on subsequent viewings.

A special mention should go to the excellent film score from Ennio Morricone. A pulsing thud thud every two seconds. It creates an eerie, spooky feeling that is very hard to shake. The whole film is a wonderful exercise in paranoid manipulation. The scene where they blood-test each other to see who's human is wound up with such dexterity by Carpenter, you may find yourself biting your nails without even realising.

The Thing is a pure unadulterated classic. Even the ending leaves you with the vague suspicion that not everything is resolved. An underrated film, well worth the reappraisal it received. And so much better than ET!
16 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of the best scary films I've seen
RBrooks11 August 1998
Hitting the video store late on a Saturday when all of the current films were unavailable, we ran across The Thing in the "classic" racks. I've seen this film at least twice before and truly enjoyed seeing it again. If it lacks plot or character development, the premise is frightening enough to make it an engrossing film. The gross-out special effects don't hurt either. For me, The Thing ranks with Alien as one of the best scary films I 've seen.
122 out of 181 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Quality does not Age
Greg Mullins17 May 2011
This is one of the classic Guy films. Horror sci fi as it was meant to be - a real story with good acting. Giving us something missing from almost all horror movies - depth and character. Providing a much needed respite from the cardboard cut outs pasted and slashed throughout, that have been filling the genre for decades. Which has given this style of movie-making it's well deserved reputation and status - of being both Invalid and Not Art. Though John Carpenter himself has been one of the staunchest purveyors of such ilk, it is my humble opinion that he did well with this one, and maybe two others.

One of the best uses of curious as a tool, it lures you in a bit unexpectedly with a somewhat whimsical, almost playful beginning. Rich in atmosphere, while stark in landscape - you find yourself as intrigued by the people as you are the monster. The remoteness of the region gives a true sense of the isolation of the real life McMurdo Sound Naval Station (as it was called when I was in the Navy) which is on the very southern tip of Ross Island in the Antarctic, and is the portal for all things going to the South Pole. I think now it's simply known as McMurdo Station, with the story taking place at a small satellite station outside (probably fictional), as McMurdo is mentioned in the film.

Kurt Russell who started acting as a kid when I was a kid has never taken Hollywood too seriously, which I've always thought was pretty cool. He's done his share of trash films over the years, but there's been a handful of roles that have more than demonstrated his caliber as one of our great actors. His version of Wyatt Earp is by far the most recognized and almost as good as George C. Scott's Patton. I said almost. He's the center of a strong cast of seasoned actors with many recognizable faces and solid performances. I watched it last night with a good friend who had never seen it, and it was just as good as when I first saw it in the theater - almost 30 yeeeaaars ago. Add it to your library, you'll watch it many times . .
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
"Gimmie that Thing"!,
unreasonableboy4 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Thing has to be one of the all time great movies. Of course it was ground breaking special effects at the time of it's release that impressed me so much, back in 1982 it just blew my mind, I'd never seen anything like that! However, although the effects themselves made the movie more horrific, it was the story itself, the music score , the claustrophobic atmosphere of the Anarctic as well as the interaction and tension between the members of the doomed research station that makes it a classic.

Movies don't get any better than this! In the opening scene with the the chopper chasing this husky you just assume that it was some bored scientists from some station letting of some steam. Yet when you see them continue their chase at the US base you then think that the Norwegians are suffering from some form of advanced or extreme strain of cabin fever. Yet this is offset by the menacing opening music score that sets the tempo! You just know that something is not right! At this point it's a mystery until 'the thing' reveals itself.

However, the mystery returns because it becomes a sort of Agatha Christie "who dunnit" ( i.e. ten little Indians movie) sci-fi style as the members don't know which one of their team is really an alien. Suspicion continues to go back and forward between them all as one by one they eventually get knocked off or revealed as the alien. The mistrust between the station crew is absorbing as the movie progresses until the final showdown.

After 20 years of advances in computer graphics and film making production the special effects in "the Thing" don't carry the same weight as it did in 1982, but other than that it holds up very well all round with some great performances by the cast.
19 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Good one for Halloween.
cfjackson12329 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It's nearly Halloween and if your thinking of a movie compilation this should be the top of your list.

It centers around a group working at a research outpost in the Antarctic, one day there's an attack on the outpost from another research team upon venturing to the other base that housed the team they discover the outpost was destroyed by an organism that can mimic any living creature.

When they return to the outpost they shorty discover the organism has infected the base and they can't tell who isn't what they say they are. This is where this films real horror lies the people who you think you can trust i.e. your friends are the people who try and rip your throat out so the enemy becomes your sense of trust.

The special effects are amazing I recently was able to see a digital presentation of The Thing at the cinema and it looked awesome, usually when you watch this film because its shot against white you get glare on your screen very easily, in the cinema the lighting is set perfectly to prevent glare it really does look a lot better I recommend seeing it on the big screen for anyone.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
The Godfather of sick 'n' twisted slasher flicks.
darkness31729 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
(Warning, I spoil the entire movie.)

The Thing is all about... well ya know, the Thing. What is the Thing? An alien, but what kind of alien? I dunno, but it sure is ugly. It's pretty awesome because it can infest people and make them grotesque alien monstrosities. Every little piece of the alien becomes a new, little alien, i.e. one of the victims who is assimilated gets decapitated and his head becomes a spider monster.

What am I going on about? The film is set in Antartica and revolves around 12 American scientists who start getting assimilated One -by-one they get Thinged until only 2 are left alive and the ending is left ambiguous as to their fates. (I think they probably froze to death.)

The Thing has been frozen in the Antartic for thousands of years before being awakened by a Norwegian science team. It kills all but two who're killed in the opening of the film at the American base. Throughout the flick it tries to rebuild it's space ship, which to me proves it was the pilot and was planning on flying away home, where ever that is. However the Americans decide to kill it and they do so with fire!

I love sci-fi; I love horror. I especially love it when the two get mixedand mixed well. I like to think of The Thing as a well shaken vodkamartini of awesomeness. It's my personal favorite horror flick, it has an influence on me as a (wannabe) filmmaker in that It's OK to have disgusting, mutating monsters. I like to know my world has a healthy dose of grotesque, evil beasts from another planet. That makes me happy.

What the hell am I talking about now? Anyway, I hope you've seen it already if you're still reading. (Sorry if you haven't.) Peace.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
The Thing: 2nd Greatest Horror Film Ever!
hentschellm4 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Thing

I'm going to give the full review using my standard formula. Let's Begin.

This is in my opinion the 2nd greatest horror film ever only inferior to Alien. The movie is a loose remake of the horror classic The Thing From Another World. But for those who say all remakes sucks, try and answer to this. This movie is in my opinion superior to the original. The alien is much more unique, and because of this it's a lot scarier. Not to say the original wasn't scary.

Plot: The plot is great. 12 men in Antarctica see a Norwegian shooting at a dog. They kill the shooter, and take the dog in. I am just setting you up, I won't get anymore into it than that.

Acting: The acting is great. I only recognized two people in this movie, Kurt Russell and Keith Davids. Kurt Russell gave a superb performance as MacReady, a helicopter pilot who must cope with the madness growing in his friends. Everyone gave a great performance in this movie. Using an all male cast everyone gave a convincing performance with fear, anxiety, mental instability, and a loss of trust for best friends.

Horror: Like my title says, in my opinion this is the 2nd greatest horror film ever made inferior only to Alien. John Carpenter gives the perfect idea of fear with an alien who takes control of an organism's body and makes a perfect imitation, looking and sounding like the person, remembering the same thing the person or animal remembers, and acting the same way as well. This goes into the scariest part of the movie, the loss of trust between best friends. As the movie goes along you see the former friends attempting to murder, interrogate, and coerce each other. Also the idea of being isolated in Antarctica is the perfect idea for a horror film. The special effects are great. Rob Bottin did an amazing job with this movie. He started by making sketches of things that had never been done before. He did them and made them spectacular. The music was a very underrated part of the movie. Ennio Morricine made a fabulous score which helped make the movie scary like Halloween.

In my opinion this even beats out horror classics like Halloween and The Birds. It provided a scary premise with a bit taken from the original and the rest taken from the short story. For big horror fans, see this movie right away. If you are truly a horror fan you will see the genius of this horror film. Even if you're not a big horror fan you will see the genius of this movie.

10/10
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
"Man is still the warmest place to hide."
Kieran Green1 May 2010
The film opens ominously with a flying saucer hurtling towards the earth's atmosphere then we are met with terrific titles which literally 'burn on to the screen 'John Carpenter's 'The Thing'

The movie Begins In Antarctica Winter 1982 The first(god damn week of winter) with Two Norwegians in a helicopter who are in hot pursuit of a a Husky, which flees the helicopter and makes it through the snow to a United States science station Outpost 31, The twelve all male occupants emerge to see what's happening. as the helicopter lands the two men end up dead one accidentally with the help of a misplaced grenade and the other is shot dead.

The Americans don't know it yet, but their camp has just been infiltrated by a shape-shifting alien, And as the tag-line so succinctly puts it "Man is the warmest place to hide." this just has to be John Carpenter's finest picture it has now received the recognition it finally deserves, i always watch this classic on a regular basis it's a film upon every viewing you can get different readings to an extent it is quotable there is a prequel in the works but only time will tell if it is going to be on par with this masterpiece be sure you watch this classic in widescreen.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
the most professionally astute horror film of the 80's, very entertaining
MisterWhiplash31 December 2005
In following the lines of the classic formula to a point of taking another leap off from the material, The Thing remake becomes one of the coolest remakes of its time. John Carpenter fashions out of what must've been a fairly vague screenplay about certain things (or maybe very descriptive who knows), bringing forth incredibly wretched, brilliant puppetry and animatronics by Rob Bartin (with Stan Winston also on the team). These effects help set the tone against the harsh, detached environment Carpenter sets up with his characters. The film takes the story of a group stationed in a research bunker in the middle of an arctic climate, pitted against a malevolent force that takes the shapes of others. It's given a full life by Carpenter's choice of tones, and surprises. For someone following in the footsteps of Howard Hawks, the filmmaker here has a lot more trust and talent in executing the material than most given the chance to have another go with an old film.

With the effects people working to full force- amid what would likely follow Backdraft as containing the most fire per scene (it could become overkill, but it all fits into the suspense after a while)- the actors pull along as a fine ensemble. Unlike the squad in Predator, these are mostly just regular working guys, with the leader coming in the from of Kurt Russell's MacCreedy (very good role for his style, excellent in fact). Juicy supporting roles are out for grabs for the likes of Wilford Brimley and Keith David. And it is refreshing to see how the sort of absurdity of what's going on in the film (an alien that starts off with dogs and then moves onto the others in gory, demented transforming form) is pit against such a tone of timing with everyone. I loved the long silences at times, with Ennio Morricone's spooky, curious music in the background (and that bass line is of merit in itself).

It ranks up with being, if nothing else, delivering what it strives for for its genre/cult audience. It remains one of Carpenter's best; a rare breed of horror film where the story is told clear and precisely by way of the position of the camera, dialog, and timing with the scenes. That's not to say the film isn't chock full of violence, it is, and in fact a couple of times it's almost funny. But given that it goes back to what is ridiculously seeming like a by-gone era, the creatures/make-up, alongside the steady, well-calculated script, was done completely without CGI. It's disgusting, but it's real, and atmospheric to a T.
14 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Because It's Different, Because It's From Outer Space
geminiredblue17 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
If the tag-line for ALIEN was "In space no one can hear you scream", then THE THING might have a tag-line that read: "In Antarctica, no one can hear you scream." Originally, The Thing started life as a novella called WHO GOES THERE? by John W. Campbell. In 1951, Howard Hawks made a loosely-based version called THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. It became a classic, bridging the gap between sci-fi and horror, displaying a cast of witty and smart characters and an infuriatingly tough alien. Then in the early 80s, John Carpenter and his crew set out to remake THE THING. Many viewers who had seen the earlier film were put off by it, remarking on the graphic content. What many viewers may not have known is that John Carpenter's version is much closer to the source material. Having read the book, I must admit it was quite original. Now the story: In Antarctica, a US scientific team take in a dog that's running from a couple of Norwegians. However, nothing is as it seems... Not wanting to reveal too many details, let's just say The Thing appears and terrorizes the team. Many of the graphic deaths and mutations remain intact from the book, as well as the claustrophobic locations and growing sense of dread and suspicion. Kurt Russell (a John Carpenter regular) plays the role of R.J. MacReady perfectly, as do the rest of the cast (many of whom are veteran actors). The dripping, nauseating special effects are some of the creepiest ever filmed. And mercifully, Carpenter allows the film to retain the book's terrifying, downbeat ending. For you, the gentle bloodthirsty viewer, there's a little something for everyone to find scary in this one. So make this required viewing, and if you're an avid reader, hunt down WHO GOES THERE? It's equally as strong!!!
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
This "Thing" DELIVERS!
Boggman23 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
OMG! "The Thing" is John Carpenters masterpiece! I watched this movie fore the first time last night; alone, in my darkened basement and it scared the living hella outta me! This movie ROCKS! Somehow, "The Thing" always eluded me. I never knew much about it and never really had an interest in it until I started doing a little research on the internet of horror/sci-fi movies I had not seen.

First off, "The Thing" holds up marvelously 23 years after its release! In fact, this movie could probably be re-released today and make a ton of money. It's just THAT good. With so many of our classic horror movies being re-made these days; I doubt that this film will ever be re-made anytime soon because it just still plays so very well.

Well written, acted, & shot, "The Thing" is one heck of a gore fest. The graphic violence in the "The Thing" is just amazingly shocking, realistic, and awesome! Quick plot summary: A US research team working in the Antarctic comes across a Norwegian base that has been deserted. They find a dead and deformed body and take it back for research. The end up learning that something has attacked the Norwegians and is somehow shape-shifting with detailed precision into a predatory killer. By researching the evidence left behind by the Norwegians, they find a space ship that looks like it crashed in the snow some time ago.

They soon realize they are being stalked, and it could be anyone of the team. They began to lose all trust and confidence in each other and quickly began to turn against their colleagues.

Will they find WHO amongst them is a "Thing"? Can anyone kill this creature before it wipes them all out and infects our entire civilization? Kurt Russel rounds out a very nice cast of actors in this fantastic thrill ride. I was very impressed and satisfied with John Carpenter's "The Thing".

I cant recommend this movie enough! Enjoy!!
10 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Easily Carpenter's best
Diego_rjc4 March 2010
'The Thing' came out in 1982. Back then, John Carpenter was already a quite famous director, with hits like 'Assault on Precinct 13' or 'Halloween'. And with the success of 1981's 'Escape from New York, Universal Studios gave Carpenter a free pass to adapt John W. Campbell Jr.'s short story 'Who Goes There?'. The problem is that 'The Thing' came out only two weeks after Steven Spielberg's 'E.T.: The Extra- Terrestrial'. Therefore, 'The Thing' was a massive fail with the public, and also didn't go well with the critics, saying it was too gore and violent. Now, 28 years have passed, and 'The Thing' acquired a cult status, having the recognition it always deserved - as the best John Carpenter movie.

'The Thing' follows a group of American researchers in Antarctica that are confronted by a blood-thirsty alien creature that assumes the identity of whoever it kills. Now, they don't know who to thrust, and if the other researchers are human or alien. The movie's screenplay is based on a short story by John W. Campbell. Written in 1951, and adapted firstly for the big screen in the same year, this story clearly represents the fear of communists taking over America. But Carpenter's movie came out in 1982, so the Cold War fear is long gone, and he adapts the story in a much more present way. The paranoia subject here is also treated very nicely. The feeling of getting stuck with an alien and to don't know in who to trust builds up along the movie perfectly. There are a few things still unexplained about the movie's story, which proves how well-written this is and also explains why there are so many fans of this. The writing here also allowed John Carpenter to create some of the most scary sequences ever.

The cast here is not very big and is composed only by males, and is headed by Kurt Russell, back then a rising star that also had the leading role in Carpenter's previous movie, 'Escape from New York'. He does his job pretty well, as so did all the other actors. Of course this isn't the kind of movie that depends on the acting in order to work - it's all about the writing and the directing. Aside from Russell, that aren't many famous actors, maybe with the exception of Keith David. A name that is worth mentioning is Wilford Brimley. He was certainly the best member of the cast.

John Carpenter's directing work is, as always, incredible. He has a very strong style, that is present in every single frame of this movie. He manages to create completely scary sequences out of the nowhere, and it's his directing that keeps the movie going. The movie, like every Carpenter one, has that claustrophobic feel to it, and the way Carpenter handles the characters is simply amazing. The opening sequence - with the helicopter chasing the dog, is one of the best opening sequences in the horror movie industry - it settled the mood perfectly, and showed this was no ordinary horror film.

The mood in here is also built by all the other aspects of the movie. The creature design is one of the best in movie's history, and the animations are perfect. As there was no CGI, the movie utilizes makeup to create the illusion of the creatures, and is considered until today a landmark on makeup special effects. It couldn't be better. Ennio Morricone's original music score also did it pretty well, with the use of bass chords pretty common on Carpenter's previous films. The cinematography is also excellent, with a dark and scary mood.

Overral, 'The Thing' is easily John Carpenter's best movie. The reception of the movie when it first came out wasn't really fair to what this movie is. But now, 28 years after the release, people finally realized how good this movie is, acquiring a well-deserved cult status. The excellent writing, along with the good acting and Carpenter's perfect directing make this one of the best and most scary horror movies ever made.

10/10
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
One of the greatest American films of the post 60s
bobdyland26 September 2008
People with an aversion to gore may find some scenes hard going, but The Thing is far from being simply a horror classic. The fact that the extraordinary special effects stand up against most modern day CGI is only a small part of why this movie is, finally, rightfully regarded as a masterpiece. Technically brilliant in its camera-work and editing, superbly scripted and acted, one of the best openings, one of the best endings, tension and paranoia sustained throughout (with countless viewings), an excellent soundtrack, and open to multiple readings and analogy, there simply aren't enough superlatives to do this film justice. Absolutely essential viewing.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews