‘The Thing’ Retro Review
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Plot: A small group of researchers stationed in the Arctic are hunted by an alien who hides in plain site by taking over over living creatures.
Review: It’s a remake of a horror classic, it features thirty year old special effects, all the action takes place on two sets…so why is it so fucking good after all these years?!
For those out there who haven’t seen this John Carpenter classic, the story takes place in an Arctic research centre, opening with the men stationed there observing a pair of Norwegians frantically chasing down a dog using a helicopter, desperately trying to kill it. Unable to communicate with them, the Americans are put in danger and shot them, taking the dog into their camp. Little do they know at the time but the dog is a dangerous alien creature that can take on the form of its victims.
Upon learning this, the group are gripped with paranoia as they try and discern who among them is still human, and which is the ‘Thing’.
There are two parts to this movie that made it memorable. Firstly, the creature design and the stop-motion effects that will still make your skin crawl even if gorier, more convincing effects have conditioned you against such things. The second part is the handling of the suspense and paranoia. The viewer is given no insight whatsoever as to who has been taken over by The Thing, and you will remain in the dark until they reveal themselves.
The movie is littered with classic scenes. From the CPR scene to the investigation into the Norwegian campsite, whether it’s a full monster attack or a scene designed to evoke dread, they’re all effective. The real stand-out is MacReady (Russell) testing each person’s blood for infection – a genuine jump-out-of-your seat moment.
Only the final battle seems to let the film down, not managing to match the scares that have come before it. It is, however, made up for by Kurt’s quip and the sense of uncertainty that the movie closes on.
NINE outta TEN