The Thing

The Thing

Released 1982

Review by: Fiji Mermaid

The Thing is a John Carpenter’s take on the novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. There was a 1951 film of the same name based on the same short story, but it's my feeling Carpenter's film isn't a remake of that film. If you've read the story you'll understand what I'm talking about here.

This film is about a group of 12 U.S. men who are conducting research in Antarctica far from any outside contact. They witness some Norwegian men in a helicopter chasing down a dog trying to kill it. The helicopter lands and the Norwegians continue to shoot at the dog, inadvertently shooting one of the researchers. This prompts another of the US researchers to shoot back, killing him. The remaining Norwegian drops a grenade he planned to use and is blown up by it. The researchers take the dog into their camp, but the seemingly normal dog is not as it appears.

The camp is understandably shaken by these events and try to call for help but are unable to reach anyone. MacReady the camps helicopter pilot, takes two other men out to the Norwegian camp to find out if they can make sense of what was going on with them. When they arrive they find a camp that is in a complete wreck, with strange burned bodies, a frozen man who apparently committed suicide, and a large block of ice that appears to have had something cut out of it. Disturbed by their finding they take some research tapes and one of the burned bodies back with them. While they were out investigating, the new dog was allowed to wander around the camp and made its way into someone’s room. We are not shown who, but merely see a shadow of someone noticing the dog.

When the researchers get back to their camp they all come together and look at the strange body and see that parts of it seem human, yet clearly something is very wrong with it. It's a distorted twisted mess. The men spend the evening playing cards and relaxing, and the new dog is put in a kennel with the other dogs. Shortly after this it turns into a weird beast and beings an attack on all the dogs. The men hear the commotion and rush in to see the attack and the monster in the kennel. They get a flamethrower and burn it, killing it. One of the researchers, Blair, begins an examination of the creature and he discovers that it is some kind of animal that has the ability to copy and create clones of things it attacks. It was trying to copy the dogs but they were able to interrupt its attack. Blair then fears that one or more of the people in the camp has been copied and is a monster. They decide to review the Norwegian research tapes and discover that those men had discovered something buried in the ice and the location of where they found it. MacReady and a couple of other guys fly out there and discover what looks like an alien ship half buried in the ice. They estimate the ice it's buried in to be 100,000 years old. This leads them to believe that the Norwegians found a frozen alien thrown from the ship buried in the ice and brought it back for study, where it apparently escaped from the thawed ice. After the guys head back to the camp they all discuss the situation and trouble they might be in.

From here on out the movie begins the mystery of who's who as far as who is human and who is alien. It's hard for anyone to trust anyone. I don't want to ruin the fun of the film and detail whaich characters do what, because there is some fun in that mystery aspect. The movie proceeds with people vs. people vs. alien up until the final frame in a fantastic ending scene.

Kurt Russell is the star of the film as MacReady, in one of his best roles. This is one of the many films he and John Carpenter did together, and certainly one of the best. The film also has amazing special effects by creature creator Rob Bottin (Howling) and Stan Winston, that even by today’s standards look very good. A true classic and recommended viewing to anyone that is a fan of the genre and hasn't seen it yet.

Theatrical Trailer

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