Friday, April 13, 2012

The Thing (1982)

Another movie I hadn’t seen in years, but remembered fondly. The movie freaked me out so much that I was actually a little afraid to revisit it. But the Lovecraft podcast I listen to mentioned it on several occasions, so I figured it was time to check out The Thing again.

An American Antarctic expedition finds themselves facing something much worse than cold weather. A chance encounter with survivors of a Norwegian expedition brings what appears to be a disease into the camp. But it becomes rapidly apparent that some kind of alien creature with the ability to appear human is running amok. The expedition is cut off from the outside world and each member suspects the others of being the invader. How far will these men go to survive the hunt for The Thing. The ensemble cast includes Kurt Russel, Wilford Brimley, Keith David and Donald Moffit.

Good Points:

  • Amazing visual effects – a real star of pre CG age
  • Balances atmosphere and thrills perfectly
  • Beautiful and bleak all at the same time

Bad Points:

  • The overall grimness of the film may be too much for some viewers
  • The dog massacre will upset animal lovers
  • Gets really gross with the mutilations

Holy crap is this movie still scary. It’s a great combination of slow building terror and masterful special effects. While the story itself isn’t anything too new, the execution is what makes this work. Carpenter creates a truly bleak film, which has viewers jumping at shadows. Lots of folks say this is his best film – I think I agree with them.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 5
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 4
Direction: 5
Entertainment: 5
Total:  5

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review. 


  1. A justification for a remake (beyond the financial one)is bringing something more to the production. Fond as I am of the 1951 version, Carpenter's 1982 brings far more of the story ("Who Goes There?" by John Campbell) to the screen. I'll readily watch either again.

  2. I haven't seen the original in years, but that one was pretty darn creepy too. As a kid I was horrified by what the creature may look like, as you never got a real good look at him (to my memory) till the finale. I agree that Carpenter really did a great job with the remake.

  3. John Carpenter's 'THE THING' was the creepiest alien mutation movie ever. I think they really should do more makeup special effects and more puppetry special effects for the upcoming alien body mutation horror films. And I love how the way Rob Bottin did the special makeup effects and the creature effects on this film because his special effects is 20 times twice as realistic and twice as horrifying.

  4. I gotta agree Edward. The work we see here is really amazing, and goes to show how powerful non CG effects can be. Not that I'm totally against CG, when it is used well and in conjunction with other types of effects it is amazing. The "Lord of the Rings" series is still one of the best examples of using all types of visual effects, from practical, to models, to CG to create a complete visual world. But for stuff like physical transformations, makeup and practical effects are still the best. And I think they really help the actor get into the feel of being mutated as well. :)