“I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!”
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russel, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Writer: Bill Lancaster
In 1982 two movies came out about aliens. One was the delightful family picture ET, the other was The Thing which was distinctly not made for the family. The Thing is one of my favourite movies, and with that you can probably tell where this review is heading. But putting a fresh pair of eyes on, I guess the main question is does this movie hold up in this day and age? Well you should get reading and find out.
I think one of the greatest strengths of the movie is in the group dynamic that is formed with all the distinct characters. There is time given to let all the characters differentiate themselves and allow us to not only to get to know them, but for us to give a damn about them when the crap hits the fan. Kurt Russel as MacReady is all that is man, and proves this with his glorious beard. He’s also a good sturdy lead for the audience to get behind. Was also a fan of Donald Moffat as Garry. Leader of the group he has a worn down father quality to him, not exactly hero material but an endearing character, he also has one of my favourite quotes from the movie which is up above. But honestly it’s hard singling everyone out as everyone does an awesome job, Richard Mauser, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, the list goes on.
Story wise it’s kept simple and it’s all the better for it. There is an alien that can take the form of anyone in the group, now it’s a race to survive. The tension created in the story is so thick, it really does add to the threat of the movie. Not a movie beat is misused and really does put a lot of current horror movies to shame. It gives enough time for character development, but also uses the character development to create character tensions to be used later.
Probably one of the factors that will age in any movie is the special effects, but with The Thing the work still holds up. Well maybe the monster design at the end is a little dated, but everything else is awesome including the famous head spider. I also think there is something special about practical effects. The actors are actually reacting to something there, and just adds to the believability of the scene, or as believable as an alien menace could be. Also the cold setting is captured perfectly by John Carpenter and does create menace from the environment as well as the visitor to the artic station.
Directorial wise this is John Carpenter at his best. There are so many elements that he brings together successfully, it’s a credit to him for not dropping the ball. The performances he gets, the visuals he uses, all go together to create a tense, nihilistic movie experience. I think this is an example of Carpenter at his peak.
The Thing is a classic horror movie, and anyone who is a fan of the genre needs to see this movie if they haven’t. It’s a shame in the year of 1982 ET got more of the spotlight but then again I might be the weird one who likes man eating aliens, rather than Reece’s Pieces eating ones. But get out there and watch this.