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The Thing (1982)

September 22, 2009

9/10 Blood Tests

One of the all-time great horror movies and a completely insane trip every time I see it.

The Thing is about a group of researchers huddled up in Antarctica that get sidetracked from their work when an alien symbiote of sorts invades their camp, starts killing folks, poses as their doppelganger, and everyone has to figure out who’s a Thing and who’s not before they’re all dead and the sucker escapes to the outside world.

It’s kinda like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the 1978 remake) mixed with And Then There Were None (a cool movie I completely forgot about until just now). If you haven’t seen either, just trust me on this one, it’s a good combo and it’ll spook the shit out of you.

So the movie gets its scares in two ways: constant paranoia and utilizing some of the best horror makeup and special effects that rival The Fly and An American Werewolf in London. On their own, they’re both damn effective at getting the desired jaw to drop or pants to soil, but it’s when they come together all at once, which happens a lot, that this movie really gets awesome.

You wouldn’t know going into it, but this movie is a whodunit of sorts, more like a “whoisit”, actually. And like all great whodunits, you don’t figure out who’s responsible or that things are about to go terribly wrong until it’s too late. In this case, finding such things out usually means you’re gonna die horribly five seconds later by a creature that just bitch-slapped every last one of your worst nightmares. It probably goes without saying at this point that director John Carpenter does a great job of keeping the audience as out of the loop as his characters are and, boy howdy, does he keep you on edge. I’m really freakin’ tempted to go into some of the bizarro shit that goes on in this movie, because it is NUTS, but you gotta see it for yourselves to get the full brunt of how much more impressive special effects used to be back when they all weren’t whipped up on a computer screen.

This is also the second of three kickass collaborations between John Carpenter and Kurt Russell, the other two being Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China. I don’t know what happened, but John Carpenter’s kinda fallen off the map since They Live back in ’88, and that’s a bummer considering he’s made a crap-load of great, original movies. Same thing with Kurt Russell, actually. That guy needs a comeback big time, he was a total badass (Death Proof doesn’t count; cool role, mediocre movie). Anyway, these two work really well together, Carpenter’s at the top of his game here and Russell has a big bushy beard and torches fools with a flamethrower the whole time. What more could you ask for?

The point is, as far as horror movies go, The Thing is borderline brilliant. So many good scenes, so intense throughout, visually insane, and, most importantly, it’s utterly horrifying. One of those great little gems that makes you think while it’s scaring the poop out of you, and I like that.

I think this calls for a Carpenter/Russell reunion.

Someday, folks. Someday…

8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2009 11:26 am

    It is because of this very film that I’m terrified of petri dishes. The special effects and suspense are definite winners!!!

  2. Marc permalink
    September 22, 2009 3:08 pm

    I second the Caprenter/Russell reunion!! This movie just shows you how well you can do the effects without the CGI and how they work better in many ways.

    That ‘defib’ scene where the chest caves in and just after torching the body, the head walks away…no words can describe how freaky (and cool) that was and still is…I know what I’m watching tonight:)

    • September 22, 2009 3:18 pm

      Haha. The defib scene was fuckin’ bonkers, man. Rewound that a couple times the first time I saw it. Totally nuts.

  3. John permalink
    October 11, 2010 2:25 pm

    Do you know The Thing is a remake of 1951′ The Thing From Another World and The Fly is a remake of 1958’s movie? betcha didn’t know.

    • October 12, 2010 1:02 pm

      I did actually. Never seen either, and I’m guessing they’re a far cry from what Carpenter and Cronenberg put together, but since the remakes are some of the best around, I should probably check out the source material, huh? Will report back and thanks for visiting!

  4. Victor De Leon permalink
    August 31, 2012 7:45 pm

    Best. Carpenter. Movie. Ever. It is Sci Fi / Horror perfection and how you described it as “Invasion…” meets “And Then There Were None” is brilliant. I hold this film in such high regard that I have NEVER attempted to review it. (So kudos to you for taking it on) Same with “Jaws”


  1. The Thing (1982) – What the Hell Should I Watch on NETFLIX?

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