One of John Carpenter’s many horror classics, and one of my all-time favourites. ‘The Thing’ is a violent, eerie and creative sci-fi body-horror icon. As I personally adore this film and believe its one of Carpenter’s best, as the film always uses isolation and paranoia to it’s best extent, never failing to keep you on edge and invested throughout the entirety of its story and runtime.
Plot Summary: Members of an American research outpost in Antarctica find themselves battling a parasitic alien organism capable of perfectly imitating its victims. As time passes, they realise that killing the creature will be harder than they initially thought, as paranoia begins to sink-in as to who has already been assimilated by the shape-shifting entity.
Although ‘The Thing’ is actually a remake of the classic: ‘The Thing from Another World’ from 1957, I would say this is one of the rare times that a remake is better than the original. As it’s constant tension building alongside the outstanding practical creature effects, make the film an incredible experience. Very similar to films such as: ‘Alien’ or ‘The Fly’, ‘The Thing’ also has a very slow opening, using its introduction to build tension and give the audience a great view of the location before the film descends into the gory chaos.
Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, David Clennon and the rest of the cast are all decent, while Kurt Russel’s character: ‘MacReady’ is easily my favourite simply due to his charisma, but none of the cast are terrible by any means. However, I do feel there are too many characters within the story, as it can get confusing at many points as to which character is wrapped up within their large fluffy coats. As while I understand the need for a high-body count for a film like this (which is the reason for the lack of development for many of the characters) but I simply just find it a little too easy to get lost at points.
Dean Cundey handles the cinematography within the film, which is decent throughout but nothing amazing, placing more of an emphasis on the practical effects within the shots, rather than the shots themselves. However, the cinematography does still help to build tension effectivity through its many still shots and dark colour palette. The original score (surprisingly not composed by John Carpenter himself) is by Ennio Morricone, but suitably does feel like a traditional Carpenter soundtrack and helps towards the eerie atmosphere as soon as the opening begins, as while maybe not as iconic as some of Carpenter’s other scores such as: ‘Halloween’ or ‘The Fog’ etc. The original score is still brilliant in its own right, and truly sets the tone for the film.
All of the creature effects throughout the film are completely practical, giving the amazing creature designs true life by many of them being puppets or costumes rather than CGI like most modern-day horror or sci-fi flicks. These effects truly create some very memorable scenes, as make-up artist Rob Bottin (Robocop, Total Recall) truly did some of his best work on ‘The Thing’.
As the film takes place in an extremely isolated location and features a creature that can morph into any character, the film also never fails to keep the viewer on constant edge. As one of the best elements of the film is the paranoia the film builds up, as any of the characters could be infected with the alien creature. So we never know who is going to be the next unfortunate victim, and who is their killer. Interestingly during filming, John Carpenter didn’t even tell the actors who was ‘The Thing’ on set, only adding to the mystery.
Altogether, ‘The Thing’ is a phenomenal entry into the genres of science fiction and horror, truly being an iconic staple of what to expect from an alien film from then on. From it’s building of tension to the outstanding phenomenal practical effects as well as the constant threat we feel whilst watching, almost placing us into the shoes of the characters themselves. Soon going on to be a true sci-fi/horror classic and becoming one of the best remakes to ever grace the silver screen, a well-deserved 9/10 overall.