The Thing (1982) – Review

9 Oct

John Carpenter is a big name in the horror genre, and can easily be considered one of the masters. Halloween changed the way people viewed slasher films, and I feel that his 1982 masterpiece, The Thing, was a landmark in special effects technology. Not only does it look great, but the horror and paranoia behind it will leave a mark on you, no matter if you’re new to horror or consider yourself a buff.

The Antarctic is not a place where you want to be trapped, but unfortunately a group of American researchers are stuck on their base after a mishap concerning a couple of Norwegians. To make matters worse, there seems to be an extraterrestrial that is infecting the scientists and mimicking their personalities. Under the command of helicopter pilot, R.J. Macready (Kurt Russell), the team of scientists must find out who the alien is and fight their own paranoia.

This film can be seen in the same light as the first Alien film. It’s claustrophobic, filled with paranoia, and shocking special effects that are marvels in puppetry and animatronics. The whole time, the viewer is filled with dread at what truly seems to be a hopeless situation, especially since the creature that is so terrifying can’t be seen and works on the cellular level.

 

There are some gnarly scenes in this movie. Just look at the picture right above this. If you haven’t seen this movie then there is really no way you can understand just how weird and over the top that scene is. And this is just one of many. All of the frightening moments in this film will stick with you for a very, very long time. Just picking one scene as my favorite is so hard to do, because each one offers something so original and different. While a lot of the credit goes to John Carpenter, you can’t forget the creator of these special effects, Rob Bottin, who was only 22 at the time he was designing these.

While The Thing is certainly not for the squeamish or the feint of heart, the film doesn’t just rely on these totally overt scares. The themes of paranoia and isolation is just as disconcerting as all of the creatures. Going back to Alien, the main theme was that of isolation. The tagline was even, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Pretty effective. The Thing adds the layer of distrust and fear of what can’t be seen on top of that. Distrust and violence erupts at the worst times, as this microscopic organism works to tear the researchers apart, sometimes quite literally.

 

Both as a horror film and as a science fiction film, The Thing exceeds all expectations and is truly a masterpiece. John Carpenter has even stated that this is his favorite film that he has ever made. Is it better than Halloween? Well, they’re two totally different movies, but if I had a choice I would rather watch The Thing. It’s a gory tale of suspense, distrust, and a microorganism from outer space. What more could you want? If and when I make a list of my favorite horror films of all time, you can be certain that this one will make the list.

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