Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Donald Moffat
Synopsis: A group of scientists in an isolated research facility are surprised by hostile actions of a neighbouring Norwegian camp. It turns out what spooked them so much was a creature they dug up from the ice, a shape-shifter that has now infiltrated the American camp.
A review by Film Nerd.
This is one of the film’s that has been a thorn in my side for some time. A self-proclaimed film nerd that had never seen John Carpenter’s The Thing??? It is a state of being unheard of!! Okay, it is not the only prominent film in the history of cinema that I have missed. Prior to this film I had only seen 296 of the 1001 films you must see before you die. But this being a prominent sci-fi horror film, the sin was particularly heinous in this case. Especially when you consider a Carpenter approved prequel is soon due for release, now has to be the time to correct an oversight.
So, after picking up the BluRay (for a steal of a price), i popped it in for my first viewing a few nights ago. I was surprisingly without the company of Bride of Film Nerd. She just loves horrors so much… it just is not the same with one arm being black and blue from finger imprints afterwards. And yes, I am sure that would have been the reaction, given that this film successfully made me jump on more than one occasion. Carpenter has a very tight grip on the progression of this film. It is very slow to begin with, establishing an atmosphere of isolation which hints at something akin almost to claustrophobia to come. Tension is realistically built, up until the reveal of the shape-shifting creature, and continues to mount as no-one knows whom they can trust. And following this scares are not quite as clearly sign-posted as many of today’s more modern paint by numbers scare flick.
Of course, a director is lost without a credible cast. Some may write of Kurt Russell, but his helicopter pilot MacReady is believably taciturn and capable in a pinch. He dominates the cast, his screen charisma being at full wattage. Yet do not be fooled, the supporting cast are not lost, especially as every one of them is a suspect at one point or another. Each has at least one bright moment to shine, as the crew gets steadily decimated over the course of the film.
Purely and simply, i love this film. It is no heart wrenching drama, nor is it an Academy-friendly weepy or educational piece. It is a sci-fi horror, it knows what it is, and yet it never descends into over the top antics, never breaking the tension of the transportation into this different world. If you are already a convert, pick it up and enjoy it again, if not, follow my lead and clean this oversight from your slate!!
5 stars (out of a possible 5)
The Thing on IMDB
The Thing on Rotten Tomatoes