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. I personally this is one of Carpenter’s best films, 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 it’s story and run-time.
The story focuses on a research team in Antarctica when they discover a lost dog traveling across the snowy plains, only to soon find themselves hunted by a deadly shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of it’s unfortunate victims.
With the film actually being a remake of the classic: ‘The Thing from Another World’ from 1957, I would actually say this is one of the rare times that a remake is better than the original. Very similar to film’s such as: ‘Alien’ or ‘The Fly’, ‘The Thing’ also has a slow beginning, using it’s opening to build tension and character 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, non 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. I understand we need 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.
As the film takes place in an extremely isolated location and features a creature that can morph into any character, the film never fails to keep the viewer on constant edge. Alongside the setting, 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 creature, we never known who is going to be the unfortunate victim, and who is the killer. John Carpenter didn’t even tell the actors on whilst set during filming.
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 films. These effects truly create some very memorable scenes, as make-up artist Rob Bottin (Robocop, Innerspace, Total Recall), truly did some of his best work on ‘The Thing’. The cinematography by Dean Cundey is decent but nothing amazing, placing more of an emphasis on the practical effects. However, many of the still camera shots due help with the building of tension and isolation of the location.
The original score (surprisingly not composed by John Carpenter himself) is by Ennio Morricone, but suitably does feel like a traditional Carpenter soundtrack and builds and tension filled atmosphere as soon as the opening begins. While maybe not as iconic as other Carpenter scores such as: ‘Halloween’ or ‘The Fog’ etc. The score is still brilliant in it’s own right, and truly sets the tone for the film.
All together ‘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 sliver screen. A solid 9/10 overall.