The Thing

Year: 1982
Studio: Universal
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bill Lancaster
Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T K Carter, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur

It had been a long time since I'd seen The Thing and when I watched it right through it occurred to me I might not have even seen it all from beginning to end. And though it might be sacrilege to suggest it's John Carpenter's best film, it surpasses Halloween in story and technique – due in large part to the location and the work of horror make-up maestros Rob Bottin and Stan Winston. I still can't watch the scene of the dog getting shot.

We start with the most arresting of beginnings – a husky running across a snow swept landscape, pursued by a helicopter whose crew are trying to shoot it. The dog arrives at a research station and when the chopper lands and the Norweigan scientist runs out, blabbering and panicked before opening fire on the dog again, the crew manage to shoot him first.

While the dog becomes part of the family at the base, two of the team fly to the Norwegian station to investigate, finding it in ruins, the crew dead or missing apart from one unbelievable corpse that seems to be two life forms fused together – at least one of them human.

They return home and life appears to go on, but when they put the dog in with the other huskies all hell breaks loose as the reason for the Norwegian team's bloodlust becomes clear. The dog literally splits open to reveal the alien symbiote inside which kills its victims and then appropriates their form.

It starts a panic-stricken and effective horror film (a slight update of the paranoid mistrust of Invasion of the Body Snatchers , looking back) as the life form scampers throughout the base and the team try to keep an eye on each other and watch out for themselves. When a monster can take the form of your friends or co-workers, the effective premise asks, who can you trust?

Like The Shawshank Redemption, it was a great film released at the wrong time and deserves its beloved place.

© 2011-2022 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au