Sunday, May 11, 2014

THE THING (1982)

A lone commercial towing spaceship carrying twenty million tons of mineral ore travels through the vast openness of space.  What?  Oh, sorry, wrong movie.  A lone Alaskan Malamute runs across the vast openness of Antarctica.  Right behind him is a Norwegian helicopter with a guy hanging out the side shooting at him.  The dog manages to make it to an American research station.  As the Americans run out to see what all the ruckus is the helicopter lands and one of the Norwegians drops a grenade that kills him and blows up the helicopter.  Unfazed, the other Norwegian starts shooting at the dog.  Hitting an American instead.  The Americans return fire killing the Norwegian.

Understandably, the Americans are freaked out by all of this.  They can't raise anybody on the radio, so they send a few guys over to the Norwegian base to get some answers, but they only find more questions when they discover that the base has recently burned to the ground and the bodies all show signs of physical trauma.  Even more bad news comes in the form of a freaky humanoid corpse with two faces!

So begins what is quite possibly John Carpenter's greatest film.  And that's saying something from the guy who directed HALLOWEEN, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and PRINCE OF DARKNESS.  Over the years I've seen THE THING many, many times and it never fails to grab me.  There's just something about the idea of 1) being in a dangerous situation in a completely secluded place like Antarctica 2) literally having no idea who to trust 3) knowing that the fate of the entire human species rests in the hands of you completely killing this Thing from another world and 4) there's almost a 100% chance that you're going to die.  It's horrifying...to think about how to express all of that on the screen, but somehow Carpenter does just that.  Right from the opening scene THE THING grabs your attention and it never lets go.  Sometimes I like put myself in the place of a character in a movie and when I think about that heart defibrillator scene...holy fook!  The sudden realization that you're way in over you're head and there is something from another planet trying to kill you!  That scene ranks right up there with the chestburster scene in ALIEN.

I cannot say enough good things about THE THING.  Excellent ensemble acting, creepy atmosphere, quick pace, massively influential special effects that are still to this day jaw-dropping and some of the best lighting I've ever seen.  Honestly, THE THING should have received a number of Oscar nominations and not just for the visual stuff.  The editing on this film is brilliant.  There's literally no wasted time.

If you're a horror fan then it is required viewing.  While watching it again for this review I couldn't help but think how interesting it would be if somebody was to make a prequel telling the exciting story of the alien takeover of the Norwegian base...oh wait.  A good prequel telling the exciting story of the alien takeover of the Norwegian base.

Original - The Thing From Another World
Prequel to the remake - The Thing (2011)