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Review #13
John Carpenter's The Thing


The movie is based in the Antarctic, a group of scientists find themselves completely snowed in and cut off from the outside world during a heavy storm.
Norwegian scientists from another nearby science base and a husky sled dog all appear at their camp in less than comfortable circumstances, the group are then forced to defend themselves from the two unstable, trigger-happy Norwegians.
Upon checking out the Norwegian base to find out what happened, they find a scene of horror and torture and decide to bring back a terribly mutilated and inhuman corpse to their own camp for analysis...

... then the nightmare that overtook the Norwegian base becomes increasingly realised to the American scientists, as they are plunged into a world of pain, paranoia, sheer horror and a fight for survival against an enemy that can hide in plain sight.


Said by many to be a remake of the 1951 movie "The Thing From Another World", Carpenter's movie is simply based on the same novel "Who Goes There?" by John W Campbell.
The Thing is a closer take on the novel than the 1951 movie, which featured a 'man in suit' monster that resembled more of a giant vegetable crossed with Frankenstein’s monster.

Carpenter's masterpiece is a joy to behold. The tension of the cramped base corridors makes the feeling of being watched all the more potent and the paranoia between the characters can be felt by the viewer, right down to the toes.
There's also fantastic exposition, especially with the use of flashbacks seen on video recordings made by the Nords. It adds an element of untold mystery to the proceedings and gives the events much more depth and realism.


The movie's special effects are absolutely top notch, the collaboration between Rob Bottin and Stan Winston is very, very special.
Utilising animatronics, hand puppets and the very occasional ‘man in suit’ costume, the movie excels at putting the audience on the backfoot.
Only one, partially fake special effect is used in the entire movie in the form of a matt painting combined with Bottin's awesome mechanical effects, the rest is practical, real, juicy and extremely well modelled by the two effects geniuses.

The other thing with the effects and action is that they're used when needed.


The acting is also spot on. Kurt Russell, who is mediocre at the best of times, is wonderfully 'take charge' and tough when needed, his brooding take on the strange sequence of events works brilliantly.

Star turns from Wilford A Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur and Donald Moffet make the characters work even better, these guys really hit their roles with perfection.
Keith David in particular plays with the audience's paranoia too with his more highly wound temperament.


Mix all that with Carpenter’s spooky, low tone soundtrack (a soundtrack that beats all of his others hands down) makes this another must see movie from me, especially before the ‘prequel’ (based at the Norwegian camp) is released this year.



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All in all, one of the finest creature features ever made and one the finest horror stories put to screen. It plays not only with script devices but also with the audience expectations and gives frights, thrills, spills and sheer paranoia in bucket loads.

My rating: 97%